Re: [CR] A question about Simplex retro-friction shifters

(Example: Component Manufacturers:Avocet)

From: "R.S. Broderick" <>
To: <>
Date: Tue, 20 Oct 2009 10:49:58 -0700
Thread-index: AcpRazz82b5RP00ORK2xCrQPEmDMjgAPjSEg
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Subject: Re: [CR] A question about Simplex retro-friction shifters


I am really pressed for time right now, so I will be uncharacteristically brief....

1) First edition Simplex retro-friction shifters with solid levers having the "starburst" logo were, indeed, introduced in 1973 and these were absent the "torpedo tube" at their bottom:

2) Simplex added the "torpedo tube" bottoms sometime during or just prior to model year 1975:

3) Coincident to adding the "torpedo tube" bottoms to their SLJ retro-friction shifters, Simplex also introduced an LJ version of same having a solid plastic lever with a "starburst" logo (...and yes, these too incorporated the new "torpedo tube" spring housing configuration):

4) The second edition Simplex retro-friction shifters having the "open hoop" style of lever were introduced late in 1977 for model year 1978 (...the last official Simplex publication I have showing the second iteration of the first edition levers with the "torpedo tube" is dated 09-1977, and in fact that is exactly the type of retro-friction lever used on all of the 1977 Peugeot-Esso-Michelin team bikes that year including the one Bernard Thevenet rode to victory in the 1977 Tour de France).

Sorry to say that I have not yet scanned any of my later Simplex publications depicting their second edition retro-friction shifters, but for whatever it may be worth, I also have ample examples on hand from various retail / wholesale catalogers published in late 1977 and 1978 (...Bikecology, Cycle Imports, Palo Alto, Stuyvesant, Texas Bicycle Supply, etc.) documenting their general market availability in that timeframe.

Robert "Simplex simpleton" Broderick ...the "Chronically Cloudy Clime" of Oregon Portland, USA

-----Original Message----- From: [] On Behalf Of Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 2:55 AM To: Subject: [CR] A question about Simplex retro-friction shifters

Here are three photos from a recent eBay auction (Item number: 310174417074). Excellent photos by eBay seller "driftwares" and for this reason perhaps deserving of the very high $129 final bid.

These show a Simplex retro-friction shifter set with less commonly seen "feet" at the bottom edges of the lever arms. These were supports for slots which held the ends of the internal springs. Most models had slots cut into the upper sides of the lever arms, just above the mounting bolts, which serve the same purpose.

Placing the slot at the bottom minimized the potential for moisture and dirt to fall into the spring chamber. Perhaps a nice idea, although not as graceful in overall appearance.

Would this be the very earliest version? Can anyone give the correct production date for this particular variation?

I would love to see any catalog images which show this minor feature. Perhaps Daniel Rebour observed these in an early trade show and presented them in "Le Cycle"? My earliest US catalog illustrations show the "final" version - although forged with the same lever arm design pattern.

I believe the retro-friction levers were first introduced in 1973, although they were rarely if ever seen in the US for perhaps another 2 years.