I currently own an old racing bike, that still has ripped steel rims and a side pull caliper brake. The braking power is acceptable when the street is dry, but as soon as it gets wet (even morning dew) it is getting harder and harder to stop. On the first time stopping, the brakes might even need up to 3 seconds until I feel something, and I have to pull the handles quite hard. This was not a problem in summer, but since the weather is rainy most of the time now, I have to find a solution.

The whole Bike cost me 50€, so buying new brakes or rims might not be in the budget. I heard about cork brake pads, that might provide better stopping power when wet, but only found very expensive ones. So if there is another solution, that I missed now, please let me know!

Else I will have to ride one of my more expensive Bikes in the winter and have the risk of them getting stolen.

  • Besides chosing good pads, don't forget to keep your cables and conduites in good condition, since they can decrease braking power A LOT, and they are most affected by rainy weather. Oct 19, 2011 at 19:03

4 Answers 4


Here you go:

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these are leather face brake blocks and they will work ten times better in the wet than any Johnny-come-lately Kool-Stop efforts on your steel rims. Pay no more than £3 a set, plus they last forever, and better when wet than when dry. What more could you want?

  • Leather, somebody is a genius!
    – Moab
    Oct 10, 2011 at 4:21
  • Just bought some new brake pads like these, I will post how it worked out later.
    – Paul Weber
    Oct 10, 2011 at 12:51
  • What are they called?
    – anton2g
    Oct 10, 2011 at 16:28
  • And do you have a link to a pair? I could not find any on Amazon.
    – anton2g
    Oct 10, 2011 at 16:33
  • 1
    @anton2g - the wonders of the local bike shop, if it is a good one, will help you here better than Amazon will. Having said that, Amazon do have everything including these fellas: amazon.co.uk/Raleigh-35mm-Rainstopper-BRAKE-BLOCKS/dp/… Oct 10, 2011 at 17:00

Any Koolstop salmon pads will give you better braking on steel rims. There's quite a big range to choose from so just go with what will fit your rim/tyre/caliper combination the best.

Sheldon Brown has an excellent run down on the different variations: http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/brakeshoes.html#threaded


I also ride an old bike wit steel wheels.Compared to my disc mountain bike the brakes seemed non exsistant. If your caliper uses threaded pads try KOOLSTOP BRK14 pads.They are a mountain bike design,they incorporate a wiper like edge that helps shed water and mud.They were a vast improvement for just a pad change.


Simplest solution i have found. When you start riding gently press down your brakes so they rub the rim. After about 100-300 yards your rims and brake pads heat up and dry and brakes are normal. Give it a try, its worked for me so far.

  • 2
    Yeah, that also works for me, but if there are puddles or if the weather is very rainy the rims will always get wet again, and I have to dry-break them again. Works well against morning dew though!
    – Paul Weber
    Oct 20, 2011 at 21:01

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