Classic Lightweights UK
Classic Components 

M.A.F.A.C. - II

Steve Griffith 

Mafac in the 1970's

The core Mafac products remained unchanged until their demise in the mid 1980's.  Plastic was introduced into the lever bodies but not successfully as it distorted over time. This variant in either black or white plastic was called the Promotion. There was even a version of the Guidonnet lever with a white plastic blade known as the VDA. Any force exerted caused the lever to flex, not something to fill the rider with confidence.

Around 1974 the centre-pulls were updated with a short arm version, the Competition (47 to 60mm) and a longer arm, the 2000 (54 to 75mm reach).  This I interpret as a bid to develop separate brakes for racers and tourists. The main difference was that the arms were anodised and more rounded (easier to keep clean). There was also the option of gold anodising. The first versions had the model name engraved in script as the Racer but used the Top 63 straddle cable design. Later versions had the name on transfer gold on a black background and used a doubled ended ball-type straddle cable similar to that used by GB.  There are versions of the Competition with Peugeot and Spidel transfers. In the late 1970's the French failed attempt to create a group set to compete with Campag and Shimano.  Levers stamped Spidel date from this time.

Mafac levers became shorter in reach and were drilled.  The adjusters became larger in diameter and had a rubber cover. A cheaper centre pull the 'S', which looked and worked like a poor quality Weinmann copy was introduced in 1975. This is the only Mafac centre-pull to use the conventional type of brake shoe.  The model name  is not marked on these brakes.Their final centre-pull was the GT, which was a  high quality centre pull with Allen key fittings and a quick release on the straddle cable.

Tool Kits

A Mafac tool kit is ideal for fitting their brakes. For example the cable clamps required two 9mm spanners to adjust which all toolkits came with.

The first versions of the tool kit were in a metal box which had Securite and Mafac trade names it was then altered to a leather wallet

According to the 1960 Ron Kitching Everything Cycling there were three versions of the tool kit all in a grey or brown plastic fold out wallet or cloth roll:
- The Constructor  6 tools
- Touriste 7 tools
- Randonneur  10 tools
- There were also toolkits for mopeds(cyclemotors)

The 1959 Everything Cycling has the most comprehensive information on the toolkits

All came with puncture repair kit and the three single ended spanners doubled as tyre levers. The three doubled ended spanners  (8/9mm 10/11mm and 12/14mm) are some of the most useful tools ever invented   Less successful are the large tools, eg cone spanners. The set covering pretty much all fittings on a lightweight bike. Later versions included allen keys.

Straddle bridges
There were five different versions all stamped MAFAC on the front:
 1. Original closed both sides with BTE SGDG on the rear

 2. Open back with a full lip to hold the straddle, stamped: M.A.F.A.C.

 3. as 2. But with no punctuation (this is the most common)

 4.  as 3. Above but underlining created by the first 'A'

 5. Open back with split lip 

Brake Hangers

- Rear in three different lengths all stamped 'Mafac depose'. Also  version with a pulley for Mixte frames
- Front: unstamped variants for different shape of steerer
- Front: knurled to engage with teeth on Stronglight toothed headsets

They also made a brake cable guide like TA which fitted to the handlebar stem bolt.

Design Weaknesses

- Cable adjusters on lever can break off especially if the adjuster is unscrewed, when worn they can unwind.

- Bronze bushing on the dural forge once worn cannot be replaced. One advantage of the plastic bushing on the 'Racer' is that they can be replaced.

- Chroming is poor on the metal parts eg pivot bolts and cable clamps.

- Driver straddle cables can foul arms if not correct length.

- Top 63 and Driver straddle cable nipples being very small can corrode into the body making them very difficult to remove.

- The smaller tools (7 to 11mm) although well designed are not durable and will round. The larger tools lack the leverage for some jobs, eg wheel removal, seat pin adjustment. The serrated cone spanner designed to fit different size cones is not effective as it will slip.

Maintenance and trouble shooting

 -If brakes won't centre:

          Check pivot bolt tightness they should be tighten up to the same torque
          Check position of straddle bridge, can be moved slightly sideways
          Check tightness of centre screw nut
          Disassemble and regrease/clean up.  Should take about 15 mins

One cause of non-centring is if the bushing has worn if this is the case the arms will be very loose on the back plate. If the are brass then there is little you can do apart from reversing position on bike i.e. from front to rear or vice versa. If they are plastic bushings Mafac made replacements, which can be found at Cycle Jumbles or on eBay

Additional cable adjustment: normally the Mafac hanger will not take a barrel adjuster as the hole is too small. You can use the adjuster from a plastic Simplex down tube gear lever for the front brake. NB this will not work on the rear due to lack of space.

Fitting Cantilevers

Earlier braze-ons only had one position for the spring tension, the later versions have three AV or AR (for Avant and Arriéré respectively) . They also have a slightly different thread for the pivot bolt. Having three can be useful for compensating in the case where the braze ons are not quite parallel.

Sometimes the straddle cable will foul the stubs of the brakes shoes. If adjusting the straddle cable length does not cure this then use cantilevers with the longer arms (tandem version)

On frames with braze-ons positioned for 27" wheels, it should normally be possible to use 700c wheels.  There is no problem with the Criterium; these have about 10mm adjustment. It may not be possible with the Driver as there is far less adjustment.

For more on Mafac - MAFAC III

... back to MAFAC I