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How much better are Weinmann Centerpulls than Sidepulls?

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How much better are Weinmann Centerpulls than Sidepulls?

Old 08-05-19, 03:50 PM
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Kilroy1988 
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How much better are Weinmann Centerpulls than Sidepulls?

So I have a pair of Weinmann 999 Vainqueur center-pulls as well as a pair of 605 side-pulls. I know the Vainqueurs work well and are reliable brakes, but with a current build I'd rather prefer to streamlined aspect of the 605s. Just due to the differences in the technology I'm sure the center-pulls work better, but my question is how much better? Do the 605s work well enough to hold their own?

Thanks!

-Gregory
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Old 08-05-19, 04:42 PM
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I own a number of bikes. I have cantilevers, side-pull, center-pull and dual pivots. In my opinion the difference between all of them is small enough that I would go by appearances if I had a preference.

Now, I have ridden disk brakes... huge difference!
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Old 08-05-19, 05:28 PM
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There a lot of factors that dictate how well brakes perform.

Centerpulls are a little bulkier than sidepulls, which in theory means they are stiffer and flex less than sidepulls. But the flex might mostly be in the arms, which aren't that different than sidepulls. YMMV.

I like them better because they have better tire clearance and are sometimes slightly easier to center. For me the braking power feels about the same as a good sidepulls.
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Old 08-05-19, 05:43 PM
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To define better an ideal has to be in mind first. Apples and oranges. Both have strengths and weaknesses. In ye olden days we would have said: side pull for racing, center pull for touring.

Sidepulls are lighter and more aero. They will track a wheel that is out of true better. The feel is a little more direct. Weinmann sidepulls are a bit flexy and kind of meh in general, but they do the job.

For the modern rider, centerpulls will feel stronger with less finger effort. Higher MA and stiffer calipers. I liked Weinmann CP BITD and I still do. You have at least some chance of braking from the hoods kind of sorta working. (I still don't recommend it - brake from the drops)

I think if you put some koolstop pads on the sidepulls, they will work just fine.
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Old 08-05-19, 06:13 PM
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^^^^^^ +1 Kool-Stops; pad quality will probably make a bigger difference than type of brake caliper. If you have a choice, beyond just availability, I would select based on closest match to what would have been original to the year, make and model of the subject bike.
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Old 08-05-19, 06:21 PM
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Thanks for the input thus far, folks. The bike is a 1979 Mercian so it would have been built up to the original customer's specifications, and I received it as a bare frame set so I can really do whatever I please! Both the 999s and the 605s would have been made that year, according to my research. I'll have to configure the frame a bit to make sure the 605s will actually reach around the fenders I might be using, now that I think about it.

I'm glad to know that some folks don't think the difference in general performance is very drastic. For whatever reason I feel as though I'm having to unlearn something that I gathered from spending time on this forum, in fact... But perhaps the issue with side-pulls was with some of the Weinmann models in particular, and not the technology overall.

I'll definitely be using Kool-Stop brake pads with either choice! That's a given for me these days. Cheers!

-Gregory
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Old 08-05-19, 06:29 PM
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...if you can lock up the wheels on dry pavement, your brakes are good enough to suit me.

You can do that with either of those brakesets, according to my experiments in the secret underground laboratory here.
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Old 08-05-19, 07:22 PM
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I must suck with cable pull. Never was able to lock up a Weinmann side pull before the 80's models appeared. Then it was all over.
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Old 08-05-19, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
I must suck with cable pull. Never was able to lock up a Weinmann side pull before the 80's models appeared. Then it was all over.
...if you can take them back with you in the time machine, load up on some die drawn slick brake cables and some plastic lined housing. Throw in some decent more modern brake pads and make sure you're not lazy and squeezing the lever from the top pf the hoods. Hopefully the time machine will also restore your hand strength and flexibility to pre-80's levels.
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Old 08-05-19, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
.. Hopefully the time machine will also restore your hand strength and flexibility to pre-80's levels.
There'd have to be a true, Monty Pythonesque God to reverse the carpal tunnel surgery I had on my right wrist back in 1996. Think Gilliam Big Finger emerging from clouds and zapping my forearm. The more surgeons I meet, the worse off I get.

Please, not a P&R discussion. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 08-05-19, 09:39 PM
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Most brake calipers have similar mechanical advantages, but you can alter a centerpull's MA by changing the length of the straddle cable. (This is trivial on a MAFAC, doable on a Weinmann/Diacompe if you either rig up a cable clamp like the MAFAC system or can find a different length of straddle cable.) You can gain an additional 10 to 15 percent braking force by switching to aero brake levers. For me, the biggest safety factor in a panic stop is how quickly and firmly I can grab the brake lever, which is why I strongly prefer the old Weinmanns and some Shimanos over almost anything else. The Modolos and MAFACs are just too long in the reach for me.
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Old 08-05-19, 10:13 PM
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If you really want to improve centerpulls, braze on some mounting studs; it costs and ruins the paint, but the brakes work better.
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Old 08-06-19, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
So I have a pair of Weinmann 999 Vainqueur center-pulls as well as a pair of 605 side-pulls. I know the Vainqueurs work well and are reliable brakes, but with a current build I'd rather prefer to streamlined aspect of the 605s. Just due to the differences in the technology I'm sure the center-pulls work better, but my question is how much better? Do the 605s work well enough to hold their own?

