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Mafac brakes, are they realy that old?
Last Post 06/04/2013 03:06 PM by John Ruffini. 15 Replies.
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79pmooney

Posts:1192

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05/29/2013 04:56 PM
Bobswire posted the famous Tour de France picture of riders smoking cigarettes while racing.  I happened to notice the rider receiving a light had brakes that look like the Mafac centerpulls that came on my and thousands more Peugeots.  But that picture also shows all the bikes we can see having wing nuts, not quick releases on the wheels.  Tullio Campangolo invented the quick release in 1927.  My memory says that photo to be around 1929 which could fit under that timeline.

But if that is true, it means the Mafac brake has been around a LONG, LONG time! Almost 40 years when I bought my Peugeot.  And I am still using a pair, modified to be two front brakes on my two winter bikes.  And now Paul has come out with a beautiful CNC brake that is (as far as I can see) exactly the same geometry and operation.  That's about 85 years!

How can I post or link Bobswires' pic?  http://www.velonation.com/Forums/aff/4/aft/270/afv/topic.aspx

Ben
Oldfart

Posts:490

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05/30/2013 12:29 PM
Yep they are old and as far as I recall worked quite well. I remember reading about another brake available way back. The stories from pros were that they were pretty awful and sometimes riders with good brakes would actually hold the jersey's of the guys sponsored by the manufacturer of the $4itty brakes to help them slow down. It was safer for the peleton. Anyone know which brakes those were? The article I read that in was from some cycling magazine from the 80's and the article did not say which brakes the crappy ones were.

Now those Mafac canitlevers which have been replicated by Tektro and others were and are truly bad.
longslowdistance

Posts:744

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05/30/2013 04:37 PM
They are so old, that Bell Labs scientists won the Nobel Prize for hearing the echo of their screeching at the beginning of the universe.
winterale

Posts:45

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05/30/2013 08:56 PM
Mafacs are old but can be made to work very well indeed, especially if the pivots are brazed-on ala Thevenet's Tour de France Peugeots and modern brake pads are used.
79pmooney

Posts:1192

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05/30/2013 09:06 PM
I'll second the modern pads. The braze-ons would be nice (I saw a bike fitted with braze-on Paul's the other day). If I'd thought of it, I would have had the frame builder braze them on my winter fixie when he repaired my seatstays. That'd be pretty cool!

One thing I like about the Mafacs that I have verified many times is that the brakes do not suffer in stopping ability at all after the bushings pick up play. I used to use them long after real play developed. Eventually I'd come across a new or newer pair. Nice tight brakes, but on the road, no difference at all.

Ben
winterale

Posts:45

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05/31/2013 10:59 AM
Was a model of Mafacs called "Dural" that came with brass bushings for just that reason or maybe plastic wasn't available yet. Also a guy on one of the lists-forums was machining brass bushings for to retro-fit them. Pauls are nice just chunky looking for my eye.
79pmooney

Posts:1192

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05/31/2013 01:20 PM
I'lll guess "Dura" refers to the aluminum alloy used. This brakes seem to be going back to the early days of aluminum as a usable material. The brass bushings were what wore out on the "Racers". With new bushings those brakes would be like new and good for another 10-15,000 miles of year round in snow and salt country.

And the old joke that still is true. Want a near new pair of Mafacs? They are still around. $50-75. You just have to remove and dispose of the attached Peugeot.

Ben
vtrich

Posts:3

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05/31/2013 01:37 PM
I have that picture on the wall in my office. The brakes on each of the 4 bikes are side pull brakes and don't have the same profile as Mafacs. They could be made by Mafac prior to the development of center pulls,..but the profile isn't the same. Profile meaning the center pull mafac arms were flat and the sidepulls appear to be semi-round. for whatever that's worth. It is a stellar picture.
Keith Richards

Posts:759

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05/31/2013 01:53 PM

Paul's makes what is really just a pair of Mafac's made with quality metals.
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
79pmooney

Posts:1192

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05/31/2013 02:08 PM
Keith, quality metals, but one big difference. The Mafacs are forged, not cut. (CNC) They also have more rounded edges (easier to forge, more work to cut and reduces stiffness). Those add up to a brake that may well go more miles and survive more scratches without breaking. The Paul's are beautifully machined, but I would not bet against them breaking in the 22,000 miles and hard use of my Peugeot.

Ben
winterale

Posts:45

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05/31/2013 06:00 PM
The Mafacs are roughly 2/3 the weight of the Pauls as well.
velofellow 2.0

Posts:27

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06/03/2013 04:24 PM
When in Paris last year, I stopped by the Alex Singer shop. I asked the fellow working there about all the Mafac brakes on the showroom bikes, and he said that Singer bought all of Mafac's stock when they went out of business.

[URL=http://s109.photobucket.com/user/jruffini/media/PA190892_zps16d29dc3.jpg.html][/URL]
pretender

Posts:41

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06/03/2013 06:05 PM
dia compe is making these now, VO stocks them. nice, not near as spendy as the pauls. option for either canti or standard road mount. if i ever get the better half's bike back from the painter there's a set waiting to go on it.

pretender

Posts:41

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06/03/2013 06:07 PM
the whole gran compe ENE line is really nice stuff, and a welcome nod to classic styling.


http://www.diacompe.com.tw/product_list.asp?psclass=19
79pmooney

Posts:1192

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06/03/2013 07:20 PM
Gran Compe has been a find a long time. My '76 Fuji Pro had Gran Compe sidepulls. They were quality stoppers. Much better than the universal NRs of the day for both stopping power and modulation. (They also had the really useful brake release for real-world racing situations. I crashed in a race, got up and chased. Bike was fine except the front wheel was tweaked and touching the brakes. I was a bit shaken up. Without taking my hands off the bars, I flipped the release on the lever off. This was one of those releases that you rotated to the side so the lever opened more. With the help of a teammate (a certain Peter Mooney) I got back on (and placed). The right tool for the job.

Ben
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