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Compass Rene Herse Center Pulls

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Compass Rene Herse Center Pulls

Old 05-18-19, 07:06 AM
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Big in Japan
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Compass Rene Herse Center Pulls

Hello
I'm building a custom randonneuring bike, which will be taken on rough asphalt & occasional dirt/gravel roads.

I'm thinking of using Compass / René Herse braze on center pull brakes.
I have good memories of center pulls from the 1970s (!!), but that may be nostalgia.

Is there anyone here who has used / is using Compass center pulls?
If so, how do you find them?
How're the strength & modulation?
How are they in the wet?
How do they compare with modern dual pivot brakes?
With hydraulic discs?

I'd be grateful to hear from anyone who has experience with them (not Dia Compe, Gran Compe, Grand Bois, Weinmann, Zeus, Shimano, Universal, or any other brand. Maybe MAFAC.)

Thanks.
(I'm going to post this in the randonneuring forum too.)

BIJ.
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Old 05-18-19, 08:25 AM
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Internet BOB (i-bob) google forum is full of subscriber devotees of Bike Quarterly magazine ,
published by the guy who owns compass bike tires and components , recently changing to Rene Herse..

Owning that brand name of an old French Constructeur .. ask there? subscribe to the Mag?


Pauls Comp is another (US) maker of center pulls with a braze on post option ..
more mass = stronger

medium .. reach ..



I've read complaints of post splay when brazed on thin wall fork blades...so have a discussion with your builder on how to counteract that..









...

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Old 05-18-19, 10:04 AM
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The post-mounted brakes can be found here: https://www.renehersecycles.com/fr/s...erpull-brakes/ Compass/Herse also offers a model that bolts on just like the old MAFAC or Weinmann centerpulls.

BIJ, I have not tried them but I do have MAFAC and Weinmann Vainqueur centerpulls (with salmon Kool Stop pads) on my old bikes. Both types work fine when dry. They are not so great when wet, though, but that is an issue with any caliper brake, no matter how well made. For riding in rainy Seattle I much prefer the braking I get with disks because they just work. There is no delay before the brakes grab, unlike with rim brakes where you have to wait for the water to get wiped off the rims.
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Old 05-19-19, 05:40 PM
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Fietsbob, thanks for the reply.

I've probably read every post and comment on Jan Heine's "Off the Beaten Path" blog and frequently visit the Compass / René Herse website. I've also read many editions of Heine & René Herse cycles' Bicycle Quarterly. As you might expect, there is little or no critical feedback about Herse components in any of these. I don't recall reading any comments at all about the performance of Herse brakes. Fair enough, I don't expect to see critical comments in any advertising.

I have read, in Heine's blog and elsewhere, many comments admiring the look & quality of the brakes. I've also seen many photos of "randonneuring" bikes equipped with these brakes. I even saw a couple of such bikes at LEL in 2017, but I didn't speak to the owners. Centre pull brakes with brazed mounting posts are generally on bikes modeled on French low-trail, brevet bikes from the 1940s–70s. I like the handling of low-trail bikes, but I'm not interested in replication for replication's sake. I want to know how well these brakes work before I pay the not inconsiderable price for them! I'm sure they have good points and bad points. I want to know what they are.

I'm aware of Paul centre pulls. They don't mount to the same type of braze on post as Herse centre pulls and are CNC machined rather than forged like the Herse brakes. I think they may have less reach, I haven't checked them for some time. Like the other brands of centre pulls I mentioned, they are similar to the Herse brakes but … different. The Herse brakes are based on MAFAC Raids but supposedly improved in many ways (shape of the arms, stiffness, bushings, springs &c). Nevertheless, information about MAFAC Raids or other models may be relevant.

I've heard a little about post splay, too, though I'm not 100% sure if it was about Herse brakes or other brands. In Off the Beaten Path Heine says that cantilever brake posts can twist the forks but centre pull posts don't because they're mounted higher & closer to the fork crown. This makes sense to me, but I don't know if it's true. I intend to use a Herse rack that mounts to the brake posts which may minimise any splaying. I don't know about that either, so I'm also interested in hearing from anyone who's used the brakes with the rack.