Thanks!

-Gregory
It really is subjective. The differences are so small that setup, consumable parts, and personal preference for feel can and will lead different riders to different choices/opinions. Experience is the only way to know what you like and don't like, here.

Many people like Weinmann centerpulls. I don't. I am not alone in this, either. Many others don't like 605s, or 500s. I do. I only know this because I've used them all. I much prefer Mafacs to Weinmann CPs, even the levers.

Best thing would be to try each set and decide for yourself. Maybe your decision will surprise you. Maybe not. Then you can be sure.
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Old 08-06-19, 07:32 AM
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People who have only ridden bikes with dual pivots or V brakes will try old brakes and say they "don't work" but it's because they're not used to squeezing hard enough. Not everyone is strong enough. If you're strong enough and don't mind squeezing hard, the 605s will be fine.
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Old 08-06-19, 07:46 AM
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605 Side Pulls vs 999 Center Pulls

By the 1970's the Weinmann 999 center pull brakes were called the 610 and 750 models which referred to the reach. They remained pretty much unchanged from the mid 60's until the 1980's. DiaCompe made exact copies.



There were several versions on the 605 side pulls. Differences in the quick releases, minor cosmetic changes and the brake pads and carriers. The 605 calipers began as dolled up versions of the old Weinmann 500 side pulls.

Early version 605 brakes with X-Block brake pads.


2nd generation 605 calipers?



Latest version???



Brake block material can make far more difference in stopping power than caliper style.

In 1975 Weinmann introduced their X-Block brake pads. They used a compound similar to KoolStop pads and improved the stopping power of all of the Weinmann products. Some of the old X-Block pads that aren't too hard from age still work better than the knockoffs from Jagwire.

KoolStop is making X-Block pads to fit Weinmann brakes. They also make both types of the old style pads - 7 dot and 4 dot in red or black compounds. They are well worth the ~$25 cost.




Weinmann 605 brakes came standard on my1983 Peugeot PSV-10. They work adequately but not like dual pivots. I'm running Jagwire pads in them now but I'm going to replace them with KoolStop pads.



All of these style Weinmann side pulls are a PIA to center without the proper sized tool to fit on the recessed hex nut inside the plastic housing on the center axle. I found a 1/4" drive socket the was the right tool. Can't remember what it was size but I'll repost when I go down to my shop later.

BTW, Mafac and Universal center pull brakes were standard on most pro racing bikes until Campagnolo came out with their side pulls in 1969. Some pros continued to use Mafac center pulls until maybe 1972.

Regardless of performance, center pull were suddenly out! Everyone had to have side pulls! Image is everything...

The 1971 Raleigh Competition beater bike that I bought last year came with a NOS set of DiaCompe 610 knockoff center pulls. I sanded about 1mm off of the pad surfaces and I was surprised at how well they stop.

I recommend sanding a little off of the braking surface of new pads too, even KoolStop pads. The top surface is hard or gets hard with age. Exposing the softer material underneath gives improved braking.

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Old 08-06-19, 08:52 AM
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Weinmann 500 calipers had the "pull" on the right side whereas the 605 calipers and others coming out at the time had the pull on the left. I suspect this is because Campagnolo made side pull brakes hip again, and all the makers wanted to have more in common with those.



It seems to me that the alloy that Weinmann used resulted in arms that were more flexible than the higher end stuff. I used Weinmann 500s on a loaded tour. They were challenging to use. I squeezed very hard, and a lot of my energy went into flexing the arms rather than onto the rim. I did manage, but I've been blessed with strong and oversized hands.

One of these days, I will publish a video showing my techniques for centering single pivot side pull brakes. As @verktyg says, they can be a pain to center, depending on the design.
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Old 08-06-19, 08:59 AM
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I noticed a difference between Weinmann center pulls and Dia Compe calipers that look identical. The Weinmanns have two windings (or really one and a half) on the springs, and Dia Compe have three (or really two and a half). You can see this from the sides or tops.

Another difference I noticed was in performance. On bikes equipped with Dia Compe brakes, the leverage was higher. You needed less hand pressure, but if the brake wasn't adjusted tight, the lever would reach the bar before applying full force. We used to say that they felt spongier. I think the difference was in the lever, not the caliper. Perhaps the pivot point in the lever was closer to the cable attachment point in the handle. I don't know for sure.

Dia Compe:



Weinmann:

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Old 08-06-19, 08:59 AM
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I don't have a very high opinion of the Weinmann center pulls, and my limited experience tells me the side pulls are even worse. Small bearing area and flexy arms.

Make sure you adjust the center nut so that it is just tight enough to allow the arms to move freely, and then lock the two nuts together. A dab of grease on the shaft may help.

