South Salem Cycleworks: Salem, Oregon
(503) 480-2001
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Vintage Components - Mafac Brakes

On this page: Mafac Racer centerpull calipers | Racer levers, safety lever compatible | Mafac Competition levers | Mafac 2000 gold-anodized brake levers | Mafac dual-cable tandem levers | Mafac single brake lever

Mafac brake hoods are posted here.

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"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

We have two sets: Mafac Racer set #1 | #2 (long reach)

Mafac Racer calipers were made with two reaches. Measured from the center of the frame mounting bolt to the center of the brake pad mounting stud:

Short reach: 38.5 - 63mm
Long reach: 53.5 - 68mm

Mafac brake caliper

Here's a long-reach caliper and how it is measured.

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" center pull calipers set #1. used. $40.00

Part# BR-202-02

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

Mafac brake calipers

All original, including the straddle cable hangers

Mafac Race brakes

And from the back.

Mafac "Racer" center pull calipers set #2. used. $40.00

Part# BR-202-01b

These calipers are long-reach: 53.5 - 68mm (Please see the explanation at the top of the page.)

Mafac Racer brakes

This set has Shimano Deore XT brake pads

Mafac Racer brakes

And from the back

Mafac Racer brake levers made "safety-lever" compatible. Used, $30.00/set

  • These levers have had their pivot pins replaced so that if desired, safety levers (Dia-Compe lever extensions that allow the rider to pull on the levers with hands on the tops) can be installed.
  • Safety levers are not included.

Mafac levers

Here are the levers with the adapters showing.

Mafac brake levers

The sides of the levers.

Mafac brake levers

Here are the levers flipped over.

Mafac levers

From underneath

Mafac Course Competition Non-Aero Brake Levers. Used, $100.00/set

The lever on the left has been altered for a Mirrycle Mirror.

Mafac brake levers

Front view.

Mafac Competition brake levers

Side view

Mafac brake levers

The levers flipped over.

Mafac brake levers

The bar clamps.

Mafac competition brake levers

The tops of the lever, showing the modification of one of the levers for a Mirrycle Mirror.

Mafac 2000 gold-anodized brake levers. Used, $75.00

  • Produced in the 1970s
  • Mafac produced these 2000-model gold levers in both drilled and smooth versions.

Mafac 2000 rake levers

Classic levers from the 70s.

Mafac 2000 gold levers

They still have their original hoods. but they to have some tears.

Mafac 2000 brake levers

The other side.

Mafac dual-cable tandem brake levers. Used. $100.00

Both levers can be set up for dual cables, but only one lever has two cable stop ferrules. We have lots of ferrules in stock if you need them.

Mafac tandem levers

After all these years, still in good shape.

Mafac tandem levers

From the side

Mafac brake levers

Close-up showing the dual cable exit.

Mafac brake lever with hood. Used, $50.00

  • With adjusting barrel
  • Dia-Compe hood

Mafac brake lever

Front view

Mafac brake lever

Side view

Mafac brake lever

And the other side