In my opinion the French equipment on Thevenet's bike was at least as good as the top Campy stuff of the time, both for beauty and function. While one might argue that some of the components on an early 70's PX-10 were inferior to Campy, the mid-80's French stuff on the PY-10 like Thevenet rode was top quality in every way. The all-alloy Simplex SLJ derailleurs, replacing the earlier plastic Criterium at the top of the line were durable and beautiful and the rear shifted much better than Campy. And the Simplex Retrofriction shifters were so good that lots of pro teams sponsored by Campy used them in place of the Campy shifters. Mafac Competition CP's, the deluxe version on Thevenet's bike featuring gold anodizing, wheel guides, full hoods and drilled levers, gave away nothing to Campy SP's. The Maillard 700 pedals were light and smooth, and more durable than the Lyotard 45D that they replaced. The Maillard 700 hubs worked as well as the previous Normandy Competitions, which I think were extremely good, and the Maillards were more "modern" looking. Stronglight 105 bis cranks looked cool with drilled rings and still offered a wider range of rings than Campy for those who weren't pros.
One wonders why, with stuff this good, these French companies are now disappeared. Probably their marketing wasn't as good as their manufacturing. Also, in the case of Simplex, their cheap Prestige plastic derailleurs and shifters continued to appear on low end bikes and undermined the reputation of the whole marque. In a broader way, perhaps Campy survived because they always focused on the top end of the market, where it was at least possible to compete with the Japanese. The French, much more than Campy, were trying to compete in every price range, and at the lower price points Shimano, and for several years SunTour, simply blew them away on quality and price.
Jerry Moos Big Spring, TX
Stronglight49@aol.com wrote: So glad Ray Dobbins shared the photo of the two bikes with the matching TDF sponsor's water bottles.
What fun to see the Thevenet Peugeot bike fitted with Maillard hubs, Mafac center-pull brakes, and Simplex shifters pitted against the full Campy Record Merckx Molteni bike.
Bob Hanson, Albuquerque, NM, USA
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