As I peck away at my keyboard in disgust with my "secret gem" continuing its ascent upward, I ponder at what great stuff the early Simplex changers were and how there collectability reflects that some 40 years later. As I mentioned before, John's Simplex front derailleur on ebay is the mate to the Juy Export 61. But there was an all-metal model that preceded this one that was the mate to the Export 60. The Export 60 was essentially the single-cable model of the TDF with both the front and rear changers having a transluscent blue Simplex sticker affixed to the front band and the outside cover, respectively. That sticker is what set the front derailleurs apart with the later ebay model having the riveted badge to match the Export 61's badge. And of course I cannot remember the model numbers that proceded the "Record" moniker(sp?). My notes are buried in storage with my private stock. The all-steel 61 was heavy and noisy, hence the Criterium shortly thereafter. The thing that always bothered me about the bum rap that Simplex got for their Delrin Criterium and Prestige derailleurs was that the masses thought that the only reason for Simplex to venture into plastics was weight. Not so. Back when I had time to do the research on this stuff and spend time talking with people in the know, I came across some interesting and inovative info that the public long forgot and/or overlooked. Simplex wanted to create the ultimate drivetrain. Smooth shifting and stealthy quite at the same time. Those who love the plastic Simplexes know why they still use them. The shifting is flawless yet as quite as a track bike. Double pivot springs, light weight and sound deadening delrin. Simplex wanted a drivetrain that competitors could not hear when they were behind them, kinda like stealth shifting. The pacesetter was not supposed to hear their rival downshifting for the kill, and most of the time they didn't. The plastic had a way of deadening the klatter of chain and gear through the whole bicycle. No metal to metal. As a matter of fact, Jacques Anquetil helped in the R&D back in the day. Much like modern racers getting the new stuff before the public. I saw an ad with JA promoting Simplex stating, "It almost shifts by itself"! I will have to agree. In my opinion, Simplex should have put warnings about breakage, if improperly used, in each box. Production machines should have had all metal models to accomodate Joe Publics urge to run his bike around town in the 52x21. Or maybe engineer a more flexible (laterally) chain for the system. Thanks to the "bum rap", we can still grab a piece of history for very little dough.
References: Two guys from France. Both raced for "B" squads and both worked in the cycling industry in France circa the 50's and 60's. Ironically they moved to the US years apart but ended up residing only 50 miles from each other. One was a Peugeot importer on the East Coast during the "boom".