24 March, 2008

Vafac Racers and Neat Brake Shoes


About a month ago I received some revolutionary brake shoes from a company we work closely with. While in Taiwan I confirmed some details and we have placed an order for the shoes.

So what's so special about them? Well, they are straight post replacement cartridge shoes that allow toe-in, and other, adjustments. This is accomplished with a sort of ball-joint in the shoe. It's locked down with the 8mm nut at the base of the post.

Now you can give your old Mafac, Dia-Compe, Wienmann, or Universal centerpulls brakes the adjustment of modern brakes. And you can use any pad compound you like.

We'll have them in stock in a month or two.

But what's even cooler is that it allows us to proceed with two new projects. The first is the gold version of the current Grenluille canti brakes. The new version will include the new shoes and another nice refinement, an adjuster for straddle cable length. This model will be more expensive and, taking an idea from the top-of-the line Mafac brakes, be gold anodized. They are already on order and perhaps even in production.

The arrival of these new shoes has also inspired me to start another VO project. Yes, you guessed it, Vafac centerpull brakes. We just started the design phase and looking for a manufacturer, but a modern version of the Mafac competition centerpulls is our goal.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

awesome!! thanks...

johnson said...

both projects sound rad. i really hope the vafacs dont differ too greatly from the old mafacs. i'd like to see cleaner forging, brass bushings, and thats about it for 'improvements'

Anonymous said...

If the Vafacs use a straddle cable interchangeable with the original Competitions (and 2000's)you will probably be able to fund the project with the sale of this part alone...

C said...

Very nice news. The pads look like a cyclocross mechanic's dream. The Vafac also sounds nice. I agree that the only "improvements" should be better bushings and nice forgings. Almost all of the Mafac's I've seen - even those straight out of the box - looked a bit rough when compared to a Shimano or Campy part.

Anonymous said...

If the Vafacs use a straddle cable interchangeable with the original Competitions (and 2000's)you will probably be able to fund the project with the sale of this part alone...


All the more reason not to do so. One of the nice things about the RAID design is that its straddle cable is made from a standard shifter cable, and can be purchased anywhere.

--sfp

DYG said...

I predict that the adjustable post-style brake pad holders will be a popular upgrade for cyclocross racers who use Spooky, Empella, TRP Euro X, and similar brakes.

Michael S said...

Chris,
Any idea when the VO centerpull brakes will be ready? 6 months? 9 months?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

A feature that I always wanted in the old Mafac Racers was stiffness, any chance that could be included?

Seriously, am I in the minority for feeling like the only advantage of those brakes was the reach and the fact that you could center them bare handed? I really don't like being able to pull another half inch of cable after the pads make contact because the calipers flex, the straddle wire flexes, all but the best hangers flex, etc... etc... Sure they look right on certain bikes, but there are a mountain of them at bike co-ops around the country for restorations and whatnot, why make new ones?

Anonymous said...

Racers and Competitions are still easy to get; Raids are not. Raids may be much better for 36mm wide and wider tires. Perhaps a longer wider Vafac is worth considering. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

kewl... This will be a nicer way to adjust the shoes. I look forward to these shorter shoes compared to the longer style of the newer brakes. I have a theory that the longer lengths lend them to locking up more and flipping me over the handlebars three times too many. Meaning, that the length flexes more, and that the fronts grip inward, causing lock up. I notice the new pads also vibrate a lot more than the older shorter style pads. Or am I just crazy?

Anonymous said...

I also want to cast my vote for a RAID clone. The price of Mafac RAID calipers on eBay has been _really_ high. I'd have bought several pairs already if they were ~100 a pair.

Ian Dickson said...

Is it just me, or is "Vafac" really hard to say?

Chris Kulczycki said...

Michael S, That's an impossible question. If there is one thing I've learned in having bike parts made is that everything takes three times as long as you think it will, unless it takes five times as long, or seven...

I know that Mafacs are still available, but I hope our's will be stiffer and of better quality.

"Vafac" is just the first name I thought of. I don't know what we'll really call them. How about VOfac, Mafov? Other suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Well....Mafac was an acronym for MANUFACTURERS of ACCESSORIES and FLEXY A$$ED CALIPERS....so the acronym could start from there....

