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  1. #1
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Suntour groups - Sprint 9000, GPX and Ole'

    In my quest to build up a Suntour Sprint 9000 groupset, I noted a particular oddity in the fact that many components from the Sprint 9000 group are curiously absent from mention or photographs online. Even eBay seems to be religated to Sprint 9000 rear derailers and partial groupsets.

    For a while, I was led to believe that the Sprint 9000 groupset was limited to a derailer/freewheel/shifter groupset, until I perceived an NOS Sprint 9000 crankarm at a Local Overpiced Bike Shop. I then realized that there had to be a complete Suntour 9000 groupset - abiet, a highly evasive groupset...

    Various internet searches to locate any other existence of this crankset were not succesful until I found this page:

    http://www.equusbicycle.com/bike/sun...tourscans.html

    The road group page, while not full color photographs, confirmed that a complete Sprint 9000 grouppo existed, not to mention full grouppos for GPX and a group I had never heard of - Ole.

    Am I simply missing something here, or are these groupsets and their components that poorly known? I would have thought that the reasonably well-known Sprint 9000 group would have had more circulation of cranksets and brakesets then I've seen so far.

    Take care,

    -Kurt

  2. #2
    Unique Vintage Steel cuda2k's Avatar
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    Interesting questions. None of which I have answers for, but I would be interested to find the answers as well. I currently don't have any SunTour gear in my collection, but such a rare group would be of interst indeed.

  3. #3
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    This is an interesting article on the history of SunTour. It sounds like the non-indexed Sprint gruppo was introduced in 1986, a year after Shimano introduced Dura-Ace SIS. In addition, while Shimano was manufacturing in Singapore by then, SunTour was still manufacturing in Japan, a huge financial disadvantage.

    "SunTour hosted three focus group meetings at the 1985 U.S. bike show. Each group had about twenty bike dealers. SunTour asked the dealers what they thought of Shimano's indexed shifting. The consensus response was that it was too complicated and too expensive and it would just be another Shimano fad. Based on this advice, SunTour decided that responding to Shimano SIS could be postponed for a year. This turned out to be dead wrong. The wolf was at the door and SunTour did not have a year of grace.

    1986 was a retrenchment year. SunTour introduced the Sprint gruppo, priced between Cyclone and Superbe. Sprint was splendid value and everything looked expensive, but it was not indexed. Superbe Pro was dropped.

    Shimano proved out the SIS concept with 1985 Dura-Ace. All of the bicycling magazines raved about the performance of Dura-Ace SIS. Shimano also used Bio-Pace non-round chainrings as an effective marketing tool.

    In 1986, SIS trickled down from Dura-Ace to the medium-priced 600 and L Series gruppos. SIS was in short supply and Shimano could insist that the bike makers buy complete sets of the critical gear train components. They could also insist that the key dimensions of the bicycle frame meet Shimano's specifications. Indexed shifting bicycles flew out of the bike stores. The maxim was, "If it doesn't click it won't sell."

    Shimano took over most of SunTour's customers in the low priced Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) market. Shimano's costs were lower because their low-priced components were made in the Singapore factory. SunTour's Japanese factories were still suffering from yen shock and could not match Taiwan or Singapore prices. SunTour's U.S. market share fell to about 40% and Shimano passed SunTour in 1986. SunTour lost more money and SunTour-USA borrowed against their inventories to help cover the losses."

  4. #4
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cuda2k
    Interesting questions. None of which I have answers for, but I would be interested to find the answers as well. I currently don't have any SunTour gear in my collection, but such a rare group would be of interest indeed.
    Well, it doesn't appear to be a generally rare group (although as . The derailers are common enough, the rest must be out there as well, probably entirely ignored in favor of it's nearly identical, full-polish couisn, Superbe Pro.

    I'd say Sprint 9000 is a victim of being overlooked by collectors, and, as JunkYardBike says, somewhat limited in production due to Suntour's economic situation at the time.

    I also note that the Suntour catalogue displaying the crankset is from the Accushift era, after Sprint 9000 was revised for Suntour 7-speed index shifting. Not that this means much, as I'm sure the crankset was available during the previous pre-index Sprint 9000 group.

    -Kurt

  5. #5
    Unique Vintage Steel cuda2k's Avatar
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    Kurt, found an Ole rear derailleur on ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com/SUNTOUR-OLE-Rear...QQcmdZViewItem

    edit: Seller actually has what appears to be a full set of Ole in NOS condition at the moment.

