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Best Center-pull Brakes?

Old 07-25-20, 10:44 PM
  #51  
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I wish we had realized BITD that the only thing you needed to keep a MAFAC from squealing was a small round file. I have some Racers on my main road bike and they work great. Need to tweak the toe in a little, they squeal occasionally if they havent' been used recently
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Old 07-26-20, 12:48 PM
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Well, I hit one of the local shops that usually has a good supply of used parts. I was looking for a cruiser saddle for an old bike I’m fixing up. I found a bunch of Mafac Racers in their brake box as well as a a decent sten in a size I like and a seatpost. Got the mess for $30. I’ll clean up the brakes and maybe try them out when I upgrade the pads. And the more I think about it, since I ride mostly on the hoods, maybe the lever design will help with my braking technique.
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Old 07-26-20, 03:24 PM
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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.
Now, there's a thought.

I recently built a bike with 40-year old CLB GL side-pull brakes, and they are so good - even with the original pads - that suddenly the development of dual-pivot brakes seemed a waste of effort.

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Old 07-26-20, 03:49 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
Now, there's a thought.

I recently built a bike with 40-year old CLB GL side-pull brakes, and they are so good - even with the original pads - that suddenly the development of dual-pivot brakes seemed a waste of effort.
I would call it food for thought. I'm glad dual pivots are here and available to everyone. Maybe it wasn't necessary to invent them, and maybe it was, but I'm glad they're here. Most single pivots are not as good. And why do you think these are so good? I'm guessing your hands are larger and stronger than the average hands, so bear that in mind for the average person.
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Old 07-26-20, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I would call it food for thought. I'm glad dual pivots are here and available to everyone. Maybe it wasn't necessary to invent them, and maybe it was, but I'm glad they're here. Most single pivots are not as good. And why do you think these are so good? I'm guessing your hands are larger and stronger than the average hands, so bear that in mind for the average person.
I can only compare them like-for-like with my own hands, but for me they require less effort than the Weinmanns, Dia Compes, Shimanos, Campagnolos, Chang Stars and Altenburgers I have ridden with.

And as to why they work so well, the one thing I've noticed is that they seem to flex less than the other side-pull calipers I've used.

The point I was really trying to make, though, is if bicycle brakes were already this good in 1980 (or 1952 for that matter, when MAFAC introduced the RACER), shouldn't we spend our resources on more important things? Just a thought.
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Old 07-26-20, 04:54 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by ddeand View Post
Well, I hit one of the local shops that usually has a good supply of used parts. I was looking for a cruiser saddle for an old bike I’m fixing up. I found a bunch of Mafac Racers in their brake box as well as a a decent sten in a size I like and a seatpost. Got the mess for $30. I’ll clean up the brakes and maybe try them out when I upgrade the pads. And the more I think about it, since I ride mostly on the hoods, maybe the lever design will help with my braking technique.
Sounds like a nice score.

I had MAFAC Racers on my old Peugeot and prefer them to Weinmann and Universal, although the latter two can certainly be set up to provide fine braking. I was able to brake very easily from the half hoods with the MAFACS. I ran them with Kool Stop replacement pads and used thin brass sheet to shim them for toe-in. Worked great.
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Old 07-26-20, 05:11 PM
  #57  
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The MAFAC RACER is nearly perfect. I know very well how to set it up, but it's easier to do it wrong, and then it doesn't work well. Dual pivots are easy to set right. So it's not a waste that they were invented.

So maybe those CLBs are made of a good, stiff alloy.
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Old 07-26-20, 07:22 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
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.
as one data point or anecdote, I was getting a little binding of the rear Weinmann 750 on my International recently. A little checking isolated the issue to the caliper itself, so I pulled it off, took it apart, wiped down the bits and lubed up the pivots & bushings, and reassembled.
Much better!

My personal opinion is that the Weinmann centerpulls are just fine and stop better than the Campy Record sidepulls. I'm very much accustomed to vintage brakes and don't have problems braking from the hoods or whatever, so I'm sure I have different preferences from someone acclimated to a more modern brake.

Get those Weinmanns cleaned and lubed and let us know how it works out!

Steve in Peoria
(also... the Weinmanns polish up wonderfully!)
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Old 07-26-20, 07:45 PM
  #59  
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That's kinda how I see it. I don't remember any stories from our heroes BITD whining about brakes, so I guess they were good enough. Weinmanns, and other decent vintage brakes, are certainly good enough for me.
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Old 07-26-20, 09:53 PM
  #60  
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My buddy talked me into a UO-8 in 1974 because he had one. Mafac Racers were apparently an improvement over the Weinmanns on my trade in 10 speed. But there was some controversy because my buddies dad had Campy sidepulls which he insisted were better--something about Eddie Merckx?
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Old 07-27-20, 09:54 AM
  #61  
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I suspect some of the preference for one vs the other has to do with the levers. I prefer the MAFAC levers to Weinmann, but that's only because they fit my hands better. That's probably why for many years my preference was for MAFAC. Swap out the levers, and I like Weinmanns just as much, though they both have pros and cons. I'd still give the edge to MAFAC for brute power.

Originally Posted by BFisher View Post
I was able to brake very easily from the half hoods with the MAFACS. I ran them with Kool Stop replacement pads and used thin brass sheet to shim them for toe-in. Worked great.
MAFAC used to advertise that the brakes were strong enough to be used from the hoods. I forget exactly how they put it, two fingers are all that's required, or something like that. Certainly they can be used that way on reasonably flat terrain for more casual braking. Kind of depends on the terrain. I've lived in extremely hilly areas most of my life.

