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  1. #1
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    Best brake type for snow/winter

    My first bike came with elixir 5's and i love them. now on my pug it came with mechanical bb7's. coming from motorcycles and using hydraulic for my first MTB, hydraulic brakes just feel like home.

    bb7's feel like crap to me. im not saying they are bad brakes but i do not care for them in any way shape or form. after riding on my elixirs then back to the bb7 i feel like there is nothing there. no proper feeling.

    my problem is...i was told at my LBS that hydraulic brakes shouldnt be used in the winter. this was a real head scratcher for me. they couldnt supply any reasoning...just a firm belief that only mechanical should be used in snow.

    This cant be true. I know many folks ride in the winter and they dont change out there brakes to do so. (motorcycles, four wheelers, scooters..they all use hydraulic) So, what is it...do i need to run a different fluid in the colder months? am i really not supposed to use hydraulic in the winter on a MTB? or are these guys just a bunch of nutters? im inclined to believe the latter. but, if there are any issues i would love to hear about them before purchasing new brakes to replace the bb7's

  2. #2
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    Hydraulic brakes work fine in the winter....

    I ride (have ridden for 6 years) Shimano XTR's down to -35 C with no problem. (Mineral Oil)

    The stories that the oil gets thick and they don't work are BS.

    Cables can freeze...seals can leak.

    Biggest problem in fresh snow around -20 C the disks sometimes get a very thin layer of ice on them and then bingo no brakes....

    But slam the lever hard a couple of times and the layer will flake off.
    Last edited by jeffscott; 09-09-2011 at 09:46 AM.

  3. #3
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    This is going to be a of a dumb question from me.. but where is your winter? Alaska might have a different brake requirement than Alabama. Freezing temp for mineral oil has been stated as -30C (-22F)... it can get that cold here in Alberta so I'd probably go with mechanical for our environment.

    But then I pulled this off the Hayes site:
    Two types of fluids are typically used in braking systems; DOT Brake Fluid and Mineral Oil. The two groups have different base chemical compositions and properties and should not be mixed or substituted for in a brake system. Mixing or substituting these types of fluids will destroy rubber and plastic components within the system. It can also alter the performance characteristics of the brake system.

    A. DOT Brake Fluids

    DOT brake fluid is approved by the Department of Transportation for use in brake systems and is required to meet certain performance criteria, mostly consistent performance within a specified temperature range. DOT 3, 4 and 5.1 fluids are hygroscopic (water absorbing) glycol based fluids. These fluids absorb water at a rate of 2-3% per year. The result of this is a lower boiling point of the fluid because it is diluted with water. Brake fluid will not boil while under pressure. The automotive industry and all high end motorsports use DOT fluid for their braking systems. DOT 5 brake fluid is silicon based and should not be mixed with the glycol based fluids.

    B. Mineral oil

    Mineral oils are also used in brake systems but are not controlled by any specific standards. Mineral oil does not absorb water and can break down with time and heat. Low ambient temperatures will cause a mineral oil to congeal and the system to have sluggish performance (<20F). Some mineral oils are more environmentally friendly than DOT Brake Fluid, however oil is still an oil and should be disposed of properly.


    Hayes states that you will see decreased performance from a mineral oil hydraulic system at temperatures lower than 20F... and seem to recommend DOT 5 silicon brake fluid. I use that in my truck and it sees temperatures as low as -40 (F&C).. so that would work.

    Components | Hayes Disc Brake link to above quoted text from Hayes

  4. #4
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    excellent, thanks for the read!

    its funny how every time i mention in the LBS i picked up some info on a forum, the discredit it immediately and say you cant trust the internet...then they turn around and fill my ear with info that proves in itself to be false.


    im glad i know now though because i have been eying out some new brakes to go on the pugs to help tame all this rotating mass coupled with a thick mans momentum.

    bb7's will be making there way to my spare parts bin.


    edit: by winter, i meant a northern michigan winter.

  5. #5
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    Ask on the fat forum what everybody is running.
    And I love beer!!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by stoney bones View Post
    excellent, thanks for the read!

    its funny how every time i mention in the LBS i picked up some info on a forum, the discredit it immediately and say you cant trust the internet...then they turn around and fill my ear with info that proves in itself to be false.


    im glad i know now though because i have been eying out some new brakes to go on the pugs to help tame all this rotating mass coupled with a thick mans momentum.

    bb7's will be making there way to my spare parts bin.


    edit: by winter, i meant a northern michigan winter.
    Lots of guys from michigan on the commuting forum as well.

  7. #7
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    I heard something about O-rings hardening and leaking brake fluid due to this.... but I only heard it and haven't experienced it and I run Juicy 3 brakes...

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