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Good, reliable friction FD to replace Suntour Superbe Pro?

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Good, reliable friction FD to replace Suntour Superbe Pro?

Old 12-25-19, 04:42 PM
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Good, reliable friction FD to replace Suntour Superbe Pro?

I've got an 80s Schwinn lightweight that I've been using as a touring rig for a couple years now. It still has most of the original suntour superbe pro components. Last year I accidentally stripped out the cable clamp on the FD and decided to grab a used one on ebay. Its a circa 1985 superbe pro friction FD with the built-on clamp. Looked to be in great condition but must have been well used because on a recent ride I snapped it right in half, classic fatigue.

So I'm wondering since it's primarily a touring bike now, I want something a little more reliable and don't want to shell out for such an expensive vintage part. What FD models should I look out for? I definitely am sticking with friction.
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Old 12-25-19, 04:50 PM
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My +1 for Suntour ARx or Suntour Cyclone FD. Both really light and good for a 3 ring crankset/touring.
I've read the Suntour Mountech FD is also just as good.
Between those three I think you're set.
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Old 12-25-19, 04:56 PM
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Seeing how the Superbe Pro is rated for a relatively small max ring difference (14t) between large & small chainrings:

Superb Pro FD: VeloBase

...and assuming yours picked up, moved, and dropped the chain efficiently with across your front gears, it seems that you could choose from many front derailleurs. Perhaps a Cyclone, ARx, Blue Line (BL), etc.

Last edited by deux jambes; 12-26-19 at 01:18 AM.
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Old 12-25-19, 11:33 PM
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Are there any brand new FD models that would be compatible? Honestly I'm really hesitant to buy 30+ year old, used aluminum components, after snapping that FD... thankfully I was close to home. And jeez all the suntour models I'm seing on ebay are surprisingly highly valued even used, not to mention the NOS stuff...

For touring I've been popping off the double 53/42 and using double 42/34 crankset which has been fine, I haven't had a need for a triple, but maybe when I'm a bit older I'd appreciate it.
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Old 12-25-19, 11:56 PM
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Isn't pretty much any FD "friction compatible"?
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Old 12-26-19, 07:39 AM
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Any reason not to go with a new Shimano claris, either double or triple? I've got the bike set up 8 speed at the moment, but could possibly do sora if there's a significant increase in quality?
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Old 12-26-19, 09:36 AM
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My vote is for a Suntour Spirt. In addition to rock solid dependability, it also has reverse-pull action. This means both shifters move in the same direction as each other when up-shifting or down-shifting. Oh, and they're usually inexpensive.
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Old 12-26-19, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Isn't pretty much any FD "friction compatible"?
Important point! Today front mechs are differentiated by cage design (aside from clamp versus braze). Cages are specialized for old-school racing doubles, triples, small main chainring (compact), wide range (also an aspect of compact, and ... weight (steel cage, aluminum cage, carbon cage.)

All these different shapes improve the shifting speed and consistency within their intended application. So tell us more about your crankset, and maybe a picture or two.

But this differentiation comes from index shifting. Derailleurs from the friction age may or may not shift as well, but they are often very good and can even be repairable.

I might suggest you look for a used and not gorgeous Campagnolo Nuovo Record, from the second half of the '70s - not costly, design improvements implemented, and all the little adjuster screws still in place and original. The cages are steel and the bodies and linkages are aluminum. If you make sure to start the adjuster screws slowly and carefully you won't trip out the aluminum holes. It's a practical, versatile design that just works in a lot of situations. I'm surprised that you are breaking Shimano product. The only front mech I know that was actually fragile was the Huret Jubilee - I broke one. FWIW, some early lower-line Huret derailleurs worked quite well and are in a sense repairable since they are steel and can be disassembled and bent back into shape (consider this a cheapskate hot tip!!!). Also if you dig around on the Internet there is a surprising variety of parts and bits available.

Oil the little pivot points and the points the springs bear on.
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Old 12-26-19, 12:20 PM
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Shimano 6207: the workhorse FD. Shifts nicely in friction on any chain ring I've ever used. As reliable as a stone and inexpensive.

Or if something new/more modern is desired, Shimano CT70 or CT50.

Or, as others have mentioned, literally any common modern-ish FD will do the trick; many of the Shimano FD's introduced in the last fifteen or twenty years are still available as new old stock.
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Old 12-26-19, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
Important point! Today front mechs are differentiated by cage design (aside from clamp versus braze). Cages are specialized for old-school racing doubles, triples, small main chainring (compact), wide range (also an aspect of compact, and ... weight (steel cage, aluminum cage, carbon cage.)

All these different shapes improve the shifting speed and consistency within their intended application. So tell us more about your crankset, and maybe a picture or two.

But this differentiation comes from index shifting. Derailleurs from the friction age may or may not shift as well, but they are often very good and can even be repairable.

