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Thread: Frozen brake

  1. #1
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    Default Frozen brake

    In the cold, by my estimation in temps below freezing, my rear brake seizes up (it's a disc brake). The brake is frozen "open" and the wheel can turn freely. The first time it happened, I remember trying with all my might to squeeze the hand brake but it would not budge. Later that day, when the temp reached the 50's, the brake worked fine. I mentioned this to my mechanic and proffered my possible explanation--water in the brake cable housing--but he seemed skeptical. I trust him as he has been working on bikes for a long time and has seen pretty much everything. He didn't replace the cable or housing, but he sprayed lubricant on the brake. I hoped that would be sufficient. This morning I took my bike out of the house, breaks working fine. Within 2 minutes of my ride in 15 degree weather, the rear brake froze tight again. Has this happened to anybody? Your speculation is welcomed!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by excimer34 View Post
    In the cold, by my estimation in temps below freezing, my rear brake seizes up (it's a disc brake). The brake is frozen "open" and the wheel can turn freely. The first time it happened, I remember trying with all my might to squeeze the hand brake but it would not budge. Later that day, when the temp reached the 50's, the brake worked fine. I mentioned this to my mechanic and proffered my possible explanation--water in the brake cable housing--but he seemed skeptical. I trust him as he has been working on bikes for a long time and has seen pretty much everything. He didn't replace the cable or housing, but he sprayed lubricant on the brake. I hoped that would be sufficient. This morning I took my bike out of the house, breaks working fine. Within 2 minutes of my ride in 15 degree weather, the rear brake froze tight again. Has this happened to anybody? Your speculation is welcomed!
    My Stump the Chumps prognosis: You have water in your cable housing.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, water in the housing is almost certainly the issue. It doesn't take much to cause total inability to move the cable.

  4. #4
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    Lube, less is more, in cold weather. It will just add to whatever sludge is in your brake cable housing and exacerbate the problem. The rear shifter on my regular commuter is susceptible to this.

    I would put on new housing and cable and clean all the pivot points on the caliper and brake lever with 90% (or more) isopropyl alcohol. If you do lube any of the pivot points use a very thin oil sparingly and don't lube the cable. Actually, since I am cheap I would probably try cleaning the housing out with alcohol before I replaced everything.

    Taking the bike outside and letting it freeze before you start riding can help avoid a nasty surprise a couple minutes down the road too.

  5. #5
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    Funny. Just as you were exchanging these Forum postings, I was writing to my bike mechanic about my front brake caliper sticking in the open position. I don’t have disc brakes but I think it’s a cable problem as well, since the cable was badly worn already. Perhaps the extra cold temps and moisture made it worse. Thanks for the insights, above.
    w&w

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    Quote Originally Posted by excimer34 View Post
    In the cold, by my estimation in temps below freezing, my rear brake seizes up (it's a disc brake). The brake is frozen "open" and the wheel can turn freely. The first time it happened, I remember trying with all my might to squeeze the hand brake but it would not budge. Later that day, when the temp reached the 50's, the brake worked fine. I mentioned this to my mechanic and proffered my possible explanation--water in the brake cable housing--but he seemed skeptical. I trust him as he has been working on bikes for a long time and has seen pretty much everything. He didn't replace the cable or housing, but he sprayed lubricant on the brake. I hoped that would be sufficient. This morning I took my bike out of the house, breaks working fine. Within 2 minutes of my ride in 15 degree weather, the rear brake froze tight again. Has this happened to anybody? Your speculation is welcomed!
    Wanted to confirm, the brakes are mechanical disc and not hydraulic or mechanical pull/hydraulic piston hybrid?

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930AZ using Tapatalk

  7. #7
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    hozn is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AFHokie View Post
    Wanted to confirm, the brakes are mechanical disc and not hydraulic or mechanical pull/hydraulic piston hybrid?

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930AZ using Tapatalk
    God, I hope the mechanic didn't spray lube into the hydraulic hose! :-)

  8. #8
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    Another thing to check on the the presence of a "U" in your cable route. That is where water will collect and eventually freeze (or maybe even rust the cable if it is not stainless steel). If your rear disc brake caliper mount is inside the rear triangle, you are probably doomed to have a "U" in the cable. In my view, the inside-the-rear-triangle position is for full-hydraulics only. If you have sufficient humidity in the house, you could collect brake cable water without riding in the rain through condensation.
    Last edited by bentbike33; 01-03-2018 at 12:34 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by excimer34 View Post
    I mentioned this to my mechanic and proffered my possible explanation--water in the brake cable housing--but he seemed skeptical.
    Lawyer?

    This happened to me two weeks ago. It was a first, and it was terrifying as I came down a hill to a red light. I similarly suggested to my mechanic that the brake line may have froze. He said it was possible but more likely that the cable and/or housing were dirty. Either way, he decided to replace both.

  10. #10
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    I'm pretty certain if you just pour vodka into your cable housings, that'll solve the problem. I always keep some in stock.


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