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Vintage Components - Simplex shift levers

On this page: Simplex Super LJ 4th generation braze-on red downtube retrofriction levers

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Simplex Super LJ 4th generation braze-on red downtube retrofriction levers. New, $150.00

These levers are probably the finest friction (as opposed to index) shift levers ever made. These 4th generation levers are also probably the nicest-looking shifters you can put on a bike. The levers' appearance evolved over the years from their introduction in 1973.

We date these levers to 1981 - 1983.

Simplex retrofriction levers have a clutch spring that give no resistance as the lever is pulled against the derailleur's spring. The rider's only effort while pulling on the lever is against the derailleur return spring. When pushing the lever back down, the clutch-spring offers mild resistance. Shifting is accurate and almost effortless.

Simplex retrofrction levers

Simplex's diagram of the levers' insides.

The Simplex design was so highly regarded that the levers were also made part of the Mavic SSC, Galli and Gipiemme groups. They also work well with Huret Jubilee derailleur systems.

The site classiclightweights.co.uk posted this explanation and picture of the shifter clutch spring: "The Simplex Retrofriction uses a closely wound spring around a barrel as a directional clutch. Rotated in one direction the spring opens up for less friction, rotated the other way friction tightens the spring which keeps the adjustment."

Simplex shifters

The simple spring clutch mechanism

Simplex Super LJ shift levers

Ready to make any friction shift system work better.

Simplex Super LJ shift levers

From the side

Simplex Super LJ shift levers

And the backs of the levers.