> When Simplex first jumped wholeheartedly into part-plastic construction,
> plastics were still being touted as "space age" materials, but in a very
> short time the market was flooded with inexpensive plastic goods, and the
> perception of plastic rapidly changed from "exotic" to "cheap". So
> Simplex's timing proved to be poor marketing-wise. In addition, the plastic
> parts, while very light and "self-lubricating" simply proved much less
> durable than the steel and later alloy that Campy used. Simplex's move was
> characteristic of the more daring and innovative technical approach of
> Simplex versus Campy and of French component manufacturers in general versus
> Italian ones. But this time the innovation didn't work out and Campy's
> conservative design philosophy paid off for them. Simplex also took a long
> time to give up on plastic, and by the time they did it was too late to
> catch up to Campy in the market, let alone deal with the onslaught from
> Shimano at the same time. Being innovative and daring doesn't always end in
I think it is the nature of all companies to come up with an innovation and then keep cranking the things out year after year till the sales decline.
Simplex came up with their Tour de France derailleur in the late 40s and made millions of the things. They had a pivoting body with a sliding piston controlled by a small chain (resulted in lots of friction in the mechanism). It shifted great while clean (horrible with mud), but was time consuming to set up and easily damaged.
They replace it with the Simplex 543 in 1954 (could be set to shift a 3-speed, 4-speed or 5-speed derailleur, hence "543") which was just a very high quality and robust version of the Tour de France derailleur; still not a parallelogram body. By the mid 50s pro racing was mainly done on Campagnolo Gran Sports.
Campagnolo was the choice of pro racing and had a long run with variations of the Gran Sport parallelogram body derailleur from 1951 till the late 80s when they added the top pivot spring like Simplex had. Of course by this time Shimano had made big inroads in pro racing.
Simplex didn't move to the parallelogram body till 1961 with their Simplex Juy export 61, ten years after Campagnolo.
I wouldn't describe either Simplex nor Campagnolo as daring. And the word "innovation" might describe Shimano the best.
I would say that Tullio Campagnolo's main interest was making the best racing parts he could, and if you were using the parts for other the racing you might find they weren't really the optimum parts for your purpose.
Chuck Schmidt South Pasadena, Southern California