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Old 07-29-07, 11:52 PM   #1
nruntsch
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SunTour Alpha 5000 or Shimano Exage Sport?

I recently bought two old Takara road bikes. One of them is an early '80s Tribute with a touring style geometry. The other is a mid/late '80s (I don't know the model) with race geometry and 700c wheels rather than 27". I only plan to keep the latter of the two, but my question is which component group should I take? The older of the two has Suntour Alpha 5000 shifters and rear derailleur and Suntour LePree front derailleur as well as a Sakae crankset and Dia-Comp brakes. The newer has Shimano Exage Sport front, rear derailleurs as well as shifters, crankset (with biopace...boo), and brakes. Both sets of components perform fairly well for their age. My plan as of now is to replace the bottom bracket and put on the Sakae crankset and also use the Shimano Exage drivetrain minus the crank and the Exage brakes. I don't really know much about either Suntour nor Shimano Exage. Where did they stand in something like the Shimano line now days? Does anyone know anything about either of these lines? What would you recommend?
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Old 07-30-07, 12:30 AM   #2
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Any pics?
My brother has a 76? 10 speed and I'm sure he'd love to know that he's not the only one with a Takara!
His HAD a SunTour Honor Rder (until somebody bent it into a pretzel) and a 3 arm cottered crank.
He still rides it semi daily.
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Old 07-30-07, 07:52 AM   #3
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. . . Does anyone know anything about either of these lines? What would you recommend?
I would choose the Suntour components. The Alpha 5000 is a mid level indexed system. To use it in the indexed mode with peak performance, it requires an Alpha freewheel (or any 4-notch Suntour freewheel), Suntour AP chain, Accushift shifters and cables, and Accushift rear der ailleur cable housing. Front der is not so important. The Le Pree will work just fine. If you put all these parts together, and properly tune, you will have one smooth and crisp shifting package.
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Old 07-30-07, 08:23 AM   #4
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I'd say those components are comparable. I had Exage Sport on a Bridgestone RB-2 (which I owned only briefly). The RB-2 was Bridgestone's second tier road bike that year. The Exage Sport components were solid, highly functional, and not cheap looking at all. They were a bit heavy. Also, the Biopace rings are fine. In fact, if you don't want them and they are in decent shape, consider selling them, as there is a small market for them.
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Old 07-30-07, 02:10 PM   #5
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The Exage Sport components were solid, highly functional, and not cheap looking at all. They were a bit heavy. Also, the Biopace rings are fine. In fact, if you don't want them and they are in decent shape, consider selling them, as there is a small market for them.
Concur.
I like the Exage groups for their 'more bang for the buck' utility. The upper level 500 EX/CX/LX groups were basicly 105 and Deore comps with a less polished finish. And you can still get compatible new freewheels and cassettes over the counter.
The Exage Sport brake levers were superior, however, due to the release button built into the lever.
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Old 07-30-07, 02:26 PM   #6
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I would choose the Suntour components. The Alpha 5000 is a mid level indexed system. To use it in the indexed mode with peak performance, it requires an Alpha freewheel (or any 4-notch Suntour freewheel), Suntour AP chain, Accushift shifters and cables, and Accushift rear derailleur cable housing.

Very interesting. I have the alpha 5000 'gruppo' on my Nishiki Prestige. I will have to see if it still has the Suntour AP chain. Is there something special about the rear derailleur cable housing?

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Old 07-30-07, 02:45 PM   #7
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Very interesting. I have the alpha 5000 'gruppo' on my Nishiki Prestige. I will have to see if it still has the Suntour AP chain. Is there something special about the rear derailleur cable housing?

East Hill
suntour rear derailleur housing is compressionless housing. With Suntour Accushift rd's stronger springs (compared to all Shimano SLR light feeling stuff, then to present), far less of a RD cable housing loop--i.e. a smaller radius-- is required than with a Shimano SIS shifter/rd combo.

