While we love all new cyclocross products, we also have a deep appreciation for old skool, vintage gear that made early ‘cross bikes so unique. To pay our respect to the products of earlier generations, and to compliment Jason Prince’s Cross Bike Love article in Issue 6, we’re starting up a new semi-regular series of features on retro or vintage ‘cross gear. First up? Hogan brakes.
In the early days of ‘cross in the U.S., the French Mafac cantilever brakes were the brakes of choice as they featured great mud clearance and were reasonably light. If Mafac brakes were hard to find, similar brakes from Dia Compe, Modolo and Polygon all were suitable if not heavier substitutes.
Today, companies like TRP, Paul, 4Za, Spooky and Kore all have versions of this wide-clearance cantilever brake for the growing ‘cross market. But what brakes bridged the gap between the Mafacs and the EuroX of today? In 90’s if you were looking for brake with great mud clearance, the low-profile cantis from mountain bikes were not a good option, and riders either turned to small companies like Hogan and SRP to meet their needs.
The former Cyclocross National Champion McCormack brothers of Frank and Mark were two riders who opted for Hogan brakes before the similar but lighter SRP brake was released. The McCormacks’ Hot Tubes-constructed bicycles were seen graced with these odd, clunky-looking brakes made by Brad Hogan, co-founder of Verge Sport. But all it took a was a muddy New England race to see why the two dominant riders chose these brakes, as the brakes excelled in mud clearance and kept the brothers rolling when others were literally stuck in the mud.
There certainly were some compromises though, just as there still are with some of the modern wide-profile brakes of today. The Hogans featured short (road length), post-mounted pads that were not toe-in adjustable, and lacked screws to adjust spring tension for centering. The solution? Simply rotate the brake backwards or forwards to tweak the spring.
But they were the choice of champions because not only did they offer superior mud clearance, they boasted quite a bit of weight savings. With a straddle cable and bolts, the brake was a good 60 grams lighter than a pair of Deore XT (M737) cantilever brakes.
While some modern ‘cross brakes today have nice touches like toe-in adjustable pads and easily adjustable cable and spring tension, the Hogan brakes were the brake of choice at the time.
Hogan Cantlever Brakes
Country of Origin: USA
Weight: 125 grams with straddle cable and bolts (w/o yoke)
Pads: Short post-mount pad
MSRP: $50 for a complete set, front and rear (courtesy of Adam Myerson)