Thanks again.
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Old 05-19-19, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
… I do have MAFAC and Weinmann Vainqueur centerpulls (with salmon Kool Stop pads) on my old bikes. Both types work fine when dry. They are not so great when wet, though … For riding in rainy Seattle I much prefer the braking I get with disks because they just work …
Thanks for the reply, Aubergine. May I ask, are your MAFAC & Weinmann centre pull brakes bolted on thru a bridge connecting the two arms, or mounted on brazed posts? I remember Weinmann centre pull brakes mounted via a bolted bridge as very flexible.
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Old 05-19-19, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Big in Japan View Post
Thanks for the reply, Aubergine. May I ask, are your MAFAC & Weinmann centre pull brakes bolted on thru a bridge connecting the two arms, or mounted on brazed posts? I remember Weinmann centre pull brakes mounted via a bolted bridge as very flexible.
All of my older bikes have their brakes mounted through a single bolt. And like you, I remembered old Weinmann brakes as being very flexible, but the Vainqueurs I put on my Motobécane are actually quite firm, and certainly brake as well as any other rim brake I have (including double-pivot Campagnolo.) Perhaps I had used cheaper Weinmann calipers in the past, or the brake pads were worthless. I dunno! But I am happy with them now.

Oh, one other data point. I have Paul centerpull calipers on my main touring bike, and they are mounted on posts. They are very stiff. They might brake a smidge better than the MAFACs and Weinmanns as a result.
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Old 05-20-19, 01:03 AM
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Aubergine,
Thank you for your response.
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Old 05-20-19, 07:44 AM
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They’ll likely perform the same as a set of mafac or any other centerpull using brazed on posts. Since they are directly based on mafac. Which isn’t a huge amount better than center bolt mounted ones, just lacking the annoyance of keeping them properly ‘centered’. I’ve never tried the compass model but I’ve held and handled a set. They don’t seem any different from a set of mafac’s beyond better fit and finish. Same goes for the grand bois centerpulls. The only set I’ve personally used, that seemed ‘different’ was the gran compe gc450’s. Not ‘better’, just different. Likely because they are smaller, a little more ‘aero’ and utilise a single piece spring. Although they can be converted to post mount. They’re all 1:1, and they’re all going to exhibit similar flex, which can be reduced with post mounted setup. This means most centerpulls, especially if they are of the typical ‘mafac’ design, will perform roughly equally. Not taking into account, your cable setup and brake pad choice of course. My personal opinion is that for the money, you’re really only getting that better fit and finish. It won’t get you better performance. If it were my money, I’d sooner buy their (overpriced, but well made) replacement hardware kit, and refurbish a set of mafac’s.
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Old 05-20-19, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
All of my older bikes have their brakes mounted through a single bolt. And like you, I remembered old Weinmann brakes as being very flexible, but the Vainqueurs I put on my Motobécane are actually quite firm, and certainly brake as well as any other rim brake I have (including double-pivot Campagnolo.) Perhaps I had used cheaper Weinmann calipers in the past, or the brake pads were worthless. I dunno! But I am happy with them now.

