Re: [CR]Simplex Derailleurs, 1960's-80's

From: "Jerry & Liz Moos" <>
To: "r cielec" <>, "Classic Rendezvous" <>
References: <>
Subject: Re: [CR]Simplex Derailleurs, 1960's-80's
Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2003 11:28:35 -0600

We've had this discussion before, and there is some difference of opinion between us Francophiles and the Campy fanatics. In my opinion the part-plastic (Delrin) Simplex Criterium rear derailleur found on the early 70's Peugeot PX-10s and similar top French models shifts noticeably better than the Campy NRs found on Italian bikes at the time. One of the reasons that Simplex shifted better was the spring-loaded upper pivot which Campy lacked. The Japanese later "borrowed" this idea and combined it with the slant parallelogram invented by SunTour to totally outclass European derailleurs.

Unfortunately, the Simplex Criterium looks very similar to to the cheap Delrin Simplex derailleur usually referred to as the "Prestige". The only noticeable difference is that while the Criterium had a proper forged jockey cage like the Campy NR, the Prestige had a cheap, thin, stamped jockey cage like the cheap Campy Valentino of that era. This cage flexed horribly during shifts and ruined the performance. Thus, while the Criterium shifted noticeably better than a Campy NR, the Prestige shifted about like a Valentino, meaning it was absolute crap. Unfortunately the Prestige was the Simplex most US buyers were familar with as it appeared on hords of Peugeot UO-8s and low end Raleighs which flooded into the US during the bike boom. I bought a UO-8 about 1972 and improved the bike's performance about 100% by replacing the Simplex Prestige with a Shimano Crane about 6 months later. I had no idea then that a Simplex Criterium would have produced a similar improvement.

Another problem with Simplex's image was that they weren't very good at differentiating models. Both the Prestige and Criterium were often marked "Simplex Prestige", so if the buyer wasn't knowledgeable enough to notice the difference in cage design, he would conclude that the Criterium was the same junk as that Prestige on his UO-8. Also, I don't recall many shops having Criteriums for sale as an after market item, so if a buyer decided to upgrade his Simplex Pestige, the choices were usually Campy or Japanese.

The pushrod Delrin Simplex front derailleurs varied much less between the Prestige and Criterium models, and I'm still not sure there is any real difference. These can shift surprisingly well if set up properly, but are harder to adjust than a parallelogram FD like Campy NR, and probably don't handle a large chainring difference as well. A little later, mid-70's maybe, Simplex made a part-Delrin parallelogram front derailleur and these shift as well as anything of the era.

In addition to the Delrin, Simplex began some time in the mid-70's making all-alloy derailleurs, although they seem to have continued making the Delrin stuff as well. Over the next 10 or 15 years there were a large number of models made, but many were marked "Simplex Super LJ". These alloy Simplexes, in my opinion, shift better than any non-indexed derailleur except SunTour. They were often mated with the legendary Simplex Retrofriction downtube shift levers, which were spring loaded to assist downshifts and prevent slipping into higher gears on hills. Most collectors regard these as the best non-indexed shift levers ever made. In the late 70's even a lot of "all Campy" fanatic racers installed them.

Simplex was eventually killed off by Japanese competition, indexed shifting, and their heavy reliance on OEM business from French bike manufacturers. The poor image created by the cheap Delrin Prestige probably didn't help either.


Jerry Moos
Houston, TX

----- Original Message -----
From: "r cielec"
To: "Classic Rendezvous"
Sent: Friday, March 07, 2003 10:04 PM
Subject: [CR]Simplex Derailleurs, 1960's-80's

> I have never ridden Simplex derailleurs, only have seen the circa '70's Delrin (?) rears and both the Delrin and metal fronts.
> Were they any good? Did Simplex make quality derailleurs? What is the SLP? SLR? - I'm not sure of designation.
> Richard Cielec
> Chicago, Illinois
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