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email: sscycleworks@comcast.net
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Mavic rear derailleurs

On this page: Mavic ZAP rear derailleur | 801 (last version)

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What is now Mavic was started in the late 19th century as a maker of bicycle components. But it was in 1934 that Mavic hit its stride when they began making aluminum bicycle rims. The Tour de France initially forbade their use, Tour boss Henri Desgrange feeling that they were unsafe compared to wooden rims. Antonin Magne won his second Tour in 1934 using Mavic rims that were painted to look like ones of wood.

Mavic introduced their own component groupset in 1979. The rear derailleurs were beautifully well-made and had an interesting difference. All the derailleur pivot pins were held in place with removable circlips. The derailleurs could be completely disassembled, cleaned and rebuilt. Broken or worn parts, even of the parallelogram, could be replaced.


Mavic ZAP electronic rear derailleur. Used, $100

This derailleur has a crack but remains functional

Cyclist Magazine explained this incredible derailleur: "The Mavic Zap was unveiled in 1992, and with it came new thinking on gear changing. Unlike the Di2 or Campagnolo EPS of today, the Zap’s electronics were not used to power a motor that shifts the derailleur because the batteries needed in the 1990s would have been too big and heavy. Instead, Mavic engineered a system where shifting was powered by the movement of the chain itself.

"Unlike the classic parallelogram design used for most derailleurs, the Zap was essentially an angled, sliding shaft that pushed the jockey wheels into the right position for a desired gear. When you pressed the button on the handlebars, an electrical signal was sent to a solenoid (an electro-magnetic switch), which would engage teeth on a central shaft that was rotated by the movement of the chain and jockey wheel. Depending on whether it was engaged from above or below, the teeth would cause the chain’s movement to either wind the shaft in or out – moving the jockey wheels and chain to the next sprocket on the cassette."

Top pros such as Tony Rominger and Chris Boardman used ZAP derailleurs.

Mavic Zap rear derailleur

A Mavic ZAP derailleur does not look like other derailleurs.

Mavic Zap derailleur

From delow. The crack on the case can be seen.

Mavic Zap rear derailleur

The way your frame's dropout would see it.

Mavic Zap derailleur

You can see how the cage simply gets pushed in and out to change gears.


Mavic 801 (last version) rear derailleur. Used, $100.00

  • Missing top pivot bolt
  • Produced in the late 1980s.
  • Maximum cog size can be 32, but it works best if it isn't pushed beyond 26.
  • The pulley cage is mounted to the parallelogram on a slotted outer plate. This allows the mechanic to optimize the pulley distance from the freewheel. With the right dropout and with the cage pulley fully dropped, it will throw a 32. It won't be pretty, but it's great if you need mount some low gears right now and don't want to hunt up another derailleur and shifters. You can see the slot on the pulley cage in the bottom photo.

Mavic 801

Completely rebuildable

Mavic 801

From the back. The Mavic pulleys have been replaced with wheels made by Shimano.

Mavic 801

And another view