[CR]Thoughts on Universal/Zues/Gran Compe Center-pull Evolution


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From: Bikerdaver@aol.com
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2003 19:20:19 EDT
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR]Thoughts on Universal/Zues/Gran Compe Center-pull Evolution

I recently finished looking/drueling over the gorgeous Zues center-pull brakes carried on the renaissance-cycles website (no relation to seller, etc.). As a former Zues addict, it dawned on me that if any self-respecting Zues-o-phile couldn't get their fix from the renaissance gang, they never will. I am specifically noting the Zues center-pull calipers.

Allow me to observe and guestimate for a moment, if you will. I am not referring to the push-rod/boat anchor contraptions that are appearantly still made in mainland China. In the models shown on the renaissance site, the Zues models "more or less" show the interesting path that center-pull designs took over time. Again, this is at least how I saw things unfold in the 60s, on up into the mid-eighties. As far as I recall, Universal was the first mass producer of center-pulls reaching the US market.

You will note that the cheaper/oldest design of the Zues calipers bare a direct unapologetic resemblance to the early Universal Mod. 61s. Early Balilla and Weinmann center-pulls look like unabashed imitations of the Universal design as well. Universal never changed their design much with introduction of the "Extra" center-pull model, and their design soon dead-ended in the early 70s.

Interesting to note, is that if you can find some early Weinmanns, hang onto them. I saw a used set go for over $120 on ebay not too long ago, a little 10X over thier original price. If I am not mistaken, these Weinmenn were OEM on early Urago and some Cinelli as well.

As many of you know, later Balilla and Weinmann "modernized" the caliper design, which was then copied, mass produced, and shipped through-out the world by the ever--at the time--ubiquitous Dia-Compe center-pulls. This version included a "pin and slot" mechanism for keeping pulling tension the same on both front and rear caliper arms. Actually, even Zues carried a "modernized" model as well.

Given that quality side-pull models soon displaced center-pulls, the next step in center-pull evolution, left most posseurs by the way side. The Zues (mod. 2000?) center-pulls includes a beautiful satin finish, allen nut fittings, tricked-out bush bearings and sharp-looking tire guides.

These models are just about the creme de la creme, were it not for the ever-innovative, ever-imitative gang at Dia-Compe. Dia-compe made an even smarter looking copy of the Zues Center-pull, keeping the very sexy satin-buff anodizing and offered them in short, middle and long reach.

Their late production Gran-Compe models went a step further with ball bearing pivots. I would be surprised if more than 1000 sets ever made it to the States. As far as I can tell, these Gran-Compes are the best production center-pull models ever made. Check out the Zues brake levers on the renaissnace site; later Gran-Compe models also copied them to a "T", again keeping the satin-buff finish.

These are just my observations, those of you that have center-pulls will find some of this info old news. I think I have filled in the gaps as to which models appear to have evolved from which predecessor. If I have left anything out, (which i probably did), it would be great for others to fill in my memory gaps.

I have purposely left out Campy Deltas, Modolo Kronos, and Dura-Ace models given they are a real departure from the "classic" center-pull design, and of course out of the CR time-line. Cheers,
Dave Anderson
Cut Bank MT