I might suggest you look for a used and not gorgeous Campagnolo Nuovo Record, from the second half of the '70s - not costly, design improvements implemented, and all the little adjuster screws still in place and original. The cages are steel and the bodies and linkages are aluminum. If you make sure to start the adjuster screws slowly and carefully you won't trip out the aluminum holes. It's a practical, versatile design that just works in a lot of situations. I'm surprised that you are breaking Shimano product. The only front mech I know that was actually fragile was the Huret Jubilee - I broke one. FWIW, some early lower-line Huret derailleurs worked quite well and are in a sense repairable since they are steel and can be disassembled and bent back into shape (consider this a cheapskate hot tip!!!). Also if you dig around on the Internet there is a surprising variety of parts and bits available.

Oil the little pivot points and the points the springs bear on.
Yea I think the failure was partially my fault, bike was in the garage for a while and I got excited about the unseasonably warm weather and did a hard ride, and was headed into a downhill and did a really hard shift. The garage time and cooler temps probably left the pivots a bit sticky. It snapped just below the pin that holds the cable arm onto the main body.

But for a tour I need something that can take a beating. I switch between the original superbe pro 53/42 crankset and a random 42/34 crankset I put together depending on what I'm doing. It's possible one day I'll want a triple, no immediate plans.

I just don't know about the used stuff, it can be pretty hard to tell how much use they have and aluminum will eventually have fatigue failures.
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Old 12-26-19, 02:08 PM
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That's not really very common at all for an alloy FD to break, though I have seen a Simplex FD and a Jubilee FD break their hinged end off of their clamp plates, likely just from heavy tightening.

The Cyclone is really solid, yet really light. I used one for two years on an mtb with a triple, it even indexed properly using a Rapidfire-plus shifter. My range was 34-52t in front and 13-34t in back, it had no problem handling that.
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Old 12-26-19, 02:28 PM
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The Suntour Mountech is a fantastic derailleur and recommend it, especially for a triple. The Cyclone is another super well built derailleur, but have never used it on a triple. The Blueline is a great derailleur and I used it on a commuter for 10 years with a double. Never used it with a triple. One thing to note, the Blueline I was using seemed to be very narrow and required constant trimming to avoid chain rub. It shifted as well as anything I have used to date, just a bit narrow.
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Old 12-26-19, 07:58 PM
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Any opinions on some 90s models -- Shimano RX100 / FD-1055 or Suntour GPX? Found on ebay within my price range.
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Old 12-26-19, 08:17 PM
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Randybb,
I went to the co-op tonight and found a good Suntour Vx that needs a bit of cleaning. Not the Suberbe stuff but a very service-able FD that is mostly steel and will take a beating. Lemme know if it is something you might want. Smiles, MH
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Old 12-26-19, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Randybb View Post
Are there any brand new FD models that would be compatible? Honestly I'm really hesitant to buy 30+ year old, used aluminum components, after snapping that FD... thankfully I was close to home. And jeez all the suntour models I'm seing on ebay are surprisingly highly valued even used, not to mention the NOS stuff...

For touring I've been popping off the double 53/42 and using double 42/34 crankset which has been fine, I haven't had a need for a triple, but maybe when I'm a bit older I'd appreciate it.
The problem with the modern triples is the sculpting on the cage is meant to pick up the chain for a given chain ring size with rings that are ramped and pinned for the specific system they're designed for. I ran into this problem by using a Dura Ace triple FD, even after changing ring sizes, the plate would just skid across the chain, and most of the time not move it.

Here's the relevant posts from the thread of my rebuild:

The Golden Boy's Trek 720 Re-Re-Re-Rebuild

The Golden Boy's Trek 720 Re-Re-Re-Rebuild

The Golden Boy's Trek 720 Re-Re-Re-Rebuild

(if it hasn't been said enough- I hate PeeBucket)


My suggestion- if you're going with a mid 80s Schwinn with Suntour "racing" stuff on it... I'd get an MII Cyclone. I used that on my 720 with a half-step and a granny crank setup- it was the cat's pyjamas. Those FDs work across an incredible range- on both doubles and triples- and they do so without complaining and they're as at home on a racing bike as a tourer- I suppose you could even use them on ATBs. It's a good looking, graceful unit that's extremely light weight, but yet durable and burly enough to get used hard.

It looks like I'm either going to have to go through my pix and re-host everything on the Flickr, or take new pix to put on the Flickr.

I hate PeeBucket.
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Old 12-26-19, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Randybb View Post
Any opinions on some 90s models -- Shimano RX100 / FD-1055 or Suntour GPX? Found on ebay within my price range.
As someone mentioned above. Shimano 600/ ultegra 7&8 speed versions are a top notch 90s part that's just sturdy. Has the little tri-color sticker and can be easy to find nos or lightly used affordably
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Old 12-26-19, 09:55 PM
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One thing about the Shimano road front derailers of the 80's/90's period is that some don't like large rear cogs. I've used a couple of these where the chain rubbed on the front derailer cage upper "bridge" when the largest cog was used, so one must acknowledge their gruppo's suggested "largest cog" rating for reasons other than rear derailer performance!

