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Yet another Suntour/Shimano compatibility issue!

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Yet another Suntour/Shimano compatibility issue!

Old 02-06-19, 06:19 PM
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Yet another Suntour/Shimano compatibility issue!

tried to search this but I am hoping to get confirmation on my specific situation before I purchase any parts.

Picked up a Trek 1000 (1989 ish) for cheap on CL. Confusing mix of parts came on the bike:

105 downtube shifters, rear is indexed 6sp
deore Derailers front and rear
shimano Mountain LX crankset
whelset is matrix hubs, mavic rims, with a 6sp suntour freewheel.
Sachs 6sp chain

After tuneup Bike shifted poorly so I replaced the deore RD with an extra 105 RD I had (used but probably less than 10yrs old)

same shifting issue so I tried a brand new 6/7sp chain, didnt help.

Iím thinking itís a cog spacing issue and my cheapest recourse to a road-ready bike is to replace the suntour freewheel with a shimano one. Anyone have any other ideas?

i should say that Iím an experienced mechanic and at my witís end on this one.

Thanks all!


Last edited by nbrinto; 02-06-19 at 06:20 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 02-06-19, 06:23 PM
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Well if you're running 6sp indexed shifters and a RD less than 10yrs old, wouldn't the indexing be different? I thought only 7, 8, and 9sp had the same RD travel and could exchange shifters?
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Old 02-06-19, 06:35 PM
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It is a cog spacing issue, for index stuff suntour is different than shimano. However, the difference is quite small, and it should shift "ok".

But you have to use 6 speed shifters and RD for it to work.

I'm pretty sure about this, can anyone else chime in?
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Old 02-06-19, 07:39 PM
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Shimano and Suntour 6 speed is the same.

Shimano had better designed cog teeth, chains indexing systems... But if it doesn't shift well it's because of the cog teeth- the spacing is the same- for 6 speed.
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Old 02-06-19, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speed
Well if you're running 6sp indexed shifters and a RD less than 10yrs old, wouldn't the indexing be different? I thought only 7, 8, and 9sp had the same RD travel and could exchange shifters?
The pull ratio is the same except for Dura Ace and Shadow derailleurs: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/dura-ace.html
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Old 02-06-19, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speed
Well if you're running 6sp indexed shifters and a RD less than 10yrs old, wouldn't the indexing be different? I thought only 7, 8, and 9sp had the same RD travel and could exchange shifters?
yea I was wondering about this too... normally Iím confident generally keeping shimano/ shimano and sram/ sram together to avoid compatibility issues. However it did cross my mind that shimanoís cable pull distance may have changed since 1989.

Anyone weigh in?
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Old 02-06-19, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy
Shimano and Suntour standard 6 speed is the same.
Minor fify.

Standard Suntour 6 speed = Shimano 6 speed.
This has been repeated so many times. it should be a sticky. Only 7-8 speed Suntour and 6 speed Suntour Ultra are not compatible with Shimano indexing with because of cog spacing.

Look for other problems with drivetrain.
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Old 02-06-19, 08:43 PM
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I've run across older Suntour 6-speed freewheels with cog spacing a bit wider than standard, not sure if someone built them up that way in a small shop setting, but again I've seen more than one.
Similarly, there are a lot of Ultra-6 freewheels out there, many sold as OEM.

Make sure the cable is routed through the groove in the arm at the anchor bolt, it's a common source of indexing error to have the cable not in the groove.
Some lower-end models have the groove in the bent washer, which must be correctly positioned. The 105 indexed model is not one of them however.

Lubricate the shifter internally, and make sure it's a six-speed (five clicks from low to hi). Be sure the cable path is entirely smooth.

A Suntour freewheel will not index very well with Shimano gruppos even if the cog spacing is correct.
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Old 02-06-19, 08:57 PM
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I will track down a used 6sp shimano freewheel and update the thread when I get it installed.
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Old 02-06-19, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by dddd
I've run across older Suntour 6-speed freewheels with cog spacing a bit wider than standard, not sure if someone built them up that way in a small shop setting, but again I've seen more than one.
Similarly, there are a lot of Ultra-6 freewheels out there, many sold as OEM.

Make sure the cable is routed through the groove in the arm at the anchor bolt, it's a common source of indexing error to have the cable not in the groove.
Some lower-end models have the groove in the bent washer, which must be correctly positioned. The 105 indexed model is not one of them however.
same issue with 2 different Derailers installed so fairly confident it isnít the derailer installation.
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Old 02-06-19, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by nbrinto
I will track down a used 6sp shimano freewheel and update the thread when I get it installed.
Will a modern 6spd shimano freewheel not work?
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Old 02-06-19, 11:33 PM
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^ Should. And they're "a dime a dozen." A new one with a modern cog ramp profile will probably shift best.
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Old 02-07-19, 05:49 AM
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[MENTION=202487]nbrinto[/MENTION] I don't believe anyone has asked, but could your Suntour freewheel be Ultra/narrow spaced? Did you try switching the RD shifter to friction to compare the shifting?
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Old 02-07-19, 06:09 AM
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Make sure those sfifters are 6-speed (5 clicks). A sevev-speed sfifter will click 6 times.

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Old 02-08-19, 03:00 PM
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Seems like the Suntour freewheel was likely a Suntour Ultra, because I got a 6sp shimano freewheel (used, $5) and that cleaned the shifting right up.
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Old 02-08-19, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by dddd
Similarly, there are a lot of Ultra-6 freewheels out there, many sold as OEM.
And those Ultra spaced freewheels are always hard to find when you're looking for one...
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Old 02-09-19, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by nbrinto
Seems like the Suntour freewheel was likely a Suntour Ultra, because I got a 6sp shimano freewheel (used, $5) and that cleaned the shifting right up....
Excellent! I had guessed correctly. Which model Suntour freewheel was installed? Perfect, ProCompe, or one of the Winner series?
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Old 02-09-19, 07:40 AM
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I love the picture of the bike as I bought its twin new in 1989. Rode it a lot of miles. Still have slightly newer 1100 in the garage. Black with blue letters. instead of pink. Same bike with a triple crank set. Roger
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Old 02-09-19, 08:59 AM
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I had a gal just starting to learn wrenching in the co-op with shifting issues. Turned out she had a 6s freewheel and 7s shifters. Swapping the proper FW in helped a lot Had another Shimano indexing issue with a bike and it turned out it was a Suntour FW with different spacing throughout the FW. We just let it go friction. In my experience, Suntour is best for friction - they did it realy well.
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Old 02-28-19, 02:45 PM
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This is why I set up in friction mode, I really do need to try and get a 6 speed indexing set up to work sometime but setting up in friction mode with a mix up of parts/eras/manufacturers seems to work more often than not. Could be I'm lazy
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