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  1. #1
    Seasoned Rider/Wrench
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    1973 Dura Ace Calipers

    I recently came into possession of a very nice set of Shimano DA calipers. Now I very familiar with DA from about 1980 on (7400) but these are unique. From searching the web I believe (from a Sheldon Brown detail showing the 1973 DA catalog) these are from 1973, the first year of DA. They are simple but elegant and in very good shape. I was wondering if anyone out there knows if these are gems/junk or somewhere inbetween. thanks, in advance, for any help on these.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member cyclotoine's Avatar
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    They are of great quality and you are fortunate to have the original barrel adjusters but it is unfortunate that you do not have the original pads (did they have holders with replaceable pads?). Early Dura-Ace was nice... I sold a Crane/Dura-ace derailleur and shifter set a few years ago which I should have held onto as I have a rare and lovely set of first generation dura-ace black hubs laced to weinmann 27" concave rims and I sure could have built up a cool bike. I think I prefer 1st gen Dura-ace to first Gen Suntour Cyclone, I think it was a superior product from a durability point of view.
    1 Super Record bike, 1 Nuovo Record bike, 1 Pista, 1 Road, 1 Cyclocross/Allrounder, 1 MTB, 1 Touring, 1 Fixed gear

  3. #3
    Senior Member javal's Avatar
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    Top notch! In my opinion you cant do any better from that era.
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    Gone World Hepster 23skidoo's Avatar
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    total crap. just box them up and ship them to me immediately.
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    I have the same ones with the original brake pad holders (but not the brake pads) - even used them back in the day. Great brakes. I wish I had also kept their replacements: Dura-Ace calipers with the "double arm" - modern SRAM brakes use this design on their calipers today. Hmmmm....

  6. #6
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I still have the set that I bought new. The holders have no provision for changing the pads. The rear quick release has never worked right. The tire guides rusted. There is no provision for centering them with a wrench. I still think they're great brakes.

    I think I see black plastic on your qr's. The ones in the catalog don't have that. Mine didn't have it originally, but I used black Plasti Dip to hide some rust pits. Yours may be a slightly later version.
    Last edited by Grand Bois; 03-16-09 at 08:19 AM.

  7. #7
    Seasoned Rider/Wrench
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    73 DA calipers

    Quote Originally Posted by cyclotoine View Post
    They are of great quality and you are fortunate to have the original barrel adjusters but it is unfortunate that you do not have the original pads (did they have holders with replaceable pads?). Early Dura-Ace was nice... I sold a Crane/Dura-ace derailleur and shifter set a few years ago which I should have held onto as I have a rare and lovely set of first generation dura-ace black hubs laced to weinmann 27" concave rims and I sure could have built up a cool bike. I think I prefer 1st gen Dura-ace to first Gen Suntour Cyclone, I think it was a superior product from a durability point of view.
    Hi. I figured the the pads were not correct. They are one piece "dia comp". that's how I got them. I'm not sure what I want to do with them...This is the only piece I got with the rest of the bike being 72-73 Nuovo Record. I am thinking of building a 70s Italian with NR so I am still missing some pieces.

  8. #8
    Chrome Freak Rabid Koala's Avatar
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    I have a pair that I once used on a Raleigh International. They were excellent brakes and nicely finished.
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  9. #9
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    FWIW, I had a set of the black anodised ones that I found to be incredibly hard to adjust correctly and keep adjusted. I ended up replacing them. But it sounds as if others think they're pretty great.

  10. #10
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    These were the first brakes that could compete with the Campy sidepulls on anything remotely like even terms. Like all of the first-generation high-end Shimano stuff (including the Crane RD), they were machined and polished to very close to Campy standards, so they looked good. Each part came with something extra in the box, e.g. the crankset came with a crank arm puller (still have mine), a allen wrench for the screw-on dust caps and chainring bolts, and even the little tool-gizmo for the back of the chainring bolts so they wouldn't spin when you tightened or loosened them.

    Oh, and each part cost about half what the equivalent Campy part was going for. Ahhh, those were the days.

    I had the first-gen cranks, hubs and derailleurs. Absolute bargains. As a broke high school student, I couldn't justify the cost of the brakes when Mafac Competitions were available for even less . . . .

    Sadly, all those wonderful components disappeared when someone stole my early-70's Bob Jackson out of my garage in the early 90's.
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  11. #11
    Strong Walker martl's Avatar
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    in my opinion, these are the best brakes of their period, especially in the long version (57mm; was there a short version too?). i don't think they were polished, they have a glassballed finish.
    And it isn't very hard to perform better than Campagnolos of that time, those were mediocre at best; i hear Mafac centerpulls were easily better.

  12. #12
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    Funny, just yesterday the boyz down at the lbs all but tackled me and prevented me from leaving the shop unless I bought their sad old set of Dura Ace brakes, apparently the 2d gen.

    I wrote up a blog post about this incident w/pic here.

    Anyhow, these did not have the barrel adjusters. Any common solutions to this problem, other than hoping some drop out of the sky into my lap, like the yellow bar plugs did for the Mondia?

    Seem like nice enough brakes, although I have no use for them currently.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I had them on my Gitane for a while, but I replaced them with proper Mafac Competitions. Now they're sitting on a shelf waiting for the right bike.



    They were the first Dura Ace parts I'd ever seen and I thought it was a silly name. I still do.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtdrop View Post
    They were the first Dura Ace parts I'd ever seen and I thought it was a silly name. I still do.
    Just pretend they were trying to sound Italian. Pronounced "Doo-RAH-chay".

  15. #15
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    The second generation calipers were stiffer, but yours do not have the adjusters/quick release combo fittings and replacement pads.

    The original pads were a bit soft, but that is why the stopped well I think. found on ebait from time to time, sometimes commanding high prices for the set, which came with holders and pads, but no fixing bolts.

    You are missing the tire guides too they fit into the caliper arms and were plastic dipped and fit the early calipers also.

    While the second generation Dura-Ace brakes (also often called EX) lacked the nice centering feature patented by Campagnolo, they were assembled differently, so an allen key in the pivot bolt could center them almost as well.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Whose brakes are you referring to? I don't see any with missing tire guides. The original 1973 brakes did not have plastic dipped guides. They had lousy chrome that rusted within a few years. I dipped mine myself to hide the rust pits. The ones shown in the catalog on the Harris Cyclery site are identical to mine.

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