HURET 1940s 'Suicide' Front Derailleur

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Jesper

Look Ma, No Hands!
Example of Huret lever actuated front derailleur. These were called 'suicide' shifters before that term was identified with down tube mounted shift levers when they came into more common use.

I am used to manually changing front rings due to not using a front derailleur on many of my bikes so this is safer than that method (easier too!). So far this is the earliest version I have seen of this Huret style with a couple of variants made into the mid '50s. I have yet to verify the year of introduction of this model, but the follow-up design has been found in advertisements/brochures as early as 1951, and I don't believe it was made prior to or during WW2. If anyone has information about this derailleur I would appreciate you sharing your knowledge for the good of all. I am using it as a replacement for a late '40s Simplex lever actuated pivot derailleur (I will post photos of that later once off and cleaned up) since the Huret unit maintains the proper geometry of the cage to the chainring; the Simplex when pivoted out angles the cage and reduces the chain clearance within the cage. The Simplex is odd for another reason; it was made in Italy and not France, I don't know why; it is identical or nearly identical to the French model I have seen except for the obvious Italian patent "brevetto" and the fact that it is stamped "Made in Italy" on a cap also stamped "Simplex".

The unit operates similar to a horizontal push rod derailleur except the cage sides back and forth on a fixed control rod as opposed to the cage being fixed to a rod with the rod sliding back and forth to change the cage position. Helical grooves in the lever knuckle interior engage two tabs on the cage as to affect inward and outward movement. The degree of pressure required to move the lever can be adjusted via two nuts which can be locked together after setting the the desired friction level on a couple of spring steel thrust washers. Horizontal and vertical alignment can be done via the clamp. Position of unit from the frame requires spacers if you need to set the max outward/inward position of the cage depending on BB spindle length and crank/chainwheel configuration

The cage is of a two piece open design. Lever and cage plates are made from nickel plated bronze; all hardware, clamp band, and clamp stud/control rod are steel. Quality is quite good with very little free play in lever and cage after years of use. Cage internal width 9mm (Simplex is about 11mm, but reduced by pivot angle); cage lateral travel 7.5mm. Weighs in at approx. 171g; not too bad considering with a more modern unit there is additional weight due to the shift lever assy and cable (cable operated vintage aluminum/steel high end FDs run about 90-110g sans cable, lever, and braze-on or clamp). Max ring difference is unknown; trying out a 53T/42T with an old Campy steel crankset so I'll find out if it can handle that set-up for starters.
I was able to increase the lateral range of the cage to 8.5mm by adding a spacer(s) between the end cap and the end of the control rod. I can increase it to 9mm if necessary, but any farther causes the tabs to disengage enough from the slots in the lever knuckle which affects smooth movement of the lever when shifting the cage inward. I think the 2 to 2.5mm extra range should be enough to cleanly shift between rings at 6 to 6.5mm spacing. Now to mount and test.

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Hope everyone is doing well; I have been busy with hospital work and unable to contribute for a bit.
 

AndyA

Finally riding a big boys bike
I am used to manually changing front rings due to not using a front derailleur on many of my bikes ....
Brother Jesper:
Please tell us how you manually change rings. Do you stop and move the chain over? Give it a push with your hand while pedaling? That Huret Derailleur is way cool. Thanks for posting.
 

