After the rampant complexity of their 1958 Allvit, Huret went all out for simplicity with the 1963 Huret Svelto. It was a pared-down, all-steel economy model that was cheap to manufacture, sold in millions and had any number of imitators.
It worked OK when new, but the parallelogram lacked the torsional rigidity of more three dimensional designs, and the pivots quickly loosened destroying any pretense at precision - not so much of a problem when your main competition is the 1962 Simplex Prestige - but a serious short coming when you are up against a 1967 Shimano Skylark.
Nick Wells, a correspondent of mine who admits to a youthful yearning to ‘marry that nice blonde lady from The Champions’, writes:
“My first 'real' bike was a heavy steel 'racer' from Grattons mail order catalogue. There were only two bikes in it, one was a Raleigh, which I think had Simplex gears, and the cheaper unbranded one that I had, which had a Huret Svelto set-up.
I loved that bike, and went miles on it, and, although after a few years my chainset used to clank a little, the gears never let me down. My brother had a Carlton (with Reynolds 531 tubing) which was much lighter than mine, and it had Campagnolo Gran Sport gears, which I envied immensely. He himself though, always craved a set of Campag Record gears, so I guess neither of us was fully satisfied!”
For me the Huret Svelto is as much a part of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s as men walking on the moon, the three day week, Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats and Lord Anthony snorkel parkas with rabbit fur around the hood. Was it all a strange dream?
This example is a very early Huret Svelto with round pulley wheels and a riveted on, three position, ‘trap’ for the pulley cage spring.
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