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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Sierra Foothills, CA
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    801

    Noisy brakes & rough front rim

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    Being a newbie, I generally do not know if something is working right on my bike or if something needs to be fixed. But my front brakes are driving me bonkers! I don't know if this is something I can fix or if I need to take my bike to the shop. Here's my theory:

    When I first got my bike, I think sand or grit got on the brakes pads right away. My brakes were very noisy on my very first ride, but I didn't know this was not normal, so I kept riding. Then fianlly someone told me this was not normal, so I looked at the brake pads and noticed tiny pieces of grit embedded in the pads. I picked it all out and the sound went away. But wouldn't you know it, a couple rides later, here come the noisy brakes again. Same thing...cleaned the pads. Then I noticed the rims are not very smooth on the front wheel. So I used some steel wool and gently rubbed them smooth again. Now I seem to be able to go about 50 miles before my brakes get noisy and I have to go through this whole picking out the grit/rubbing the rims routine again. Today I was examining the grit more closely and realized it is teeny tiny pieces of metal. Are my rims actually losing little pieces of metal which then get embedded in the brake pads? If so, how do I stop this from happening? I can't figure out what is going on here. It only happens on my front wheel. If anyone can help me out, I'll be very grateful!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,559
    New bike and wheels? Are the rims old? What kind of rims (size, brand, model)? Silver or anodized black or gray? Machined sidewalls?

    A good procedure is to pick the grit out of your brake pads, then rub them with sandpaper. If the rims feel rough, smooth them down with steel wool and then clean them with rubbing alcohol. Or just use the rubbing alcohol to clean them. How often you have to do that depends on the roads you ride on. Losing bits of metal from the rims constantly isn't a good thing. Rims do wear thin from braking with gritty pads. Eden had a rim explode after it had worn too thin. If this is an old rim, you might think about replacing it soon. If it's a fairly new rim, then I'm not sure what to tell you, except to clean the pads and rims as soon as there is any indication of grit in them, and watch your rims carefully.
    Oil is good, grease is better.

    2007 Peter Mooney w/S&S couplers/Terry Butterfly
    1993 Bridgestone MB-3/Avocet O2 Air 40W
    1980 Columbus Frame with 1970 Campy parts
    1954 Raleigh 3-speed/Brooks B72

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Sierra Foothills, CA
    Posts
    801
    Thanks, DebW. Sounds like I'm on the right track with the cleaning but I'll try the rubbing alcohol. I forgot to mention I've also been rubbing the brake pads with an emery board to try and smoothe them out a little. Then I wipe them off with a damp rag to get the emery board grit off. I'll try rubbing alcohol next time.

    My bike and rims are new...just bought the bike in February. The rims say AT450 Axelrims SSE on them...I don't know what they are made of. It's an entry level road bike so I'm sure they're lower end. Size is 700 x 25. The trails I ride are very clean, the roads are a little sandy here and there, but improving as we get farther into spring.

    I was reading the thread about the exploding rims and that's what spurred me on to post my question. I am quite good at falling on my own...the last thing I need is an exploding wheel to help me out!

    THANKS for the advice!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Limbo
    Posts
    8,783
    Hmmm......i have a new bike and had the same problem. It sounded as though the brake pads had been replaced by sandpaper pads.
    LBS dude said this was normal for a new bike and it seems to have gone away. I have enough to get used to with this bike, I sure don't need any exploding rims!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    1,011
    I have this problem on my Trek 1000. It's an entry level bike. Ithink it has the same rims that you are talking about. I did some research on it and found that it's common on entry level rims and the brake pads that are used. some info recommended a softer brake pad but I never did find the ones that were recommended and eventually gave up and just dig the metal bits out occasionally.

    Do some searches on the internet on it. I was surprised by how many people had the same problem but the guys at the shop acted like they never heard of it.

    Honestly I think that the best solution is eventually upgrading your wheels and brake pads.
    "Being retired from Biking...isn't that kinda like being retired from recess?" Stephen Colbert asked of Lance Armstrong

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Sierra Foothills, CA
    Posts
    801
    Ahhhh...so perhaps this is a Trek 1000 problem...that's what I'm riding! I guess I'll just keep cleaning the brake pads and make sure I always have my Leatherman with me on rides just in case I need to pick out some metal.

    I'm really glad I bought an entry level bike to start out. It's giving me the opportunity to learn about different things I'll want to change when I'm ready to upgrade. I guess as long as the brakes keep working (knock on wood!), I can tolerate a little brake pad/rim maintenance!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    1,011
    Quote Originally Posted by sara View Post
    Ahhhh...so perhaps this is a Trek 1000 problem...that's what I'm riding! I guess I'll just keep cleaning the brake pads and make sure I always have my Leatherman with me on rides just in case I need to pick out some metal.

    I'm really glad I bought an entry level bike to start out. It's giving me the opportunity to learn about different things I'll want to change when I'm ready to upgrade. I guess as long as the brakes keep working (knock on wood!), I can tolerate a little brake pad/rim maintenance!
    I've ridden that bike over 2500 miles with no problem. I did taco the back wheel and it was replaced, but with an equally low end wheel. And the brake pads with the metal bits were not replaced either.

    It's a great bike and I don't think that this little problem detracts from it's usefulness.
    "Being retired from Biking...isn't that kinda like being retired from recess?" Stephen Colbert asked of Lance Armstrong

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
    Posts
    8,409
    Most brake pads are not perfectly aligned to hit the rim in an exact flat position when you brake. Usually when you brake, they are slightly off and either touch/skim the rim with their rear end first, or with their front end first, and then clamp down evenly with full pressure applied.

