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Best Center-pull Brakes?

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Best Center-pull Brakes?

Old 07-21-20, 04:22 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
That's interesting. I do like to brake from the hoods, even when I'm using brake systems that weren't designed for it. I've got short fingers and sometimes have a hard time reaching the lever from the drops. Using Weinmann levers with Weinmann centerpulls and old pads on my Raleigh, I found this to be less than satisfactory. When I replaced the brakes with dual pivot Tektros, it went much better. I'm probably still going to switch to modern Tektro-clone levers for comfort.
I'm sure the dual pivots would make them stronger from the hoods. Going to a higher MA caliper is going to improve the braking power to effort ratio. FWIW I use modern TRP RRL levers with the Gran Compe 610 repops on my touring bike, and they are quite satisfactory. I'd rate them subjectively about the same as modern TRP dual pivots and modern Ultegra brifters on my 'modern' bike, plus I don't have to fiddle with the cable adjuster to get the wheel out. I'd recommend the TRP levers if you're braking from the hoods mostly, not just for comfort, but for safety. They are going to be harder for your hands to bounce out of than an old Weinmann brake lever, and they are designed to be used from the hood position.

Originally Posted by Last ride 76 View Post
Does anyone else remember when they found out that no, center-pull brakes were not always better than side-pulls.
Yeah, I think it was when is saw my first Italian racing bike in a shop in the late 70s. It was white. It cost over $1000 (!!!!). I think it was a Pogliaghi. I had never seen anything like it. I did think, "Why does it have side pull brakes?"

Center pull brakes always were better than the side pulls that came on Huffys, All Pros, Royce Unions, and the like. That's what I knew.
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Old 07-21-20, 04:28 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by ddeand View Post
Maybe it would help if I clarified my setup a bit more thoroughly. The initial build up of the bike used a bunch of parts I had on hand - that’s why I’m slowly looking at improving what I have now. The brakes are Weinmann, the cables and housings are new Jagwire braided, the levers are Shimano 105, and the pads, while new, are no-name. I’m willing to cede that the quality of the pads could be suspect, but other bikes with these pads seem to be able to stop. As far as describing the term “efficient”, I guess I’d say that compared with my other bikes (canti and side-pull), I need to use roughly 50% more pressure to attain the same stopping effectiveness. With my canti bike, when I installed a set of highly rated brakes, the stopping power definitely improved. I have also had good experiences with Kool Stop pads. I just wonder if proceeding incrementally would be best, or if I could greatly increase the effectiveness by getting different brakes. I’ve attached a pic of the front setup - let me know if you see anything amiss. And thanks for all the suggestions!

Looking at the setup one issue is the rims on the bike are significantly narrower than the rims these brakes were intended for this can be compensated for by adding washers between the pads and the inside of the calipers which will correct the leverage along with adding a slightly more toe in on the front should help braking significantly and will won't cost you anything to try before you spend a lot on upgrades also a set of thin bronze on the front of each brake helps about $3 at your local hardware store

Last edited by zukahn1; 07-21-20 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 07-21-20, 04:57 PM
  #28  
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They used to make various different length straddle cables for Weinmann/Dia-Compe brakes. IIRC the old ones were most often 110mm. The only currently available ones are 100mm. If the current ones are 110, replacing them with 100mm straddle cables would increase the mechanical advantage slightly. Another hack is to use a modern Tektro hanger/yoke. That produced a noticeable improvement for me. I did briefly run a very short straddle cable with a "knarp". It of course increased the mechanical advantage and ease of braking, but it kind of ruined the modulation and made the brakes really weird on/off feeling. I took it off pretty quickly.

I don't think narrow rims are a problem necessarily, but as zukahn1 says, the brakes do need to be set up for them. BITD Weinmann 610 were used all the time with Rigida 1320 rims, which were quite narrow. There were different brake pads available to compensate. You do want the arms to be roughly perpendicular when the pads are hitting the rims, not starting to angle up. My gut feeling is that the questionable brake pads are a big part of the problem. I currently have reissue GC610 brakes, and the generic pads they came with sucked. Braking was much better when I switched to modern dura pads. IME the old stock Weinmann pads used to brake well too, but any still floating around out there are likely pretty dried up and toasty.

You might try different levers too. As I said above, I like mine with the TRP RRL levers.

Are all the housing ends nicely ground/filed and terminated with ferrules if applicable?
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Old 07-21-20, 05:30 PM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
One advantage of the MAFAC brakes is that you don’t need a bell. Their squealing when actuated can be heard from miles around.
Aye but they pale in comparison to the beautiful Dia Compe NGC450s!



Some of the most beautiful, and loudest, brakes ever made. See the shine, hear the whine!
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Old 07-21-20, 05:49 PM
  #30  
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The first year that I raced off-road in sometimes-wet conditions with Weinmann 750's was the year that I made a few mods, to prevent any more "white knuckle" descents with the shiny anodized MA40 rims.

