The true story of Sachs New Success, the last and best attempt of the Franco-German manufacturer to compete with Campagnolo and Shimano before the brand was acquired by SRAM (see below).
The online information is scarse on Sachs New Success. Moreover, it is not always correct.
Back in the nineties, I was a sponsored rider for the Belgian distributor of Sachs New Success, As a mountainbike racer I got to know the Sachs New Success groupset in 1993 and it didn’t take long before I upgraded my race bike to an all New Success gear set. Although I don”t have a documented history on every single component and variation ever produced, my collection of New Success components is pretty impressive according to some.
So after 25 years of riding and collecting Sachs New Success components, I guess it is about time to remove the dust from this part of cycling history with a new series of blog posts. In this first blog post, we’ll start with some background information and main highlights. The rest of the story will be revealed throughout time …
A brief history
In a few lines: Fichtel & Sachs was a German manufacturer named after the two inventors that founded the company in 1895 to produce innovative ball bearings and bicycle parts. Throughout the years, focus shifted to motors and motor components until the company aquired Huret, Maillard and Sedis.
1985-’86 Sachs-Huret ‘New Success’
This is where the New Success story starts in 1985. Nevertheless, this first generation of the New Success derailleur was not entirely new. It was merely a styling upgrade from the Huret Super Success derailleur which was no match for the contemporary Italian and Japanese components of that time.
The mounting bolts, swivel design and spring mount was a faint copy of the Shimano layout of the late seventies. It was and still is a very decent derailleur, though outdated by the time it was released to the market.
1987: The first complete Sachs New Success branded groupset
In 1987, Sachs-Huret was acquired by the German engineering group Mannesmann which dropped Huret from the brand name, converting it to plain Sachs a few years later.
Earlier that year, Sachs introduced the reinvented New Success Aris rear derailleur and downtube shifters, one of the very best index shifting gear sets of that era, if not the best.
The new inclinated parallellogram design was inspired by the Suntour geometry that was already widely copied and used by other brands after the Suntour patent ended. But it was the perfect harmony of the spring-loaded cable-stopper, the razor sharp index shifting of the downtube shifters and the ‘Rapid Grip and Shift profile’ of the specially designed sprockets, that allowed for precise and quick gear shifts, even in harsh weather conditions.
Teamwork, made in Europe
By the end of the eighties most component brands developed complete groupsets. Sachs on its end, depended largely on other brands from within the Mannesmann family as well as outside the company to complete the groupset. This influenced the overall styling of the components, especially in the early years.
The New Success groupset combines newly developed Sachs components (ARIS shifters and derailleurs) with race-proven parts from the Mannesman Group, including a Sedisport chain and enhanced Maillard freewheels, as well as high-end components from some of Europe’s best OEM manufacturers (Modolo brake set, Stronglight cranks and SKF bottom bracket produced in Germany in the ball bearing division formerly owned by Fichtel & Sachs).
1989: Second generation of the New Success Aris derailleur
In 1989 Sachs released an update with a closed cage and a slightly smoother styling. This design would withstand the test of time, with minor updates to facilitate the 8-speed Ergo levers in 1993.
- 1987-1988: First generation Aris derailleur set with downtube shifters and rebranded Stronglight cranks
- 1989-1992: Second generation Aris derailleur with downtube shifters and rebranded Campagnolo cranks
- 1993-1995: Second generation Aris derailleur (8-speed) with ergo lever brifters and rebranded Campagnolo cranks
1991: Collaboration with Campagnolo
From 1987 through to 1995, Sachs changed the graphics of the New Success groupset about every 2 years. It is only when Sachs and Campagnolo started a close partnership to develop the Ergo lever shifters from 1991, that Sachs started using rebranded Campagnolo (Athena and later Chorus) cranksets rather than customized cranksets from Stronglight. In future blog posts you will see that the graphics on different components within one group were not always matching in the early years.
1993: Ergo Power levers
Campagnolo enthusiasts tend to believe that Campagnolo invented the Ergo Power levers and that Sachs New Success levers are rebranded Campagnolo Chorus (or Athena) levers. I don’t have it written on paper, but as a sponsored athlete I was told a different story. Considering the history of Sachs with geared hubs, it sounds more likely however that the development was a joint effort in which the German engineers of Sachs played an important part. Campagnolo took care of manufacturing.
Hint: With the introduction of the instantly succesful Ergo Power brifters, the SACHS logotype was printed in blue to indicate which derailleurs were compatible with the Ergo Power levers.
1993-1995 Sachs New Success MTB second gen
It was when Sachs introduced the second generation of the New Success mountainbike groupset with astonishing grip shifters in 1993, that I finally fell in love with the brand.
Except from the brake levers, it looked amazing. But moreover, it was in the same weight category as Shimano XTR at half the price but performed better in extreme conditions and had a longer lifespan. As it turns out, it was in offroad cycling that Sachs made a difference which was noticed by the owners of SRAM, who acquired the brand a few years later.
In 1994, Sachs added the Power Disc and Hydro Pull to the mountainbike product line. Watch out for our special post on Sachs New Success mountainbike groupset to find out more about these cool parts.
1996: The end of the Success story
Ten years after the introduction of the New Success model, it was substituted by Quarz and the brand completely shifted focus from road cycling to mountainbike and touring. One year later, the Sachs Bicycle Components unit with its 600 employees was sold to the American company SRAM which completely dropped the Sachs brand name in 1999.
Beyond Sachs: SRAM
The engineers of the former Sachs unit, however, continued developing new products for the SRAM brand which lead to the very first SRAM XO derailleur in 2002 with an innovative 1:1 actuation ratio that proved to be easier, faster and more accurate to shift than the Shimao XTR mountainbike derailleur at that time. And this way… history of the Sachs bicycle brand and engineering is continued.
Note that the Sachs cage design lived on in the early SRAM cages.