Suntour was a very innovative and brilliant company, at least in terms of product development and manufacturing (the business and marketing side of things may have been their downfall). I thought there might be some interest in seeing two different designs suntour used for their superbe pro track hubs, in the form of pictures.
Both hubs are rear hubs. The left, a 24H drilling, is an early model with loose-ball/ cone bearings and chromed dustcaps with grease ports. The rear uses larger balls (9 per side) than the matching front.
The right one is the later generation suberbe pro, with a very clever bearing system that is a hybrid cartridge/ cone system, as I'll describe below. If you have non-njs superbe pro hubs, then you almost certainly have the later model pictured on the RHS, as the early left model is quite rare.
Note the differences in font size and type, as well as the fact that the left one does not say "pro", even though it is a superbe pro model.
The forgings for both models are undoubtedly the same (though there are subtle differences in the after-machining, due to the different bearing systems, and in the anodising).
The later model has laser type in the middle of the hub-shell, while the older model used a sticker and had "SUNTOUR" engraved, much like many NJS models:
Here the hubs are with the cones removed from one side:
Note the rubber seal on the later model. This seal indicates that the bearing is a 6001 series cartridge bearing! In fact, these later model hubs have the following amazing feature: if the bearing cups wear out, they may be extracted and the entire bearing may be replaced with a *standard* 6001 series cartridge, provided that the corresponding cone is replaced with a standard bearing sleeve. Suntour undoubtedly took standard 6001's and cut out the inner bearing race, then machined their own "cone" to make the system like a cup-cone system, but based around a cartridge bearing. You should appreciate how brilliant this is: this hybrid system has all the advantages of a cartridge system (easily replaced, much higher tolerances, very smooth) AND all the advantages of a cup-cone system (easily serviced, regreased, angular contact). Note in particular that these bearings are angular contact (because of the cone); in essence, Suntour converted inexpensive 6001 bearings to angular contact cartridge bearings, which cost about $100 *per bearing* if you can find them (PW offers them for time trial/olympic events).
Here's a closeup of the innards of Suntour's modified 6001, with the steel-backed rubber seal removed:
Here is a closeup of the bearings/ cup of the old gen. hub:
Here are the axels with cones/ spacers/locknuts etc.
Finally, here is a closeup of the cones, with the one on the left coming from the late generation hub using modified 6001's:
At one point, I called Yellow Jersey to ask if they had replacement axels for late-gen suntour hubs (EAI used to carry them), and had a very long conversation with Andrew Muzi about Suntour hub bearings which involved several emails and a lot of closeup pics of bearings and cones. He refused to believe me that Suntour modified 6001's as I've described! I guess that speaks to how brilliant the idea is.
I should point out the obvious: neither one of these hubs is NJS certified, being sub 36H. I am curious about what the NJS version looks like inside, especially the 8mm rear axel version. By regulation, NJS hubs have to be loose ball/cone, but I wonder if Suntour's modified 6001/ cone system qualifies (it does use a cone, afterall).
For those of you wondering, the later generation hubs are a lot smoother, and this may be where Suntour's legendary reputation for smooth hubs comes from. I've never seen anything like this system on other manufacturer's hubs; the only thing that comes close is custom PW's with ancon bearings, but good luck affording those.
Of course, Suntour hubs are no longer made, and although there's a rumor out there that Suzue got all the old Suntour forgings, legend has it that Maeda in fact sold all the tooling for scrap, and that it was subsequently melted down.