First thing was long-style Matthauser threaded pads, then I added tethers to remove off-axis forces from the pivots.
Moving on, I made a booster bridge.
Then sourced a very short "straddle" cable that actually was actually half of a cantilever's straddle cable. I had to take apart the caliper to install the super-short straddle cable.
Later on, I fitted compressionless housing when It was time to replace the cables.
The result was predictably a lot of leverage even though these were the longer 750 calipers. And the elimination of bending torque at the pivots using the tethers makes for a frictionless and solid modulation that rivals hydraulic discs.


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Old 07-21-20, 05:52 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
I'm sure the dual pivots would make them stronger from the hoods. Going to a higher MA caliper is going to improve the braking power to effort ratio. FWIW I use modern TRP RRL levers with the Gran Compe 610 repops on my touring bike, and they are quite satisfactory. I'd rate them subjectively about the same as modern TRP dual pivots and modern Ultegra brifters on my 'modern' bike, plus I don't have to fiddle with the cable adjuster to get the wheel out. I'd recommend the TRP levers if you're braking from the hoods mostly, not just for comfort, but for safety. They are going to be harder for your hands to bounce out of than an old Weinmann brake lever, and they are designed to be used from the hood position.



Yeah, I think it was when is saw my first Italian racing bike in a shop in the late 70s. It was white. It cost over $1000 (!!!!). I think it was a Pogliaghi. I had never seen anything like it. I did think, "Why does it have side pull brakes?"

Center pull brakes always were better than the side pulls that came on Huffys, All Pros, Royce Unions, and the like. That's what I knew.
A little knowledge being a dangerous thing, I applied it to all bikes/brakes. I was still young. I try to have a more nuanced view at least in some instances these days.
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Old 07-21-20, 05:58 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
Rene Herse Compass has forged "Racer" brakes. I'm curious why CNC are not safe enough for you.
Forging aligns the grain of the metal with the shape of the part (assuming the forging was properly thought out). This means that scratches and cracks are not likely propagate. A CNC'd part has the grain structure of the raw plate. That grain is effective across the plate (ie fore and aft for a machined brake arm) but not along the arc of the arm or resisting the force of the cable pull. So, yes, Paul does a super job of making brakes without a single blemish, but 20 years of Ben's neglect and clumsy hands means the scratches will be there. Do I remember to replace them because I've had them that long? Probably not.

Have I owned Mafacs that long? Well, first pair went 22,000 miles then got thrown onto another frame for another 8. I probably laid frame #1 down two dozen times, killing it on a car door. I'm on my third pair (I think) and have roughly 85,000 miles on that "bike". (All parts including frames have been replace at least 4 times. There was a stint where the brakes were cantis but the fork got replaced fairly early.

Now, Paul machining on a forged part - that would be both cool and all-time classic! I'd pay for those (and ride them into the ground in my next lifetime).

Ben
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Old 07-21-20, 07:01 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
The first year that I raced off-road in sometimes-wet conditions with Weinmann 750's was the year that I made a few mods, to prevent any more "white knuckle" descents with the shiny anodized MA40 rims.

First thing was long-style Matthauser threaded pads, then I added tethers to remove off-axis forces from the pivots.
Moving on, I made a booster bridge.
Then sourced a very short "straddle" cable that actually was actually half of a cantilever's straddle cable. I had to take apart the caliper to install the super-short straddle cable.
Later on, I fitted compressionless housing when It was time to replace the cables.
The result was predictably a lot of leverage even though these were the longer 750 calipers. And the elimination of bending torque at the pivots using the tethers makes for a frictionless and solid modulation that rivals hydraulic discs.
Takes an engineer
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Old 07-21-20, 09:28 PM
  #34  
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Thanks to all of you who have contributed to this thread - I’m learning a lot! Apparently, you can teach an old dog old tricks.
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Old 07-21-20, 09:39 PM
  #35  
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Rebuilt Weinmanns work very well...






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Old 07-22-20, 05:05 AM
  #36  
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One advantage of the MAFAC brakes is that you don’t need a bell. Their squealing when actuated can be heard from miles around.
Geeze, wish I could find a set like that. Once set up, my Racers function better than most center or side pulls of the same era and with no squeal. Toe-in is of great importance for quiet braking, which brings me to another point...

To properly set-up brakes you start at the hub. Hubs must be properly adjusted, to eliminate bearing flop or wiggle or looseness (do not pre-load). With the hubs set-up, turn your attention to the rims. A wobbly rim will not allow for proper brake adjustment and controlled clearance between pads and rims when not being applied. Ensure the wheels are trued up.

