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B & T ‘Manx’ brakes

Posted: Friday 12th June 2020

Author: Bryan Clarke

B & T are best known for their manufacture of bicycle mudguards under the ‘Bantel’ brand.  However, in 1947 they produced a revolutionary all alloy cam-action brake almost forty years before their modern equivalent, the Campagnolo ‘Delta’ brake, was conceived. They called it the Manx brake, one assumes as a tribute to the Isle of Man cycle races. In a year that saw the introduction of many hiduminium and duralumin components such as ‘Lytaloy’, ‘Burlite’ and ‘Stratalite’ by Hobbs, Burmin, and Strata, B & T in turn must have looked for peacetime outlets for their engineering talents.

The caliper was a simple affair, being constructed essentially from sections of sheet alloy, with the arms pivoting from threaded bolts fixed to an arched frame and linked together by a single return spring. A cable attached to a central yoke would engage with the arms to pull them upwards but draw them together at the braking points. However, unlike most brakes the barrel end of the cable was inserted into the yoke leaving the plain end to be crimped at the lever – the opposite to all other caliper brakes. By comparison with the rather ugly caliper, the lever was more stylish in the vein of ones made in France by LAM and CLB.

Sadly, the brake did not become popular and rather like Burlite, who also produced a centre-pull brake, did not outlast the 1940s in all probability. B&Ts success lay with the manufacture of mudguards that lasted well into the 1960s.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Friday 12th June 2020

Author: Bryan Clarke

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