South Salem Cycleworks
(503) 480-2001
email: sscycleworks@comcast.net

 

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Vintage Components - Mafac Brakes

On this page:Mafac Racer centerpull calipers

We do not have on-line sales at this time. Please call us: (503) 480-2001 or email: sscycleworks@comcast.net

"MAFAC" is an acronym: "Manufacture Auvergnoise de Freins et Accessoires pour Cycle (Manufacturer in the Auvergne of Brakes and Accessories for Cycles.) The Auvergne is a region in central France.

When Mafac brakes were introduced at the 1952 Paris bike show, they were the first classic center-pull and were a fabulous advance over the poor-stopping side-pulls of the time. They required so little effort their tag line was, “Braking with one finger is enough”.

afac ad

1952 Mafac ad

Important to cyclists of the time, they were powerful and still allowed large frame clearances for fenders and mud. Through a quirk of physics, bigger clearances for fenders means side-pull brakes have less mechanical advantage and thus less stopping power. In the 1950s, dirt roads were far from unknown in Europe and on a rainy day a bike without fenders could get fouled with mud to the point of being unrideable.

For a time, Mafac center-pull brakes were the state-of-the art and were used by the world's finest racers, such as five-time Tour de France winner Jacques Anquetil. Other big brake makers, notably Weinmann of Switzerland and Universal of Italy, didn’t come out with center-pulls until the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor

Mafac brakes being used by a pair of the greatest riders of all time. 1964 Tour de France, stage 20: Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor in their famous race up Puy de Dôme. Anquetil narrowly saved his lead to win the Tour.


Mafac "Racer" center pull calipers. used. $40.00

Part# BR-202-01

It is very difficult to date these calipers, as they were produced with little change from 1952 until the early 1980s.

About them, the late Sheldon Brown wrote:

"Mafac centerpulls were widely considered the finest brakes available from the 1950's through the late 1960s, when Campagnolo started making brakes. Probably more Tours de France have been won by bicycles using Mafac brakes than any other brand, except Campagnolo. Many cyclists and collectors who came of age after Mafac's glory days sneer at these brakes, because they mainly associate them with low-end bike-boom 10 speeds, but they are wrong to do so. Mafac brakes are light and powerful, reliable and effective. The worst thing that you can say about them is that they are prone to squealing.

"The most common model, the Racer, features adjustable mechanical advantage. By varying the length of the transverse cable you can fine tune the mechanical advantage to provide the desired power/feel with whatever type of levers you are using."

Mafac Racer calipers

Our set has Scott-Mathauser pads.

Mafac Racer calipers

And from the rear.