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Old 05-25-11, 06:41 PM   #1
Fletch521
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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.
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Old 05-25-11, 06:51 PM   #2
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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.
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Old 05-25-11, 09:53 PM   #3
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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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Old 05-25-11, 11:30 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 05-25-11, 11:34 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 05-26-11, 12:17 AM   #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?
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Old 05-26-11, 09:25 AM   #7
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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?
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.
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Old 05-26-11, 10:21 AM   #8
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I'll play devil's advocate...
It is best to learn about something from someone that is happy with them.
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Old 05-26-11, 11:22 AM   #9
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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.
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Old 05-27-11, 01:35 AM   #10
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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.
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