Huret Jubilee

In the 1960s-70s, if you wanted the best in components, you bought Campagnolo. Suntour made a nice touring derailleur (the V-GT), Simplex had a good chunk of the budget niche, and the upstart Shimano came on the scene with the Crane GS. The Crane and the V came in short cage versions but I never saw them.

While Shimano was considered an upstart in the bicycle world, in truth they were a huge industrial conglomerate. In the consumer world, they were best known for fishing gear. Dura-Ace came out in 1973 but I don’t recall when I first actually saw one. Zeus, a Spanish company, made Campagnolo copies. The ubiquitous Simplex was mostly plastic (“Delrin”) and worked okay until the pivot points loosened up and shifting became sloppy. There was a more expensive metal Simplex that a few French purists (in the US), or those with not quite enough money for Campagnolo, used.

Huret was known mostly for the Allvit, mostly known as the “Schwinn Approved” derailleurs on Schwinns. In 1970, for its jubilee (50th anniversary), Huret decided to take a run at Campy with the Jubilee. The Jubilee’s main claim to fame was its incredible light weight. The rear derailleur weighed less than Campy’s front. The design was an evolution from the seldom seen (in the US) Svelto. Different sources claim the Jubilee went into production in 1972 or 1974.

Motobecane named some of its bikes for the components used. The Grand Record used Campagnolo Record. In 1973-74 they introduced the Grand Jubilé. (Yes, Huret spelled it Jubilee, but Motobecane spelled it Jubilé.) Below the Jubilé was the Grand Touring, using Suntour V-GT derailleurs. I bought a Grand Jubilé in the spring of 1974. The derailleur was rated for a maximum of 24 teeth. My bike had 26, which pushed its limit. I thought I was going to go big in touring and maybe get a wider range freewheel, so I swapped the Jubilee rear for a Crane GS. People thought I was crazy, since the whole point of buying the Grand Jubilé was the derailleur. (I was using everything but the rear.) A couple of years later, the Jubilee turned out to be a failed experiment and I picked up a complete gruppo for a song. I installed the Jubilee on the bike where it belonged and rode it for several years. It worked great except that it did not climb smoothly up to that 26 tooth rear. I tried to keep that gear in reserve, so I always had one more gear if I had to downshift. The day the bike was stolen (October 1989 – a few days before the World Series earthquake), the Shimano was in place, and that’s why I can provide these photos.

What’s inside?
Rated for 13-24 tooth rear
Yes, for you young whippersnappers, styrofoam packing peanuts had been invented by 1974.
Front derailleur and clamp 82.5 grams on my scale (various trials came out @80 or 85)
Rear derailleur – lightest ever @140 grams – said to be lighter than Campy front.
Rear derailleur – back side. Okay, so I could have spent more time cleaning it. Hey, it’s 47 years old!
The pulleys contain ball bearings, not just a bushing.
Levers. rear cable chainstay clamp, decal. Cable guides not shown.

The Motobecane Grand Jubilé came with a Reynolds steel frame (531 double-butted 3 main tubes), the Jubilee derailleur set, Weinmann 610 centerpull brakes, Normandy hubs laced to Weinmann rims, Stronglight 49 crankset (40/52), Atom 5 speed 14-26 freewheel, Ideale 80 leather saddle, Pivo bar and stem. Weinmann is a Swiss company. The rest are French. The bike came in two color choices – red with black trim (mine) or silver with red trim. It had rack and fender mounts.

Grand Jubilé image from Bike Forums. For $208 ($1204 in today’s dollars), you even got this gorgeous pinstriping on fancy Nervex lugs. (I found a review showing list price as $250, but I paid $208 through Yellow Jersey Co-op.)

This is by no means a guaranteed accurate history as much as my recollection. The Frugal Average Bicyclist routinely gets 100 or more “likes” for writing about a piece of equipment, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Stop the presses! I just found out that one of the half-fast cycling club still owns a Motobecane Grand Jubilé and he just sent pictures!

Tempting, but I’ll have to pass.