Johnson said...

I am 190lbs, use a shoddy improvised mounting system (smaller diameter stainless tru-crown mounting bolt) for my racers, run the shoes at the bottom of the slots, and when I look down, under hard braking, I see flex, but it doesnt seem to effect my braking time. I have ridden the same fire roads, same steep dirt roads that I usually ride with my super solid steel mafac cantis, and never felt like the racers were not doing thier job, or could not do thier job. Also, I generally tour with at least 20lbs of stuff, and my bike is no light weight. In other words, maybe they flex, even flex like crazy, but so what? as long as they dont flex up into the tire, and stop me before whatever...

I bet that a good deal of the flex is from those crappy red bushings. I could be wrong though.

Michael S said...

Chris,
I kind of figured that was the way it goes. I was just wondering if these are going to become standard issue on the VO frames by the time my frame comes up late next winter.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

How about "Velofac"?

Anonymous said...

I have brief experience with an actual "constructeur" bike which had post-mounted Mafac brakes, and they were shockingly powerful and stiff--it felt as though all of the energy went into braking, not flexing.

Is that to be expected with a post-mounted centerpull? Any thoughts about posts for the VO-cps?

wannaberando said...

How about: VOFAC?

Any ideas for the text to fit the acronym?

yankee_dollar said...

Chris-what kind of brazeon would one use for the mafacs-or your own version? I've been learning frame building and seeing your projects done with simpler lugs and whatnot gives me a warm fuzzy feeling ;-) I also like fillet brazing but it's fiendishly difficult to get the joints looking nice. Keep up the good work.

johnson said...

one can use canti studs for the mafacs but have to 'turn them down' on a lathe/milling machine. obviously they go in a different place than cantis. diacompe also still makes the studs, i believe

C said...

I've used Mafac Racers on a frame that had them mounted on brazed-on studs and on another frame that had them mounted with a bolt like a side pull. It made a HUGE difference. The stud mounted Mafac brakes worked great. The center bolt models were terrible.

I would definitely suggest that the new brake try to use the same mounting dimensions as the Paul brake and using a standard canti stud like the Paul.

I like Vofac.

While we're adding to the component list why not:
1) A nice, polished silver hubset using cartridge bearings and normal diameter hub bodies. Seems like many hub bodies these days use an over sized center section that looks ugly, IMO. Ideally offer 130 spacing with a cassette body and 126 spacing for freewheel.

2) A remake of the Huret Jubilee but modified to work better with standard drop outs/deraileur hangers. It could appeal to both the friction shifting crowd as well as the weight weenie crowd. Maybe update the design a bit to use standard pulleys.

It would be great to see a nice, well polished, all silver traditional group being offered. You're quickly getting there.

Jim said...

I have brazed on MAFAC Competition
centre pulls on my restored Bertin randonneuse. They are solid, easily modulated with lined cable runs, have brass pivot bushings and do not squeal. Braze on would be ideal if they could be arranged for the VO framesets.

Anonymous said...

how about Orac for a name? or Melo?
M Burdge
(ORange + mafAC, and Mafac + vELO, respectively)

Chris Kulczycki said...

Mafac brakes will fit on regular canti-bosses if:

1) The bosses are brazed onto the proper position and with the spring hole above, not beside, the post.

2) The post is either cut down a few mm or shimmed with a couple of washers; Mafac post are a little shorter than canti posts.

Any frame builder should be able to install posts for Mafac brakes. Just be sure to give them the brakes ahead of time because Mafac brakes came in at least for "reaches" and several widths.

Anonymous said...

Cute names wear thin pretty quickly. Why not call them simply "Velo-Orange" brakes? I'd love to see them with no markings whatever, but acknowledge that is perhaps not the best marketing angle.

The comment by one poster that MAFAC Racers mounted by center bolt are terrible could not be further from my experience. With Kool-Stop salmon pads they equal Shimano dual pivots. They are sensitive to pad placement; setting them too far from the rim weakens these brakes. I look forward to Velo-Orange's version.

nordic_68 said...

