I was cleaning out one of my parts bins and discovered this unusual Simplex pull-chain front derailleur. I can’t remember the bicycle this came from, so I didn’t have any clue as to its date of manufacture. But, I assumed this piece dated from the 1950’s to 1960’s.
This Simplex front derailleur features an adjustable cage for adapting to 1/8″ or 3/32′ chain sizes, effected by the two screws on top of the derailleur cage. I disassembled the derailleur for cleaning, and was able to observe the specifics of how it operates.
When the pull chain is engaged by a shifter cable, the whole mechanism slides on the two cylinders which attach to the cage. One of the cylinders contains the spring system, and the other is meant to provide stability to the cage as it slides, so is rigid.
The derailleur mounts to a seat tube bracket with two bolts, shown on the left side in the photo above. If a frame lacks such mounts, then brackets can be attached to the derailleur so that it will mount to any seat tube.
The eBay model for sale today is purportedly a 1938 “NOS” version with a $475 asking price. We’ll see about that. Meanwhile, I am going to keep this front derailleur in my collection, in case something comes along that warrants its application.
I thought it would be nice to share some pages from the 1947 and 1962 Le Cycle Magazines that I recently acquired. Many pages feature the iconic drawings of Daniel Rebour, as well as informative ads from the builders and component makers of the time.
These publications revealed that Daniel Rebour, in addition to creating technical drawings for bicycles and components, also drew mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles, as well as complex engine and transmission parts. This was something I did not know previously. Before publishing this post, I contacted a few of the publishers who had used Rebour drawings in their printed materials, to determine who owns the copyrights to Daniel Rebour drawings. I didn’t want to publish them without obtaining permission. However, after months of waiting, I have received absolutely no response. So, I am including Rebour drawings in the photos below. If anyone objects – please let me know!
Various components from 1947 as drawn by Daniel Rebour
Trade show participants
Ads for Nervex lugs, Huret, and others.
More Rebour drawings from 1947.
The 1962 Catalog, photos shown below, was a real gold mine:
The cover for the 1962 edition – mopeds and cafe racers were featured along with bicycles.
48cc Ducati engine. If I had known about this little moped as a child, my parents would never have heard the end of it. Instead, I rode around on a little Honda CT70.
Heralding Simplex’ disastrous foray into plastic, Rebour dutifully portrays these hideous components.
A sexy 1962 Benelli Cafe Racer.
Mafac – the best brakes pretty much of all time.
Ads for Bertin, T.A., Atax and Tank.
More lovely Rebour drawings – the bicycle depicted is a Rene Herse.
Cafe racer style moped from Motobecane – 1962 model.
These are just a few of the pages from the magazine. These resources are invaluable to me as a restorer, revealing not only the trends and developments of the age, but also technical and cultural information which aids in the restoration process.
I have had this 1947 Camille Daudon for a few years now, and have done nothing to it since first acquiring it from the prior owner who had done some of his own restoration work, including re-chroming the Vitus frame. In fact, the bike is so lovely in its current form, that I am reconsidering my plans to bring it back to its original state by adding period correct hammered fenders, front rack, lighting, and a chain guard, which is what it would have originally been equipped with. This Daudon was custom made for Irene Faberge Gunst, granddaughter of the famous creator of Faberge eggs, a special birthday gift from her husband. In 2006, this bike won the award for best French bike at the Cirque du Cyclisme show. As pictured, it weighs a mere 20 lbs.
The wing nuts were drilled to save weight. Double eyelets in the front, single in the rear. Designed to carry a front load.
The head tube shows a slight loss of lug detail due to re-chroming of the frame. Lam side pull brakes with plenty of clearance for fenders.
650b aluminum box style rims with surface pattern to improve braking.
Daudon’s customized shifter – everything bespoke on this bicycle. Shifter cable not properly set up – a one piece system is required.
Beautiful Stronglight crankset in very good condition.
Cyclo rear derailleur with wrap around cable.
Gorgeous Ideale Saddle – a bit dry and in need of conditioning.
The color matched crank arms are only still visible on the left side. Threading for all left side components is reverse, including the crank bolt, lock ring and bottom bracket cup.
You can see the slight loss of lug detail mostly on the head tube.
Perfect fork rake – a lovely bend close to the drop outs makes for a nice ride.
Re-chromed stem which is bolted to the steerer tube. All bolts are 8 mm heads.
Unbranded pedals – possibly also crafted by Daudon.
Irene Gunst’s engraved steerer tube cover. Beneath this lies the hidden tool kit.
8 mm nut heads on the seat tube clamp, simple but pretty stays.
Tool kit hidden inside the head tube.
Prior to re-chroming the frame looked like this:
As you can see, the chrome was seriously compromised. The prior owner decided that it would be worth it to re-chrome the frame and risk the loss of lug detail, rather than sanding it down and re-painting it. While disappointing in some ways, I think the overall impact of the new chrome outweighs the downsides. It’s nice to have these photos which will help me re-create the head badge and logos. There are other examples of Camille Daudon bicycles which can also help. Jan Heine’s The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles features two Daudons, and the latest Bicycle Quarterly features a Daudon that is somewhat similar to mine. As far as restoration goes, I still need to make the bike mechanically sound and rideable. The Cyclo derailleur uses a one piece shifter cable, and although I could have soldered a cable to work with this derailleur, I have finally located one that will work for this bike:
And, I am still in a quandary about whether to make this bike appear as it once did – as a touring bike with fenders, lighting and front rack. While I contemplate that, here are some of the parts I have put together – aluminum fenders, front rack which bolts to the fenders, and Simplex chain guard. I still need to source appropriate lights for the front and rear fenders, and a dynamo.
I welcome your thoughts and ideas about this amazing piece of cycling history.