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  1. #1
    Senior Member Fletch521's Avatar
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    Suntour Vs. Shimano Bar End Shifters

    I have several sets of bar end shifters I salvaged from various bikes all late 70s early 80s vintage. I had used the Suntour ratchet shifters before but the Shimano set is spring loaded and returns to its fully extended position.

    Just looking for someone to explain why and if there is any advantage to the Shimano design. Now that I have downsized my belly and can reach the drops I'm thinking about reinstalling the bar ends on the old Trek.

  2. #2
    Senior Member southpawboston's Avatar
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    I have never used the old Shimano bar-ends, only the newer style ones with both index and friction modes. I can say the new ones don't feel anywhere as nice (in friction mode) as the old Suntours. The Suntours are smooth as butter, and that micro ratcheting action is sweet. The Shimanos seem crude in comparison. However, in indexed mode the Shimanos are actually pretty nice.

  3. #3
    Senior Member badger_biker's Avatar
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    I recently encountered my first old Shimano bar ends on a Viscount. I didn't have the bike long but they seemed to work OK and I also noted the odd spring load but don't know the reasoning. Suntours seem a bit smoother to me.
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  4. #4
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fletch521 View Post
    I have several sets of bar end shifters I salvaged from various bikes all late 70s early 80s vintage. I had used the Suntour ratchet shifters before but the Shimano set is spring loaded and returns to its fully extended position.

    Just looking for someone to explain why and if there is any advantage to the Shimano design. Now that I have downsized my belly and can reach the drops I'm thinking about reinstalling the bar ends on the old Trek.
    The spring in the Shimano shifters counters the extra friction of the longer cable housing and the derailleur's return spring. It was a counter to Suntour's "power ratchet". Then and now the Suntour system is superior: easier to assemble, easier to adjust, more durable.
    Jeff Wills

    All my bikes.

  5. #5
    Senior Member champion city's Avatar
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    I'll play devil's advocate here and say that I much prefer shimano's sprung system of countering shifting friction and derailleur springs. I have a set and I have found that they make for very easy shifting, and feel similar to a Simplex retrofriction lever (DT shifters mind you). I found that the suntour models would ratchet past where I wanted them to be, and I'd be trimming after shifting. I'm using both shifters with 8-speed cassettes and chains, although different derailleurs.

    I'd just use whichever one I liked better if I were you, and most BFers really like the suntour ratcheting. The shimano sprung levers are somewhat rarer as well.

  6. #6
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    I love my downtube Power Ratchet shifters! Now mounted on bar-end on two 1x6 bikes. haven't used the Shimano, though. The Suntour bolt right onto the Rivendell bar end bases. Here's a shot:



    Are the current Shimano bar end shifters--the ones you can buy at Rivendell and elsewhere--the counter-sprung ones?
    1996 Ciocc 60cm lugged steel (Dedacciai Zero-Uno) frame / fork with Ultegra build-up; 1990 Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo; 1986 Trek 1200; 1985 Centurion Elite RS; 1982 Trek 715

  7. #7
    Wookie Jesus inspires me. Puget Pounder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machine Age View Post
    I love my downtube Power Ratchet shifters! Now mounted on bar-end on two 1x6 bikes. haven't used the Shimano, though. The Suntour bolt right onto the Rivendell bar end bases. Here's a shot:



    Are the current Shimano bar end shifters--the ones you can buy at Rivendell and elsewhere--the counter-sprung ones?
    They're talking about the vintage ones. You don't see them too often. Also, your shifters are not the same power ratchet ones they are talking about. It's a copy of the design. Very well done though.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Fletch521's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by champion city View Post
    I'll play devil's advocate...
    It is best to learn about something from someone that is happy with them.

  9. #9
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    I use old Suntour power ratchets to drive an otherwise indexed system and it works really, really well; almost as good as having the indexed levers.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  10. #10
    cs1
    cs1 is offline
    Senior Member cs1's Avatar
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    I've got a set of the old Shimano big spring shifters. I haven't put them on a bike but will let you know when I do. They're really a dead ringer for SunTour at a glance. Totally different in design though.
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
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