Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

12 August 2015

These Brakes Made Me Stop--And Take Notice

On this blog, I have said that almost every "innovation" or "revolution" in cycling is simply a reiteration of something that was done earlier.  Some examples include non-round chainrings and aluminum frames.

The same can be said for "U"-brakes, which were found on many mountain bikes of the late 1980's.  Like cantilevers and "V" brakes, they mount on studs that are usually brazed onto the frame. They look like oversized centerpulls, which is what they basically are.  On one model, a cam mechanism replaced the straddle cable and yoke found on cantilevers and centerpulls.  This helped to make the brake more rigid and powerful, but also were prone to getting clogged with mud or fouled by debris when the brakes were mounted, as they typically were, on the chainstays.

They actually bore a striking resemblance to these brakes made from the 1930s until the 1960s:

I suspect this particular model was made by Jeay because Mercier, among other French bike makers,  equipped their tandems, touring bikes,  randonneuses and city bikes with them.   

Those brakes, like "U" brakes, are operated by a cam that's pulled by the cable.  Also like U brakes, they mount on studs that are higher on the forks or stays than those for cantilevers but lower than the ones used for centerpulls. 

The Mercier in the photo has other features--such as the frame tube configuration and rear pannier-- rarely, if ever, found on bikes that made their way to the US:

That means, of course, I am not in Kansas, let alone the US.  More on that soon.

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