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Suntour Power Shifters vs. Cyclone Friction

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Suntour Power Shifters vs. Cyclone Friction

Old 07-31-19, 06:10 PM
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Kilroy1988 
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Suntour Power Shifters vs. Cyclone Friction

I've got a bike I'm rebuilding that had first-generation Suntour Cyclone shifters on it. These were well-known due to their extremely light weight (~60g) and are quite handsome... However, I really enjoy using Suntour ratching Power Shifters and have had great experience with their reliability in the past. I have a set sitting here that I can substitute for the Cyclone if it seems logical. So there's my question?

I'm looking to build something reliable but I'm also intrigued by the Cyclone. Is it worth trying them out, or were they crap for some reason or another?

-Gregory

(p.s. Yes, I know the proper way to tighten the Cyclone shifter band onto the down tube without tightening the actual shifters... I read quite a bit of controversy about that!)
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Old 07-31-19, 06:57 PM
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Depends on the bike. I wouldn't be mounting the bulky ratcheting shifters on a racing frame.
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Old 07-31-19, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
Depends on the bike. I wouldn't be mounting the bulky ratcheting shifters on a racing frame.
VeloBase.com - Component: SunTour LD-1500 Power Shifter

Just in case we aren't on the same page, I'm talking about these... Still lightweight and competitive down tube shifters, though of course they're a good 20-40 grams heavier than the best stuff that was available at the time.


Last edited by Kilroy1988; 07-31-19 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 07-31-19, 07:29 PM
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The Cyclone DT shifters I had slipped unless the tension was really dialed up. The power ratchets, though heavier and less "slick" looking, worked with less effort- as you found very reliably.
The Cyclone derailleur was a quick and smooth mechanism. Absolutely one of the best in its day. I think they compare favorably to more modern derailleurs that copied Suntour's patented Slant Parallelogram design, after the patent expired. With a Shimano style ramped freewheel, they are still pretty quick. The front Mechanism wasn't as much of a standout in performance as the rear, though they worked reliably, as well.
You really should try it out. If someone could find a way to re-create the float of the jockey pulley of a Shimano Centron jockey, I suspect it could be indexed to a 7 or 8 speed Shimano styled cog set successfully.
BITD, a Cyclone was a real performance upgrade for short money.
Of course the coolest DT shifters for the era were the Simplex"Retrofriction"; they had a similar look to drillium-esque style of the Cyclone, but more of a tear drop shape than the rectangular cutouts of the Cyclone set.

Last edited by elcraft; 07-31-19 at 07:36 PM. Reason: Spelling etc.
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Old 07-31-19, 07:36 PM
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@elcraft

Interesting! Thanks for the remarks... I had first generation Cyclone front and rear derailleurs on a Centurion Pro Tour but that had bar-end shifters, which I don't care for much simply for ergonomic reasons, so I never really got to appreciate the shifting as much as I would have liked to before that bicycle was involved in an accident and totaled. As far as the Cyclone shifters slipping is concerned, the frame I'm working with has a little "pip" to hold the band in place, so I'm not too worried about it slipping unless if I really botch the setup!

I will be pairing either shifter to a VX-GT rear and Compe-V front derailleur for this particular build.

And yes, I have a full set of first-generation Simplex Super LJ derailleurs and retro-friction shifters on a bike that I've set aside until I can overhaul the bearings throughout... During the little time that I did ride it it was a real joy to shift!

-Gregory
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Old 07-31-19, 07:43 PM
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I wasn't referring to the clamp strip slipping, but rather that the lever position would slip and allowing the the derailleur to move the chain to a smaller cog. The Cyclone lever band was a special,"no clamping bolt" design.
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Old 07-31-19, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by elcraft View Post
I wasn't referring to the clamp strip slipping, but rather that the lever position would slip and allowing the the derailleur to move the chain to a smaller cog. The Cyclone lever band was a special,"no clamping bolt" design.
Oh, yeah, that can be incredibly annoying... I have the same thing happen from time to time with my old Gran Sport derailleurs. If that's the consensus about how the Cyclone shifters function, then I certainly won't be giving them a try anytime soon! When I think Suntour I think reliability - otherwise I'd just ride Campy and look pretty while doing so!

-Gregory
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Old 07-31-19, 08:27 PM
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I raced a '76 Fuji Pro that came with Cyclone derailleurs and Power shifters. Easily the best shifting race bike of the day. The FDs weren't special as noted above but they worked just fine on the 50-something-42 cranksets that everybody used and weighed nothing, (The rear didn't weigh very much either.)