Oh, one other data point. I have Paul centerpull calipers on my main touring bike, and they are mounted on posts. They are very stiff. They might brake a smidge better than the MAFACs and Weinmanns as a result.
Ive seen photos (unfortunately can’t recall where on the net I’ve seen them) of a set of mafac’s modified to use the Paul components springs and adjuster nuts. Don’t know if that would have been any upgrade in performance, but it looked damn good. I’ve owned a set of Paul racers, mafac competitions (late model ‘79) and a set of gran compe gc450’s. They all had roughly equal performance. They were all center-bolt mounted, but as you say, beyond some extra stiffness, and of course, a cleaner look, post mounted versions will perform roughly equally. Which of course, being 1:1, is a very similar performance to any quality single pivot side pull. My dura ace 7400’s perform no better overall than my gran compe’s or my Paul’s did, and all have roughly equal modulation. The side pulls only feel slightly more stiff, having shorter arms.
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Old 05-20-19, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by seamuis View Post
They’ll likely perform the same as a set of mafac or any other centerpull using brazed on posts. Since they are directly based on mafac. Which isn’t a huge amount better than center bolt mounted ones, just lacking the annoyance of keeping them properly ‘centered’. I’ve never tried the compass model but I’ve held and handled a set. They don’t seem any different from a set of mafac’s beyond better fit and finish. Same goes for the grand bois centerpulls. The only set I’ve personally used, that seemed ‘different’ was the gran compe gc450’s. Not ‘better’, just different. Likely because they are smaller, a little more ‘aero’ and utilise a single piece spring. Although they can be converted to post mount. They’re all 1:1, and they’re all going to exhibit similar flex, which can be reduced with post mounted setup. This means most centerpulls, especially if they are of the typical ‘mafac’ design, will perform roughly equally. Not taking into account, your cable setup and brake pad choice of course. My personal opinion is that for the money, you’re really only getting that better fit and finish. It won’t get you better performance. If it were my money, I’d sooner buy their (overpriced, but well made) replacement hardware kit, and refurbish a set of mafac’s.
I'm with you on this as well. The replacement parts for the mafacs make the most sense in a cost to performance basis. I picked up a 1970s era Libertas bike recently and I'm thinking of going with mafacs because they just look right on an old bike and work well.

Mafacs can be found at reasonable prices used. The compass bits run $125 which means that the total cost will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 plus depending on how much the racers cost. I doubt that OP wants old brakes on a new bike though. Still if the arms are polished, this would look spiffy!

https://www.renehersecycles.com/shop...erpull-brakes/

I like this 2016 (!) review of mafac brakes in cycling weekly:

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/l...-brakes-206323

Modern center pulls are just expensive (the dia compe 450s, paul, or compass) run $300 on up for a pair. The "cheapies" are the dia compe 610s at $170 the pair. That's about the same price as the mafac racers with the upgraded hardware.

Last edited by bikemig; 05-20-19 at 08:12 AM.
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Old 05-20-19, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
I'm with you on this as well. The replacement parts for the mafacs make the most sense in a cost to performance basis. I picked up a 1970s era Libertas bike recently and I'm thinking of going with mafacs because they just look right on an old bike and work well.

Mafacs can be found at reasonable prices used. The compass bits run $125 which means that the total cost will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 plus depending on how much the racers cost. I doubt that OP wants old brakes on a new bike though. Still if the arms are polished, this would look spiffy!

https://www.renehersecycles.com/shop...erpull-brakes/

I like this 2016 (!) review of mafac brakes in cycling weekly:

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/l...-brakes-206323

Modern center pulls are just expensive (the dia compe 450s, paul, or compass) run $300 on up for a pair. The "cheapies" are the dia compe 610s at $170 the pair. That's about the same price as the mafac racers with the upgraded hardware.
Cost aside, a refurbished and polished set of mafac’s is literally going to look the same as the compass, because they are effectively identical. Performance will also be the same. I would consider it to be roughly speaking, a wash. So if you’re considering a new pair of brakes that looks identical to an old pair, what’s the difference? Can’t really go wrong with either choice, because performance will be equal.

Those gran compe’s are certainly pricey. I paid like $120 per brake! And I can’t possibly recommend them at that price because they perform no better than any other option. They do look good though, and are considerably lighter in weight than any other centerpull I’ve owned, if that matters. Extremely well made and probably the easiest to service, although the single piece spring is annoying. It can be converted to the typical two piece spring setup though and post mounted. I believe they only have 51 or 52mm of reach though. The Paul’s are also nice, but again, IMO,not worth the price overall as far as performance goes. But worth it in regards to American made, finely engineered and easily serviceable.
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Old 05-20-19, 08:16 PM
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Thank you seamuis & bikemig for responding.

