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Suntour Derailleurs?

Old 11-28-20, 08:55 PM
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Suntour Derailleurs?

I heard that these were more common in the 70's. What happened? What caused Shimano to overtake the brand?

I got a Suntour 7 GT rear derailleur and Suntour 7 front. They have been very reliable (original equipment on my 40 year old bike).

my understanding is that the newer stuff simply does not compare in terms of quality.

Who still uses Suntour derailleurs? Thoughts on them?
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Old 11-28-20, 09:02 PM
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Suntour is (ahem, was) great, and you'll find many fans around here. I'm partial to Cyclone myself.

Short version of their demise, as I understand it, is Shimano beat them to the indexed shifting punch and that was pretty much that. There are others around here that could write a book on the subject, and if you search past threads you'll probably find that book already written one post at a time. But yeah, that derailleur will likely outlive you and me both. And then the next generation will post another question much like yours. In the meantime, enjoy!
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Old 11-28-20, 09:15 PM
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SunTour was the most popular brand of derailleur on bicycles sold in the USA for about a 10 year period, from 1975 to 1985. They had to the forefront with good performing, value oriented derailleurs, when the Europeans could supply the demand during the peak years of the early 1970s bicycle boom. Then, Shimano perfected index shifting with SIS in 1985 on Dura-Ace and trickled it down to the mid-range and entry levels in 1986. It was a huge marketing success, allowing Shimano to surpass SunTour. SunTour rushed their index system, Accushift, to market in 1987 but it was inferior to SIS and SunTour's reputation took a huge hit from which they never recovered. Shimano followed SIS with other shifting improvements including Hyperglide and STi which allowed them to further increase their popularity over other derailleur manufacturers. Game over for SunTour. For more background and details, read Sunset for SunTour ,

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Old 11-28-20, 09:15 PM
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I've never had a bad Suntour derailleur. Even the Honor works great. Cyclone is sweet.

Plenty of the modern stuff doesn't lack for quality, though. Lots of great parts out there.
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Old 11-28-20, 09:41 PM
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it was sheldon brown's opinion that after a point anything shimano made/makes was/is better than anything suntour ever made. he was......opinionated maybe he means at the point at which shimano adopted the slant parallelogram
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Old 11-28-20, 10:23 PM
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The demise of SunTour started with the expiration of the slant parallelogram design. High quality index shifting was the killer blow.

At the time, Shimano was a much larger company than SunTour, it was a David vs Goliath situation.

Hearing Jim Merz tell the story of how he was working with Shimano right around that time was quite enlightening.
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Old 11-28-20, 10:34 PM
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Suntour held the patent on the slanted parallelogram derailleur design. As soon as their patent expired, Shimano adopted the design and surged ahead of everybody else. Shimano’s successful SIS indexing system and their ramped cog designs were the game changer. The first generation Cyclone was a masterpiece; cold forged , well finished and shockingly inexpensive for its quality. Suntour was the inexpensive upgrade that you could do to any bike, particularly entry level and mid tier and see instant performance improvement.
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Old 11-28-20, 11:21 PM
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Many surviving British and French entry-level 10-speeds from the early 70s are found with SunTour rear derailleurs that have replaced a long-gone Simplex Prestige. In the part of Virginia where I started cycling the V-GT Luxe was the standard replacement mech. They just work and they were cheap at the time!
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Old 11-28-20, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
Many surviving British and French entry-level 10-speeds from the early 70s are found with SunTour rear derailleurs that have replaced a long-gone Simplex Prestige. In the part of Virginia where I started cycling the V-GT Luxe was the standard replacement mech. They just work and they were cheap at the time!
Exactamente

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Old 11-29-20, 07:28 AM
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I've heard that many of suntours offering are good quality and perform similar from low end all the way to mid range. No doubts that this derailer can easily last a lifetime, and then some... with minimal maintenance too.

Although mine is the lowest end which was available, im super happy with mine. Shifts with the friction shifter are very satisfying mechanical and extremely positive when shifting under load. Its also quite smooth and I've noticed that the derailer is very easy to adjust, too.

The front derailer seems to also be particularly smooth and responsive. I would never change them out for anything else.

Anyone know anything about Sugino cranks? How do my low end IDOLS compare to their higher end offering? (I have since then upgraded to shimano Biopace and am very happy with them.
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Old 11-29-20, 07:47 AM
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If you really want a detailed history of SunTour derailleurs and Suntour itself, read this from Frank Berto.

