|The very influential Campagnolo Gran Sport spawned many|
competitors and clones. (photo courtesy of Carlos Ovalle)
|Nivex derailleur, with a lot of patina.|
(from Forum Tonton Velo)
|Simplex JUY Export 61 -- probably "inspired" by the Gran |
Sport -- but also improved. A very desirable derailleur.
(from Classic Bicycles)
|Simplex Prestige - "Delrin" plastic may|
have damaged Simplex's reputation.
(photo courtesy of Carlos Ovalle)
Eventually, Simplex ditched the plastic and released a derailleur designed and built to restore their reputation: the Super LJ, circa 1972-3. It was all-alloy, attractive, strong, and shifted about as well as a traditional parallelogram derailleur can shift. The Super LJ, paired with the great Simplex Retrofriction shift levers, could make for a nice-shifting set. Unfortunately, the plastic derailleurs damaged the company's reputation enough that the Super LJ wasn't enough to bring it back in the minds of many riders.
Still, the Simplex design was very influential in its own right. Even though it appeared to copy Campagnolo, the spring-loaded top pivot helped the derailleur track the cogs better, keeping a better chain gap all across the freewheel. That little detail was picked up by Shimano for many of their derailleurs (such as the Lark series), and was eventually combined with the slant-parallelogram structure (invented by SunTour, circa 1964) to kick off the index-shifting era.
There were a number of companies that made derailleurs that borrowed so heavily from the Campy designs, that it's hard to think of them as anything more than clones. Some were pretty well made and are even sought after by collectors. Others were notable only for how awful they were.
|There isn't a lot to distinguish the Zeus Criterium from|
the Campy Gran Sport or Record. They do have their
|A rough-looking Triplex Nuovo Record clone.|
|Triplex C-Record imitation. Spotted|
My "favorite" Triplex clone would be their C-Record copy from the mid-80s. Somehow, the smooth, aerodynamic look of the C-Record doesn't translate well when done with cheap materials and haphazard finishing.
|Early 80s Galli -- probably one of the best Campy copies.|
|Maglia Rosa -- after the Giro d'Italia|
There were plenty of other copies, clones, and imitators out there -- from Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan -- pretty much anywhere that manufactured bicycle parts. The ones I've shown are just a sampling. In the end, as innovative as it might have been in the 1950s, the standard parallelogram design just didn't hold up in the era when most people were demanding indexed shifting. Something I find interesting is to look at the modern derailleur and see how it evolved from the innovations of the past. Take the parallelogram design, created by Nivex; hang it from the dropout as Campagnolo did (and popularize the hell out of it!); drop it down into a more horizontal position, like Shimano; slant the parallelogram to follow the profile of the cogs, like SunTour; and incorporate double spring-loaded pivots, like Simplex -- And you have today's flawless-shifting derailleur.