When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

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robert17
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When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby robert17 » 10 Oct 2020, 8:07am

The previous post has just tickled my mind into asking a question for the learned here. When did side pull calipers take over from centre pulls? I ask this as I am considering both as an option for my 1965 restoration. Thank you.

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Mick F
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Re: Centre to side

Postby Mick F » 10 Oct 2020, 8:56am

First, we had rod brakes, then side-pull cable callipers, then centre-pulls came out, but side-pulls have been there since the demise of rod brakes.

Dad bought me a Hercules in 1964 for my twelfth birthday, and that had cable operated side-pulls.
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thirdcrank
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby thirdcrank » 10 Oct 2020, 9:27am

In 1965, IIRC the GB sidepull was widely sold as well as imported makes like Universal.

The MAFAC Racer was the centrepull although I suspect the Weinmann must have been available then.

The common characteristic was that none was a patch on modern brakes.

rogerzilla
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby rogerzilla » 10 Oct 2020, 9:32am

Centrepulls were the best option on lightweights until Campag made a sidepull that worked better. They have a lot of theoretical and practical problems but they look good on vintage frames (dual-pivots look horrendous) and may be your best option if reach is very long.

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speedsixdave
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby speedsixdave » 10 Oct 2020, 9:34am

My 1965 Moulton Speedsix would have had Balilla sidepulls, other Moultons of the same date may have had GB Coureur sidepulls. Tom Simpson's 1965 bike had Mafac centrepulls, as did his 1967 TdF bike. Eddy Merckx's 1969 TdF bike had Campag sidepulls. So there was some overlap in the 1960s, but I think the real decider was the introduction of the Campagnolo Record sidepull. Up to then, take your pick. After then, probably sidepulls.
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Brucey
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby Brucey » 10 Oct 2020, 9:42am

when MAFAC centre pulls were introduced they were widely acknowledged as the best caliper brake available and quickly took a big slice of the lightweight market. There had been many other brakes which one could call 'centre pull' type previously but none were as well thought out or became as popular as MAFAC. Almost any handbuilt lightweight machine between the early 1950s and the 1980s could legitimately be fitted with MAFACs and still be 'period correct'. Standard models fit brake drops from ~50mm to ~75mm but less common ones can go shallower and deeper respectively.

There is a nice article about MAFAC in the classic lightweights website but this hasn't yet reappeared in the revamped site. Fortunately the internet archive has a copy of part 1

https://web.archive.org/web/20200106172821/http://www.classiclightweights.co.uk/components/mafac1-comp.html

there are also parts 2 and 3 IIRC.

There were many other half- decent brakes available including various side pulls but it was arguably the introduction of the Campagnolo brake in the late 1960s which provided the first real competition for 'top spot' in the brake market. MAFAC even brought out their own side pull brakes in response. Nonetheless MAFAC centre pulls were still used to win the TdF in the 1970s.

Image

If you are faithfully restoring a 'production model' bike then it should arguably have the correct model of brake fitted to it, whatever that might be. However if it was a lightweight which would have been sold as a frameset only, it would have been built as the owner desired BITD, so anything you fancy that is 'period correct' and fits is probably fair game.

IME long reach side pulls from the 1960s are mostly a pretty sorry bunch, but a well fettled set of MAFAC centre pulls can be a pretty good brake even by modern standards. So I'm building a 1960's lightweight at present (not slavishly 'period correct' BTW) and it may have had 'Universal' centre pull brakes on it BITD. But I don't have any of those, and I do have some MAFACs, and I think the MAFACs are better brakes too, so that is what will probably go on the bike.

cheers
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pwa
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby pwa » 10 Oct 2020, 10:00am

If it were my bike and I were looking for authenticity, I would take my pick from whatever was available at the time. Not just what would have been on the bike when it was new. The reason is, cyclists then (as now) changed things on their bikes. So long as the modification from new spec would have been possible at the time, it is legitimate.

One problem with sidepulls that was less of an issue with centrepulls is that they often tended to pull to one side and not stay centred. As a teenager in the 70s I preferred centre pulls for that reason. But I didn't have Campag callipers to play with.

Norman H
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby Norman H » 10 Oct 2020, 10:08am

Back in 1965 MAFAC “RACER” were the de rigueur choice, I had them on my best bike around that time, all purchased with the earnings from a paper round. Mine were paired with Universal levers which were another fashionable choice in those days. I was still using them into the 1980's. As Brucey states they were hugely adjustable which was very handy if you swapped between wheelsets, HP's for training and sprints and tubs for best.

I also had Weinmann centre pulls on my hack bike. They were better than the long reach single pivot side pulls available at that time.