Firstly, the MAFACs modified with Paul bolts &c that you saw are likely those made by Brian Chapman. I think he’s done this with c/p’s and cantilevers from a number of brands. Here’re some images:
i) Chapman MAFAC Raid c/p with Paul springs: www instagram com/p/vwq80yg_1c/
ii) Chapman Dura Ace c/p with Paul springs: www instagram com/p/BiVDvucBMiJ
iii) A bonus image of polished MAFAC Raids: www instagram com/p/BWdLPEKgEnh
I’m not a fan of the Paul spring mechanism. I had a set of Paul Mini-motos; excellent brakes, but the spring mechanism occasionally loosened. It’s a PITA adjusting them in the middle of a ride—even more so without a spanner. When I loaned my bike for a while to someone in Japan—someone with a less regular & rigorous maintenance regime than mine—the springs became twisted & corroded in the very rainy weather. I know that the Compass/Herse brakes have no spring adjustment at all, but Heine claims they’re constructed so precisely they don’t need adjustment. I’ve been impressed enough with the quality of their other components I’ve used to chance it. Of course, Herse also use hex bolts (requiring a spanner) to fix the brakes to the posts, but they shouldn’t come loose. In any case, I’ll be using double sided bolts to fix the rack to the front brake posts. I can always substitute Allen keyed bolts on the rear brake as in (iii) above.

“[F]or the money, you’re really only getting [a] better fit and finish”. Well, yes. And, according to Heine, the Herse brakes have been made stronger through thickening the arms. But you’re probably right, physics dictates the Herse brakes must perform very similarly to the MAFAC Raids they’re based on. If I had the time and a set of Raids I’d be happy to refurbish them with the Herse bushings &c.

The Dia Compe 450 does look good, however, it’s a short reach brake. Being shorter it would be expected to feel more positive in its action. An advantage of Herse, MAFAC, and other vintage or vintage style c/p brakes is that they are reasonably powerful while offering good tyre clearance.

It was fun reading the report on the MAFAC brakes. Since I posted the questions about the Herse brakes, I’ve spoken to an experienced, ex-national level rider who’s used them for touring & randonneuring who says they’re very simple & effective brakes. I still wouldn’t mind hearing other people’s experience & opinions though.

I confess part of my reason for considering this type of brake is the appearance. I've liked them since I first saw them on the bikes of some Japanese professional riders I met in the 1970s. They looked simple, functional, and light. I think Thevenet had them on his bike in the famous photo of him passing Merckx in 1975, and if they made him faster than Merckx they must be good.

Another, more serious, reason for considering them is that I travel a lot with my bike—both on planes and trains, esp. Japanese trains where you have to put your bike in a bag ('rinko'). I've found while traveling with hydraulic disc brake bikes is doable, you have to be tediously careful not to kink the lines. Mechanical disc, side-pull, cantilever & v– brakes have their own issues. Centre pull brakes with slotted cable stops &c seem a good compromise of strong stopping power, good tyre clearance, low weight, and ease of use in traveling. But I want to make sure there are no big issues with them. Fundamentally, I need to know they stop, and that all those bikes I see built with them—and the hype Heine gives them— is not fanciful, nostalgia, or plain B.S. I remember liking c/p brakes when I was young but that was a long time ago. Are they still worth the effort?
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Old 05-21-19, 05:10 AM
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The compass, the grand bois and the mafac will all give you pretty much the same performance. All three will have the same simple setup and be very reliable. That’s the blunt truth. So which one you choose is down to your personal aesthetic and wether you’re willing to invest time and money into a restoration, or you want them looking good right from the start. I agree, that for a rinko setup, centerpulls are the smartest choice.
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Old 05-21-19, 08:09 AM
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I love how they look, I hate that they cost a billion dollars. Most of the randoish bikes I see (mine included) use Tektro cantis. They aren't glamorous but they get the job done. And it frees up a giant pile of cash for other stuff if that's a consideration (personally, I spent the money on the frame upgrade/brakes to splurge on the Compass/RH tail light/internal wiring and Honjo/Simworks brass fenders- this may or may not apply if budget is no issue).
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Old 05-21-19, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by DHPflaumer View Post
I love how they look, I hate that they cost a billion dollars. Most of the randoish bikes I see (mine included) use Tektro cantis. They aren't glamorous but they get the job done. And it frees up a giant pile of cash for other stuff if that's a consideration (personally, I spent the money on the frame upgrade/brakes to splurge on the Compass/RH tail light/internal wiring and Honjo/Simworks brass fenders- this may or may not apply if budget is no issue).
For a rinko setup, centerpulls make breaking the bike down, much faster than pretty much any other brake setup. Because you literally just have to pop out the straddle cable and your brakes are free. These classic Mafac style centerpulls also offer a lot of room for big tires and fenders. For the OPs needs, a centerpull is without a doubt, the best choice. A slick, stainless cable, good housings and quality pads, and you’ve got good stoppers.
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Old 05-23-19, 09:50 AM
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Vintage Mafac...lot less money, same performance. Stiffer build costs more for the fact they they are new...But here's something to chew on...he's charging you over 150$ for a set of vintage style brakes. They are made in Taiwan...

