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Universal Mod 51

Old 10-28-20, 06:56 AM
  #1  
cocoabeachcrab 
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Universal Mod 51

anyone have any experience with these?
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Old 10-28-20, 07:34 AM
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Fine for the era, when rear brakes had significant more rear brake reach.
replacement pads and holders in the imaged pair. Look Doa-Compe to me.
the lever bodies are tender and often crack
near the clamp
Do not attempt to bend them for “toe-in” of the pads. Arms will most likely crack.
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Old 10-28-20, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
Fine for the era, when rear brakes had significant more rear brake reach.
replacement pads and holders in the imaged pair. Look Doa-Compe to me.
the lever bodies are tender and often crack
near the clamp
Do not attempt to bend them for “toe-in” of the pads. Arms will most likely crack.
i was only planning to use the rear calipers, and a univeral CX caliper on the front, as that one gets most of the work to do. i noticed another set on ebay that was cracked like you mentioned.
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Old 10-28-20, 09:08 AM
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centres are 50.5mm front and 64mm rear

lower limits are 56mm front and 72mm rear

[these values from Sutherland]

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Last edited by juvela; 10-28-20 at 11:36 AM. Reason: addition
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Old 10-28-20, 09:53 AM
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Universal 51s

I have two bikes with these brakes. An early 60's Galmozzi and Masi, which I built as period correct as I could. They work ok for me on old school tubular rims. The original Universal brake pads have some sort of fiber imbedded in them, and they seem to work better than the replacement Weinman pads I have on one of the bikes. I'm using Universal brake levers as well, which don't seem to have the same mechanical leverage as other brands. These are "Sunday ride" bikes and not the ones I would pick for a century ride.


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Old 10-28-20, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Andy Antipas View Post
I have two bikes with these brakes. An early 60's Galmozzi and Masi, which I built as period correct as I could. They work ok for me on old school tubular rims. The original Universal brake pads have some sort of fiber imbedded in them, and they seem to work better than the replacement Weinman pads I have on one of the bikes. I'm using Universal brake levers as well, which don't seem to have the same mechanical leverage as other brands. These are "Sunday ride" bikes and not the ones I would pick for a century ride.


very nice! mine will be a "sunday rider" as well. my main concern is the caliper wanting to get a crack near the pivot.
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Old 10-28-20, 10:15 AM
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I would also agree that you don't want to try and cold set toe in with these brakes. I broke a Super 68 caliper arm before I knew that Universal arms are brittle. Again, I find they work ok and are adequate for nice relaxing rides. If I'm riding with the hammer pilots I will grab a more modern bike in the collection.

Why do you think it will crack near the pivot? Are you seeing a crack starting?
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Old 10-28-20, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by cocoabeachcrab View Post
i was only planning to use the rear calipers, and a univeral CX caliper on the front, as that one gets most of the work to do. i noticed another set on ebay that was cracked like you mentioned.
Smart plan. Universal 51s look good on a period-appropriate bike, but their stopping power leaves much to be desired, even with Kool-Stop pads, modern cables and modern aero levers. (They are a 1951 design, after all.) I just swapped out a a front one for one for a c.1978 Campy front (with Kool-Stop pads) and the stopping power is much improved. The bike now has the Campy front and the long Universal 51 rear, which works fine for now. Your plan makes sense to me.

Full disclosure before someone says I'm nuts and they work fine: I am 6'3" and weigh 250. I live in a hilly area and almost every ride I do involves at least one, and sometimes more, significant twisty descents where brake performance matters. My braking power needs may be more extreme than yours or someone else's.
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Old 10-28-20, 10:40 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Andy Antipas View Post
I would also agree that you don't want to try and cold set toe in with these brakes. I broke a Super 68 caliper arm before I knew that Universal arms are brittle. Again, I find they work ok and are adequate for nice relaxing rides. If I'm riding with the hammer pilots I will grab a more modern bike in the collection.

Why do you think it will crack near the pivot? Are you seeing a crack starting?
i'm looking at a set on ebay that seem ok, but i noticed another listing had a crack on a rear brake caliper. the universal CX seems to be somewhat of a campy clone in many respects (plus i have a nice set in the parts bin!), so that will go on the front with new coolstops for shoes. the rear on my italvega is too long a reach for CX, so pondering a different brake for the rear. i do have a mafac racer available, but the mod 51 looks kinda cool in a wonky vintage mechanical way.
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Old 10-28-20, 12:36 PM
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decision made... mod 61 for the rear brake. i hate having the feeling between my shoulder blades that something is prone to cracking.
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Old 10-29-20, 01:57 AM
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Set-up properly, they work OK but don't expect to compete with 2020 braking standards. I use Universal brakes on two of my bikes and have no serious issues with them...

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Old 10-29-20, 05:16 AM
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I had these on a Legnano Gran Premio. They were good brakes in their day but suffer in comparison to many later, stiffer, side pull brakes. The longer reach rear caliper was common practice into the 1970s. There is some difference in opinion as to the rationale but I've always maintained it was to reduce mechanical advantage and stiffness, to decrease the probability of rear wheel lock-up.
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