Has this happened to you? It starts raining, and the next time you come to a stop sign your brakes don’t work. You roll through the intersection and thank your lucky stars no cars were coming.
Rim brakes and water don’t mix. When the rims and brake pads get wet, almost zero bike- stopping friction is created no matter how hard you squeeze the levers. At least for the initial dozen or so wheel revolutions.
The trick is to anticipate the need to slow or stop. Apply the brakes much earlier than normal so water is wiped from the rims and pads. Don’t squeeze too hard. Just hold the rubber against the metal like a squeegee.
As the water is displaced, be ready for suddenly stronger braking power. Back off your lever pressure as you sense this or you could lock a wheel and skid. At this point braking action is nearly the same as it is in dry conditions.
Ride defensively in the wet. Stay aware of everything going on around you. When you think there could be the need to brake, hold the pads to the rim lightly even as you pedal along. This won’t be enough to slow you, but it will wipe away water so actual braking is much quicker when it’s time.
Got disc brakes? You’ll have much better stopping power when it is wet, but you aren’t completely in the clear. Wet, slippery roads are just as slick no matter which type of brakes you are using. And the guy behind you might be riding rim brakes! Give yourself plenty of stopping distance when roads are wet.
Braking and cornering on wet roads