  6. #6
    If I own it, I ride it CV-6's Avatar
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    Lynn Travers

    Photos

    ISO: Lejeune Champion du Monde Ultra Leger Reynolds 753, 53-55cm

  7. #7
    The Legitimiser Sammyboy's Avatar
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    I had a bike with Sprint single ring cranks, rear mech, single shifter, brake calipers and levers. I sold everything but the levers, and still have the pics on my other machine ( I think). If you want me to dig them out, I will.

  8. #8
    40 something and counting forensicchemist's Avatar
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    If I remember correctly, Ole was in direct competition with shimano Sante...both had a white finish to the parts.....and just like Sante, the white finish never caught on...

    mark

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    As JUNkYardBike states, SunTour did not immediately respond to SIS and lost market share. But what reaslly hurt was 1987 when they rushed an underdeveloped AccuShift onto the market. The poor reputation severely eroded the number of models that spec'd SunTour as OEM. They finally got Accushift correct in 1989, when they introduced Ole and GPX, but by that time the damage was done and Shimano was dominant.

    The result of all this is that the mentioned groups were not widely spec'd. Ole is the rarest, Berto states that Ole was a boutique group, in repsonse to Sante and designed primarily at the bequest of one US manufacturer, who later backed out of the deal. Of the three, GPX appears to be the most common. It did manage to get spec'd by some major mid-range bicycles - Centurion Ironman Expert, Giant Allegre and Miyata 1100A. Sprint was sort of in between, but I see it more often in the friction version than the AccuShift.

  10. #10
    Senior Member OrangeOkie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T-Mar
    . . . SunTour . . . rushed an underdeveloped AccuShift onto the market. The poor reputation severely eroded the number of models that spec'd SunTour as OEM. They finally got Accushift correct in 1989, when they introduced Ole and GPX, but by that time the damage was done and Shimano was dominant. . . .
    As a somewhat "Johnny come lately" Suntour disciple, I have a theory on the so called "underdeveloped Accushift" components. It builds on what the "Sunset for Suntour" author stated . . . ie. Suntour developed Accushift as a complete system, and did not recommend mixing components. (It appears they may have stolen some Shimano designs) . . . I have read this very thing in various dealer bulletins.

    When putting together an Accushift "system," it is important to use Accushift gear cables and housing . . . Accushift shifters . . . matching front and rear derailleurs and properly spaced Accushift freewheels or cassettes that match the derailleurs . . . and last but not least . . . Accushift chains that match the aforementioned freewheels and cassettes.

    It appears from the SfS piece, many manufactuers and dealers were unwilling to invest in entire matching Accushift gruppos, therefore the mismatched components did not work properly, resulting in the public perception that Accushift was subpar in design, when in reality, it was every bit as good as SIS (since it was probably stolen Shimano design the first year) ha ha

  11. #11
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Kurt,

    In case you haven't seen this already, this eBay listing might have your Sprint crankset.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeOkie
    It appears from the SfS piece, many manufactuers and dealers were unwilling to invest in entire matching Accushift gruppos, therefore the mismatched components did not work properly, resulting in the public perception that Accushift was subpar in design, when in reality, it was every bit as good as SIS (since it was probably stolen Shimano design the first year) ha ha
    That is partially correct but even at its best, will all the required components, the shifting wasn't up to Shimano's standard.

  13. #13
    www.theheadbadge.com cudak888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JunkYardBike
    Kurt,

    In case you haven't seen this already, this eBay listing might have your Sprint crankset.
    Well, luckily enough, I spoke to the owner of the LBS today, once again, and he's willing to go down to $30 for his NOS (but very lightly scratched in one spot) Sprint 9000 right hand crankset with bolts and inner ring. It's 165mm though - hate that!

    Take care,

    -Kurt

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    That is partially correct but even at its best, will all the required components, the shifting wasn't up to Shimano's standard.
    I concur. The only way the original Accushift seemed good, was in comparison to Campagnolo Syncro. Both were woefully inferior to Shimano's SIS. Both would eventually catch up, but at the time it allowed Shimano to dominate the marketplace, a position they have consolidated.

  15. #15
    Senior Member masi61's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeOkie
    As a somewhat "Johnny come lately" Suntour disciple, I have a theory on the so called "underdeveloped Accushift" components. It builds on what the "Sunset for Suntour" author stated . . . ie. Suntour developed Accushift as a complete system, and did not recommend mixing components. (It appears they may have stolen some Shimano designs) . . . I have read this very thing in various dealer bulletins.

    When putting together an Accushift "system," it is important to use Accushift gear cables and housing . . . Accushift shifters . . . matching front and rear derailleurs and properly spaced Accushift freewheels or cassettes that match the derailleurs . . . and last but not least . . . Accushift chains that match the aforementioned freewheels and cassettes.

