Wasn’t it Claudius who said “Isn’t it more important what a man says, than how he says it?”. Well, can’t the same be said of bicycle components? Isn’t it their purpose to function efficiently, and not look pretty and expensive? Ok, if you can get both qualities in a machine, looks and performance, then that’s great. But let’s not dismiss components that don’t look as good as their more expensive rivals, or imitate them imperfectly. For I have become a fan of this Triplex Professional gear set, where once I was rather dismissive of these little known vintage parts.
The Imitation Game
It’s obvious who Triplex were imitating, and it seems that they didn’t really hide it when they made these parts. Campagnolo was the king of components and had dominated the high end market for decades. Leaders, influencers, inspirers, yes yes; I get it. But though Campagnolo derailleurs were of superb quality, I don’t believe they were superior to their rivals when it came to their functionality. That, however, is a different argument and I don’t want to get into it here. Let’s just say, Triplex looked at Campagnolo as market leaders and unashamedly copied them. In this case, there’s no doubt the Triplex Professional imitated the Campagnolo Triomphe. The shifters complete the replication.
On the Bike
It’s obvious that the finish and quality of the Triplex Professional isn’t up to the standard of Campagnolo’s derailleurs. Yet, the Triplex derailleurs have lasted the decades well and do work perfectly. The shifting was quick and seamless and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between these parts and Campagnolo Record. In fact, and even more tellingly, the derailleurs were easy to remove, responded well to cleaning and servicing, and every bolt and allen nut was easy to release. Now, if I compare my experiences with, say, the Huret Challenger and the Simplex Criterium, which have often caused me no end of problems, this Triplex set was a bloody joy to come across.
The Greatest Imitators of All
Shimano copied European brands back in the vintage era, and eventually beat all competition to become the market leaders they are today. Unfortunately for this Spanish brand, Triplex faded away in the late 1980’s and are now just a rare find, though they made parts for over three decades. Unlike Shimano, they never possessed the ambition to become innovators, or to take on the world. On the contrary, Triplex were dedicated to being imitators and satisfied to copy the brands that they admired. But don’t let the snobbery in the vintage bike market fool you; these are efficient and well made derailleurs, still working today, and just as useful on a bike as the fanciest 1984 Campagnolo Record.