Cable operated front derailleurs have been easily available since as early as 1930 and possibly before then. Why is it then that some of the more well respected French custom bikemakers of the fifties and sixties made their own? Rene Herse and Alex Singer both made
rod operated derailleurs and Jo Routens made a cable operated device.
Rene Herse front derailleur from the 1950s.
Simplex cable operated front derailleurs from the 1930s.>
I acquired a small, nicely constructed Routens frame some years ago but the Routens derailleur and its left hand down tube control lever had been sawn off by the previous owner, presumably so that a standard model could be fitted.
A customer was very interested in the frame but only if I could replicate the original derailleur and lever.
I managed to find photos of Routens bikes, some of which showed good images that I could use as patterns.
The derailleur is pretty simple and my replica works really well.
I set it up with TA 26/49T double chainrings and the chain makes the jump both up and down very smoothly.
However I cannot see that it works any better than a Simplex or Huret model that would have been available to Jo Routens when he built the bike. So why go to all the bother? Just to say “I can” I suppose.
I made a lever to accommodate the twin (loop) cable.
The derailleur and lever parts are off to the chromer now and the frame to Velocolour for painting. I will post images of the complete bike when it is finished,