South Salem Cycleworks: Salem, Oregon
(503) 480-2001
We have a huge stock of vintage and modern parts. Contact us!

Vintage Components - Universal Brakes

Universal brakes on this page: Model 61/68 lever set | Model 61/68 single brake lever | Squadra (Team) brakeset

We do not have an on-line shopping cart at this time. Please call us: (503) 480-2001 or email:

Universal brakes were produced by the Fratelli Pietra (Pietra Brothers) of Milan from the 1920s until sometime in the 1980s. For much of its history, all Universal brake production was sidepull. Famous riders, including Fausto Coppi and Felice Gimondi, used Model 51 sidepulls.

Universal named many of its brakes by the year they were introduced.

Universal was slow to catch up to French brake maker Mafac, which had started producing classic centerpull brakes in 1952. But with 1961 introduction of their well-regarded model 61 centerpull brakes, Universal had caught up. The Model 61 was the choice of most high-end Italian bike makers.

In 1968 Campagnolo showed that high-mechanical advantage sidepull brakes could be made. That same year Universal came out with its high-end, but far less expensive Model Super 68 sidepull brake.

Universal went on to produce more expensive, better finished brakes, culminating in the AER LAI brakeset in 1985. In 1992 the company closed.

Fortunately, all of the company's designs and prototypes were stored. This has allowed the heirs of the founders to go back into business, supplying spare parts for the company's iconic brakes.

Universal brake ad

Here's a modern ad using the famous artwork that was on vintage Universal brake boxes.

Universal Model 61/68 brake lever set. Used, $50.00/set

Universal brak elevers

The lever fronts

Unliversal brake levers

Side view

Universal brake levers

Here are the levers flipped over to show their other sides.

Universal Super 68 brake levers

Lever tops

Universal brak elevers

The lever undersides

Universal Model 61/68 single brake lever. Used, $35.00

We believe this is a Model 61/68 lever. Both the centerpull (Mod 61) and sidepull (Mod 68) calipers came with the same levers.

Universal brake lever

From the front

Universal brake lever

Side view. Please note that it has a Dia-Compe hood.

Universal brake lever

Here's the other side of the lever

Universal Squadra (Team) brakeset. used. $100.00

Part# BR-51

  • Universal took the excellent caliper forgings they used in their Super 77 brakeset and gave all the hardware a serious upgrade. The result was the Universal Squadra brakeset. Some sets are labeled "Team", English for Squadra. They are the same. We date this set of Squadra brakes to the late 1980s.
  • The quick-release is progressive. Like Campagnolo Nuovo Record calipers, the QR can be partially opened and the brakes will still work.
  • We have overhauled all the moving parts on this brakeset. It's ready to go.
  • These brakes are short-reach, 47 - 54mm.
  • The aero levers are resin and the hoods are in great shape. They come with the hard-to-find front lever plugs that cover up the hole where the cable is threaded through the lever.
  • Frame mounting is allen-key.

Squadra sidepull brakeset

Even cables and housing (Elephant brand housing) are included.

Universal Squadra calipers

Close-up of the calipers. Note, the adjusting barrels don't quite match.

universal caliper backs

The backs of the calipers.

Universal Aero levers

The aero resin levers come with the very rare front plugs that you install after setting up the brakes.