Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Bike Rider
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been riding a Pugsley for a couple years in the cold Minnesota winters, and I've always had problems with the brake calipers leaking oil around the piston seal. It seems to happen at any temperature, and I do not know if it leaks worse as the temps drop. It just leaks all the time. Now the leak has gotten bad enough that the oil is dripping off the caliper at the end of a ride, and it's time to finally do something about it. (I know, should have looked into it WAY sooner, but I am the King of Procrastination, so I didn't) The leak has gotten progressively worse as time has gone on. I almost didn't even notice it in the beginning.

I am using out-of-the-box Hayes Stroker Trail hydro brakes, and I've never bled them. They've worked great from day one... other than the annoying leak. I have only ridden the bike in the summer one time for about 20 minutes, and it was on sandy singletrack. Other than that, the bike has only been on nice clean snowy singletrack through the woods. Never been on a road with salt or sand. No commuting. Still have the little nipple-fuzzy things on the endomorphs, apparently soft snow doesn't wear out tires very fast. :D

I want to buy different brakes for this bike, but I don't want to buy another pair that will have the same, or some other, problem. Here's my question: Which brakes have people had good luck with for riding in the winter, and in cold temps? I will most likely never ride this bike in the summer, but I will ride in the winter in any temp, and it can get below -30F around here. It seems like it's -10F for half of the winter. Also, I am not concerned so much about braking power as I am modulation. It doesn't take much power at all to lock up the tires on snow, I'd rather have a good feel for the trail. I ride almost exclusively on singletrack trail, sometimes with deep snow, which comes into play when you're making snow angels along the side of the trail after a dismount, and the brakes have now been buried in a snow bank. For this reason I would like to stay away from all the moving parts that mechanical brakes have.

I understand that I could probably repair these brakes and continue to use them, but I would rather just buy the right tool for the job and be done with it. I can repair these brakes and sell them, or use them on another bike, or just hang onto them for spares.

I have three different brands of hydro brakes on my other bikes, so I have no "favorite" brand. I don't care what brand the right one is, I just want something that will do the job and cost is not a factor.

I spent several hours searching through the forums, and so far the most useful information that I've come up with is that the DOT fluid seems to work better than the mineral oil fluid. All the other reviews and information seems to relate to usage in other than winter conditions, but I'm looking for a brake for winter use only.

Any words of wisdom from actual cold-weather, winter users would be great.

Thanks!
 

·
bored ex-shop rat
Joined
·
375 Posts
There is a reason why a majority of fatbikers use Avid BB7s....your problems a part of this
 

·
bored ex-shop rat
Joined
·
375 Posts
chrisgardner73 said:
I agree. I would go with some BB7's. I use them along with some Jagwire Ripcords on my Pugs, and they are great....in all weather!
I also use Jagwire Ripcords with BB7s on my Pugs...for good performance good cablesets are essential
 

·
Fatback
Joined
·
706 Posts
I have been using hydraulics almost exclusively on my bikes ( had a brief stint with dual control and BB7's). I like Formula brakes in particular. I've got a bike on it's forth winter without a bleed. Formula sells their brakes with all hardware required to shorten housing, and they are the only company I know of to do that. I'm running the R1's, but the new RX's have been working well, have great feel, are pretty light and about 1/2 the cost.
That said, I've run several models of Hope brakes personally and all of them have been excellent. I just like the bleed procedure of Formula better in general if they do need work.
I've also built many bikes with Avid Elixor's and have not had any trouble. We did have some issues with Avid Juicy's.
The only brakes I've had trouble with in the cold are mineral oil brakes from Shimano. Jeff O from Fairbanks swears by his Magura's, and they have mineral oil. He says he has to bleed them a bit.
 

·
Bike Rider
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
thirstywork - What kind of winter riding do you do? Does it get cold like here? I have noticed that the Formulas get good reviews.