I now have the Superbe shifters on my best bike; the later model that sits on top of the downtube. Friction but sweet. Love it for one handed double shifts. Use the Power shifters for my other (sometimes two) bike(s).

Ben
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Old 07-31-19, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
Depends on the bike. I wouldn't be mounting the bulky ratcheting shifters on a racing frame.
Actually the Cyclone shifters, if we're talking about these...

...are much bulkier in appearance than the Power Shift levers. As for the rest, my experience was that the 1st-gen Cyclones tended to loosen fairly quickly through normal use, so I reached for that D-ring far more on these than any other shifter I've run. Also, see the paint on that braze-on clamp stop, all nice and pristine? The clamp did a number on it, as you'll see in a moment. Somebody told me they got a reputation as "paint shredders" way-back-when, but it sounds like the OP knows something about that so it could be user error on my part. Dunno.

For the record, I'm a huge Suntour fan and don't like speaking ill of their stuff, so I'm gonna finish on a positive note. I now run these shifters instead...

...also Cyclone, but second generation. Function is far superior and I think they look better too.

And finally, here's a detail shot of the new-and-improved paint on that braze-on. Sigh.
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Old 07-31-19, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Fahrenheit531 View Post
Actually the Cyclone shifters, if we're talking about these...



...are much bulkier in appearance than the Power Shift levers.
Those are "much bulkier" than the power shifters?

I disagree. They look more simple and light. And by "bulky" ealier, I also meant clunky looking. I realize the power shifters work really well, but I don't think they look right on a sleek racing bike.

ymmv.
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Old 07-31-19, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
Those are "much bulkier" than the power shifters?

I disagree. They look more simple and light. And by "bulky" ealier, I also meant clunky looking. I realize the power shifters work really well, but I don't think they look right on a sleek racing bike.

ymmv.
I'm looking at the size of the pivot (or whatever we'd call it) portion of the assembly. Each is as wide as the downtube itself, and I consider that "bulky looking" even though they're exceptionally light. I'm not a fan of the Power Shifter either, aesthetically speaking, and would certainly agree they're bulky-looking in their way.
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Old 07-31-19, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
Those are "much bulkier" than the power shifters?

I disagree. They look more simple and light. And by "bulky" ealier, I also meant clunky looking. I realize the power shifters work really well, but I don't think they look right on a sleek racing bike.

ymmv.
A reasonable perspective if all you're worried about is aesthetics but I'm talking about functionality. In any case, if I were concerned about building a "racing bike" then I'd be using components about thirty years newer than this stuff. Also, if speed was actually my top priority then reliability would trump a sleek look any day!
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Old 07-31-19, 10:16 PM
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In other words, I'm asking this question because I'm concerned about how well the Cyclone shifters perform compared to the Power Shifters, and to figure out if the weight savings might make up for any slight disadvantage. The aesthetics hardly concern me. I want to ride this bike, not just look at it.

Simply based on the replies so far I've already installed the Power Shifters and the question is put to rest in my mind. Thank you!

Last edited by Kilroy1988; 07-31-19 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 08-01-19, 12:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
A reasonable perspective if all you're worried about is aesthetics but I'm talking about functionality. In any case, if I were concerned about building a "racing bike" then I'd be using components about thirty years newer than this stuff. Also, if speed was actually my top priority then reliability would trump a sleek look any day!
Sorry, I'm always in period correct/vintage mode. And I expect all my downtube shifters to work well. My faves are Triomphe with Campy Super Record and a 7-speed freewheel.

I do like the ratcheting ... on the right bike. The Suntour barcons appeal a lot more to me. I recently overhauled the power shifters and was amazed at what I remember to be about 40 pieces. They were on a nice Crescent. Part of the problem (if I have one) is they usually come to me on sort of a lower mid-level bike.
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Old 08-01-19, 04:08 AM
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Originally Posted by elcraft View Post
If someone could find a way to re-create the float of the jockey pulley of a Shimano Centron jockey, I suspect it could be indexed to a 7 or 8 speed Shimano styled cog set successfully.
I don't know about the Cyclone, but I've done just this with the V series RD, both long and short cage. Indexes like a charm.

