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Best Center-pull Brakes?

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Best Center-pull Brakes?

Old 07-20-20, 09:47 PM
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ddeand 
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Best Center-pull Brakes?

Iíve been riding my Ď74 Raleigh International a lot lately, and Iím 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 Weinmannís that came on the International? Iíd really like to not have to change the style of brakes on this old bike.
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Old 07-20-20, 10:30 PM
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My 3 bikes with Cantilever brakes are all centerpull.




On to the opinion fest ...


...

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Old 07-20-20, 10:38 PM
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I can say the Paul Racer is very very good. But the Mafac Racer is also very good, and the Raid is even better. Better, I think, than the Weinmanns that came on the International. Old Mafac pads are also nice, compared to old Weinmann ones. New pads will be noticeably better, if your old ones have hardened up. One other thing to do is switch the levers for some modern "aero" levers. These usually have more mechanical advantage.
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Old 07-20-20, 11:02 PM
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don't think Paul Racer or any kind of canti brakes from Paul Engineering can be mounted on International, due to lack of canti bosses on the fork?

*edit: i might be wrong. thought the Weinmann centerpull on the International take single pivot mount like in Gran Sports. maybe not.

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Old 07-20-20, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by scarlson View Post
I can say the Paul Racer is very very good. But the Mafac Racer is also very good, and the Raid is even better. Better, I think, than the Weinmanns that came on the International. Old Mafac pads are also nice, compared to old Weinmann ones. New pads will be noticeably better, if your old ones have hardened up. One other thing to do is switch the levers for some modern "aero" levers. These usually have more mechanical advantage.
+1 (Haven't used Pauls but the Racers are very good brakes. I wish someone now would buy the tooling or make new and start building forged Racers again. Sadly, I doubt there is or ever will be enough of a market to justify forge tooling but once done, the next run of excellent brakes is easy. Plus these are devices I might have to trust my life to. I'd rather mediocre finished quality forged over the best CNC any day. (Like steam bent wood vs sawn - spellcheck doesn't recognize "sawn"? - wood for boat ribs.)

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Old 07-20-20, 11:09 PM
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There are a LOT of variables that determine brake performance besides the brand/model.

Firstly, where are the pads set in the slots. This affects leverage a lot.
And if the brake is long-reach, then the leverage is yet quite a bit less.

The pads are a huge variable in themselves. The 44-year-old black pads on my Pro-Tour's direct-mounted DiaCompe "G" centerpulls work as good or better than any I have ever used. Others from different brands show signs of hardening and ineffectiveness after as few as five years. What's going on here?

Then there's the cables. Often the rear brake feels squishy and ineffective because of cabling having too much friction.

I usually use the original levers and just add hoods if none are present. But different levers indeed pull different amounts of cable and can have different leverage.

Lastly there is the rim surface to consider. Some pads work horribly on anodized rim surfaces, poor braking , noisy and especially ineffective when wet.

So narrowing the performance down to the caliper can be a difficult experiment to control!
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Old 07-20-20, 11:24 PM
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Yeah. It's not so much the brand as the set up. I find Weinmann brakes stop as well as any other, in fact they are one of my favorites. If they are not working to your satisfaction, I'd try new brake pads first. After that, cables and housing. They should feel subjectively stronger than old DA if properly set up with good pads and cables etc. I hot rod my current modern gran compe version slightly by running Koolstop dura dual compound pads with a modern Tektro straddle hanger in the front. The hanger effectively shortens the hanger cable slightly, increasing the mechanical advantage a little bit.
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Old 07-21-20, 12:57 AM
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First, are the cables and housing modern, using nice braided SS cables in new slick housing makes a huge difference and Second, are the brake pads original, change them for some Kool-Stop Salmon. Those 2 things will make a big difference.
Then think about changing to some other calipers.
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Old 07-21-20, 01:23 AM
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1) pads
2) cables, housings
3) levers
4) calipers

That is the order I'd take on my upgrade path. (I've never noticed poor performance with anodized rims, but I ride in the wet and and I ride a lot of gravel, so the braking surfaces don't stay anodized for long with me.)
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Old 07-21-20, 04:56 AM
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The veritable Weinmann/Dia Compe cp brakes will stop you well with the right setup. However, I bought a set of Paul’s used and installed them on a recent build, and the stopping power is pretty remarkable. The look isn’t particularly classic, however.
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Old 07-21-20, 05:09 AM
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I wasn't happy with the performance of the Weinmanns on my Raleigh Classic, even after adding Kool Stops, so I swapped in some Mafac Racers, and they worked very well. I had replaced the original 27" wheels with 700s so the Mafacs might be better in that situation.

I must say, I've found Mafac Racers work quite well whenever I've used them. It seems to me the Weinmanns should work as well.
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Old 07-21-20, 05:28 AM
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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...
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Old 07-21-20, 05:43 AM
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By "stopping power", I assume people mean net mechanical advantage, with friction in the cables and mechanisms taken into account.
Actual stopping power is governed by the available friction between the tires and the road, and available friction between the pads and the rim (considering conventional brakes). Any halfway decent brake system in reasonable condition and adjustment can realize the maximum stopping potential of the bicycle, which is the point just before the tires lock up. Considering here bikes with typical payloads... for heavily loaded touring, high end (e.g. cantilever) brakes are probably in order.
I understand many people prefer brake systems that give a high ratio of *********** to hand pressure, which is fine, but different from high stopping power.
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Old 07-21-20, 06:02 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
There are a LOT of variables that determine brake performance besides the brand/model.

