Établissement Huret was founded by André Huret in Nanterre in Paris in 1920. Its first product was wing nuts for wheel axles - and Huret wing nuts were still much in evidence in oily brown cardboard boxes in the back of grubby bicycle shops well into the 1970s. I seem to remember a particularly useless aluminium variant.
The story of Huret's derailleurs might go something like this:
- Frank Berto claims that Huret produced its first derailleur in 1930. I have not been able to confirm this.
- The first Huret derailleur patent that I have been able to find is dated January 1932 showing two rather tidy, top-normal, models, a single pulley model and a double pulley model. Both models use the same basic actuating arm. I also have a set of printed instructions, which describe the two models covered in the patent. In these instructions, these models are called the Centrix Course (brevet Huret) and Centrix Tourisme (brevet Huret). "Brevet Huret" roughly translates as "patented by Huret". These instructions also proudly list racing victories during the 1932 and 1933 seasons, but nothing from before this (I assume that the instructions themselves date from late 1933 or early 1934).
- During the 1930s Huret patented a slew of different derailleur designs. I have seen precisely none of these in the flesh - but that doesn't mean they were not manufactured.
- In Novembre 1940, five brief months after the fall of France, Huret applied for a patent for a very simple, low-normal, direct-pull derailleur with a flat steel body. I have an example of this derailleur in my collection, but have yet to photograph it. In 1942 Huret produced the Huret Dural Competition. This was a, rather smooth, aluminium variant of the 1940 steel model. It is often referred to as the Huret Aluvac - as it is stamped with the word 'Aluvac' presumably in honour of the way the aluminium was cast.
- 1946 saw the production of the famous 'piano wire' derailleurs, the Huret Course Competition and the Huret Route Touriste. The use of rods as a structural element was supposed to avoid the need for steel plate - which was scarce in postwar France
- In 1949 Huret introduced the iconic Huret Competition derailleur. This was simpler, stronger and many would say, more effective than Simplex's market-leading Tour de France derailleur. When Louison Bobet rode a Huret Competition to victory in the 1953 Tour, Huret introduced the Huret Special Louison Bobet model - a Huret Competition with the added facility to control the chain tension using a second lever and Bowden cable.
- Huret were commendably quick to see the potential of parallelogram derailleurs - introducing the revolutionary Huret Allvit in 1958. The Allvit was, on the one hand, a clever design that maintained the chain-gap well, but on the other hand it was heavy, fragile and ugly. Amazingly it survived, in one guise or another, for a quarter of a century.
- The Allvit also established Huret as the masters of pressed steel sheet. A low-end technology that they went on to use in the much reviled, but rather good, Huret Svelto of 1963 and the much admired, but rather average, Huret Luxe (1967).