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Gold Suntour Components - Superbe & Superbe Pro

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Gold Suntour Components - Superbe & Superbe Pro

Old 04-05-21, 07:10 AM
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Gold Suntour Components - Superbe & Superbe Pro

I recently acquired a vintage 3Rensho bike that was custom made by Yoshi Konno for a bike show in the late 70s. It was on the cusp on the "aero era" and has a number of unique details to it. When I bought it, the seller included a gold anodized Suntour stem, matching Suntour Superbe hubs, and stem. It also had match gold ano Kusuki handlebars and Gran Compe brakes & lever. I did some research and soon found out that the seller had originally bought the bike complete (I found the eBay auction listing from last year) and it originally came equipped with a full gold Suntour Superbe groupset. The seller had stripped off the rest of the parts and sold them before I came and bought the frame. Here's some photos of the bike when it was complete:




I got back in touch with the seller, and he graciously gave me the contact info of the person who bought the gold groupset from him. I convinced that person to sell the parts back to me, and they just arrived this morning.

Initially, I had thought that this gold anodized Suntour Superbe group was one-of-a-kind; searches online returned nothing else and I couldn't find any information on it. But then on Friday, while browsing Yahoo Japan auctions, I came across several NOS parts. Of course, I snatched them up!

First up, close ups of the Suntour Superbe stuff:



Based on the photos of the Rensho, I know that there is a gold Suntour Superbe RD, FD, shifters, hubs, seatpost, stem, crankset, and pedals. The brake set on the Rensho are Dia-Compe NGC 400s with matching levers. They are gold anodized to match the rest of Suntour components. However, I just found and purchased a set of Suntour Superbe brake levers in the same gold ano, so I'm not clear as to why this Rensho was using a non-Suntour brake set. It was obviously a deliberate decision. I hope to one day find a Suntour Superbe brake set (non-SSP) in gold.

Some other things I don't know: what year(s) the gold variant of the Superbe group was made, and if it was for any special occasion. If anyone has the back-story, and/or catalog scans that include the gold parts, let me know!

Here's a photo of the drivetrain. The outer ring clearly shows a gold band, but when I received the parts this morning, that band was almost completely gone. I don't know what happened, but assume it was the victim of overzealous cleaning.
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Old 04-05-21, 07:21 AM
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Next up are the gold Suntour Superbe Pro parts I've found. In this case, there's a little more precedent. American collectors are well aware of the SSP variant group found on the Cannondale Black Lighting and R700 bikes of the 80s, with their black & gold ano finish. Which, interestingly, uses Dia-Compe brakes instead of Suntour, as well. What's new here is that this is a silver and gold finish!





In this case, I don't know if there are other matching parts. I've got my eye on a Suntour seatpost that I *think* has a gold finish; it can be maddeningly hard to tell in auction photos, depending on how warm the lighting is. I have no idea if there are matching cranks, pedals, brakes and seat post for this variant. Again, not knowing if these were made for a specific occasion or bicycle, or even the year, makes it a bit of a mystery. Is there a way to tell the specific year of manufacture of these parts?

In summary, I hope this post is helpful in showing all you classic Suntour fans a new variant never seen before. I'd love to hear from fellow collectors about any info at all you might have about these components.
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Old 04-05-21, 07:59 AM
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Great backstory on a super bike...thanks for posting.
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Old 04-05-21, 08:11 AM
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I donīt know anything about it, but I will still make a guess. As the original style RD is clearly not the pro version, Iīd imagine that it was made before the Pro was available. I mean, why gold plate the 2nd model from the top?. But dosenīt the parts have date codes?. That would make it easy to refute, or possibly make my theory more likely. Anyway, a good score, although I must admit that I prefer the look of my ordinary Superbe Pro. But anyway, whather itīs gold or not, it will still no doubt have the wonderful Superbe performance, in my opinion itīs the nicest grop of itīs period.
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Old 04-05-21, 08:55 AM
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Back in the mid 80's, my younger brother bought a new Cannondale Black Lightning frameset that came with a black and gold anodized (Black pivots and gold arms) Suntour Superbike Pro derailleurs. I don't know whether it was a special run of derailleurs done by Suntour for Cannondale for the Black Lightning framesets, but I have not seen such anywhere else.
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Old 04-05-21, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1 View Post
Back in the mid 80's, my younger brother bought a new Cannondale Black Lightning frameset that came with a black and gold anodized (Black pivots and gold arms) Suntour Superbike Pro derailleurs. I don't know whether it was a special run of derailleurs done by Suntour for Cannondale for the Black Lightning framesets, but I have not seen such anywhere else.
I mentioned the black and gold SSP variant group found on the Cannondale Black Lighting and R700 bikes of the 80s in the second post. I think they were a special run specifically for Cannondale, and thus far I've not seen them for sale in Japan or spec'd on bikes for the Japanese market. Also kind of interesting that the Sugino 75 road group, which is essentially a Suntour Superbe Pro drive train mated to Dia-Compe brakes and a Sugino crank, used gold anodizing on the rear derailleur cage. There was also a very limited run gold-plated Sugino 75 road crankset.