I know that the cable brakes are widely used in the winter, and if there aren't any hydro brakes that will work in the winter, then I will switch to cable. I just spend a lot of time throwing the bike into the deep snow off trail, so eventually I would think the cable brakes will cause me some problems with icing. We ride all the obstacles all winter here, so inevitably the bike will get buried when you fall from an elevated structure. If this happens under the right conditions, I have to believe that parts will freeze. I could be wrong though, I haven't ridden cables in the winter. I also prefer the feel of hydros. A little better modulation in my opinion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
243 Posts
I have had great luck with my avid elixirs during 5-8 hour subzero days... nothing lower than -15 temps though. With that said, Shimano admits they are not the best option, I think they even say their brakes are only designed to work down to like 20 degrees F. Dot fluid based systems are a better choice, IMO, for winter riding even though dot fluid is hydrophilic (takes in water) as opposed to mineral oil which is hydrophobic so dot systems require more frequent bleeding. I bleed my winter avids maybe 2 or 3 times during the 4-5 month snow season and generally just bleed my regular summer/spring/fall avids 1 or 2 times as needed.
 

·
This place needs an enema
Joined
·
16,916 Posts
hazrdus13 said:
I am using out-of-the-box Hayes Stroker Trail hydro brakes
If you really want to just throw money at the problem and get new brakes, the local fashion police will be able to help you there.

A few things worth noting, from my perspective:
1) Your current brakes need a $3 part (square seals) replaced, then a 3 minute bleed, and then you'll have what it is IMO the best winter/snow use brake out there. I use Stroker's on both of my Moots Snoots, ridden in CO and AK (and sometimes MN) every winter.
2) Since you seem to not mind the idea of throwing money around, get some semi-mettalic pads when you do the above, and even a set of lighter (at any rate, new) rotors. Semi-mets give better lever feel/modulation in the cold, less noise than the stock pads too.
2) DOT 4 and 5 do better than mineral oil at below-zero temps. If you plan to ride in colder than -50 or so, stick with cable-actuated brakes. DOT fluid isn't exactly what you'd call 'liquid' once you tag -60 or so.

MC
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
65 Posts
Actually I swear AT my Maguras as much as I swear BY them.

To say they work well in cold weather is a slight overstatement. Most of them...and I have Martas on several bikes...I would say fail in a very predictable and repeatable manner. On average I bleed my brakes every 3-4 weeks.

I love them in the summer, and tolerate them in the winter. But they are high maintenance. I have ridden them in a lot of -40's temperatures and a little bit of -50's temperatures. They still work. The bleeding interval just gets shortened.

I know of several people in Fairbanks that use Hayes brakes and say that they have never had to touch them. I know of at least a couple that have had the same experience with Formulas. The general concensus is that DOT brake fluid works better than Mineral oil. But I've seen the same problems with some DOT brakes, so thats not universal.
 

·
Bike Rider
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
mikesee -
I'm definitely going to rebuild the Strokers and keep them around (parts are on the way), but I will probably switch to a different brand, mainly because three guys on our team all bought the Strokers last year for winter use, and we've all had trouble with them leaking. The others rebuilt them and they leaked all over again. They both switched to BB7s. Brake fluid on the brake pads and the interior of the car sucks. If it hits -60F, I'm staying home with Jack... Daniels that is. We can pass the time just fine. I'll take your advice and switch to the semi-mets and lighter rotors too. Sounds like a good idea since I have no problem throwing money around. It's good to have a sugar mama. ;)

It sounds like, in general, most manufacturers have brakes out there that are being used with both good and bad results. From that I tend to conclude that it kind of depends on how lucky you get. Manufacturers have tolerances, and if the parts get closer to the "loose" limit, perhaps they have more of a tendency to leak. Inversely, if the parts get closer to the "tight" limit, maybe they won't leak? Who knows. I'll probably try one more brand on the winter bike, and if they leak, I'm getting BB7s.

I was hoping that there would be a clearcut choice for the winter, but it seems not. Bummer.

I've got five bikes with hydraulic brakes right now, and the oldest one is 5 years old. I have NEVER had to bleed ANY of them yet. Four years of abusive riding on El Caminos and never bled them once, just pads. The Strokers were the first to give me any trouble at all. Maybe my expectations were skewed by my previous experiences.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top