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  1. #1
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    suntour vs. ultegra barcons

    I'm upgrading an '83 Trek 630 for touring and looking for feedback on bar end shifters. I have an old pair of Suntour barcons that I can install, but am wondering if Ultegra 8-speed might be worth the upgrade. If anyone has experience with both these options I'd like to hear about it.

    I just installed a triple, and will put on a Sram 8-speed cassette.

  2. #2
    Acetone Man
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    I used to think Suntour barcons were the mutts nuts. They came on the first quality bike I bought and I loved the tactile feel of cupping them in my palm, zipping them out with my pinkie. I still use, and like them, but now on my touring bike it's all about the Kelly Takeoffs. They are awesome. I run 8 speed 105 downtube shifters on them, modern ones, with a clutch on the front shifter to equalize shifting efforts. Shimano downtube shifters didn't get the clutch until the 90s, probably right after some applicable Simplex patent expired.

    Read all abouts:
    Kelly Take Offs Takeoffs Take-Offs

    I've got two pairs of the power ratchets, one of which is still in daily use. I like them enough that it was never worth it to me to upgrade to indexed barends. When the Takeoffs showed up at the co-op, I got them to put on the touring bike, on a provisional basis... and never looked back. Worth every penny.

  3. #3
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    Which Suntour bar-cons are you talking about? Their older friction only ones, which you can find easily on ebay? Or the more scarce indexed ones (which I believe came in either 6 or 7 speed, and maybe even an 8 speed version). I had some suntour indexed bar-cons on a tandem I owned for years. They worked flawlessly--every bit as good as the shimano ultegra bar-cons. Mine were 7 speed, with an option to switch them to friction mode.

    Can't speak about the friction only bar-cons though.

    Rich

  4. #4
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    I'd stick to the Suntour barcons...because you already own them! Dia Compe is currently making very nice friction shifters, so friction is here to stay. I've paired old friction shifters with new derailers and had very good luck.

  5. #5
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    I picked up the Suntours from Craigslist for $20. Not bad. So in addition to the old Trek that I'm outfitting for touring, I'm also upgrading another old fixer (Raleigh Grand Prix) for local/city use. I leave the Raliegh at my parents home in VA, across the country from where I live in Oregon. I've decided to install the Suntour barcons on that bike. I had a set of Suntours on an old Takara touring bike and loved them. They served me well on a cross country tour in the late 70s, so really appreciate that smooth pinkie shifting. Unfortunately I no longer have that bike.

    Question: How can you tell if the Suntour barcons are indexed or the standard friction? Both shifters have a ratcheting sound as you move shifter up. Does the ratcheting mean they're indexed? Also, since I haven't installed them I can't tell if they'll work in 7 or 8 speeds.

    Thasiet, thanks for the link on the Kelly takeoffs. Looks interesting, but not for me.

  6. #6
    Acetone Man
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    saibiker, you have the friction shifters. The ratcheting sound is the Power Ratchet which makes friction shifting tolerable. Without either a ratchet, or the clutch design used by old Simplex retrofriction and later Shimano shifters, friction is a PITA because it tends to slip while shifting against the spring. The suntour friction barcons, on the other hand, work extremely well because the ratchet prevents this slipping while shifting against the spring. Clutch shifters accomplish the same goal but are smoother.

    Friction shifters will work with any number of speeds, and with any rear derailleur you can find. The precision of friction shifting is primarily determined by the amount of slop and resistance in the system. So if you're going to use your barcons with an 8 speed cluster, you would do well to consider splurging on a high quality teflon/sealed/etc. cable and housing system. A snappy rear derailleur with minimum slop also helps a lot.

  7. #7
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    I'd stick to 8 cogs with friction shifting. 8 speed cassettes have as much range as the 9 and 10 speed ones and have more space between cogs (helpful with friction shifters).

    and Thasiet is right--- good cables help ANY shifters

  8. #8
    Junior Member
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    Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely go for upgrading the cables when I install the barcons.

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