Sunset for SunTour.

https://web.archive.org/web/20081205...and/page35.htm
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Old 11-29-20, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
I heard that these were more common in the 70's. What happened? What caused Shimano to overtake the brand?
SunTour's great innovation was the "slant pantograph" rear derailleur, which allowed the pulleys to closely follow the profile of the sprocket cluster, which resulted in uniformly smooth, fast, and reliable shifting. SunTour's patent on the slant pantograph expired in the mid-80s, and Shimano immediately incorporated it into their own derailleurs (today, almost all rear derailleur use a slant pantograph). The new Shimano derailleur also featured the "Shimano Index System" (aka "SIS"), the first really reliable indexed shifting system. Shimano heavily marketed this system to OEMs and consumers, and required that OEMs wanting to spec SIS in their products to spec a fully Shimano drive train. This destroyed not only SunTour's slice of the market, but many European component manufacturers as well. Shimano came out on top, and the rest of the component manufacturers either went out of business (SunTour, Simplex), were bought out by other companies (Sachs/Huret), or shed a large portion of their product line (Campagnolo) in order to stay afloat.
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Old 11-29-20, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
I've heard that many of suntours offering are good quality and perform similar from low end all the way to mid range. No doubts that this derailer can easily last a lifetime, and then some... with minimal maintenance too.

Although mine is the lowest end which was available, im super happy with mine. Shifts with the friction shifter are very satisfying mechanical and extremely positive when shifting under load. Its also quite smooth and I've noticed that the derailer is very easy to adjust, too.

The front derailer seems to also be particularly smooth and responsive. I would never change them out for anything else.

Anyone know anything about Sugino cranks? How do my low end IDOLS compare to their higher end offering? (I have since then upgraded to shimano Biopace and am very happy with them.
I think there were SunTour units that were less expensive than the 7. It's all in the amount of steel and the weight- but they all shift excellent.

There's something very positive about the burliness of the extra weight in something like a V-GT Luxe vs something like a Cyclone MII GT on a touring bike. I had an MII on my Trek 720 for 2 weeks or so, yes, it shifted great- but I couldn't get over how minimal it was. It's funny because I used a first generation Cyclone on the Voyageur SP, and probably on my 720 as well, but I think the Cyclone MII still felt lighter than I was comfortable with.

I really like a lot of the mid 80s and later upper level SunTour stuff- Superbe Pro, Sprint, XC, XC Pro, XC Comp...

As far as Sugino goes- they had models from entry level to the best...
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Old 11-29-20, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
"I'm gonna take that bike."
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Old 11-29-20, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
I think there were SunTour units that were less expensive than the 7. It's all in the amount of steel and the weight- but they all shift excellent.
Yes, the "Honor" and the "Skitter" had a lower price point than the "Seven." But as you note, shifting performance was uniformly excellent across the product line.
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Old 11-29-20, 02:50 PM
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All the reasons stated are correct as factors. Another is that SunTour figured out how to make stuff that worked as well as the top end stuff and produce it cheaply. You could argue that they undercharged. Some saw the prices and assumed it couldn't be as good as the high end stuff. That can actually kill a company. This wasn't the only thing that killed it, but it was a factor in my view.

I've seen more Cyclone derailleurs fail than the V-GT and VX-GT so I prefer those.

Their quality control was as good as with the high end stuff. Really good. I can't remember any defects at all. This was during the period when Japan had adopted a philosophy of quality from an American innovator (whose name I've forgotten) and implemented it better than any other country.
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Old 11-29-20, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
This was during the period when Japan had adopted a philosophy of quality from an American innovator (whose name I've forgotten) and implemented it better than any other country.
Name:

W. Edwards Deming - Wiki

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming
William Edwards Deming (October 14, 1900 – December 20, 1993) was an American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant. Educated initially as an electrical engineer and later specializing in mathematical physics, he helped develop the sampling techniques still used by the U.S. Department of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
W. Edwards Deming Born October 14, 1900
Sioux City, Iowa Died December 20, 1993 (aged 93)
Washington, D.C. Alma mater University of Wyoming BS
University of Colorado MS
Yale University PhD Scientific career Fields Statistician Influences Walter A. ShewhartIn his book The New Economics for Industry, Government, and Education[1] Deming championed the work of Walter Shewhart, including statistical process control, operational definitions, and what Deming called the "Shewhart Cycle,"[2] which had evolved into Plan-Do-check-Act (PDCA). Deming is best known for his work in Japan after WWII, particularly his work with the leaders of Japanese industry. That work began in July and August 1950, in Tokyo and at the Hakone Convention Center,[3] when Deming delivered speeches on what he called "Statistical Product Quality Administration". Many in Japan credit Deming as one of the inspirations for what has become known as the Japanese post-war economic miracle of 1950 to 1960, when Japan rose from the ashes of war on the road to becoming the second-largest economy in the world through processes partially influenced by the ideas Deming taught:[4]
  1. Better design of products to improve service
  2. Higher level of uniform product quality
  3. Improvement of product testing in the workplace and in research centers
  4. Greater sales through side [global] markets
Deming is best known in the United States for his 14 Points (Out of the Crisis, by W. Edwards Deming, preface) and his system of thought he called the "System of Profound Knowledge". The system includes four components or "lenses" through which to view the world simultaneously:
  1. Appreciating a system
  2. Understanding variation
  3. Psychology
  4. Epistemology, the theory of knowledge[5]

