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Vintage Components - Excel Derailleurs

On this page: Excel "American" front and rear derailleur

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We believe Excel Derailleurs (and the same changers made under the "Elgin" name) are the only production derailleurs ever made in the U.S. There have been several makers of beautiful limited-production CNC'd derailleurs, but Excel derailleurs were made by people who clocked into the Elgin, Illinois factory and spent a day tending machinery that made these derailleurs for large American bike companies. That same factory also made reflectors, pedals and hubs.

It's hard to pin down when production began, but we date it to the late 1970s.

Excel derailleurs were made by the Beatrice conglomerate, which had at one time owned Airstream, Avis, Jolly Rancher, Peter Pan, Hunt's, Tropicana, Playtex, Samsonite and many other companies. The conglomerate has long-since been split up and the pieces sold to other giant corporations.

Probably in the face of the great bike boom of the 1970s, Beatrice management decided that making derailleurs would be a good idea. The first iteration was a poor copy of the venerable Huret Allvit, called the "Dynamic". The front derailleur was a version of the Campagnolo Campagnolo Gran Sport/Valentino push-rod changer. That front derailleur remained basically unchanged as the rear changer underwent several re-designs.

The next model rear derailleur Excel produced the "American". This was a copy of the Simplex Prestige, a double-spring parallelogram that shifted quite well. It did retain the plastic top and bottom spring housings that Simplex used.

By the early 1980s that "American" model had become an all-steel rear derailleur.

In addition to this American production, Excel imported under its own name a component group made by the Italian firm Cambio Rino. Excel called it "Excel's Gruppo Rino". Ultra marathoner Lon Haldeman used this equipment in his victory in the 1983 "Race Across America".

Excel experimented with a gear changing system that used an expanding chainwheel, but it was not to be. It looks like Beatrice closed the derailleur factory sometime around 1984.

Excel American front and rear derailleurs. used. $40.00

You don't have a complete derailleur collection if you don't have these changers in it.

Important note: Front derailleur has a 1" seat tube clamp.

Excel "american" derailleur set

The front and rear changers. Detail photos are below.

Excel rear derailleur

The top pivot has lost its cap.

Excel rear derailleur

From the back. The wheels show it has very few miles.

Excel rear derailleur

Side view showing the adjusting screws

Excel Front derailleur

The front derailleur has a 1" seat tube clamp.

Excel front derailleur

Back of the front derailleur. You can see the "Made in the USA" embossed in the plastic cover.