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Why did the high end French bikes...

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Why did the high end French bikes...

Old 05-14-10, 12:43 PM
  #51  
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To go back to the original question, I rode bikes back then already, and the way I remember it, most higher end bikes had centrepulls for the simple reason that people liked not having to keep centering the lousy sidepulls that lesser bikes came with in those days. You couldn't go on a decent ride without one shoe ending up dragging on the rim.

Mafac Racers were one of the best, affordable upgrades most people could do to get decent, reliable braking that stayed centered.

It just happens that many of the more readily available better bikes were French. It wasn't like it is today.

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Old 05-14-10, 12:49 PM
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I have always been very happy with Dia Compe centre pulls... they are very well made and offer very good to excellent stopping power with their stock pads. I installed an NOS set on my fiancee's Peugeot Mixte (with Matthauser pads) as I needed a longer reach brake for the new 700c wheels.

Just set up some Tourney brakes this am and they too work very well and are not re-badged Dura Ace... the D Ace centre pulls have a much nicer finish and cleaner lines.

When I have built fixed gear bikes or helped others with conversions and they ask about brakes I tell folks that if you want one good brake you can't go wrong with a decent centre pull and good brake pads.
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Old 05-14-10, 04:15 PM
  #53  
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One thing I noticed in the 70's. The Dia Compe centerpulls looked identical to Weinmann (with one exception) but did not feel identical at all. We called the Dia Compes spongy. I don't know if it was because of the material or somewhere they added leverage.

JML, I worked at Bicycle Workshop at 259 Massachusetts Ave. I was the sole mechanic from Aug 1980 through the winter. In the spring, we hired two more mechanics, and I was the head mechanic through Sept 1981. It was a great year for me, stepping out on my own, making a living, paying my own rent, etc.

I still say Campy Record stop as well as anything you want. I'm not saying Mafacs are better than Campy or vice versa, just that they're both superb.

I put Mafacs on my 1972 Raleigh Super Course recently. That makes it a Frankenbike, but I just like them better than the Weinmanns.

If you toe in Mafacs, even with the original shoes, you can get the squeal out. The serrated rims made noise, but nothing like Mafac squeal.

I never liked the Tourney sidepulls or centerpulls. I can't say why. Maybe it's that I was (and am) bigoted against Shimano, for the most part, though Shimano does make some excellent products and innovations. Their hubs were always the best for the money.
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Old 05-14-10, 04:24 PM
  #54  
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The Tourneys I just set up have a very light lever action and braking from the hoods with the conventional Shimano levers delivers really decent power... and the bike is still running what appears to be it's original Shimano shoes.

I have always thought Tourneys were okay but these late 70's models work exceptionally well.

The fellow who now owns the bike took it for a fast spin and he's 180 - 190 pounds... said he really liked how well the brakes worked... just wait til we find some nice alloy wheels and swap in some Kool Stops.
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Old 05-14-10, 05:07 PM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
Just set up some Tourney brakes this am and they too work very well and are not re-badged Dura Ace... the D Ace centre pulls have a much nicer finish and cleaner lines.
Sorry, but I don't see it when I compare mine to John's Dura Ace in #30. His actually look a little rougher to me.

I do see a strong resemblence to the Weinmann next to it.

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Old 05-14-10, 05:33 PM
  #56  
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Way back in the day (82/83) I had a Woodrup with Universal centerpulls, they worked wonderfully! At the time it seemed that anything Campy was an upgrade, so I swapped out the Universals with Campy NR. the Campys looked cool, but imo didn't work as well. I did prefer the Campy levers though.

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Old 05-14-10, 05:49 PM
  #57  
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Which other store?

Originally Posted by noglider View Post
...JML, thanks for the reminder about Robert of Bicycle Exchange...

I worked at the bike shop at the other end of Massachusetts Ave. We sold Peugeots.
I remember Robert too. An intriguing fellow, as I recall. We walked in one day to inquire about a small frame for my wife who is 5'2". He said, ah we have just the thing, and reached up to the frames racked along the ceiling and pulled down a tiny frame, about 18-1/2" by measurements of the, day. Painted a gorgeous Raleigh team metallic blue, it had been made as a showpiece by some local builder (named Tanguy or something?) out of (he thought) Columbus tubes. Apparently it was never intended to be ridden. It was so small the head lugs had been cut and brazed together. It fit my wife perfectly. We built it up with other custom components. That was, of, 30 years ago. Still have it.

So, at which other bike shop did you work? I recall LifeCycle, but they were hardly at the other end of Mass Ave. Seems to me there was another but I can't recall any names or storefronts.

Uh, nevermind the last question. I just read your previous answer. I might have met you. I was a grad student at that end of Mass Ave from 1975 to 1983, and I recall that shop now. Fun times!
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Old 05-14-10, 06:55 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
Sorry, but I don't see it when I compare mine to John's Dura Ace in #30. His actually look a little rougher to me.

I do see a strong resemblence to the Weinmann next to it.

