Huret Allvit Rear Derailleurs

1966 Huret Allvit Advert

Despite being about the right age to have experienced a Huret Allvit rear derailleur in my youth (they were standard equipment on Schwinn bicycles and were manufactured in the multi-millions by the mid-1960’s), I missed out on the now well-reported unpleasant experience.  Due to my parents purchasing proclivities, I ended up with Sears’ (Puch) internally-geared bicycles, and then eventually a Shimano-equipped Volkscycle, that latter of which I put many miles on before figuring out that something better was out there.

Late 60’s to early 70’s model

I’ve been recently working on the restoration of a Robert Ducheron machine whose date of build has yet to be determined.  The bike was equipped with components dating from the 1950’s to the late 1960’s or early 1970’s.  It arrived with a fully matched group of Huret Allvit shifters and derailleurs.  R. Ducheron bicycles come highly prized, he being one of several artisanal French builders from the golden era.  So, if Allvit derailleurs were spec’d by Mr. Ducheron, it would indicate confidence in their performance and reliability.

I had started to disassemble the mechanism, while noting that the spring has two notched positions for controlling chain tension.  I also noted that the pulleys have adjustable cone ball bearings, rather than bushings.  Not something expected on a low-end product.  I also recalled that I’ve set up a few Allvits on bikes I’ve sold over the years, and remember being surprised at how well these “low-end” derailleurs shifted.

1962 Rebour drawing showing parallelogram

The above drawing, from a 1962 copy of Le Cycle magazine, shows the Allvit in all its glory, and with no less than 4 chain tension settings on the pulley cage.  You can also see that the parallelogram is positioned at the bottom of the arm, which means that it can match the height of the freewheel cogs to engage them without tons of chain gap.

1962 Rebour Huret Allvit

But, here is another 1962 Rebour drawing from the same edition of Le Cycle showing 3 chain tension positions.  It would appear that there were several configurations of the Allvit, even within the same model year.

1966 Huret Allvit Advert

And, here is a 1966 advertisement from Le Cycle magazine, with this version showing 4 chain tension options. 

Here is the full page of Rebour’s drawings in the Le Cycle 1962 edition, with accompanying text.  According to the narrative, at this point in history, the Allvit had been equipped on a number of racers and tandems, winning the Poly de Chanteloup on numerous occasions. If this derailleur is truly low-end, how could these results be possible?

And the answer is nuanced.  As time went on, the derailleur was cheapened, a process typical of the economics leading up to the 1970’s bike boom.  The steel arm, now covered, proved to be flimsy and easily bashed out of adjustment, and the pull required to move the parallelogram proved to be very high, causing cable failure.

So, with that in mind, I plan to continue my overhaul of the Allvit, aided by the above instructions, courtesy of disraeligears.co.uk, an English language version well worth having.  I’m hoping that with plenty of lubrication and adjustment, I just might get performance worthy of the Poly de Chanteloup!

13 thoughts on “Huret Allvit Rear Derailleurs

  1. The only drawback of the Allvit is the weight ! Velobase mentions 339g for the 1st version – I suspect the second and shown version is quite heavier ….Will check

  2. Your version doesn’t appear to have the chain tension adjustment ability. Or is it hidden in the photos?

  3. memory: parents purchased me a used road bike through want ads for $60.00. frame said tour de france and so much remember the alvit derailler, small cog of rear gears, frame mounted shifters…my friends with their schwinn varsitys would make fun of my bike until they lifted mine up in the air to compare weight and found the popular schwinns were much heavier. this would have been in the late 60″s early 70’s. I sold bike for $40.00 years later but maybe should have kept it.

  4. I worked on tons of these in the 60″s and 70″ s at my Dad’s Schwinn (et. al.) shop. They are obviously bomb proof steel but have their problems. As noted, a lot of cable pull is required. The pinch bolt that clamps the der. cable can be very difficult to spread apart to install the cable. The scissor mechanism can get grimy and not return to the small sprocket promptly. And, last but not least, if the cover gets bent then the scissor mechanism does not return well. Good for their era but a low priced Shimano or SunTour rear derailleur worked a lot better !

  5. Sorry to come along so late, I didn’t see this at the time. I would just like to add that while you have it apart for overhauling, take the time to bend the parallelogram-return spring in the direction that adds more preload (spring tension). It makes it snap down to high gear more snappily.

    My Allvit is a long-cage model, came on my early-’70s Schwinn Super Sport that I ride practically every day, for groceries, post office and other chores, and sometimes just for fun like a picnic at the lake. Never long miles though, I have other bikes for that, but I’d consider this mech for a vintage touring bike for sure. It easily shifts to a 34t freewheel, and wraps enough chain for a wide range in front.

    After I overhauled it, including straightening the bent bits and bending the spring as I mentioned above, I really like the way it shifts. The Super Sport has long Schwinn-branded shift levers that no racer would have been caught dead with, but their length gives you the leverage to make the Allvit shift with little effort. Nice and smooth, and I never miss a shift! I’m a fan.

    Mark B in Seattle

  6. I had a Schwinn Super Sport with the this rear derailleur. It shifted OK but after many years of service it began to bind at the pivot points on the parallelogram. I would disassemble, clean, grease, reassemble only to have it happen again after a month or so. Without grease it would not work at all. I believe the steel or chrome plating got rough from use it stopped working well. Moved on to Japanese derailleurs.

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