|A pair of SunTour BarCons. A great|
set of shifters for touring.
|SunTour Sprint levers - fresh from|
the box. Minty!
|Shimano Fingertip Bar-end shifters.|
Thumb shift and stem-mount versions
were also available.
I think the most interesting competition came from Campagnolo who were probably tired of seeing so many racers replacing their shift levers with the Simplex ones. In 1986, which was just after the introduction of Shimano's SIS, Campy released its C-Record group with levers that worked and felt very much like the Simplex Retrofriction levers. Finally, racers who insisted on an all-Campy bike could get the same smooth shifting control that riders with Simplex were enjoying for more than a decade. Alas, Campy had finally caught up with their French competitor, only to be caught completely unprepared for the indexing competition from Japan. It nearly killed them.
Prior to Campy's release of the C-Record Retrofriction, however, was a little-known version modeled on the Super Record/Nuovo Record levers. Like a Missing-Freaking-Link!
|A Missing Link!|
What exactly was the story on these shifters? I'm not really sure. I've read that Campy never put them in their catalogs but quietly produced a fairly limited number of them as early as 1983, then discontinued them not long afterwards just as quietly. Other people have suggested they were put out as sort of a prototype -- something with which to get some feedback from racers. Then when it came time to put them into full production, they made the C-Record version and discontinued Super Record and Nuovo Record entirely. Either way seems plausible (in fact, they could both be true to some extent), or it could be something else entirely, but I've never seen a definitive answer.
|Last version of Campy's Retrofriction|
levers with more cable-pulling capability.
Some day I'll try these with a 10-sp cassette.
By the way, before discontinuing their Retrofriction levers for good, Campy made one more version with a larger, asymetrical "barrel" on the right-hand lever for more cable-wrapping capacity -- probably useful for 8-speed cassettes. I have a pair still in the box, but I haven't tried them out. But I even wonder . . . if they would work with 8-speed cassettes, would they also work on 9 or 10-speed setups which are overall the same width? Hmm. . . something new to try. . . someday.
Correction - 9/25/13: Reading an article on the Simplex and SunTour levers in the Autumn 2013 Bicycle Quarterly (Vol. 12, No. 1) which just came out, I found a reference that the SunTour Power Shift levers may actually have come out just ahead of, not just after, the Simplex Retrofriction levers. Apparently, the Power Shift bar-end levers appeared in an ad from New Cycling, in Dec. 1971, whereas the Simplex Retrofriction levers were introduced in 1972. My research into the subject couldn't find the SunTour levers available prior to 1973.