How to Brake with Carbon Rims

Stay safe while using carbon rims

By Monica Sanchez

Whether you already own or recently bought carbon rims and wheel sets, safety when braking should be a concern of yours. Extreme braking on carbon rims can render them less effective. So how do you create the opposite effect and stay safe? You want to prevent extreme braking from happening to you. When you’re out on the road, braking should be the least of your worries. So let’s review the basics of braking and staying safe in order to make your riding experience more enjoyable and worry-free.

How to Brake Effectively

Braking on carbon rims can be an issue because of friction between brake pads and the carbon rim, which causes heat. In the worst possible cases, people have even experienced their wheels melting while braking. Scary, right? I can’t think of anything more horrific than melted wheels causing me to crash and flinging my body down the road. So here are a few tips to prevent yourself from becoming a cyclist’s cautionary tale.

When you’re ready to use the brakes:

  • Step on the front brake before the rear brake. Your body will naturally shift towards the front of the bike anyway. Just remember not to rely heavily on the front brake the entire time.
  • Alternate your brakes. Switching between using the front and rear brakes is safer and more effective. Don’t just rely on just one brake. It might cause the brakes to lock or just wear out faster, which could lead to an unfortunate crash or damage to your bike.
  • Look ahead, and plan your braking. Don’t brake abruptly. You want to give yourself enough time to brake safely. Remember that you need to prepare for anything unexpected to pop up in your path as well.

Braking in Bad Weather

If you use the braking advice above, you should be fine braking with carbon rims and wheels during good weather, but you might be more reluctant to take your bike out daily if rainy weather is typical in your area. For your safety, you need to know how to brake and slow down as fast as possible when it’s raining or you’re riding on wet ground. Wet rims can cause brake pads to wear down at a faster rate. In order to avoid your brake pads from wearing down so quickly, you should practice braking safely in wet areas.

When you’re ready to try braking in wet areas:

  • Give yourself space. Don’t ride too close to road blocks or intersections. You need space to brake safely in case you accidentally skid or swerve.
  • Slow down on corners. Going fast on corners will surely cause you to crash. Use your brakes when nearing corners, and lean the bike in if the corner is especially tight.
  • Drag your brakes before stopping. Although the word dragging has a negative connotation, it is useful in rainy weather. If you slam the brakes in bad weather, you might skid or crash. When you’re going fast, it’s not always possible to come to a complete stop instantly.

As long as you are mindful of your braking techniques, braking certainly won’t be too dreadful of an experience with carbon rims and wheels in wet areas.

Other Ways to Stay Safe

Braking the right way is essential to staying safe while cycling. In order to maintain perfect braking performance, you need to care for your wheels, rims, and brake pads consistently. Here are some ways you can do that.

When taking care of your carbon gear:

  • Use the right type of brake pads. Whatever you do, don’t mix and match your brake pads and rims. Your brake pads will be more effective when braking on the road if you use the brake pads specified by the brand or seller to match your carbon rims. This will give you a better braking experience.
  • Clean the carbon rims and brake pads often. When you go out for a ride, especially on wet surfaces, yours wheels, rims, and brake pads will collect all sorts of debris. Those random bits of junk could prevent you from having a smooth ride if you fail to clean up before you hit the road again.
  • Avoid the pressure washer. You can use rubbing alcohol to clean the rims and brake pads. Yes, a pressure washer is easier to use but it could possibly cause damage to your bicycle, and it’s better to sacrifice convenience for safety. You also don’t want to waste all that money you spent on your beautiful bike by destroying it with a high power pressure washer. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a little bit of elbow grease to get the job done and stay safe.

When you’re out on the road, braking performance and safety is always a major concern. Make sure you follow the steps above when cycling and caring for your gear so that you can protect yourself and those around you. If you’re interested in obtaining new brake pads for your safety, then RHC Components sells brake pads to complement their carbon wheel sets here.

*Originally published by RHC Components

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