To me, well set up MAFACs to me feel a lot like dual pivots. In fact when dual pivots first came out, and I went on the first test ride with them, my very first impression was that they felt just like MAFAC, what's the big deal? In a way, they were rearranged center pulls, marketed as something new and not old fashioned.
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Old 07-27-20, 10:05 AM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
I suspect some of the preference for one vs the other has to do with the levers. I prefer the MAFAC levers to Weinmann, but that's only because they fit my hands better. That's probably why for many years my preference was for MAFAC. Swap out the levers, and I like Weinmanns just as much, though they both have pros and cons. I'd still give the edge to MAFAC for brute power.



MAFAC used to advertise that the brakes were strong enough to be used from the hoods. I forget exactly how they put it, two fingers are all that's required, or something like that. Certainly they can be used that way on reasonably flat terrain for more casual braking. Kind of depends on the terrain. I've lived in extremely hilly areas most of my life.

To me, well set up MAFACs to me feel a lot like dual pivots. In fact when dual pivots first came out, and I went on the first test ride with them, my very first impression was that they felt just like MAFAC, what's the big deal? In a way, they were rearranged center pulls, marketed as something new and not old fashioned.
Agreed, and hand size/strength play an important role. We've got plenty of hills here in NE PA and outside of white-nuckle descents, which ain't my thing anyway, I often rode the old Peugeot on the hoods. They do compare very well to the two sets of Shimano dual pivots I use. Really, the biggest noticeable difference was in flex at the caliper. I could see it and feel it, but it didn't seem to detract from the braking power.
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Old 07-27-20, 12:41 PM
  #63  
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Salamandrine-

Is this what you were thinking of?

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Old 07-27-20, 12:43 PM
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For those interested in Mafacs and other centerpulls, check this Flickr site:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mafac_...57676387624323
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Old 07-27-20, 05:17 PM
  #65  
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Nice pictures. Thanks, @bertinjim.
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Old 07-27-20, 10:59 PM
  #66  
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I haven’t read this whole thread, but I once built a bike with aero levers and centerpull brakes - very similar to what the OP showed, but with Racer calipers - and the lever pull was all wrong for the calipers. The lever would pull almost to the bar before the calipers would apply enough clamping force to brake. If that is the OP’s situation, then there is nothing that can be done besides getting the rim very true, adjusting the pads very close to the rim, shortening the straddle cable if possible, and then just living with it. Or, get different levers.
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Old 07-27-20, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by jyl View Post
I haven’t read this whole thread, but I once built a bike with aero levers and centerpull brakes - very similar to what the OP showed, but with Racer calipers - and the lever pull was all wrong for the calipers. The lever would pull almost to the bar before the calipers would apply enough clamping force to brake. If that is the OP’s situation, then there is nothing that can be done besides getting the rim very true, adjusting the pads very close to the rim, shortening the straddle cable if possible, and then just living with it. Or, get different levers.
I'm thinking that lengthening the straddle cable might make better use of limited cable travel(?).
A shorter straddle cable will usually increase the leverage, but at the expense of pad travel.

The Mafac levers seem in a class by themself in terms of great lever travel and cable travel.
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Old 07-28-20, 03:31 PM
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I can’t remember all the tricks discussed here but something should help - I know the OP doesn’t have Racers but there’s similarity.

The Way Of The (Mafac) Racer

Last edited by jyl; 07-28-20 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 07-30-20, 11:34 AM
  #69  
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@dddd is right. If the lever reaches the handlebar before much force is on the rims, lengthen the straddle cable to decrease leverage.
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Old 07-31-20, 09:01 AM
  #70  
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Here’s my latest plan for experimenting with the brakes on my International. Since this is not going to be a restoration, I feel I have the freedom to experiment a bit. I picked up a set of Mafac Racer brakes and a pair of Cane Creek levers that feel like they will give me a better leverage advantage. Fortunately, I’ve only got $25 into the brakes and levers. Now, I just need to get the Kool Stop pads. The only downside to all this tinkering is that I have to remove the bar tape every time I make a change.

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Old 07-31-20, 09:16 AM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by bertinjim View Post
Salamandrine-

Is this what you were thinking of?

Yeah it is! Thanks for digging this up. Sorry I missed this post earlier.

"One digit suffices!"

One finger is enough is possibly a little optimistic, at least for the very hilly places. Certainly enough for just riding around.
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Old 07-31-20, 08:08 PM
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Old 08-01-20, 11:28 AM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by ddeand View Post
I’ve been riding my ‘74 Raleigh International a lot lately, and I’m feeling that the weak spot on the bike is the brakes. The center-pulls are not nearly as effective as the D-A side-pull brakes on my Ironman or the canti brakes on my gravel bike. Are there any classic center-pulls out there that are more effective than the Weinmann’s that came on the International? I’d really like to not have to change the style of brakes on this old bike.
I never liked the Wienmann brakes.

MAFAC Racers were the worst bakes I ever used. I bought them new. I had them on for a week, then took them off and threw them away.

In both cases, I believe the relative thinness and long length of the brake arms leaves them too flexible.

Dura Ace and Campagnolo solved all my brake problems. Get some of those.
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Old 08-01-20, 12:26 PM
  #74  
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I have a couple of sets of these 1980s Weinmann center pulls. The steel straddle takes care of the extra slop issue, but unfortunately reach is on the short side. They do work very well.

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