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Old 01-26-09, 11:50 AM   #1
triplebutted
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When did centerpulls give way to sidepulls?

I was looking at all those Merkx photos and noticed the 1966 racing bike had centerpulls. But the Coppi video link and 50's bikes with sidepulls.

Anyone have a pseudo-historical remembrance of when these sidepulls got more popular than centerpulls?
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Old 01-26-09, 11:57 AM   #2
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Ohhhh, title is wrong, should be centerpulls give way to sidepulls!
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Old 01-26-09, 11:58 AM   #3
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I think the 60s were the heyday for centerpulls in the racing world. The French continued to use them in racing well into the 70s.
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Old 01-26-09, 12:01 PM   #4
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Good side-pulls - which used to be considered inferior to center-pulls - came back by about 1980. Campy was the rage, and many manufacturers started making them. For better, or worse. Then mtn. bikes came in, and the new rage was cantilevers.
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Old 01-26-09, 12:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by triplebutted View Post
Ohhhh, title is wrong, should be centerpulls give way to sidepulls!
I think the original question is valid, sidepulls were the originals which eventually gave way to centerpulls. EVeryone copied the MAFAC design, even universal introduced a centerpull in the 1960s (but maintained a sidepull model also, the universal extra).. in anycase, by the early 1970s centerpulls were a thing of the past on race bikes but continued to appear on entry level and lower end bicycles into the 1980s... one place centerpulls should ALWAYS be used is mixtes. They were made for sidepulls, anything else just looks wrong.
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Old 01-26-09, 12:03 PM   #6
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I think the original question is valid, sidepulls were the originals which eventually gave way to centerpulls. EVeryone copied the MAFAC design, even universal introduced a centerpull in the 1960s (but maintained a sidepull model also, the universal extra).. in anycase, by the early 1970s centerpulls were a thing of the past on race bikes but continued to appear on entry level and lower end bicycles into the 1980s... one place centerpulls should ALWAYS be used is mixtes. They were made for sidepulls, anything else just looks wrong.
Ohhh, good piece of history. I always thought the geneology was Center's-->sidepulls--to whatever I remember from 1982...

I'm digging those bikes with mafacs on them. I need to start thinking of a project that will have good racing style centerpulls....
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Old 01-26-09, 12:17 PM   #7
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someone please explain to me the performance differences of centerpull vs. sidepull(single and dual pivot) performance wise if assuming similar levels of quality
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Old 01-26-09, 12:41 PM   #8
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one place centerpulls should ALWAYS be used is mixtes.
Provided that centerpull caliper is mounted on the intermediary center stays. Anything else is a disaster.

-Kurt
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Old 01-26-09, 01:11 PM   #9
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I'd guess center and sidepulls ran concurrent in the 50s; centerpulls popular in the 60s until about 1970, when Campagnolo brought out their sidepulls. From what I saw in the 70s, the racing crowd preferred sidepulls, the Weinmann 500s were pretty good if your frame was tight enough to run them, and if you couldn't afford Campagnolo you'd go with Universal. Though with many of the frames of the day, you were stuck with centerpulls due to the generous clearances.

People say centerpulls have a greater mechanical advantage; I've always preferred sidepulls myself, but it may just be looks and simplicity. Any brake will more or less stop you: some take more planning that others!
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Old 01-26-09, 01:14 PM   #10
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the move to centerpulls had been made before my time. By the time I started paying attention to brakes in the early '70s, you had cheap bikes with sidepulls, middle to high end with centerpulls, and Campy Record.

My first decent bike came with racks and it had cantilevers. Cantilevers were mostly used on cyclocross and tandems, with the occasional touring bike thrown in.
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Old 01-26-09, 01:24 PM   #11
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I prefer the look of centerpulls, and they seem to offer more clearance than anything save for cantilevers. how do centerpulls compare to modern dual pivot sidepulls?
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Old 01-26-09, 01:50 PM   #12
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As cyclotoine posts, Mafac introduced their centerpull brake at a time everyone else had sidepulls. The Mafacs were very popular - so much so, that everyone else (which at the time was primarily Universal and GB) scrambled to catch up, leading to the Universal 61 and GB Coureur, and centerpulls dominated the 60's. You can pretty much document the swing back to sidepulls, which was fairly sudden in the pro ranks, by looking at pictures of Eddy Merckx in 1968. At the Tour of Flanders, his bike had Universal sidepulls. At the Giro, his bike had sidepulls. By 1969 at the latest, virtually everyone using Campagnolo components had the new sidepulls, and again, other manufacturers scrambled to catch up. The exception was of course the teams riding French components, primarily Peugeot, which retained the Mafac sidepulls (often with braze-on mountings).
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Old 01-26-09, 02:20 PM   #13
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My guess - and it's a guess - is that the swings back and forth were due to basic R&D. Various companies made brakes, and each tried to make them better than the other guy's.

The good old fashioned Mafac Racer was pretty much state-of-the-art by the end of the 1950's. It stopped better than other brakes. It also did not hurt that, because it was French, it was on the French bikes ridden by Frenchmen Louison Bobet and Jacques Anquetil, who won 8 Tours de France between them in the mid-50's to mid-60's.

By the end of the 60's, Campy had figured out how to make sidepulls that were lighter and worked roughly as well as Mafacs. They also had a finish that Mafac, Universal, and the others, could not touch. (Of course, you paid for it, too.) Mafac countered with the Pro, which was essentially a shaved-down version of the Racer. It survioved in the pro peloton until at least 1977, when Bernard Thevenet won his second Tour using the latest and greatest version of them.

