Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Ashland, VA
Bikes: The keepers: 1960 Raleigh Lenton Grand Prix, 1968 Ranger, 1969 Magneet Sprint, 1971 Gitane Tour de France, 1973 Raleigh Tourist, 1973 Lambert, 1973 Schwinn Super Sport, 2 - 1988 Rossins, a third Rossin frame and a '79 PX-10 frame to be built
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Mechanically, you can put any brand or style of friction shifters on the bike, and they'll probably work at least as well as the Simplex Prestige levers you've already got - the biggest weakness of the Prestige design is the take up spool on the lever is awfully small in diameters, so you've got to move the lever a lot to change the gear. As you've probably noticed.
What Re-Cycle is suggesting is the Simplex Retrofriction lever, which has the reputation of being the best friction lever ever made. (Can't back that up, since I've never owned a set - yet.) They're great, but such is their reputation that you'd better plan on spending close to $50.00 for a set if you're bidding eBay.
Simplex made a set of levers in between those two possibilities. I've heard them called Criterium's, installed a set on my Gitane Tour de France (originally came with the Prestige levers even through it had Criterium derailleurs), and found the action to be much better than the stock setup, due to larger diameter cable spools. You can usually find them for about $15.00.
If you don't mind mixing brands, I swear by the 70's SunTour Power Shifters - they're a rachetting friction shifter (pull back on the lever and a rachet controls the action, push forward and it's pure friction). Of the friction shifters I've used, I consider these the absolute best. So you know what I'm talking about, here's a current eBay auction for a set:
They're quite common, quite inexpensive, and excellent quality for the money. I like them enough that I'm using them on my Trek 460 with a pair of Alpha 5000 derailleurs, even though they're about 10-15 years older than the derailleurs.
"No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton