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Why did the high end French bikes...

Old 05-13-10, 12:46 PM
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Fletch521
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Why did the high end French bikes...

...come with center-pull brakes?
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Old 05-13-10, 12:57 PM
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when i saw the title i had a response... but then the question was not 'why did the high end french bikes cross the road'.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:02 PM
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because thats what Mafac brakes are.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:10 PM
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cheaper. Other than Campagnolo Record, there were no side pulls available before the '80s that would actually stop you. And Campagnolo Record wasn't all that great either.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:38 PM
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Even cheap Mafac centerpulls have great stopping power...
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Old 05-13-10, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
cheaper. Other than Campagnolo Record, there were no side pulls available before the '80s that would actually stop you. And Campagnolo Record wasn't all that great either.
I cordially disagree...my Suntour Superbs are at least as effective, I think more effective, than my campy record calipers.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:46 PM
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Dont forget Universal centerpulls. Thats what my Motobecane Le Champion came with. Thats what came on Cinelli Super Corsa's as well. I still think Mafac, Universal, and Weinmann made great centerpull brakes. I have Weinmanns on my Rickert and they have plenty of stopping power.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
Dont forget Universal centerpulls. Thats what my Motobecane Le Champion came with. Thats what came on Cinelli Super Corsa's as well. I still think Mafac, Universal, and Weinmann made great centerpull brakes. I have Weinmanns on my Rickert and they have plenty of stopping power.
+1

My Raleigh International has center pulls that work quite well...especially with kool stops.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:49 PM
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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.
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Old 05-13-10, 01:54 PM
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Maybe because like most of the time, the French has a hard time deciding which side to take on things??.......

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Old 05-13-10, 02:10 PM
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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.
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Old 05-13-10, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Fletch521 View Post
...come with center-pull brakes?
Wasn't just a French thing.
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Old 05-13-10, 02:16 PM
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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.
+1
I remember ads for bikes specificly pointing out that they had "Centerpull brakes". And then the misspellings were amusing as well. Such as "center-pole brakes".
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Old 05-13-10, 02:24 PM
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My TDF has Mafac Competion par excellence.
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Old 05-13-10, 02:26 PM
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Perhaps Fletch521 thinks that centerpulls are the mark of a crappy low end bike?
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Old 05-13-10, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Perhaps Fletch521 thinks that centerpulls are the mark of a crappy low end bike?
They were probably the only good thing about a crappy low end bike
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Old 05-13-10, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Perhaps Fletch521 thinks that centerpulls are the mark of a crappy low end bike?

Perhaps you shouldn't assume what I think
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Old 05-13-10, 02:53 PM
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I run Mafac Racers on my UO8, Dura Ace on my Gran Sport, Weinmann on my '51 CCM. and Zeus 2000 on my Cooper... all these brakes work exceptionally well and in many cases it has a lot to do with the levers and brake pads you use to maximize leverage and effective contact.

There are few center pull brakes better than Mafacs... the adjustable straddle cable allows one to adjust the mechanical leverage and the racer was very popular for early cyclocross racers due to it's clearance and power it offered.

It took side pull brakes a long time to catch up or at least exceed center pulls in the stopping department... the Zeus 2000 center pulls are amazing as they are among the lightest center pulls I have used and are far better than the Campy side pulls I was using.
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Old 05-13-10, 02:55 PM
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If you need a long reach brake center pulls are also an excellent choice as the better ones have very little to no flex which ios something you don't get form many long reach side pulls models unless they are made of good steel.
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Old 05-13-10, 03:12 PM
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If memory serves me well, in the US, there were relatively few high-end French bikes brought into the US during the bike boom years, because of who was bringing them in, the standard French oddities on frames and components that would (and still do) drive people nuts, and the price. Before that period center-pulls were the brakes of choice, except for Campy Record. Then when side-pulls based on the Campy Record design became the mainstream in Japanese-sourced bikes. The last Japanese center-pull was a Dia Compe. The only French bikes imported in any numbers (and there weren't too many) were Motobecane, Peugeot, and Gitane, and most were probably racing or sport-touring mid-range models. The makers were reluctant to put anything on their bikes that wasn't French, for a long, long time. High-end French bikes, racing or touring, were very rare, usually 95% French, with a little bit of Italy tossed in when they couldn't avoid it.

I bet high-end French bikes were probably among the rarest things you could find in the US back then (and now).

During that time, when I lived in Boston, I think the only French bikes I saw any shop carry were in the Bicycle Exchange in Cambridge. I always felt that they carried Motobecane only to keep a particular moustachioed salesman, Robert (Ro-baire), happy. He'd always start pushing Motobecane, but it seemed the customers walked out with Univegas, which looked much nicer and were far better values. It might have been a reaction to the Gallic hauteur, too.