Deming made a significant contribution to Japan's reputation for innovative, high-quality products, and for its economic power. He is regarded as having had more impact on Japanese manufacturing and business than any other individual not of Japanese heritage. Despite being honored in Japan in 1951 with the establishment of the Deming Prize, he was only just beginning to win widespread recognition in the U.S. at the time of his death in 1993.[6] President Ronald Reagan awarded him the National Medal of Technology in 1987. The following year, the National Academy of Sciences gave Deming the Distinguished Career in Science award.
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Old 11-29-20, 03:14 PM
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Right, Deming. Of course. And American managers thought they could do without his work. They couldn't have been wronger.
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Old 11-29-20, 03:28 PM
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To Suntour's credit their QC was really good pretty much through to the end. But what happened post-'86, as indexing took over and Shimano quickly took large chunks of market share from Suntour, was a lot of poorly-tested designs rushed to market, which often failed pretty spectacularly in use. I've run through the lists before, setting aside all the indexing problems/failures, the XC Sport roller cam brake pulley fiasco and the multi-botched Winner/Winner Pro freewheel launches are both great illustrations. XC Sport brakes and Winner/Winner Pro freewheels failed in use in large numbers as soon as US dealers started selling the bikes, and the resultant clean-up operations took a huge toll in $ and man-hours.

Suntour USA warned Japan about both products as soon as we saw prototypes, but we were told not to worry, everything was adequately tested, and it was too late to change the product regardless. Not enough time to get it right the first time, significantly more expensive and damaging to reputation to fix after shipping hundreds of thousands of units. Not to mention the frightening product liability potential.

By that point they were pretty far off the Demming mark, and the post-'86 death spiral was pretty durn quick. They were essentially finished by '90.

Originally Posted by noglider View Post
[snips]
Their quality control was as good as with the high end stuff. Really good. I can't remember any defects at all. This was during the period when Japan had adopted a philosophy of quality from an American innovator (whose name I've forgotten) and implemented it better than any other country.
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Old 11-29-20, 04:02 PM
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Mr PCB did a nice interview with Diane Jenks a few years ago, discussing his time with SunTour. Definitely worth listening to!
https://outspokencyclist.com/tag/paul-brodek/

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(currently have two bikes equipped with SunTour Cyclone rear derailleurs and have had at least one bike equipped with SunTour since the mid 70's)
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Old 11-29-20, 04:57 PM
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Far too much emphasis is being placed on the demise of Maeda's slant parallelogram patent and its adoption by Shimano. As any Dura-Ace AX or 600AX will tell you, Shimano had indexed derailleurs with excellent shifting prior to SIS and they didn't use the slant parallelogram. If there was any single invention that set SIS apart from its indexing predecessors (and successors) and made it a marketing success, it was the self-aligning Centeron jockey pulley, which provided some tolerance for things being slightly out of adjustment. It made SIS far less finicky than 1st generation Accushift or Syncro.
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Old 11-29-20, 05:55 PM
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Is the 7-GT a slant Pantagraph design?

Which modern Shimano derailer do you guys pick?

Acera? Alivio?

What about suntours front derailers are the time?

So even the high end suntour derailers shifted pretty much the same?
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Old 11-29-20, 06:35 PM
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I have been a SunTour fan since I first encountered them on the American Eagle Semi-Pro (and subsequently bought one, myself). The normal-high front derailleur was quirky, but served well, and it made it easier to teach bike shop customers how to shift (forward on either lever for higher pedal effort, backward on either lever for lower effort). I switched from SunTour V-GT to Cyclone as soon as they came out, and I currently have a Cyclone II rear on the Peugeot, with ratchet barcons, and a long cage SunTour XC on the Schwinn, with ratchet thumb shifters that I run in friction mode.

My sole gripe with SunTour rear derailleurs was the long cable travel they required, which was beyond the range of some shift lever models.

I run Campag. derailleurs on the Bianchi and on two of the Capos, just to be brand-correct, but the SunTours are indeed better designed and just as good in quality.

The only SunTour failure I have ever had was in the body of a Cyclone front, possibly from overtightening of the mounting bolts, although it looked like a casting defect.
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Old 11-29-20, 07:34 PM
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The only Suntour product I'm not a fan of is the endless band FD mounting system. That's it. I've yet to try a Suntour FD that wouldn't shift a triple. I will be trying a Superbe next week. lt with be matched with a Superbe Pro RD that I swapped on a long cage from an XC RD.
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Old 11-29-20, 08:00 PM
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I had SunTour derailleurs on my Kabuki and after over twenty years of service were still working perfectly when I replaced them with Campagnolo NR mainly for the looks of the Campy stuff. I still have them tucked away in my parts bin. My daughter has Cyclone first gen. On her Motobecane Gran Jubile and loves them. We have never had a failure with any of them and mine were on a sailboat for twelve years and my only transportation for over three years. Lots of miles and many shifts in a bad salt air environment , they never let me down. Joe
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