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Old 08-01-19, 04:53 AM
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Though not absolutely positive, I think that I have used just about every Suntour down tube shifter available in the old days. Of them all, nothing compares to the Power Shifter. It looks great (an opinion of mine), it feels very positive, when shifting and not one time has the shifter ever slipped. I like them so much that I converted a set of down tube Power Shifters to handle bar mounted thumb shifters, once again being allowed to feel totally confident in what I had and that it would serve me well...
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Old 08-01-19, 05:42 AM
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I've always enjoyed Power Shifters. Their action is similar to the Bar Con shifters. Very positive, and the shifter friction resistance is set by a flat screw that holds its setting well. Which leads to the Cyclone shifters...although they are finer in appearance, they don't work as well. The thumb screw tension adjustment never seems to hold properly. They become fiddly and, if you ignore tension, at some point you'll get an unexpected shift. I have found them annoying.

My vote: Power Shifters despite their clunky appearance.
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Old 08-01-19, 06:34 AM
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My beloved 1976 Puch Royal X shipped from the factory with Power Ratchet downtube shifters mated to SunTour Cyclone front and rear derailleurs. Now that I am running a hybridized Cyclone rear with a VXs cage (thanks jeirvine!) it shifts flawlessly over the 6-speed SunTour Ultra 13-28 freewheel. I also (heresy!) use a set of these shifters to operate a set of Campagnolo NR derailleurs on my Allegro, initially because I had no Campy shifters, but now because it works very well.

By comparison, I also had trouble on the bike I had for a while with the original Cyclone shifters and thought they were more than a little fiddly and loosened up more than I would have liked.
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Old 08-01-19, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
Sorry, I'm always in period correct/vintage mode. And I expect all my downtube shifters to work well. My faves are Triomphe with Campy Super Record and a 7-speed freewheel.

I do like the ratcheting ... on the right bike. The Suntour barcons appeal a lot more to me. I recently overhauled the power shifters and was amazed at what I remember to be about 40 pieces. They were on a nice Crescent. Part of the problem (if I have one) is they usually come to me on sort of a lower mid-level bike.
My first set was on a Raleigh Super Course 12, which was definitely a mid-level bike. I suppose I'm a bit nostalgic about their utter reliability because of that bike, which I rode for thousands of miles before moving onto other things.

This particular build is not period-correct at all. I'm restoring my uncle's 1972 Raleigh Professional, which he rode for almost twenty years, and which has parts on it dating between the 1960s and early '90s. He was clearly obsessed with weight savings and not as much about reliability, and had the Cyclone shifters set up. I reckoned I should ask about their performance before sticking them back on the bike and am glad I did!

And I never simply expect my down tube shifters to work well, though at one point I might have. After watching a 1949 Simplex shifter break off of its mounting band during a shift under duress and slip multiple times besides, and then having slipping problems time and again with some 1960s Campagnolo Gran Sport shifters, etc... I've learned to appreciate the better options in life. Even my second generation Cyclone shifters, which I think were great, required some attention now and then to keep things straight. Reviews and real life experience reveal that not all shifters are created equal, despite the apparent simplicity of the technology!

Hence my question.

-Gregory

Last edited by Kilroy1988; 08-01-19 at 07:04 AM.
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Old 08-01-19, 07:11 AM
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I actually really like the Power Shifters. Yes, they look clunky, but they work well.
I have Retrofriction shifters on one bike. The action is great, but I am always taken aback by how far the lever needs to move to make a shift. Maybe I just need to ride that bike more often.
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Old 08-01-19, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa View Post
...by "bulky" ealier, I also meant clunky looking. I realize the power shifters work really well, but I don't think they look right on a sleek racing bike.

ymmv.
Originally Posted by Kilroy1988 View Post
A reasonable perspective if all you're worried about is aesthetics but I'm talking about functionality. In any case, if I were concerned about building a "racing bike" then I'd be using components about thirty years newer than this stuff. Also, if speed was actually my top priority then reliability would trump a sleek look any day!
I'll tell you what doesn't look right on a sleek racing bike... BRIFTERS!!
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Old 08-01-19, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by old's'cool View Post
I'll tell you what doesn't look right on a sleek racing bike... BRIFTERS!!
Yeah, I've actually only ever had them on my newer carbon or steel frames with oversized tubing. I don't know if I'll ever be able to completely appreciate the look of brifters attached to slender alloy bars on a classic steel frame, but I've certainly seen many bikes with that setup that look good. Our "Retro Roadies" thread is full of them.

-Gregory
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