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Old 05-13-10, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
Perhaps Fletch521 thinks that centerpulls are the mark of a crappy low end bike?
Originally Posted by Fletch521 View Post
Perhaps you shouldn't assume what I think
In defense of mr. noglider, he did say perhaps.
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Old 05-13-10, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by JML View Post
If memory serves me well, in the US, there were relatively few high-end French bikes brought into the US during the bike boom years, because of who was bringing them in, the standard French oddities on frames and components that would (and still do) drive people nuts, and the price. Before that period center-pulls were the brakes of choice, except for Campy Record. Then when side-pulls based on the Campy Record design became the mainstream in Japanese-sourced bikes. The last Japanese center-pull was a Dia Compe. The only French bikes imported in any numbers (and there weren't too many) were Motobecane, Peugeot, and Gitane, and most were probably racing or sport-touring mid-range models. The makers were reluctant to put anything on their bikes that wasn't French, for a long, long time. High-end French bikes, racing or touring, were very rare, usually 95% French, with a little bit of Italy tossed in when they couldn't avoid it.

I bet high-end French bikes were probably among the rarest things you could find in the US back then (and now).

During that time, when I lived in Boston, I think the only French bikes I saw any shop carry were in the Bicycle Exchange in Cambridge. I always felt that they carried Motobecane only to keep a particular moustachioed salesman, Robert (Ro-baire), happy. He'd always start pushing Motobecane, but it seemed the customers walked out with Univegas, which looked much nicer and were far better values. It might have been a reaction to the Gallic hauteur, too.
Not the case in the mid west, I think. French bikes, low and high end, dominated the bike scene in Columbia, MO. I rarely saw anything but. Raleighs were around, rarely saw any Italian makes. Peugeot PX10s were a dime a dozen and as a result, I have never thought them any great thing. Lots of Motobecanes, Hirondelle/Manufrance also. I think I had one of the few Lejeunes. At least I never raced against another one. First "Italian" bike I saw was an Italvega and that was in St Louis.

Oh yes...the Lejeune had Mafacs on it when I bought it.
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Old 05-13-10, 03:56 PM
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A blanket statement about French bikes without a time frame is not very accurate.

Campagnolo brakes allegedly appeared in 1968, but the numbers produced were small and they were very expensive compared to the alternatives.
Even in 1970, they were not common and still expensive. In 1972 in SoCal, they were $60 to 70. a pair. center pulls were in the $10. range. That is a big percentage spread.
Advance a few years and a number of competitors emerged, but the competition is very time dependent. So be careful making sweeping claims.
Of the very High end French bikes, brazed on mounted center pulls or OEM canti's (Rene Herse) were almost equal in stopping perfoemance or better, Campagnolo had a better finish, easier quick release, and adjustment and acceptance in the pro ranks within a few years of introduction. French teams other than some like LeJeune continued to use "home nation" centerpulls.

Some of this was pre European Common Market dependent. And do not forget Nationalism.

It was not until the Spidel group or the later Mavic ensembles that the French got serious, and it was essentially too late. In the elary 70's all they had to do was make stuff, then the Japanese showed them that you had to make good stuff too, and still keep it affordable.
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Old 05-13-10, 04:20 PM
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Late 1970s to mid 1980s, east coast, US, planet earth, milky way galaxy, ...

And I confess. I had to take far too many years of French in school to like anything from France except for beautiful women.
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Old 05-13-10, 04:27 PM
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I don't see what's so weird about French components or French bikes. Every company -- let alone country -- had its own approaches to design and construction. So-called French threads are rightly called metric. It was reasonable to assume that metric was going to take over the world. It didn't happen, but one might have expected it to. And the French weren't particularly strident in creating their own standards. The world wasn't as small as it is now. Every country had its own standards, and it wasn't necessarily from overblown national pride.

JML, thanks for the reminder about Robert of Bicycle Exchange. I had forgotten all about him. I thought he was suave. He did appear to be a good salesman, and he appeared to enjoy his job.

I worked at the bike shop at the other end of Massachusetts Ave. We sold Peugeots. My memory shows lots of French bikes in the Boston area in the late 70's and early 80's, so I'm surprised to see you say they were rare. Also, while it's true that most French brand bikes in the US had French parts, Motobecane got smart early on. They equipped their bikes with good stuff for the price, stuff that the public liked. At the low end, it was Japanese made. At the high end, it was Campagnolo. There were European parts sprinkled in here and there, but just the good stuff, like Super Champion rims and Weinmann brakes. To me, Motobecane was a very hip bike, and the colors and graphics were compelling. But having owned two Motobecanes and three Peugeots, I have to say I prefer the ride quality of the Peugeots. I sold a Motobecane Le Champion because I didn't like its handling. I replaced it with a Peugeot PX10.
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