Next clean braking surfaces on the rims is important. So, clean the rims (I am speaking about alloy, it the rims are steel, off they come and away they go).

Now, with decent pads and properly functioning cables, turn your attention to the brake caliper. Ensure that the tension nut, or what ever it is called, sets the calipers arms not too free (just loose enough to allow the springs to return the calipers to their position of rest). Next, ensure that the pads are toed-in. Why I like the Mafacs so much is that they offer a toe-in adjustment opportunity (no bending of caliper arms or sanding of brake pads required). Put a bit of grease on the yoke and spring ends (close to brake caliper arms).

That is, pretty much, how I set-up my brakes and they seem to work pretty darn good but there is no way that they can be compared to a new V or disc brake system.
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Old 07-22-20, 05:30 AM
  #37  
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I'm partial to these



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Old 07-22-20, 07:43 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
I'm partial to these



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Old 07-22-20, 08:58 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by randyjawa View Post
The absolute best vintage center pull brakes that I have experienced has to be the Mafac Racer or Competition! These calipers, when properly set-up are great looking and working vintage stoppers. Not only do they look and work well, but they can be toed-in with minimal effort and no damage. For my money, the Mafac offering is top drawer...
Worst centerpull brakes: MAFAC's (Racer/Competition/2000/RAID/etc.) if adjusted poorly with old, hardened pads
Best centerpull brakes: MAFAC's (Racer/Competition/2000/RAID/etc.) if adjusted properly with new Koolstop pads
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Old 07-22-20, 02:18 PM
  #40  
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Steel rims ... a braking delight. Not.
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Old 07-22-20, 02:34 PM
  #41  
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Just my experience.

Weinmann are more flexy than Gran Compe (original production, not the modern repros. Haven't tried them.), and kool stop vbrake pads are a nice upgrade since they allow greater flexibility when trying to center the pad on the rim.
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Old 07-22-20, 05:35 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by branko_76 View Post
Rebuilt Weinmanns work very well...






You make a good point! 45 year old brakes deserve a little maintenance before you judge them.

Weinmann centerpulls, along with their French competition, were just about athe best brakes you could get when they were introduced in the late 50's. Sad to say, the earlier ones were nicer than what they were making twenty years later. And the Deluxe model was very nice indeed, came in anodized colors too.
If I had them on a Raleigh International, I probably wouldn't change them. Part of the fun of an old bike is that you meet it on its own terms.
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Old 07-22-20, 05:45 PM
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Hmm, maybe I should disassemble and clean/whatever the 750s on my Super Course, because they are mysteriously not working well. I'll figure out why.
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Old 07-23-20, 03:59 PM
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Again, thanks for all the comments. I think my action plan will be to go the incremental route. I’ll get some Kool Stop pads (I’,m partial to the salmon or the combo pads), mess around with the straddle cables, realign the pads with the rims, and maybe look at different levers. If I’m still not satisfied, I’ll probably find different brakes. Or maybe I should just go really slowly.
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Old 07-23-20, 04:16 PM
  #45  
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Old 07-23-20, 05:07 PM
  #46  
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I can’t call this one with certainty because I try hard to stay far from anything Shimano. I do know that S- continually reinvented the wheel and that I’ve improved the performance of multiple Mafac and Weinmann brakes by ditching the Shimano levers and reverting to original. Some of those bikes barely stopped at all, with correct levers instant perfect braking.

Weinmann brakes were very very good. If they had discontinued after the first million or so they would be ultra sought after collector items. Weinmann reliability is total. Some of the later and odd brakes were not much, the 999 series just always works and never breaks. The earlier ones are better. My Bates has the single spring version from ‘58 or ‘59, there should be no significant mechanical difference between those and later calipers but they are just plain strong, even with pads all the way to bottom of slot on 750s

Forget shims, get the wider rims the calipers were made for. Get wider tires at same time. Wider tires always improve braking performance. Wider tires work better with wider rims.

All little details matter. Bend the straddle cable so it fits the triangle, so the first bit of travel is not wasted straightening that out.
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Old 07-23-20, 07:11 PM
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It's funny to realize that bike brakes were nearly perfected over 50 years ago.
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Old 07-25-20, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
It's funny to realize that bike brakes were nearly perfected over 50 years ago.
As were derailleurs
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Old 07-25-20, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
It's funny to realize that bike brakes were nearly perfected over 50 years ago.
It's true, not that different bikes with quite similar-looking setups can work poorly or work great.

What this means is that there is still room for marketing brake "improvements"

I've noticed a trend recently though, people whose bikes can't start or maybe can't complete a ride, due to issues having to do with tubeless tires, disc brakes or electronic shifting.
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Old 07-25-20, 06:01 PM
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The beauty of a bicycle is its simplicity and robustness. When unnecessary complications are introduced, the simplicity and robustness are sacrificed.
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