Hope that's clear as mud. To put it another way, use a smaller housing radius leading into the rd with a suntour accushift indexing shifter / rd setup than with a shimano sis setup.
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Old 07-30-07, 02:55 PM   #8
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suntour rear derailleur housing is compressionless housing. With Suntour Accushift rd's stronger springs (compared to all Shimano SLR light feeling stuff, then to present), far less of a RD cable housing loop--i.e. a smaller radius-- is required than with a Shimano SIS shifter/rd combo.

Hope that's clear as mud. To put it another way, use a smaller housing radius leading into the rd with a suntour accushift indexing shifter / rd setup than with a shimano sis setup.
It is indeed clear! I just never bothered to look at it. I'll check tomorrow when I have more time. I'm fairly certain that the original housing is on there, I just never knew it was different.

Thanks for the explanation .

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Old 07-30-07, 02:57 PM   #9
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I would choose the Suntour components. The Alpha 5000 is a mid level indexed system. To use it in the indexed mode with peak performance, it requires an Alpha freewheel (or any 4-notch Suntour freewheel), Suntour AP chain, Accushift shifters and cables, and Accushift rear der ailleur cable housing. Front der is not so important. The Le Pree will work just fine. If you put all these parts together, and properly tune, you will have one smooth and crisp shifting package.
If you go with the Suntour components, fuggetabout the indexing. They never could hold their indexing adjustment worth a dime. You need to constantly adjust cable tension to keep them lined up.

The Alpha 5000 and other early attempts at indexing by Suntour are the WORST!!!

If I were in your shoes, I would either go with the Shimano components, or I would use the Suntour components in friction mode.

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Old 07-30-07, 10:06 PM   #10
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How do I switch the components from index to friction?
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Old 07-30-07, 10:12 PM   #11
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I'm actually currently using the Suntour components on the older of the two bikes, which is not disassembled. The other is disassembled and I am sanding and painting it. I'll post photos when I get them.
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Old 07-30-07, 10:15 PM   #12
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Pictures

I only have pictures of the older black Takara with Suntour components. Here they are:



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Old 07-30-07, 10:17 PM   #13
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Also, the Biopace rings are fine. In fact, if you don't want them and they are in decent shape, consider selling them, as there is a small market for them.
You're right. I'm looking on ebay and it's like $9 per ring. Thanks.
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Old 07-30-07, 10:22 PM   #14
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I could be wrong, but I don't think you have an indexed drivetrain. Usually, you would see the "Accushift" label somewhere on the derailleur. Do you have a photo of the shifters? Usually, you just turn a disc on the side of the right shifter to switch from "Friction" to "SIS" or "Indexed"
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Old 07-30-07, 11:14 PM   #15
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How do I switch the components from index to friction?
On the right/rear shift lever, you loosen the D-ring a turn or two. Then, look for a circular rotatable piece/dial at the base of the shift lever. It should have two settings, "Index" and "Friction." There should be an arrow on the part that does not rotate. Turn the dial until the "Friction" setting lines up with the arrow.

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Old 07-30-07, 11:24 PM   #16
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The shifter has both index and friction, and I've been using index and it's been working pretty well. Of course I need to adjust it every so often, but it hasn't had any major problems. The index shifting on the Exage also seemed to work well from the little that I've ridden the bike.

Thanks for the info on how to switch.
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Old 07-30-07, 11:41 PM   #17
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I am learning much of interest here!

Thanks for all the info .

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Old 07-31-07, 11:08 AM   #18
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I only have pictures of the older black Takara with Suntour components. Here they are:




Here are a few comments concerning your questions and other comments that have been made by others:

The "alpha" series of rear derailleurs were designed to operate indexed or friction with six-speed indexed/friction shifters. Today, when these "alpha" components (Rear der and shifter) are matched with the proper Suntour AP chain, an "alpha" six speed free wheel (or any 4-notch Suntour free wheel) and "Accushift rear cable housing and fresh Accushift cable, your system will shift very smoothly and precisely when properly tuned, regardless of what anyone may tell you. Too often, unknowledgeable Suntour users try to mix and match components and claim Suntour indexed systems don't work. This was one of the reasons Suntour had so much trouble back in the 1980's when they first designed and sold their first indexed systems. Dealers were unwilling to buy the entire Accushift system, which had been carefully designed to work together. When LBS mechs couldn't get the mismatched components to works smoothly, they started trashing Suntour indexed systems. Theat is what is happening to this day.

