Mike Barry Sr.’s Lucchini derailleur has a lever and a rod that runs parallel to the drive-side seatstay. When you push or pull the lever, the rear mech moves the chain from cog to cog.
“I got this derailleur in about 1953,” Barry says. “I used to hang around a bike shop in London. A guy had the part taken off his bike and wanted a more conventional derailleur put on. The guy who owned the shop just gave the Lucchini derailleur to me. Even though I put it on my bike, I never knew what sort of control it really had. I knew that it was a rod of some sort, but I used a stiff wire.” Later, like the previous owner of the derailleur, Barry replaced the Lucchini with a more modern-looking component. The Lucchini then sat in a junk box for close to 60 years.
In 2008, Barry went to a vintage bike part show in the U.S. and saw something familiar. “I was at Cirque de Cyclisme,” he says. “There was a guy with a Lucchini on a bike, so I took some photographs of the control.” Barry fashioned a lever and rod for the derailleur, dug up an old frame from his collection and put the renovated part on a bike he’s dubbed the Torpado Project.
“I don’t think Lucchini ever made a front derailleur, none that I can track down,” he says. “I thought, ‘If Lucchini had made one, what would it look like?’ So I made one to match things up.” His retro-invention rounds out the bike nicely.— MP