If it's of interest to anyone, I also have photos of a gold Shimano 105 group that was spec'd for a special run of Panasonic bikes. They were the 20th anniversary of Panasonic's custom-made-to-order line (called "POS" in an awkward turn of phrase). Not related to Suntour, of course, but interesting in its own right.
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Old 04-05-21, 10:15 AM
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doing a quick search in between meetings this morning and turned up this oddity - another variant of SSP I guess! It's on Yahoo Japan auctions but I won't be buying this one.

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Old 04-05-21, 10:58 AM
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I have a 1980s Suntour XC cantilever brakeset (levers and arms) that have a "champagne" colored anodization, from an eBay auction several years ago; really nice, a bit lighter in tone than the components pictured in the first post above. I have looked in vain for a matching crankset -- won't even hope for headset, 26.8 mm seat post, pedals. I bought them for a Specialized Expedition build for my spouse, having had the frame repainted a mica-flake off-white.
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Old 04-05-21, 12:13 PM
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ah yes, the XC stuff. I have seen that some of it appears in a champagne-gold finish. Same with Suntour Sprint - there are rear derailleurs with the same champagne gold anodizing on the outer parallelogram plate, and front derailleurs with a gold ano cage. In both cases, I haven't seen (but also, haven't looked for) catalogs or documentation showing the full scope of the gold anodizing of either of those groups. It's definitely a recurring theme, and not surprising, as gold is one of the most common anodizing colors used on bike parts, along with black.

It's a bit ironic to me, as I have shunned gold parts up to this point, since they always seemed gaudy and obnoxious. I got into all this through the 3Rensho restoration, which suddenly made gold parts desirable to me. And of course I am always fascinated by Japanese bikes and components, since so much about them is unknown here in the USA. Add Suntour to the mix, and it becomes irresistible!
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Old 04-05-21, 04:40 PM
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Neat. Sounds like you’re now a card carrying member of THE GOLD CLUB. Right this way sir...
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Old 04-05-21, 08:22 PM
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some additional research turned up... gold Cyclone! I came across photos and a BF thread about the 50th Anniversary Nishiki. Close-up photos here: Hard to find part.

This one shows a 1st generation gold anodized Suntour Cyclone GT rear derailleur, long cage touring style. Matching Cyclone front derailleur and band-on shifters, too. Suprisingly, it uses a matched gold ano Sugino Super Maxy crank and Dia-Compe AC 500 brakes. Perhaps that makes sense, because there were no cranks or brakes in the first generation of Cyclone.

Updated - here's some close-up photos from the 50th Anniversary Nishiki, showing the Cyclone components and others:






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Old 04-05-21, 10:27 PM
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Very cool stuff!

The gold anodized stuff is before my time at Suntour, but if they could do the Black Lightning stuff for C'dale, they certainly could've done the gold for good/close customers like West Coast Cycle/Nishiki, as seen in the linked post---likely for a modest upcharge and agreed minimum order qty. It wasn't at all common when I was there, though.

One-offs for a smaller-volume builder like Konno/3-Rensho is not something I saw happening, but the early-'80s was a different time, and the marketing folks in Japan could've gotten behind some special show-bike sets.
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