The rear arm on the Tourney above the pivot is beveled whereas the Dura Ace has no edge but has a nice flowing shape to it... they also polish up very nicely.



Most of Shimano's designs of this time were a copy of someone else's stuff and the Tourney looks remarkably similar to the Weinmann you have there... it's like the 600 Arabesque group copying Campagnolo... Suntour did this as well with their early derailleurs but in doing so made a product that was every bit as good and often better than the original.

My Dura Ace brakes looked like they had been through a war and were pretty neglected but I have seen NOS ones and they have a very nice finish... the Tourney probably is a little slicker as Shimano had some time and space to modify their design. It is hard to tell when one is using different levers and pads but those Tourneys have a very light action as they are set up.
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Old 05-14-10, 07:51 PM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
Suntour did this as well with their early derailleurs but in doing so made a product that was every bit as good and often better than the original.
SunTour invented the slant parallelogram derailleur in 1964. After the patents expired in the early 80s everyone started making them. While Shimano's legacy is steeling other peoples designs, typical of Japanese industry in the 70s. SunTour was an innovator.
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Old 05-14-10, 09:32 PM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by Fletch521 View Post
SunTour invented the slant parallelogram derailleur in 1964. After the patents expired in the early 80s everyone started making them. While Shimano's legacy is steeling other peoples designs, typical of Japanese industry in the 70s. SunTour was an innovator.
Although Suntour invented the modern derailleur (as we know it) all you have to do is look at a Suntour Gran-Prix (the first slant parallelogram derailleur) or Competition model to know where they were taking styling cues from... their designs and innovations were revolutionary but many of their visual and stylisitic influences came from those Italians and European parts makers.

The first generation Cyclone also gives a nod to the Italians but while this was an awesome and lightweight derailleur, Shimano was offering the 600 Arabesque which is very pretty but not nearly as advanced a design.

Suntour almost wiped out many other parts makers because of their superior designs and then got wiped out themselves because they did not exploit their technology as well as they should have.

Shimano did that very well.
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Old 05-14-10, 09:33 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I have Campy Record brakes on my McLean. They work extremely well.

I haven't used Universal centerpulls. Universal sidepulls were very good, though the levers had too little leverage.
Universal used a soft Alu alloy in some years on their centerpulls...any attempt to toe in a brake pad resulted in the arm breaking off..
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Old 05-15-10, 12:52 PM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
a tiny frame, about 18-1/2" by measurements of the, day. Painted a gorgeous Raleigh team metallic blue, it had been made as a showpiece by some local builder (named Tanguy or something?) out of (he thought) Columbus tubes. Apparently it was never intended to be ridden. It was so small the head lugs had been cut and brazed together. It fit my wife perfectly. We built it up with other custom components. That was, of, 30 years ago. Still have it.
I'd love to see a photo of that Tanguy. Modified lugs for very small frames was still new at the time, but a few custom builders were already doing it.

Tanguy's bikes were popular at the other end of Massachusetts (the Commonwealth of, not the Avenue), too. One of my buddies had the most radical criterium frame, by Tanguy, I'd ever seen. Another won Maine International on one of the classiest road bikes I'd ever seen. The metalwork and paint were very subdued, the tubes were Reynolds 531 with the new fat fork blades, and the lines were classic--much like a California Masi without chrome and pantographing.
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Old 05-15-10, 10:53 PM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat View Post
I'd love to see a photo of that Tanguy. Modified lugs for very small frames was still new at the time, but a few custom builders were already doing it.
Enjoy. Sorry for the quality, they were rushed. Ignore the dust.
side rear..jpgrear dropout..jpgheadlugs..jpgheadlugs2..jpgside front..jpgseatlug..jpgcrank..jpg
I believe he actually cut the tubes as well as the lugs. Pretty neat work.
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Old 05-16-10, 02:33 AM
  #64  
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Getting back to center pulls...

I am thinking that the best centre pull brakes I have ever used are the Zeus 2000 brakes I recently re-installed on my Ron Cooper... they are beautifully wrought, extremely light, and the stopping power is nothing short of incredible.
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Old 05-16-10, 10:04 PM
  #65  
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A very nice sport tourer, the Tanguy is giving me a '70s flashback. No flash but very workmanlike and practical. And I like the TA cranks and Lyotard 23 "Berthet" pedals.

And RE: centerpulls, Zeus 2000 calipers were incredible, as were most Zeus components and bikes.

But the French did seem to hang on to centerpulls long after everyone else had moved on, at least on pro level bikes. Watch "A Sunday in Hell" (a documentary of the 1976 Paris-Roubaix), and you'll see one French squad still using centerpulls.

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Old 05-16-10, 10:26 PM
  #66  
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat View Post
A very nice sport tourer, the Tanguy is giving me a '70s flashback. No flash but very workmanlike and practical. And I like the TA cranks and Lyotard 23 "Berthet" pedals.
Thanks. We chose the TA crank because it offered a shorter than typical arm length. It was said to be not as stiff as some others but my wife wasn't going to be torquing like some other people might. Plus we could get any chainring we wanted, so I selected 48/36, which worked well for her, easy shifting, decent low with a 14-28 freewheel, and no unnecessary highs which she would never use. Don't recall why we chose those pedals, but it might have been to get a more stable platform. I put small clips on them too but I ended up taking them off eventually when she started needing shoes which wouldn't fit into them.