As others have mentioned, their triple front derailers at some point in time (certainly at least from 9s onward) became extremely sensitive to the tooth-count difference between the largest cog and the middle cog of a triple, since it is the largest cog that defines the cage height, and the cage profile features have bold steps that must be positioned relative to where the middle ring positions the chain.
The smallest cog of a triple does not much seem to be defined by the cage, other than that, at some point, a very small inner ring may have the chain contacting the rearward "tail" bridge of the cage as smaller cogs are selected.
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Old 12-26-19, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Isn't pretty much any FD "friction compatible"?

Yeah I would have said the same a while back, however when I was assembling my SOMA one of the derailleurs I tried was an FD-5703 to get my wide range double to change gears properly, it had such a strong spring that it would not work with dura ace 10 speed bar ends . Joke you not , the derailleur would try and pull itself out of alignment on the large ring . When I went to an LX front derailleur the problem was solved, before you ask those 10 speed dura ace shifters were brand new and there was no issue. I later used the FD5703 with some brifters and it works perfectly .

Just food for thought and YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY
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Old 12-26-19, 11:03 PM
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Cyclone Mk II......
I think I came in narrow sport/racing and wide range (long cage) Sport touring/Touring configurations.

Last edited by Chombi1; 12-26-19 at 11:07 PM.
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Old 12-26-19, 11:49 PM
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Ohh yes the MkII is definitely a good option, looks very similar to the superbe but a lot cheaper. Plus if people are saying it can work with a triple that'd give me flexibility since i bet the superbe would be more constraining to gear range.
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Old 12-26-19, 11:59 PM
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I use a Cyclone with a half-step plus granny so it can handle 50 to 28 no problem. I use a 14-32 FW.

Any of those suggestions above are good.

Heed the warnings of “shaped cages” - I prefer flat cages for vintage builds. I use a flat mountech IIRC on my Stumpy with a 50/26 front chainring - not to be shifted from 26 to 50 thoughtlessly!
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Old 12-27-19, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by SamSpade1941 View Post
Yeah I would have said the same a while back, however when I was assembling my SOMA one of the derailleurs I tried was an FD-5703 to get my wide range double to change gears properly, it had such a strong spring that it would not work with dura ace 10 speed bar ends . Joke you not , the derailleur would try and pull itself out of alignment on the large ring . When I went to an LX front derailleur the problem was solved, before you ask those 10 speed dura ace shifters were brand new and there was no issue. I later used the FD5703 with some brifters and it works perfectly .

Just food for thought and YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY
You weren't imagining! The 10s road triples went to a smaller 39t middle ring that made it harder for the derailer to downshift off of the middle ring, since it was further away from the teeth. So Shimano made the return spring stronger so as to really bat the chain inward off of that 39t middle ring.
These "stronger" derailers wouldn't even work with earlier STI levers in some cases because the shifter's pawls didn't move fast enough to reliably catch the teeth on the faster-moving spool. So a downshift to the middle ring often went all the way down to the granny!
I remember replacing two consecutive levers on the same bike, thinking that the shift mechanisms were bad. I think that I finally ended up using a front derailer from the earlier RX/RSX family of parts just to have a working front derailer that would play nice with the older triple levers.

The MTB front mech's of course had longer cable travel so with less tension applied to the cable, so any lever would hold tight, and with a lighter pull needed to upshift.
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Old 12-27-19, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
You weren't imagining! The 10s road triples went to a smaller 39t middle ring that made it harder for the derailer to downshift off of the middle ring, since it was further away from the teeth. So Shimano made the return spring stronger so as to really bat the chain inward off of that 39t middle ring.
These "stronger" derailers wouldn't even work with earlier STI levers in some cases because the shifter's pawls didn't move fast enough to reliably catch the teeth on the faster-moving spool. So a downshift to the middle ring often went all the way down to the granny!
I remember replacing two consecutive levers on the same bike, thinking that the shift mechanisms were bad. I think that I finally ended up using a front derailleur from the earlier RX/RSX family of parts just to have a working front derailleur that would play nice with the older triple levers.

The MTB front mech's of course had longer cable travel so with less tension applied to the cable, so any lever would hold tight, and with a lighter pull needed to upshift.

Glad to know its not just me ... that one had me seriously questioning things which I thought was a universal truth.
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Old 12-27-19, 01:06 PM
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I assume all the "endless band" clamps are interchangeable across different suntour models? I found a great deal on a cyclone FD but it's missing the band...the one from my superbe should work yea?
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Old 12-27-19, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Randybb View Post
I assume all the "endless band" clamps are interchangeable across different suntour models? I found a great deal on a cyclone FD but it's missing the band...the one from my superbe should work yea?
Yes. The same band can be found with symmetric shifters when the frame lacks braze-ons.
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