Jesper

Look Ma, No Hands!
Brother Jesper:
Please tell us how you manually change rings. Do you stop and move the chain over? Give it a push with your hand while pedaling? That Huret Derailleur is way cool. Thanks for posting.
I am always moving when changing whether from large to small or vice versa, unless I didn't do a change quick enough (usually before a climb); then I am stopped, disengage my left foot from the pedal lift the rear wheel and give it a spin while guiding the chain with my hand (this method does not work well when I am on my large frames [I like large frames!], only the smaller and appropriate to my size frames due to no room to lift the frame with my left hand; ouch!). While moving, I coast for a moment and reach down and lift the chain up onto the ring for a small to large ring shift; large to small is easier and is really just guiding the chain over with my hand while pedalling slowly until the shift is complete. I recently got caught flying down a nice hill, but didn't want to lose my momentum for the really big uphill forthcoming; big mistake! I crunched up the hill in the top 5 gears (of course I couldn't go into 6th due to the chainline); much pain for my getting to be 60 yr old body, but too unsafe to stop on that hill to do a ring change. That was in my old hometown where I used to do that same hill as a kid exactly the way I ended up doing it, but in much better condition and without the age and injuries life has afforded to me since. Next time I will manually shift on the down hill before the climb; or I will have this "new" unit to do the job for me.
Beware of catching your fingers (or gloves, I wear full finger mtb gloves-another story!); practice on level terrain without too many bumps.
I only started doing this style shifting because I am living in Florida and never use my small ring so I removed or never installed the FDs; but when going north into hill country I forgot that I had removed the FD and learned on the fly how to do it efficiently and safely. Now I keep a climbing bike in New England with a more appropriate rear cluster, but still no FD.

I will try to post the Simplex photos; can't find them at present and will take some more shortly.

As of this time I have used pivot (or swing), horizontal push rod, angled push rod, and of course parallelogram style front derailleurs. I am still trying to find a tension arm spring for a mid '30s Simplex striker fork rear derailleur for my Baggi posted elsewhere on this site; its been a year and a half and no luck yet.
 
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Jesper

Look Ma, No Hands!
Here is the photo of the Simplex pivot or swing FD that the Huret is replacing. Also, I have another Simplex pivot style that has been unused due to apparently being a braze-on mount; a frame style of that period that I do not have. If someone has an example of a frame with that braze-on FD I would like to see it so I can possibly fabricate a proper 'tab' in order to utilize that FD on an older frame. I do like the butterfly nut for friction adjust, but I have not checked to see if it would fit the Italian clamp-on version; trying to keep each unit original. The Simplex clamp-on weighs about 148g which makes sense since it is all steel construction except for the aluminum knob, and stamped cap.
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Jesper

Look Ma, No Hands!
Quick note: the Simplex French braze-on butterfly nut appears to be 24 tpi, whereas the Simplex Italian clamp-on hex nut appears to be 32 tpi; definitely not able to exchange hardware regardless of personal preference. I will post these Simplex units on a separate thread with more detailed photos and specs.
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I am starting to think that the Italian version might be a rare bird. It was from an Italian frame; but a Lygie which has it's own odd history between France and Italy. Still I never knew Simplex ever had their components manufactured in Italy. If you know of other examples please educate my ignorant brain. The Italian unit is definitely the earlier version, but by how many years; your guess is as good, or better than mine.
 

Jesper

Look Ma, No Hands!
I was trying to figure out what the letters on the cage were. I dug through my other old derailluers and found a Huret RD with Bte F.E. which is what I think is on the FD cage. I know the Bte stands for Breveté, but I have no idea what the F.E. means. Any help? It might provide some dating info since I know the Bte S.G.D.G. (breveté sans garantie du gouvernement) designation was used prior to 1968.
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Jesper

Look Ma, No Hands!
Now I know where the Cyclo spares went to! I think I have an old dual cable rear derailleur buried somewhere.
Don't know much about these but have a few boxes of similar stuff, sorry not trying to hijack your thread but thought this stuff might be related?
I was looking for some parts in your boxes; needing a tension spring and bracket for my late 20s early 30s dual cable unit below, but I think it's a little bit earlier than your stash.
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Jesper

Look Ma, No Hands!
Found my Benelux/Cyclo Gear Co. Rear unit. Mark 7 model (early 60s?). Previously posted parts should fit this unit; still need claw, lever and cable assy. 2 speed unit (1/8" chain).
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Schwinny

Wore out three sets of tires already!
I've got a 1960 Schwinn Continental frame that has the suicide FD braze-on mount for the Simplex arm. That was a ten speed but I think the same year 8 speed Varsity uses the same type also.
Also have a Cyclo two cable set-up. That spring can be found in a pinch at a hardware store (screen door spring) or if you can find anyone that knows what they are doing at a NAPA auto parts store, they have a book with every style, size and weight spring on Earth and they can order them from it. (probably in the computer now)
 
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