    If your brake pads touch your rim first on their front end ("toe-in") as you brake, the touching part skims/cleans debris off the rim first when braking begins, and the debris does not get under the pads.
    If your brakes are in "toe-out" slant, the back end of the brake pad touchs the rim first and any debris/grit/gunk on the rim gets gathered up under the pad and then mashed down between pad and rim at full brake position.
    Toe-out position is also known for producing squeaky braking.
    See if your LBS can adjust the brake pads so they hit the rim front end first (toe-in). If they know what they are doing, they will understand what you want.
    Last edited by BleeckerSt_Girl; 05-07-2007 at 10:11 AM.
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Limbo
    Posts
    8,783
    Trek Pilot here

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    I'm the only one allowed to whine
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    10,576
    I've heard the salmon colored Kool-Stop pads are good replacements for sqeaky brakes.

    My LBS has a bunch of colors, and the guys said the softer ones make less noise and such, but wear away faster so you have to keep an eye on them.
    "If Americans want to live the American Dream, they should go to Denmark." - Richard Wilkinson

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    1,011
    Quote Originally Posted by KnottedYet View Post
    I've heard the salmon colored Kool-Stop pads are good replacements for sqeaky brakes.

    My LBS has a bunch of colors, and the guys said the softer ones make less noise and such, but wear away faster so you have to keep an eye on them.
    Those are the brake pads that were recommended to correct this problem.

    this is not just road debris in the brake pads but slivers of metal from the rim.
    "Being retired from Biking...isn't that kinda like being retired from recess?" Stephen Colbert asked of Lance Armstrong

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
    Posts
    8,409
    Quote Originally Posted by silver View Post
    Those are the brake pads that were recommended to correct this problem.

    this is not just road debris in the brake pads but slivers of metal from the rim.
    Interesting. I have Kool Stop brakes pads. But I put them on to help grip in the rain, not because I had squeaky brakes, after almost having total brake failure once in the pouring rain.
    If you read the info about KS pads, it says how they have little wedge shapes on their front ends, which help push off the rim debris as the brake comes down on the rim. Pretty much what I was talking about above about toeing-in. Toeing-in brakes and KS pads with wedges are both sort of like the idea behind those old "cow-catchers" that train locomotives used to have in front, to hurl cows and other "debris" off the tracks before the train ran over them.
    I can't imagine having slivers of metal coming off one's rims though! Time for better rims maybe??
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    1,011
    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa S.H. View Post
    Interesting. I have Kool Stop brakes pads. But I put them on to help grip in the rain, not because I had squeaky brakes, after almost having total brake failure once in the pouring rain.
    If you read the info about KS pads, it says how they have little wedge shapes on their front ends, which help push off the rim debris as the brake comes down on the rim. Pretty much what I was talking about above about toeing-in. Toeing-in brakes and KS pads with wedges are both sort of like the idea behind those old "cow-catchers" that train locomotives used to have in front, to hurl cows and other "debris" off the tracks before the train ran over them.
    I can't imagine having slivers of metal coming off one's rims though! Time for better rims maybe??
    Lisa, to the best of my memory, when I did the research a while back, the reason that the Kool Stop pads were recommended to help with the problem was because they were made of a softer material. Is that right?

    I think the problem is the combination of the stock pads and the stock rims. Just not a good combination. But these are low end rims.
    "Being retired from Biking...isn't that kinda like being retired from recess?" Stephen Colbert asked of Lance Armstrong

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
    Posts
    8,409
    Quote Originally Posted by silver View Post
    Lisa, to the best of my memory, when I did the research a while back, the reason that the Kool Stop pads were recommended to help with the problem was because they were made of a softer material. Is that right?
    I have not heard of KS pads being recommended to stop squeaky brakes. They are made for gripping better under wet conditions- that is why they are softer....like snow tires! But maybe they do help with brake noise- I don't know because I haven't had squeeky brakes. I do notice that the KS pads grip better and stop me faster- I had to be careful the first week to not brake too suddenly.
    I do know that one can usually stop squeaky brakes (of any kind) by toeing-in the brake pads.
    It is true that ALL brake pads tend to get hard and brittle over time and then they do start to squeal, and should be replaced every few years regardless, because they can't grip as well once the rubber has hardened from age.
    Lisa
    Our bikes...OurBikes...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    Ruby's Website and My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    2,559
    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa S.H. View Post
    Most brake pads are not perfectly aligned to hit the rim in an exact flat position when you brake. Usually when you brake, they are slightly off and either touch/skim the rim with their rear end first, or with their front end first, and then clamp down evenly with full pressure applied.

    If your brake pads touch your rim first on their front end ("toe-in") as you brake, the touching part skims/cleans debris off the rim first when braking begins, and the debris does not get under the pads.
    If your brakes are in "toe-out" slant, the back end of the brake pad touchs the rim first and any debris/grit/gunk on the rim gets gathered up under the pad and then mashed down between pad and rim at full brake position.
    Toe-out position is also known for producing squeaky braking.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lisa S.H. View Post
    If you read the info about KS pads, it says how they have little wedge shapes on their front ends, which help push off the rim debris as the brake comes down on the rim. Pretty much what I was talking about above about toeing-in. Toeing-in brakes and KS pads with wedges are both sort of like the idea behind those old "cow-catchers" that train locomotives used to have in front, to hurl cows and other "debris" off the tracks before the train ran over them.
    Lisa,

    You've got it right about toe-out causing brake squeal and toe-in reducing it. But I think you've got it backwards about plowing and debris. Toe-in would tend to trap debris between pad and rim. The KoolStop wedges point backwards to scrape water and debris off the rims.
    Oil is good, grease is better.

    2007 Peter Mooney w/S&S couplers/Terry Butterfly
    1993 Bridgestone MB-3/Avocet O2 Air 40W
    1980 Columbus Frame with 1970 Campy parts
    1954 Raleigh 3-speed/Brooks B72

 

 

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