Firstly, where are the pads set in the slots. This affects leverage a lot.
And if the brake is long-reach, then the leverage is yet quite a bit less.

The pads are a huge variable in themselves. The 44-year-old black pads on my Pro-Tour's direct-mounted DiaCompe "G" centerpulls work as good or better than any I have ever used. Others from different brands show signs of hardening and ineffectiveness after as few as five years. What's going on here?

Then there's the cables. Often the rear brake feels squishy and ineffective because of cabling having too much friction.

I usually use the original levers and just add hoods if none are present. But different levers indeed pull different amounts of cable and can have different leverage.

Lastly there is the rim surface to consider. Some pads work horribly on anodized rim surfaces, poor braking , noisy and especially ineffective when wet.

So narrowing the performance down to the caliper can be a difficult experiment to control!
You didn't mention the cable hangers. Flexible ones can harm braking.
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Old 07-21-20, 06:03 AM
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Originally Posted by ddeand View Post
Iíve been riding my Ď74 Raleigh International a lot lately, and Iím 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 Weinmannís that came on the International? Iíd really like to not have to change the style of brakes on this old bike.
What do you mean by "effectiveness"?
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Old 07-21-20, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by orangeology View Post
don't think Paul Racer or any kind of canti brakes from Paul Engineering can be mounted on International, due to lack of canti bosses on the fork?

*edit: i might be wrong. thought the Weinmann centerpull on the International take single pivot mount like in Gran Sports. maybe not.
They make a regular center bolt mount version for bikes without braze-ons studs.
By the way, it's not a "single-pivot" mount. The brake does not pivot at the mounting point when mounted via center bolt.
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Old 07-21-20, 08:49 AM
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Oddly enough, monkeying around with assorted Clunker Challenges has given me a newfound respect for the humble Weinmann Vainquer 999 centerpull! I've used original Weinmann pads, though the black Weinmann pads or the grey Dia Compe work better than the red Weinmann pads. Sometimes I gently sand the contact surface to remove any oxidation. There's always the option of running Kool Stop salmon or the classic Scott Matthauser pads, too. Teflon lined housing with nice stainless cables always helps.

Mafacs have more setup options, for sure, and I think I need to score a set of them for my next project.
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Old 07-21-20, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by TenGrainBread View Post
They make a regular center bolt mount version for bikes without braze-ons studs.
By the way, it's not a "single-pivot" mount. The brake does not pivot at the mounting point when mounted via center bolt.
thanks for the correction. i meant 'single-bolt mount' by 'single-pivot mount', my bad. understand how the centerpull brake pivots/functions having had an old Raleigh GS.
good to know Paul makes ones, btw!
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Old 07-21-20, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
+1 (Haven't used Pauls but the Racers are very good brakes. I wish someone now would buy the tooling or make new and start building forged Racers again. Sadly, I doubt there is or ever will be enough of a market to justify forge tooling but once done, the next run of excellent brakes is easy. Plus these are devices I might have to trust my life to. I'd rather mediocre finished quality forged over the best CNC any day. (Like steam bent wood vs sawn - spellcheck doesn't recognize "sawn"? - wood for boat ribs.)

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Rene Herse Compass has forged "Racer" brakes. I'm curious why CNC are not safe enough for you.
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Old 07-21-20, 01:45 PM
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Aero levers generally offer more leverage, so changing the levers is likely to help a bit.
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Old 07-21-20, 01:50 PM
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Sorry to bring this up again, but I wonder if the OP is trying to stop from the hoods? You could kinda do it with MAFAC levers. Weinmann levers were smaller, and this really won't work at all.
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Old 07-21-20, 02:40 PM
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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 - thatís why Iím 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. Iím 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 ďefficientĒ, I guess Iíd 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. Iíve attached a pic of the front setup - let me know if you see anything amiss. And thanks for all the suggestions!

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Old 07-21-20, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Sorry to bring this up again, but I wonder if the OP is trying to stop from the hoods? You could kinda do it with MAFAC levers. Weinmann levers were smaller, and this really won't work at all.
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.
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Old 07-21-20, 03:57 PM
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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.
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Old 07-21-20, 04:00 PM
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Does anyone else remember when they found out that no, center-pull brakes were not always better than side-pulls.

It was 1972, at the time I was the wicked proud owner of what had been my dad's green U08.

In '69 he offered to get me a Sears 10 speed (I was still riding my 1st bike, a 24" dept. store ss bike w/ coaster brake.) None of that Sears stuff, I wanted a Peugeot, like dad's. It was $20 more. He gave me his bike, and bought the Sears for himself), new, better components, alloy rims, etc... We were both happy. 3 years later, I found out about true race bikes.
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