I don't get it. Post shoes with pivots may be a good upgrade for decades old french parts, but let's not get in a rut with respect to new designs. Isn't this a case where improved technology can be appreciated?

The only sensible way to design a modern interpretation of an old brake style is to spec standard cantilever post dimensions (length and diameter) and standard V-brake threaded (perhaps even cartridge!) shoes.

Anonymous said...

Why not a remake of the MAFAC GT model? Those were probably the prettiest and the strongest version of their centrepulls.

seaneee said...

Chris. I think these could be really cool, but agree that they only need some minor modifications and perhaps come as a complete package with a nice set of straddle cable hangers (ala Toei?) and nice F&R hangers.

But I have to plead with you about the name. Consider something more unique and ownable.

Toast Ghost said...

i love my mafac racers. i think when set up correctly they are some of the best and most democratic brakes ever made (ie. they were on everything). if you repro these brakes all they really need, as has been said, is a nicer finish and maybe brass bushings. however, it might be interesting to come up with a "mafac more-betterizer kit" with brass bushings, better pads, and a stiffening bridge like some i've seen recently that spans the two pivots. also, a stronger center bolt and perhaps a rubber fitting that would allow the rear end of the pivot to rest on the fork blade, which would allow a great many people who already own and love mafacs to make them super-awesome without having to take their bike to the frame-builder for the braze-ons. plus the process of coming up with the kit might do double-duty as r&d for the brakes themselves should you pursue them.

David said...

I have had this setup for a couple of years now - i.e., Mafac Racers with modern pads - and it works pretty well. The only issue I see is that a modern brake lever won't pull nearly enough cable. I used those really wide cyclocross cable hangers. Might want to just try and rig the geometry so that modern levers work better.

I liked the performance of my dual-pivot Campy calipers much better, but it's hard to put fenders and wide tires on using those. In addition, the Mafacs always draw questions -- you just don't see people on serious rides these days with Mafacs!

Anonymous said...

David a dit...

I have had this setup for a couple of years now - i.e., Mafac Racers with modern pads - and it works pretty well. The only issue I see is that a modern brake lever won't pull nearly enough cable.


Certainly not my experience. I'm using Shimano aero brake levers and Pauls Interrupter levers with Mafac RAID on my Kogswell P/R, as seen here:
http://tinyurl.com/yqtdag
and cable pull is just fine. I'm using them with KoolStop smooth post canti pads, and braking is absolutely first class.

--sfp

johnson said...

"In addition, the Mafacs always draw questions -- you just don't see people on serious rides these days with Mafacs!"

serious rides? what consitutes a serious ride? the PBP? 200k Brevets with 10,000 feet of climbing? or are by serious do you mean spandex, racer wannabes and club rides?

i ride my mafac racers on really nasty trails, long rides in all sorts of weather, etc etc. that kind of blanket statement is part of the reason why mafacs fell out of favor.

Karl said...

I'd like to add my voice to Nordic 88's comment re the virtues of a canti post compatible design.

I like the XT cantis that I brought to my Mariposa but know it would better look the part with centrepulls.

Sonny said...

Is it possible to use v-brake levers with Mafac racers?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Cris, love your work!
I have some questions that maybe you could help me with:

Could I mount my Racer's to the cantileverposts on my touringframe and get it to work if I swap from 700c to 650B, provided I ad some DIY adapter shim for the springs?

If not how do I get the brakes on a 700c frame to work with 650B wheels?

Does the cantilever mounts have to go?

Have a great spring!
Peter

K Matthias said...

So who owns the MAFAC name anyway? I haven't seen anything with that label in at least 20 years. If no one is defending the trade mark, nor using it in production, it's pretty much fair game. Might not be worth paying a lawyer to check it out, but I'd love to see the name and spirit resurrected.

trainers shoes said...

I wish that I can see some snaps of the shoes for which you discussed that you received some revolutionary brake shoes from a company you work closely with.

Dc Shoes said...

The riders and competitions are always easy to obtain, not raids. Raids can be much better for the 22 mm wide and wider tires. Perhaps a wider Vafac worth considering. Thank you.