I'll agree with Amir that the Huret Challenger is nice, but it just went about its business of shifting the chain. It was hardly the most interesting FD Huret did. For that, I have a couple of nominees:
1) The early '60s unit that was paired with the Allvit (and all others). This one had key differences from the competing Campy "GS" "plunger-in-a-box" road grit accumulator: it was a parallelogram, and all sheet metal except the rod and bolts. So, it inherently worked better. But, it also had one similarity to the unlamented Campy: there was only one stop screw; the other adjustment was made by sliding the rod along the attachment bolt. In the case of the Huret, you first adjusted the inner limit (with the rod sliding), and then the outer limit with the screw. A corollary of using the round rod was that the angle of the cage could be adjusted, so it would work (more or less) with bent-tube bikes.
2) The Jubilee and its steel cousins. On these, one arm of the parallelogram went walk-about, replaced by a curved body plate and a roller. Never seemed like a real advantage, but the Jubilee was both light and fragile.
So why would any of us masochistic fiddlers with bike parts choose a front derailleur whose only virtue is that it just works well, forever, without fuss or bother? Hardly the spirit of things, for people who obcess over the number of holes in a Cinelli lug. Like us. :-)
harvey sachs mcLean va
Amir Avitzur wrote:
>I do not agree that sheet metal parts are more complex, more time-consuming
>to produce or to maintain, or more expensive than their cast equivalents.
>Sheet metal manufacture and assembly can be very cheap and reliable, its
>only a matter of economy of scale.
>I'm guessing that Huret had the technology and the volume.
>As an extreme example, any soldier would pick a sheet metal AK47 over a cast
>aluminum M16 ... at any time during the last 50 years.
>Most Huret rear derailleurs were reliable and could take a lot of abuse.
>They simply did not function as well as slant parallelogram derailleurs when
>they became available.
>When the average slant parallelogram became cheaper and lighter as well,
>Huret could not compete.
>On the other hand I'd pick Huret's Challenger front derailleur as the 'best'
>front derailleur of all time.