Bike Tech circa 1937

As team hugga gets ready for another interbike jammed with the latest in bike technology, I caught a glimpse of a drive train that reminds me how far this technology has come. This Osgear system was an early attempt at a rear derailleur. The 1937 Tour de France was the first year that derailleurs were allowed in competition, and had you been there, you would have likely seen bikes equipped in this fashion. You may notice on inspection that this system is missing the chain tensioner integrated into today’s rear derailleurs.

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This was solved by mounting an arm and jockey wheel below the bottom bracket operated with another lever near the shifter. While we can debate the utility of Camagnolo’s newest 11 speed drivetrian, I’m glad that reliable gearing is an after thought in today’s market.


The best part about the Osgear system is that it was indexed (!). If you can find shots of the actual shift lever, you will see that there are a series of holes, into which a post on the back of the lever fits.  It all works remarkably well, with a bit of a learning curve and not much range.  State of the art, for sure.

first year that derailleurs were aloud in competition.

Yes, before that they were much quieter!

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