Herse products are horrendously overpriced and not worth it. Vintage components can be had for much cheaper and do the same thing. If you need pretty shiny modern sure go for it.

There are also some Weinman/Universial etc...

But honestly the stock mafacs can work just fine. I personally would never buy any of that overpriced stuff from Herse. While it's good intended and awesome to see modern reproduction stuff, the vintage stuff is so cheap and does nearly the same thing.
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Old 05-23-19, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by SoreFeet View Post
Vintage Mafac...lot less money, same performance. Stiffer build costs more for the fact they they are new...But here's something to chew on...he's charging you over 150$ for a set of vintage style brakes. They are made in Taiwan...

Herse products are horrendously overpriced and not worth it. Vintage components can be had for much cheaper and do the same thing. If you need pretty shiny modern sure go for it.

There are also some Weinman/Universial etc...

But honestly the stock mafacs can work just fine. I personally would never buy any of that overpriced stuff from Herse. While it's good intended and awesome to see modern reproduction stuff, the vintage stuff is so cheap and does nearly the same thing.
Ive never purchased any of their branded components other than their tires, and have no idea where any of it is made, but something made in Taiwan is every bit as good or better as anything made in France back then. Your words seem to insinuate either poor quality, or not worth the price, solely based on where it’s made. Neither of which, as blanket statements, are true. As to what’s “overpriced”, is a matter of personal financial opinion, and more often than not, has little to do with actual quality. My Taiwan made VO handlebars and porteur rack as well as my Taiwan made Dia Compe 189 brake levers are fine quality. As are my Chinese made, Taiwanese owned H+Son rims. You’re welcome to express your opinion of course, but I think the OP will decide for themselves what’s ‘overpriced’ or not, and rightly so. I highly doubt the actual price is the main concern here. It’s more about ready to go right out of the box, or invest in restoration and refurbish.
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Old 11-16-19, 11:53 PM
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Follow up:
Got the Herse rinko centre pulls. I don’t care about the price. They appear better and note precisely made than MAFACs I’ve seen.
A simple and effective brake. Very well made. From the drops where I mainly ride, they stop as well as my Ultegra hydro discs. Not as ultimately powerful, but somehow more usable. At least in the dry. In the wet, I need to anticipate more but they *do* stop me—even on long Japanese descents. FromFun the hoods they are not so good, but fine for my purposes. Excellent for rinko and plane travel.
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Old 11-17-19, 01:07 AM
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Thanks for the follow-up, BIJ! Does your bike use the post-mount, or bolt-on version of the brakes?
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Old 11-17-19, 07:22 AM
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Are Mafac Racers "converted" to braze-on style by using the René Herse kit. Or do you have to have an actual braze-on Mafac model?
I am taking a frame building course next month and building a Randoneur but I was planning cantilever brakes. But now ...!
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Old 11-17-19, 04:10 PM
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ThermionicScott 
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
Are Mafac Racers "converted" to braze-on style by using the René Herse kit. Or do you have to have an actual braze-on Mafac model?
I am taking a frame building course next month and building a Randoneur but I was planning cantilever brakes. But now ...!
With either the Mafac Racers or RH centerpulls, it’s the same arms whether you mount them to posts or a backing plate. Let’s see if this link works: https://janheine.wordpress.com/2017/...t-on-mounting/
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