    It appears from the SfS piece, many manufactuers and dealers were unwilling to invest in entire matching Accushift gruppos, therefore the mismatched components did not work properly, resulting in the public perception that Accushift was subpar in design, when in reality, it was every bit as good as SIS (since it was probably stolen Shimano design the first year) ha ha
    I'm not only a "Johnny Come Lately" to Accushift but index shifting in general, I have made some fun (and sometimes frustrating) late discoveries about these drivetrains. My interest in this is not as a collector in search of some obscure SunTour component group but instead more as a mechanic and admirer of quality older parts that are still available for use. I have used 3 different Winner freewheels - two 7speeds and one 6 speed and matched them with Accushift compatible rear derailleurs (Suntour X-1 and XC-Expert) and some nice Superbe Pro Accushift downtube levers (2 sets) from, where else, Ebay. My favorite 2 roadbike steeds are 120mm and 126mm rear dropout spacing. I'm just now graduating to 126mm spacing on my Masi. Anyway, I love the little nuances of how Shimano is different from Campy is different from Mavic is different from Suntour etc... its a fun and challenging part of having a vintage ride. Its cool to see here how some C&V fans go out on a limb for certain long forgotten part. I think Japanese parts in general, both SunTour and Shimano both get un-glamorized in comparison to Campy. I had Campy parts on my Masi years ago and swapped them out all except for the headset and seatpost bolt.
    Anyway, my impression of the Accushift on my Puch Marco Polo is that it shifts very positively with hard clicks in the rear. My triple Suntour front derailleur works alright with the Superbe Pro retrofriction front shift lever but isn't ideal, it seems to have a lot of tension on the cable requiring a lot of force with the pull, it also requires a lot of lever travel.
    On my Masi the front Superbe Pro shift lever is shifting a Dura Ace 7400 front derailleur on a Dura Ace double Dyna Drive crank and works fine. The rear on this bike doesn't index well in the Winner Pro 13-30 6 speed (new) freewheel and the XC-Expert rear derailleur and the Superbe Pro indexing 6/7 speed downtube lever set on the 7speed setting. The 6 speed "Ultra" setting worked even worse. I may just change this lever over to friction, but I resist because its like admitting failure .
    I've been using the Taya Turbo chains that you can get in bulk on ebay and they work well. I do have a couple of SunTour chains an AP and an AP II new from ebay which I haven't tried yet, but I doubt they would be the difference between a functional and non-functional Accushift system.
    Future projects will involve SunTour cassette hubsets built into 7 speed clincher or even tubular wheelsets. I'm not a skilled wheelbuilder and before I drop the money on these obsolete parts I want to be absolutely certain that I have sufficient extra cassettes available for whichever one ultimately gets built. The 3 choices are 1) Superbe Pro 8 speed 130mm Powerflow cassette wheel (I plan to use 7 speed cassettes and swap cogs from a 12-19 to complete the 8), 2) a MicroLite 7 speed Powerflow 126mm cassette wheel or 3) a sort of generic looking (but nice) "JG" cassette hub - 126 mm that accepts only the first gen. Accushift "AP" cogs, the ones that aren't ramped or chiseled. I've got 2 cassettes for this in a 12-26 and a 12-30 configuration. One of these 3 will probably be built up with modern clincher rims in the next year and trialed. The worse that could happen I figure is that the cogs won't satisfactorily index and may need to be run in just friction mode which I suppose isn't the end of the world. Cassette hubs are kind of interesting and desirable because of the wider cone spacing, and removing cogs for cleaning is easy and quick as well. Sorry about the long winded reply, I just started my day off and my morning coffee
    .

  16. #16
    Senior Member OrangeOkie's Avatar
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    Suntour quality

    Quote Originally Posted by masi61
    . . . The 6 speed "Ultra" setting worked even worse. I may just change this lever over to friction, but I resist because its like admitting failure . . . .I've been using the Taya Turbo chains that you can get in bulk on ebay and they work well. I do have a couple of SunTour chains an AP and an AP II new from ebay which I haven't tried yet, but I doubt they would be the difference between a functional and non-functional Accushift system. . . .

    Masi a couple of things . . . the 6-speed "ultra" spaced free wheel is fricton only. As you discovered it won't work smoothly in index mode. The rule of thumb is index uses any 4-notched free wheels or any "alpha" free wheel. Second the Suntour chains were specifically engineered for index mode. The precision fit required is critical when indexing.

  17. #17
    Senior Member SteakKnifeSally's Avatar
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    Dagnabit! You are bad, bad men. Now I've started cruising ebay for Shimano Sante components. Last time this happened, I ended up with a Vista (by Araya) with Shimano 600 Arabesque, and a Centurion Elite RS with the last non-indexing Shimano 600. That Centurion would sure look cool with those white Sante components though...

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