Originally Posted by oldbobcat View Post
But the French did seem to hang on to centerpulls long after everyone else had moved on, at least on pro level bikes.
The whole centerpull-sidepull question is giving me flashbacks. Shortly after I bought my first bike I heard the arguments that Weinmann was better than Mafac and the other way around too, that sidepulls were better than centerpulls, etc. The thing is, my Mafacs stopped just fine, thank you, so it didn't matter if something else was "better". That philosophy has bugged me about bike equipment every since. People and companies argue about some minor improvement being better or worse. Sure it's nice to have something better when you're racing or you have the budget, but when you need a glass of water it doesn't matter whether someone offers you a gallon or a gallon and a half. You have what you need.
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Old 05-17-10, 01:48 PM
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jimmuller, you're making too much sense. You would make a terrible salesman.
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Old 05-17-10, 07:58 PM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by Zaphod Beeblebrox View Post
Then you gotta tell the story of the French Military salute in WWII (Both Hands UP!)

...ok that does it for me, I was just waiting for the french jokes to start.
And also the battle flag of France - a white cross on a white background...
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Old 05-17-10, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Pedale View Post
Universal used a soft Alu alloy in some years on their centerpulls...any attempt to toe in a brake pad resulted in the arm breaking off..
I resemble that remark! I ended up buying Superbe because I couldn't spend the bucks for Campy. About 3 years ago, I found the mother load of Model 61 parts at a local recycle center. I replaced the broken part and now have 2 extra sets of calipers. They polish up really nice too.
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Old 11-20-13, 10:30 PM
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Originally Posted by CV-6 View Post
Not the case in the mid west, I think. French bikes, low and high end, dominated the bike scene in Columbia, MO.
Columbia, Missouri? Seriously? I lived in Columbia from 1965 to 1973 and my first road bike was a Manufrance Hirondelle. I loved that bike and put thousands and thousands of miles on it until finally, at school in Madison, Wisconsin, it was stolen about 1980. It was a great bike, easy to work on. I learned to pull it completely apart, down to the bearings in the hubs, clean and grease it, and put it together again.

In hindsight, I'm not sure about the Simplex derailleur, it was plastic and wasn't wearing well. But I absolutely remember the braking power of the Mafac "Racer" center-pull brakes. AND they compared favorably to my Trek and new Cannondale Evo 5 with relatively modest Shimano Sora and 105's! If I could get my hands on an early 1970's Hirondelle again... sigh.
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Old 11-21-13, 03:33 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
In the mid 70's, we looked at sidepulls as the brakes you'd only find on a crappy, low-end bike. You had to have centerpulls to be hip.
Yup.
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Old 11-21-13, 05:51 AM
  #72  
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WHAT? Nearly every high end bike I saw in the mid 70's had sidepulls on it. And you know which one.
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Old 11-21-13, 06:54 AM
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Can't speak to French bikes, though riding buddies had a few. In the early 70's, center-pull designs stopped better than side-pull designs, generally. I know I was happy to finally get center-pulls on each of my succesive Raleighs in that time frame. Side-pull brakes seemed to come a long way after that, but I was no longer into cycling until recently. You know, girls, cars, school, etc.
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Old 11-21-13, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
WHAT? Nearly every high end bike I saw in the mid 70's had sidepulls on it. And you know which one.
Oh, you mean those Italian "speed controllers"? (They sure as **** didn't qualify as "stoppers".)

SP
OC, OR
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Old 11-21-13, 07:07 PM
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It's for Fender/Mudguard clearance.

The most expensive French full custom bikes "back when" were the exquisite Rene' Herse & Alex Singer machines capable of mounting fenders, racks & lighting in the Randonneur style.

A French customer spending good money for a high end factory machine expected the same capability, 610 centerpulls whether Mafac or Weinemann provided that clearance and good braking power. No big mystery.

Same solution on Raleigh Internationals: light 531 frame, NR components and Weinemann 610's w/ clearance for 28mm & mudguards for the club rider to get on with it.

Dedicated French racing bikes kept w/ domestic components until well into the Merckx era and ran Mafac centerpulls.
Not many of those would be considered high end compared to a Herse or Singer but they got it done.

The Motobecane Grand "X" machines of the 70's were good examples of a French gentleman/club rider's machine that made it to the US. Nicely made, comfortable and capable of mounting whatever accessories were required w/ centerpull brakes.

If you were a French club rider in the 70's who was focused on riding the national classic Brevet Paris-Brest-Paris, which required fenders & lights, your high end factory bike will accommodate them. What pro racers rode in the Giro didn't matter to the Brevet rider of any nation "back when". As far as can tell it still doesn't today.

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