The Refinement of The Racing Bicycle
Looking back at the previous era, racing bicycle and component manufacture
consisted of numerous small and medium sized firms with many design theories
competing in the
derailleur market. By the mid '50's many of these companies
had vanished. In France,
Simplex, Cyclo and Huret were the sole surviving
derailleur makers. Huret equipped Stellas were ridden to victories in the
1953-1955 Tours de France by Louison Bobet and Simplex remained a fixture in
bicycle racing, but their plunger spring, pull chain derailleurs were becoming
outdated by this time. Simplex and Huret used a rod-actuated front derailleurs  
known as "suicide shifters". Perhaps the awkward nature of the shift maneuver
caused a crash or two in the peloton.
Simplex Competition derailleur
 1954 Stella Tour de France
 equipped                               with
Huret                            derailleurs
Bobet admiring Raphael Geminiani's
Simplex equipped bike.
1950 Helyett Speciale equipped with
Simplex derailleurs
Campagnolo Gran Sport rear derailleur
Jacques Anquetil on a
1962 Helyett Speciale
Anquetil's 1957 Helyett Speciale
with all French components.
In 1963 Anquetil switched teams and
would ride Campagnolo equipped
Gitane bicycles to victories in the 1963
and 1964 Tours de France
Anquetil's 1963 Gitane. A  
bicycle of French manufacture
equipped with  Italian
Campagnolo parts
Even 3 time TdF winner,
frenchman Louison Bobet, a
national hero for riding
an all French
bike, switched
to Campagnolo                        
equipment in
1958 was the first year Campagnolo offered a crankset,
and introduced the  one piece alloy hubs as well. The
Campagnolo gruppo also included pedals, seatpost,
headset and bottom bracket, along with the front and
rear derailleurs. A Campagnolo brakeset would make
its appearance 10 years later.
In Italy's national
tour, the
Giro d'Italia
as well as every other
professional race
during the 1960's and
beyond, it was a rare
sight to see a racing
bicycle equipped with
anything but the
pride of Italy,
1966 Giro d'Italia
1968 Pogliaghi in the
powerhouse Faema
team colors with the
Universal 68 brakeset
and the replacement
for the Record
derailleur, the Nuovo
Bernard Thevenet, victorious in the 1975 and 1977
Tours de France aboard an all French Peugeot.
Peugeot PX-10 proved to be one of the most
popular racing bikes of the era to aspiring young
racers because of it's moderate price and wide
The legendary Eddy Merckx with another legend,  bicycle manufacturer
Ugo DeRosa. During his professional career, Merckx raced on bicycles
built by Superia, Peugeot,
Masi, Marcel Van der Este, Pella, Colnago,
Kessels, and DeRosa.
Simplex continued to find supporters in the ranks of the professional racers,
among them, Jacques Anquetil. Between 1957 and 1964
Jacques Anquetil
won the Tour de France five times and was one of the most charismatic
figures of his time. Riding a Simplex equipped Helyett Speciale for his first
three Tour victories, these bikes were essentially French, using Simplex
derailleurs, TA pedals, Mafac brakes, Atom hubs, TA and later
Stronglight cranksets.
In Italy, Tullio Campagnolo was searching for a replacement for the lever operated, sliding hub Cambio Corsa,
and it's refinement, the Paris-Roubaix. These derailleurs were awkward and slow shifting in race conditions,
were expensive to produce and required special frame dropouts. Consequently, a very small number of these
were sold in comparison to the Simplex derailleurs. In 1951, Campagnolo purchased the patent rights for a
parallelogram derailleur and within three months had developed the Gran Sport rear derailleur. Campagnolo
continued to refine the Gran Sport and it soon proved to be a significant improvement over any other shifting
mechanism. By 1953 it was the derailleur of choice for many professional racers.
                      rides a Bianchi Team bike in
1968. Equipped with the newly introduced
Campagnolo Nuovo Record derailleur, but
with Universal 68 brakes. Campagnolo's
Record brakeset would be introduced late
in the year