Granted, if I did not have a baseball game to attend last night I likely would not have left work in a flash flood. While my shoes were sloshing with water, it was thankfully not very cold out and was actually quite a refreshing ride.
I brought my modified Cyclocross bike with me which has a fender attached because the forecast looked to be ominous. While disk brakes are now legal in the sport, my bike originally had cantilever style brakes on it. Perfect for Cyclocross, these brakes shed mud, but don’t really stop you quickly. After my fork was recalled by Felt, and a replacement back ordered, I decided to invest in a new disk brake compatible one. I forgot that that meant I needed a new wheel too which set me back a bit of cash. Needless to say, I was so happy with the disk brake and only wished I could have one on the back too. Recently I replaced the rear brake with a V-Brake which has much better stopping power. I needed to add a “travel agent,” cable pull doubler, to make the brake work with the road style brake levers, but am so much happier now. In fact, I have to be careful that I don’t lock up the brake and skid, now that it actually works!
Back to the story….so on the way home I used the brakes as I normally would with the front disk brake humming a bit with the water, but stopping as quickly as ever. I decided to try to test my theory that rim style brakes don’t work well in the rain and require much greater distances to stop. So, at the next intersection, I only appled the back brake. I expected a little noise and after the water dried off the rims, the brakes to work. Not at all! My rear brake, which I was applying decent pressure, did not do a thing to slow me down! I honestly could not tell a difference when the brake was not applied.
The moral of the story…..if you have the option to get disk brakes, or at least a front one, do it! It is much cheaper if you get a bike that has them already (you can always change out the cheap ones for nice ones later) since you have the required frame and fork mount attachments. In fact, some bikes with V-brakes have the mounts for the disks which probably come on a more expensive model. While they do weigh more, they require less maintenance and will stop you in all kinds of weather.