I have city bike with Sturmey-Archer X-FDD front hub with drum brake.

Last week, after cold and wet days (drizzle, 2 C), the temperature dropped below -10 C. I store this bike outdoors, I ride it every day 10-30 km. Because of u-lock malfunction it was grounded for 3 days. When I eventually managed to free it, I observed very poor front brake operation. I suppose it is about 30% usual effectiveness. I ruled out the cable - braking cord is moving back and forth with no problem.

Has something wrong happened to the brake linning? What could cause such behaviour?

Edit: As I'm lazy person, I didn't want to disassembly the hub and see what's wrong. I supposed there is some ice on the surface of the lining, but after few dozens of hard brakings thing went even worse, ie. brake was less and less effective.

What I eventually did was riding for some not so long distance, using brake when pedalling with mudulate force. After that brake suddenly gain it full effectiveness.

@Emyr is probably right. There sholud be a lot of ice. Long braking melted it and let the brake dry.

  • 1
    Something you observe in automobiles is that rust/corrosion may build up between the drum and the shoes, and the first several braking operations after several days standing in wet weather may be rough and less effective. Jan 9, 2017 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


Moisture may have collected on the friction surfaces and frozen.

Warm the bike up and re-test.

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    You can store the bike inside to reduce moisture issues. And some gentle heat from a hairdryer played over the front hub should help remove the water. However if the water has mixed with grease then you're best doing an overhaul on the drum brake.
    – Criggie
    Jan 9, 2017 at 19:24
  • Edited my question. Dried it by long braking.
    – krzyski
    Jan 10, 2017 at 15:38

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