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  1. #1
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    Winter ride cable problem

    I was riding this morning, t'was about 20F with possible -1F windchill. I got my bike off the bike hitch rode it from the trail head. As I started to descend, applied some breaks for the rear tire. I have a BB5 Avid mechanical, I could not squeeze the brake lever. Seems that the cable was frozen. The rear brake was functioning as I could twist the brake component. Finally, I was able to loosen it, thought that I could use it for the rest of the ride, as I went on, I still could not squeeze the lever, still very stiff, or if I do, it (the brake) does not release. Good enough the front brake was functioning okay. I crept through out the trail (hike and bike), I was able to climb (some) well, but I was very cautious with the descents as I could only squeeze my front brake lever. I got back, and inside the garage the brake was functioning okay.
    My question(s) 1) Is this water that froze inside my cable?
    2)Can water accumulate in it?
    3) Is there a way that I could prevent it?

    Appreciate your response.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by treadheadted
    Hydraulic brakes on a singlespeed will cure this dilemma.
    ________________________________

    I do not disagree with the above, I respect, and admire the SS bikers out there, but I do not think I'll be like them. I had been so growing up with BMX bikes. For me the choice between mechanical disc and hydraulic disc was planely; less maintenance with the former.
    That was the first time that I biked in that kind of condition, and you were right I was biking with gear 2 and between 1&2 for the rear. I was not able to use the granny gear then as the shifting was a problem too, but not for the rear cogs.
    Is there anything that I can do to avoid this with my mechanical disc, and just with what I have now?

  3. #3
    Hoopy Frood
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    Full-length housing

    You might try running full-length housing for your mechanical disc brakes. I do it on mine and it definitely makes a difference. If your problem was caused by contamination of some kind or ice on the cables, full-length housing would help prevent it from happening again.

    The problem could also be cause by ice on the caliper or ice in the brake lever itself. Not sure if you thought of it at the time but you could have tried pulling the brake cable with your hand (at the top tube, for example) or manually moving the caliper to try and isolate the problem.
    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. - Thomas Jefferson

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by khill
    You might try running full-length housing for your mechanical disc brakes. I do it on mine and it definitely makes a difference. If your problem was caused by contamination of some kind or ice on the cables, full-length housing would help prevent it from happening again.

    The problem could also be cause by ice on the caliper or ice in the brake lever itself. Not sure if you thought of it at the time but you could have tried pulling the brake cable with your hand (at the top tube, for example) or manually moving the caliper to try and isolate the problem.
    ____________________________
    Full length housing: do you mean that there is no exposed cable except for both ends?
    I have a jekyll 600 disc by c'dale. The frame has a part where the cable(s) should be exposed. Can this be done with such frame design?
    I suspected that it was water inside the housing too. And it seems to have settled at the lowest point of the loop of the cable housing. I noticed the water inside the water bottle was also turning ice as I was biking.
    This should be an opportunity for the cable makers to design all weather or insulated cables$$$
    Thank you much... for the suggestion.
    JD

  5. #5
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    try 100% silicon spray

    nonoy d, My buddy and I use to ride trails in Boise all winter and we had similar experiences. Just this afternoon I was riding in temps at just above freezing and had trouble shifting as the bike had been in a shed overnight and the temps were in the teens. I feel certain the problem I had was with the grease on the cables, and possibly a small amount of moisture as well.

    What we use to do during winter rides was remove the oil and grease on cables and pivots and even chains, and spray all those areas down with 100% pure silicon. It worked for us.

    Also you can try to store the bike where it's warm and try to protect it from wind while transporting it to the trailhead. It may have experienced wind chills much colder than you listed, depending on how fast you were driving. Good luck.

    .

  6. #6
    Nouveau Retrogrouch SuperModerator
    Reputation: shiggy's Avatar
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    Full length housing, Teflon coated cables, no lube.

    Please do not break the tire. You would have to fix it later.
    mtbtires.com
    The trouble with common sense is it is no longer common

  7. #7
    Hoopy Frood
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    Correct

    Quote Originally Posted by nonoy_d
    ____________________________
    Full length housing: do you mean that there is no exposed cable except for both ends?
    I have a jekyll 600 disc by c'dale. The frame has a part where the cable(s) should be exposed. Can this be done with such frame design?
    Yes, it can be done with any frame. You have three options:

    1. Drill out the cable stops to make the hole wide enough for the cable and housing

    2. Use zip-ties to route the cables and disregard the existing cable stops

    3. Get bolt-on hydraulic cable guides and use them (like these)

    These options are similar to what you would need to do if you upgraded to hydraulic disc brakes.

    As Shiggy suggested, use teflon coated cabled and don't put any lube on them.
    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. - Thomas Jefferson

  8. #8
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    Frozen cables are not uncommon during winter riding. Water gets into the cables when you get the bike wet (or snow melts on the bike after you bring it in - or you wash the bike). Take it out before it's dry, and you know the rest. Just make sure your bike is dry before the next ride. Grease in the cable housing helps prevent water instrusion. Full length housing does not prevent frozen cables.

  9. #9
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    Idea! Cure cable freezup with sealed cable system

    I have found that using a sealed cable system pretty much eliminates winter riding cable freezup. I installed Dry Cables sealed derailleur and brake cables www.drycables.com on both my bikes, and I haven't had a single cable freezing problem since.

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