I have Shimano disc brakes (pads replaced last year). I cycle frequently enough (approx 3-5 hrs a week). Brakes were previously working without issue. Recently I was caught in some April weather:

day 1: tail end of a heat wave (mid 20s C)

day 2: torrential downpour

day 3: caught in sudden heavy snow

day 4: both brakes suddenly stop working.

By "stop working" I mean the brake handles offer no resistance, and braking power is effectively 0 (there is still a very very slight effect).

My question: Can severe weather affect disc brakes? Or is this just coincidental?

[edit] - The issue turned out to be brake pads in the end, which surprised me since both brakes failed at the same time. They are organic brake pads, so I guess damp grit must have found its way onto the rotor. Here is a picture of the bike parked in snow shortly before the brakes suddenly failed

enter image description here

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    I would not consider that normal, one of the principles of hydraulic brakes is that they are sealed so intensive to elements. I noticed that entry-level rotor (Shimano RT10/RT26) can wear rather fast in bad conditions, and it can give this kind of symptom. What is the conditions of the rotors?
    – Rеnаud
    Commented Apr 26 at 15:31
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    Cable or hydraulic? I've had a rear cable disc brake stick due to water freezing in the cable. That's not your failure mode, but it demonstrates that there's a difference
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 26 at 17:27
  • Has someone sabotaged your bike? I would give it a very careful look over for cuts or damage to hose/cables.
    – Criggie
    Commented Apr 26 at 20:47
  • Did you do anything to the bike between day 3 and day 4? Did the brakes suddenly stop working during the ride on day 4 or were they shot from the beginning? Do you have hydraulic or cable actuated disc brakes? Commented Apr 27 at 18:04
  • The culprit in the end turned out to be worn brake pads! Something must have caused them to suddenly wear quickly. (They are organic)
    – DJames
    Commented Apr 27 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


Both front and rear brake fail in the same manner at the same day makes a coincidence unlikely imo. That being said, even harsh weather seems unlikely to alone causing this without some faulty install/poor parts or some other explaining factor. From your description it sounds like you have had leakage of break fluid. Perhaps some water froze in unfortunate places damaging a seal or perhaps even sabotage. Everything is speculation though until you diagnose the actual failure mode.

I've ridden in ice, snow, slush, rain and never had something like this happen front or rear.

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    Basically, check for oil leaks, then. It seems unlikely that both lines would have leaked simultaneously, but that still seems more likely than the weather somehow causing this.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Apr 26 at 17:10
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    I was speculating if weather could have caused the damage front and back due to some faulty parts/installation. But the entire thing sounds unlikely. I'm at least counting on that he didnt flip the bike up side down, put it back and pushed both levers once.
    – WornChain
    Commented Apr 26 at 17:31
  • It turned out to be brake pads in the end. They are organic, so perhaps the snow transferred some grit to the rotors and wore them down
    – DJames
    Commented Apr 27 at 19:48
  • @DJames Both breaks went from being fine to limp handles from one day to another due to break pads wearing out? It sounds incredible, but good thing you got it sorted out! :) Everything is possible. I also use organic pads, never had any issue with them even in the roughest of winter conditions (both tektro e10.11 and shimano b05s are fine imo). What pads did you have?
    – WornChain
    Commented Apr 27 at 22:37

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