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  1. #1
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    Brakes quit working when wet

    I had a race this past weekend. (Hickory knob xterra) and the conditions were amazingly bad. Several inches of rain before and during the race. Flowing water on the trails. Anyway this was my first time riding disc brakes in the rain and it wasn't 2 miles in to the ride and my brakes quit "stopping" front and rear.
    The cables were attached, the levers worked normally. It just didn't have any stop in it.
    I raced the next 12 miles with "foot brakes" and luckily only wrecked a few times, never bad and never hitting anyone else.
    I know nothing about disc brakes but I thought they were superior in rain/mud/snow. Anything I'm missing? I am going to drop it off at the bike shop this week. Just more curious than anything.

  2. #2
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    Something is really not right there - I have never had issues like that with my discs in wet or snow (on my bike or my car for that matter).

    What brand/model of brakes are we talking?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 006_007 View Post
    Something is really not right there - I have never had issues like that with my discs in wet or snow (on my bike or my car for that matter!
    what this person said!

    I have recently moved to discs, and all of the weather related issues I had with my rim brakes are a thing of the past. Hope you can figure out what's wrong, because something is!

  4. #4
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    Brakes quit working when wet

    So I went out to check the model which is shimano alivio. And noticed they still don't work. The cable moves. The brake actuates. But there is zero stopping. Guess it wasn't the weather.

  5. #5
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    Possibly contaminated pads, possibly not enough lever force (cable tension), possibly glazed rotors. Some more information would help diagnose your problem. Before anything else, I would try spinning the wheel and hosing the rotors down with a water bottle, and then burning it off with a few stops.

    For what it's worth, even disc brakes don't work as well wet as they do dry.

  6. #6
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    I had a similar issue with my hydraulics, luckily just the rear so no wrecks that I recall. Ended up being contaminated pads, most likely from over spray, when cleaning or lubing the bike. Now I do all that stuff in the garage.. If the rotor isn't toast or getting replaced be sure to clean it well before seasoning new pads. I use alcohol on my rotors, when I get the squeals I clean again.
    `09 Cannondale 29er F4 - go to bike
    Ellsworth Epiphany - build in progress

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditchmedic View Post
    So I went out to check the model which is shimano alivio...
    Part of the problem may just be the brake. Those are pretty notorious for poor stopping power. They are used mainly on urban bikes. I'm not at all surprised that they failed in tough conditions like you described. I still believe the main problem is proper adjustment, but even adjusted as good as possible, the Alivio's are still junky..
    Mountain bikers who don't road ride have no legs...
    Road riders who don't mountain bike have no soul...

  8. #8
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    Brakes quit working when wet

    Well... Had the bike shop look at it. And all the pads sheared off. Just the blank metal backing for the pads remained. So at some point they both fell out.
    Thanks for the insights. I will definitely look in to different model of calipers too.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditchmedic View Post
    Well... Had the bike shop look at it. And all the pads sheared off. Just the blank metal backing for the pads remained. So at some point they both fell out.
    Thanks for the insights. I will definitely look in to different model of calipers too.
    WOW the pad material separated from the backing plate so metal on metal, no wonder you couldn't stop. fortunately for you nothing major injury wise.

  10. #10
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    Or they just wore down. Never seen pad material come of the backing plate. Cable discs usually need adjustment to take up cable when the pads wear down. That's one reason why hydraulic are better. But to loose all four pads? Sounds unusual to loose all four. But if you didn't adjust cable tension during the event, how could the pads wear to the backing plate.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ditchmedic View Post
    Well... Had the bike shop look at it. And all the pads sheared off. Just the blank metal backing for the pads remained. So at some point they both fell out.
    Thanks for the insights. I will definitely look in to different model of calipers too.
    Glad it was easy to figure out (and fairly affordable to repair).

    In the future, a good upgrade for your brakes would be 1 of 2 routes:

    1. Save a bit of $$$ and upgrade the calipers to Avid BB7 mechanicals - they will be able to use your existing levers, and will be a significant step from where you are (FWIW the BB7 are pretty much the leader in mechanical discs - however even they require the manual adjustment periodically to maintain even pad wear)

    For a bit more $$$ another option is either the Shimano SLX or XT hydraulic disc systems - they pack a very good bang for your buck.

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