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Old 11-25-08, 06:46 PM   #1
MeanTara
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Upgrade from Simplex shift levers?

I just acquired a Raleigh "Grand Sports", circa 1970.
The shifter handles are located on the downtube. "Simplex" with tiny letters that say "Modele Depose". Made of aluminum; black plastic levers.

What can I upgrade to? Do the new ones have to be Raleigh- or vintage- specific, or are there other options?
Any advice is much appreciated.
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Old 11-25-08, 07:48 PM   #2
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Any downtube shift levers should work. Simplex actually makes some of othe nicest shift levers I've used BTW:

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Old 11-25-08, 08:18 PM   #3
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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:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Suntour-Power-Sh...QQcmdZViewItem

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.
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Old 11-26-08, 04:50 PM   #4
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Oh, my goodness! I am so very glad I asked.
I will definitely check out both kinds- I had no idea Simplex was still around, much less made nice levers.
I very much appreciate your help...thank you for helping a true newb. : )
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Old 11-26-08, 05:06 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by MeanTara View Post
Oh, my goodness! I am so very glad I asked.
I will definitely check out both kinds- I had no idea Simplex was still around, much less made nice levers.
I very much appreciate your help...thank you for helping a true newb. : )

The nice levers referred to are Simplex retrofriction. They are not often cheap to buy. BTW, Simplex is no longer with us...just the leftovers.
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Old 11-26-08, 06:15 PM   #6
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I much prefer the Simplex Retrofrictions over the Suntours because the Retrofrictions don't ratchet. The action is perfectly smooth in both directions.
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Old 11-26-08, 07:45 PM   #7
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I have a set of Simplex retrofriction levers on my about 1983 Colnago Super Record bike. Per what I have read lots of riders and racers of that era replaced the Campy levers with the Simplex units due to their better feel. Never seen a pair finished in black like those pictured. Have they been powder coated?
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