Then follow all the suggestions offered above. New pads, cable adjustment, etc.

I've had very good luck with Campagnolo sidepulls - but even on those, careful adjustment pays off.

Mark Petry
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Old 08-06-19, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post




One of these days, I will publish a video showing my techniques for centering single pivot side pull brakes. As @verktyg says, they can be a pain to center, depending on the design.
...I do the final adjustment for centering on single pivot side pull brakes with a pin punch and a hammer. The most difficult aspect of centering them is getting the spring level on the shaft,so it's pushing both sides out equally. The flat nose of the pin punch fits on the top of the high side of the spring, and then I tap it down gently with the hammer. Works for me.
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Old 08-06-19, 11:26 AM
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Those Weinmanns were also re-badged as "Schwinn Approved" on a lot of their old (ha ha) "lightweight" bikes.
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Old 08-06-19, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer View Post
...I do the final adjustment for centering on single pivot side pull brakes with a pin punch and a hammer. The most difficult aspect of centering them is getting the spring level on the shaft,so it's pushing both sides out equally. The flat nose of the pin punch fits on the top of the high side of the spring, and then I tap it down gently with the hammer. Works for me.
Yup. That's the technique. But I've described it to a lot of people who didn't get it until I demonstrated it or walked them through it. That's why I want a video. Rather than a punch, I have sometimes used the side of a wrench because it's appropriately blunt.
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Old 08-06-19, 11:54 AM
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Thanks again for all of the feedback, folks! I haven't used Weinmann side-pulls in a while but remember that between the lack of power and centering issues, I thought just about anything would be better. However, I also always used cheap brake pads and was using the older 500 series - I've read that the 605s were a bit of an improvement over that rather slender design.

I've got the 999s on another bike already and know I like them, so I might as well put the 605s on the current build for the sake of comparison and practice with getting them set up correctly.

Cheers!

-Gregory
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Old 08-06-19, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I noticed a difference between Weinmann center pulls and Dia Compe calipers that look identical. The Weinmanns have two windings (or really one and a half) on the springs, and Dia Compe have three (or really two and a half). You can see this from the sides or tops.

Another difference I noticed was in performance. On bikes equipped with Dia Compe brakes, the leverage was higher. You needed less hand pressure, but if the brake wasn't adjusted tight, the lever would reach the bar before applying full force. We used to say that they felt spongier. I think the difference was in the lever, not the caliper. Perhaps the pivot point in the lever was closer to the cable attachment point in the handle. I don't know for sure.
FWIW and strictly IME, I never could find any real difference in performance or even construction between the Dia Compe and Weinmann versions of these center pull brakes. I've looked for it, because it was pretty common for mechanics to say they were different BITD. Maybe there could be a slightly different hand feel because of the difference in springs that you mention. I think that is kind of trivial though. I find them virtually identical for all practical purposes - based on working on probably thousands of them.

Now, there is a big and real difference between the 610 and 750 versions of either brand. The long reach 750 type are noticeably more squooshy feeling and weaker, for fairly obvious reasons: the longer arms flex more and the MA is less. So if you compare a Weinmann 610 to a Dia Compe 750, yeah, the latter is going to lose. Mixed 610/750 sets were once common, as many here probably remember.

Another thing that makes a difference is the straddle wire length. New reissues only come with one length, but BITD you could get them in a wide variety of sizes. This definitely changes both the feel and the subjective braking strength. It's possible at various times one brand more commonly came with a different straddle length than the other.

For sure both companies used a variety of pads over the years. I might buy that Weinmanns came with better pads, at least some of the time, though I never noticed any big difference myself. Could be though. Might account for something.

I never noticed any differences in the red dot drop levers from either marque, but I never pulled apart a pair of each for inspection. I suppose it's possible something could be different. In my old shop, we used to keep just one little bin of those red dot pivots, and they would fit into both brands of lever no problem. I'd infer from this that everything else inside the levers was the same as well, but like I said I never did do a comparison take apart inspection, so who knows.
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Old 08-06-19, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I've described it to a lot of people who didn't get it until I demonstrated it or walked them through it. That's why I want should make a video.
Fixed that for ya.....
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Old 08-06-19, 04:17 PM
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I volunteer on Monday nights at a bike coop. We have lots of spare components and parts. If possible, I will compare the Dia Compe and Weinmann calipers and levers. I'm not sure we have them on hand, but it's possible.

And I will make a video of the side-pull centering technique. I might send it to RJ the Bike Guy so he can redo it. If he does that, it will add to his very large collection of useful techniques. I will use one caliper that has centering flats such as the Campagnolo. Most of the time, using that works, especially if you use a star washer. And I will use one caliper that doesn't have centering flats. Lots of people have told me that you can just loosen the fixing nut, move the caliper, and retighten the nut. They are wrong. Sometimes you just need to whack the spring. And I'm not sure, but I think that sometimes whacking the spring doesn't bend the spring but instead turns the center bolt the required amount. It doesn't matter how it works. The important thing is that it does work.
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“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments.” — Elizabeth West, US author

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