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Mick F
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby Mick F » 10 Oct 2020, 10:09am

Mine on Hercules were basic chromed steel side-pulls.
I had that bike from 1964 to 1982 and never had an issue with them pulling off to the side. I am aware that people had that problem, but in my experience, I never had or have had since on a couple of bikes with side-pulls. Moulton is on it's second set of side-pulls - first Tektro, and now Shimano. Never an issue with pulling to the side.

From building Mercian though, it was always Campag.
Mick F. Cornwall

pwa
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby pwa » 10 Oct 2020, 10:25am

Mick F wrote:..............Never an issue with pulling to the side.......

I am interested in this. You were clearly doing something different ( and better) to me with sidepulls. Bearing in mind that I was a teenager with only the chunky spanners my Dad had in the garage. I wish I had some to play with today because I suspect I was missing something. I could get them secure on the frame / fork but only at the expense of the arms being too tight to move. I suspect, now, that I probably needed an impossibly slim spanner to access a slim nut between the arms and the fork / frame rather than the nut on the face of the arms?

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Mick F
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby Mick F » 10 Oct 2020, 10:44am

Yes.

The callipers have to be tight onto the frame with just enough freedom for the arms. Too much freedom and they're floppy fore and aft. Too tight, and they bind.

Trial and error does it.
Take the unit off the bike and the through-bolt is adjustable on the boss holding the spring. Screw it tight by hand, then reassemble.

The main nut has to be tight with the callipers adjusted and by rotating left/right the whole thing, you can get the blocks even on both sides of the rim. Loosen off to adjust, and then tighten again to hold it in place.

Trial and error.

Still do that now even though the modern brakes have an adjuster on one side of the spring.
I set mine so the grubscrew is nice - not in and not out - and adjust as I've described.
Mick F. Cornwall

tatanab
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby tatanab » 10 Oct 2020, 10:50am

rogerzilla wrote:Centrepulls were the best option on lightweights until Campag made a sidepull that worked better. They have a lot of theoretical and practical problems but they look good on vintage frames (dual-pivots look horrendous) and may be your best option if reach is very long.

What, even period correct dual pivots such as GB Synchron and Weinmann Dynamic?
pwa wrote:I suspect, now, that I probably needed an impossibly slim spanner to access a slim nut between the arms and the fork / frame rather than the nut on the face of the arms?
As an impoverished schoolboy, to centre cheap steel sidepulls on my 3 speed roadster I would set a screwdriver against the spring and hit it with hammer to shock the whole lot to rotate so that the brake was centralised.

pwa
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby pwa » 10 Oct 2020, 10:57am

I can understand why you wouldn't put dual pivots on a 1960s bike that you want to look correct, because they look too chunky for that. But for me, Shimano's dual pivots were a giant step forward when they came out. No need for constant fiddling. I have some RX100s from the late 1990s and they have been used a lot, and they still work perfectly, but not once in all that time have I disassembled them or adjusted the nut that holds the arms together, and I haven't even lubed them. They have never needed it. They are the most undemanding, easy to live with brakes I have owned. Their only downsides are that like all rim brakes they wear rims down, and they limit tyre size to about 25mm with guards or 28mm without. But I haven't tried later sidepulls, which I am guessing have also moved on.

robc02
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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby robc02 » 10 Oct 2020, 11:00am

I think the only time I experienced sidepulls pulling to the side was on the rear of a fixed wheel bike used in the winter. Naturally, the back brake got hardly any use (the front didn't get a great deal, either) so it began to seize! Other than that I found them OK - this was with Campag, Weinmann, Universal. I wouldn't claim they were perfect in this respect, but as with most things, a bit of maintenance goes a long way.

I had a bike fitted with both Weinmann centrepull and Mafac for a while and wasn't really impressed with either, but in hindsight, I bet they would have been greatly improved by well lubricated cables and decent brake blocks. As a teenager just learning about these things I hadn't fully grasped the importance of good cable installation and maintenance.

One of my current bikes has a brake drop of around 60-65mm, i.e. too much for a "standard" drop brake, so I am about to experiment with a brazed-on Mafac. It will be fitted with modern pads and operated by modern cables, so I expect it to be pretty good. Time will tell.

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Re: When did Centre-pull brakes take over from Side-pull ?

Postby tatanab » 10 Oct 2020, 11:16am

pwa wrote:I can understand why you wouldn't put dual pivots on a 1960s bike that you want to look correct, because they look too chunky for that.
GB Sychron duel pivot from the 1960s. Fitted to a 1956 Higgins. As chunky as GB or Weinmann centre pulls, you can see the back plate is the same. I agree, they are not particularly effective compared with modern dual pivot.
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