25 November, 2006

Friction Shifting -- Part 3

We found some new-old-stock rear derailleurs.

The Simplex SX610 is the little brother to the famous Simplex SLJ5500 and SLJ 6600 that many experts think are among the best friction derailleurs ever made. Michael Barry of Mariposa fame, and perhaps the world's foremost derailleur expert, said that if equipping a bike for a 5 year world tour, he would use an SLJ5500 rear derailleur.

The fasteners and the parallelogram arms are steel on the SX610, rather than alloy as on the LJS5500 and SLJ6600. But some say that just makes them stiffer. The SX610 also has the more advanced drop parallelogram geometry that was clearly superior to the "straight" geometry on the SLJ5500, yet for some reason was never actively promoted by Simplex. Perhaps proud old Simplex didn't want to tout an advance copied from the Japanese.

The SX610 will handle 28 tooth cogs. Use with a 7 or 8 speed chain for the ultimate performance. Add a Simplex 102 or a Simplex SLJ523 front derailleur, and you'll have about as nice a friction derailleur system as has ever been made.

Thw SX610 uses the old Simplex style mount. That means it fits modern dropouts, but uses a bolt that goes through the back of the hanger. It's not a big deal, but confusing if you've never seen one.

We also have a few Huret Rival derailleurs.
This is a very well designed late model classic derailleur. It handles 30t cogs and shifts beautifully. In fact, old magazine tests rated the shifting as "excellent". It is also a well built and rugged unit.

Front and rear Rival derailleurs would make a great, and reasonably priced, system for a randonneur or cyclo-touring bike.

UPDATE: We just found a small quantity of NOS Simplex Retrofriction levers. These are the very pretty type that Simplex made for Gipiemmi.


Anonymous said...


Do either of these have have enough capacity to work with a 9 speed cassette? I wanted to use a really nice Suntour Cyclone on my new Kogswell PR and found it would move enough to shift to the smallest cog on a 9spd Campy cassette.


Joe said...

Hi Chris,

Neat finds! Any idea of chain wrap on these?

Dad said...

Carey, it should work. I got one to work with a Campy 8s cassette. The overall width of the 8 and 9 speeds is similar if not identical. If you run out of motion, just take a dremel and grind the stop thing on the derailleur body, that that little adjustment screw rests on ... just a tiny bit will do it.

How do you like that Kogswell PR thing? It seems overblown to me, when I look at the pics I see nothing special. But I'm always happy to be pleasantly surprised.

Velo Orange said...

Carey, I'm not sure if they'll shift 9 speed cassettes, but I'll try it when I build up my new frame in a couple of weeks. I have both 7-speed and Campy 9-speed wheels to try.

Joe, The chain wrap on the Huret is stated as being 28t on the Simplex it may be 26t-30t (depending on the source. Generally the published numbers are very conservative and you can exceed them by a few teeth.

My usual setup is 48/30 chainrings and a 12-28 freewheel or cassette. That allows me to stay in the big ring 90% of the time and near the middle of the freewheel at cruising speed. At the same time the low can get me up most anything without the need for a triple.

Anonymous said...


I'm very happy with my PR. It rides great and I have received a lot of compliments from other riders. But, my frame of reference is 700c racing bikes, so it's a significant departure for me. It's no where near a custom rando frame, but for $600 it does what I need at this point.


Anonymous said...

Simplex retrofriction levers. How much, count me in.


Velo Orange said...

I'm not sure what the price will be. I need to see them first and make sure that they really are in good shape. We should get them late this week.

They'll be expensive and we'll keep some of them for the VO frames.