By the looks of the rusty rear cable, I would recommend you get a new, fresh Accushift cable and make sure your rear housing is labled "Accushift." Other than that, you should have no problem tuning that alpha 5000 system to click, click, click . . .As someone already mentioned, it's very easy to swith to friction by turning the gray dial from index to friction. Enjoy.
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Old 07-31-07, 12:08 PM   #19
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Too often, unknowledgeable Suntour users try to mix and match components and claim Suntour indexed systems don't work. This was one of the reasons Suntour had so much trouble back in the 1980's when they first designed and sold their first indexed systems. Dealers were unwilling to buy the entire Accushift system, which had been carefully designed to work together. When LBS mechs couldn't get the mismatched components to works smoothly, they started trashing Suntour indexed systems. Theat is what is happening to this day.
I built up hundreds of properly spec'd, Suntour-equipped bikes from Bridgestone, Trek and other companies. Early on, I guess I fell into the category of "unknowledgeable Suntour user," but ultimately I think I was quite knowledgeable.

Yes, I could get the properly spec'd systems to work, BUT even when perfectly set up they did require more adjustment than Shimano systems. There was just more margin for error in a Shimano system, so they held there index adjustment better out there in the dirty, dusty, bumpy real world.

I'm not sayin' you couldn't make 'em work. Heck, you can keep an antique FIAT running if you have enough mechanical ability and patience. I'm just sayin' that Suntour index systems were always more finicky than their Shimano counterparts, and the early/Alpha Suntour systems were among the finickiest.

Yours,

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Old 07-31-07, 04:09 PM   #20
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I built up hundreds of properly spec'd, Suntour-equipped bikes from Bridgestone, Trek and other companies. Early on, I guess I fell into the category of "unknowledgeable Suntour user," but ultimately I think I was quite knowledgeable.

Yes, I could get the properly spec'd systems to work, BUT even when perfectly set up they did require more adjustment than Shimano systems. There was just more margin for error in a Shimano system, so they held there index adjustment better out there in the dirty, dusty, bumpy real world.

I'm not sayin' you couldn't make 'em work. Heck, you can keep an antique FIAT running if you have enough mechanical ability and patience. I'm just sayin' that Suntour index systems were always more finicky than their Shimano counterparts, and the early/Alpha Suntour systems were among the finickiest.

Yours,

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Duly noted
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Old 07-31-07, 06:25 PM   #21
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Heck, you can keep an antique FIAT running if you have enough mechanical ability and patience.
The Fiat 850 Spyder I briefly owned made me think of Brit sports cars as paragons of reliability.
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Old 07-31-07, 07:48 PM   #22
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I should have mentioned my 1974 Fiat 124. I bought it in Spain, and brought it home with me to the States. First brand new car I ever bought. Overhead cam engine . . . perfect shade tree mechanic's car!
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Old 07-31-07, 09:57 PM   #23
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I have all the Accushift stuff right now and have been using it on index shifting since I've had the bike. It has always worked well. But still, I am only going to be using one set of components, so are those worth using compared to the '88 Shimano Exage Sport? Both work very well.
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Old 07-31-07, 10:44 PM   #24
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The models are probably fairly comparable. One doesn't really stand out from the other - both being from what one would consider the 'sport / recreation' lineup, and probably on the lower end of those lines.
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Old 08-01-07, 09:55 AM   #25
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I should have mentioned my 1974 Fiat 124. I bought it in Spain, and brought it home with me to the States. First brand new car I ever bought. Overhead cam engine . . . perfect shade tree mechanic's car!
I never owned a FIAT. At 6'6", FIATs tend to be a bit of a snug fit for me. But I rented one in Italy once, on my honeymoon. It had a 1.6L engine that ran like a 2.5! Man-oh-man that thing went like the wind. I had loads of fun racing Alphas and Mercedes on the Italian highways.

When they are running right, I here the old FIATs perform brilliantly as well. As you say, the perfect shade tree mechanic's car.

Sorry to continue the hijacking of this thread, but we all like old things that go fast, right?

- FBB
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