There is one other matter - the quick-release mechaism. The Mafac "quick release" was to unhook one end of the yolk cable. What happens if you forget to undo the quick release with a Mafac? It ain't pretty. Until recent iterations of Campy brakes (which require a brake kever with a built-in quick release), quality sidepulls had some sort of cam device on the calipers themselves. If you forgot to reset it, it just meant that you pulled your levers further to make the brakes work. Much safer. Weinmann and others got around this by having the quick release mechanism built into the cable housing stop above the brake, but that always looked kind of . . . . funky.

Then someone figured out the whole "double pivot" sidepull design, with increased stopping power, sidepull looks, and only a slight weight penalty over singel-pivot sidepulls.

All of this strikes me as the kind of incremental change that is pretty standard in most products. Somebody builds a mouse trap, the next guy looks to build a better one. "Better" can be matter of looks, weight, function, convenience, or combination of them. In the not-too-distant future, someone will come up with the next "latest and greatest" for brakes. Who knows, it might even be centerpulls.
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Old 01-26-09, 02:41 PM   #14
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Wait? You guys use sidepulls?


I still prefer center pulls.
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Old 01-26-09, 02:49 PM   #15
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I think its the Mafac riders who are crashing and going off the cliff here:

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Old 01-26-09, 03:00 PM   #16
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bikingshearer

Did you mean Mafac Competition rather than Pro?
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Old 01-26-09, 03:03 PM   #17
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Provided that centerpull caliper is mounted on the intermediary center stays. Anything else is a disaster.

-Kurt
Agreed. My Gitane tandem is like a mixte for the stoker, but the canti studs are on the seat-stays rather than the mid-stays, forcing an utterly ridiculous pulley system. I guess this was done for the sake of heel clearance, but it seems much more complex than it needs to be.
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Old 01-26-09, 03:04 PM   #18
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In the pre WWII era almost all racing bicycles used side pulls. Mafac started to popularize their various versions of center pulls in the 50's. I am an expert on this having spent far too many years of my youth studying the pictures of my cycling heroes. Sometime around 1966 ( I am no historical expert with dates) Campy introduced their sidepull brakes, which were quite nice at the time. The Campy's were so nice that Mafac had to upgrade their center pulls just to get twerps like me to buy them. VERY few of these upgraded Mafac center pulls made it to the states. Most stateside Mafac brakes were the cheesy "RACER" models. Most everybody started lusting after Campy side pulls after Gimondi and Merckx dominated the Tour De France with them. By the mid 70's even Thevenet was sporting Campy side pulls in an otherwise French gruppo.
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Old 01-26-09, 03:22 PM   #19
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I think the move back to side pulls probably was facilitated by the move to tighter clearances allowing for the short reach brakes so that the lack of efficiency wasn't so drastic. The the reduced weight possible did make them preferable. Plus the lack of a need for a cable stop on the headset and seat post clamp...

The dual pivot design obviously helped braking efficiency too.

The latest Campagnolo brakes have gone back to single pivot for the rear brake where efficiency isn't as critical to save a few grams.
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Old 01-26-09, 04:18 PM   #20
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What about dual-pivots historically?

I have an old Raleigh (early 1970s), that has a pair of Altenburger Syncro (or somesuch) brakes, and they look at first glance like sidepull, but have pivot points similar to the center pull brakes.

And MAN do they ever work well.
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Old 01-26-09, 04:24 PM   #21
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Agreed. My Gitane tandem is like a mixte for the stoker, but the canti studs are on the seat-stays rather than the mid-stays, forcing an utterly ridiculous pulley system. I guess this was done for the sake of heel clearance, but it seems much more complex than it needs to be.
Pulley system? You should be lucky that you have a pulley system and not a cable stop hanging off the seatpost binder.

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Old 01-26-09, 05:10 PM   #22
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Good side-pulls - which used to be considered inferior to center-pulls - came back by about 1980. Campy was the rage, and many manufacturers started making them. For better, or worse. Then mtn. bikes came in, and the new rage was cantilevers.
Side pull brakes among racers and wannabe's started taking over with the intro of the Campagnolo Record sidepull, 1968 for the pro's. Then by 1970, the masses wanted them, at about $60.+ a pair. Outrageous at the time.

In the 60's Mafac center pulls were probably the best choice.
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Old 01-26-09, 06:55 PM   #23
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The introduction of the Campy sidepulls changed everything. It was the first really quality brakes produced. They had much nicer levers, and the braking action was superbe. You could actually control your braking and even the pads were of superior grade. And they were very expensive at the time they were introduced.

At the first Boul. Mich. Bike Rally, one of the all time great races sponsered by Raleigh in Chicago, a set of Campy brakes was a lap prime in the Intermediate race!!!!
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Old 01-26-09, 09:35 PM   #24
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I have centerpulls on my '82 Team Miyata... ahead or behind of their time??
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Old 01-27-09, 02:58 AM   #25
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someone please explain to me the performance differences of centerpull vs. sidepull(single and dual pivot) performance wise if assuming similar levels of quality
Just got a '75 peugeot mixte (fairly low-end mix of components I think) with Mafac "Racer" centerpulls. Oh man, what a revelation! You can fit them with long canti-lever pads, and they have some stopping power. They are way better than even the 105 sidepulls on my mid-80's Trek, which I always thought were pretty good. And anything less than 105 sidepulls, like old Dia-compe, are junk and should be disgarded, imho. I even removed some weak mid-80s Campi Gran Sport sidepulls from my Italian bike.
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