I remember the day I first saw a pair of Spooky brakes: the place was Amsterdam, I had a layover coming back from France and some time to do some exploring. Tucked away in the corner of the market square was a small shop. Entering the shop was quite memorable: the shop was tiny and dirty with the usual inventory you would find in the states. But hanging on a hook near the rear of the shop was a used set of Mafac-looking cantilever brakes. I asked the Dutch shop keeper if he was selling them. The shop keeper smiled and said, “cross is good ya!” Smiling, I said, “yea, it’s good,” as I headed out the door clutching a used set of the unique Spooky brakes paying 25 euro.
Since that day, I have often wondered where these great cross brakes were made, and who made them. We are all familair with the usual cross brakes out there, Empella Frog legs, SRP Mr. Grumpy, and the newer TRP brakes. but for some mysterious reason, my curiosity for Spooky never waned. After I all this time, I decided to do a little research and contact Vladimir from Tufo North America, the distributor for Spooky in the States. Vladimir was garcious enough to give me the contact info for the man who came up with the brand. I fired off an email to Harrie and the result: a rare interview and some great insight into Harrie Van Der Burgt, the inventor of Spooky brand brakes.
TK: Harrie, how did you come up with the name Spooky?
Harrie: The name Spooky came up after I designed the logo.
I just put together two brakes and we had a logo. We are self-made men at Spooky brakes.
TK: Who were the founders of Spooky? What is the history of Spooky?
Harrie: Dick van der Bruggen and I were, and are, the only two people that make Spooky brakes. I am in cyclo-cross for more than 25 year as a rider; Dick is my best friend and also a rider. I had the idea after reading about pro riders that had a very expensive bike with polished old Mafac brakes that they used every year again.
We contacted Richard Groenendaal and he used them from day one of Spooky brakes. We also worked together with Empella on the early frog leg brakes, which we also produced. After two seasons, Empella went to Taiwan without telling us. We decided not to put negative energy in fighting them, but put all positive energy in Spooky.
In the first season of SPOOKY 1999/2000 Richard Groenendaal won the world championship here in the Netherlands. Many riders, shops, and pro teams used the brakes in the years after that victory. A few years ago more and more copies appeared on the market and we lost the market to cheap produced Asian brake sets. Still in the Netherlands, we are the guys that started up all brakes after the Mafacs. The carbon brakes were the last item they copied; now we only supply some teams and friends. Richard Groenendaal is our all time favorite in cyclo-cross and we see him often at the races.
TK: How are they made and where are they produced?
Harrie: We make the brakes ourselves after getting the separate parts together from specific suppliers we work together with.
All Brake sets are made in the Netherlands, and all parts designed by Dick.
TK: How did you come up with such a unique design for the straddle cable hangar?
Harrie: The straddle carrier was a design from me, as there was a request from our distributor to include it in a set of brakes. It needed to be simple to make and give an own look to our brakes, I think that has worked, I called it LEA Light Eccentric Adaptor, but LEA is the name of my sister that died in 2000 of cancer and I took her name and tried to find logical words for the letters L E and A. She was always there when I was doing the cyclo-cross races and I still miss her. This way I see her name everywhere on the internet and other places where the Spooky brakes are.
TK: What PRO teams are riding them?
Harrie: At the moment, Rabobank and AA Drink teams use the brakes.
Thanks to Vladimir and Harrie for taking the time to speak with BKW, and for the kind words and the photos!
Spooky brakes are available through Vladimir at Tufo North America: