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Equipment/Product Review (1990) Shimano Deore XT vs SunTour XC Pro

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Equipment/Product Review (1990) Shimano Deore XT vs SunTour XC Pro

Old 01-21-24, 11:33 AM
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Equipment/Product Review (1990) Shimano Deore XT vs SunTour XC Pro

Includes a sidebar featuring the FAT CITY Wicked Fat Chance frame used for the comparison test of these two mountain bike groups.





















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Old 01-21-24, 10:31 PM
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XT rapidfire shifters / shifting was lightyears ahead of the Suntour thumb shifters

( and any thumb shifters )
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Old 01-22-24, 11:30 AM
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Too bad the grease nipple idea wasn't copied by Shimano. That would simplify hub maintenance so much.
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Old 01-22-24, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee
Too bad the grease nipple idea wasn't copied by Shimano. That would simplify hub maintenance so much.
I've found over the years that Shimano hubs can be maintenance-free, especially at the higher levels, Ultegra/XT and above.

Having grease churning with no air space around the balls may prevent water ingress, but a lot of extra viscous friction I would think, and possibly why Grease-Guard seems to have disappeared from the market.

It would be good to have the option though, for riding in immersive conditions, or when mud requires a lot of blasting with a hose after a CX race.

The article surprised me by claiming that the freewheel and hub weighed less than the cassette and freehub. Also that the first year's HG chains apparently didn't yet feature the stronger (barbed) special pin. The previous UG-Narrow chain would indeed explode when used with HG cogs if shifted hard with typical off-road gearing. I remember popping one on the final stretch of the climb going up Mt. Diablo during one of the timed "Low Key" hillclimb events.

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Old 01-22-24, 09:29 PM
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Shimano hubs of that era was actually really good. After a riding session in the swimming pool, the hubs still looked good when I pulled them apart. Didn't even bother to repack them so I put everything back together.
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Old 01-23-24, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by t2p
XT rapidfire shifters / shifting was lightyears ahead of the Suntour thumb shifters

( and any thumb shifters )
Rapidfire = X-Press.

Thumbshifters > Rapidfire/X-Press

XC Pro and XC Comp stuff just feels "better" in the hand than M730-735 XT. The finish on XC Pro is just nicer than M730-735 XT and even M900 XTR.

As far as shifting- When Accushift worked- it was just another flavor of indexing- I don't think Suntour had come out with the "Light Indexing" idea yet. But the real problem was the reliability problem with Accushift. Shimano had SIS down.

For me- just running 6 speed and happy to stay within the Suntour ecosystem- yeah- it's mostly fine, but SIS is more reliable all around. For that, M730-735 XT is the gold standard of the time. And for anyone that tries to mix and match Accushift and non-Accushift parts and expect a decent outcome...
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Old 01-23-24, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy
.

As far as shifting- When Accushift worked- it was just another flavor of indexing- I don't think Suntour had come out with the "Light Indexing" idea yet. But the real problem was the reliability problem with Accushift. Shimano had SIS down.

And for anyone that tries to mix and match Accushift and non-Accushift parts and expect a decent outcome...
The Accushift was excellent but the problems and negativity came from inept shops when they started to mix components, freewheels, chains, etc.. Suntour was clear from the service training, instructions bulletins in not deviating from the Accushift compatibility. There's some workable give and leeway by going outside of their compatible specs to Accushift but takes a bit more of understanding. Many shops were butchers and customers obviously didn't realize and trusted those shops. Shimano indexing got a better vibe and recognition from buyers.

Liked and still use both.
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Old 01-23-24, 05:43 PM
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20-20 hindsight at this point, and of course chains got better since Accushift was around, my exception to the above rule is to always use Shimano 9s chain with Accu-7 freewheels.

And with Campagnolo Synchro-7 setups, using modern freewheels having slight spacing differences from the specified Regina 7s freewheel, again it's the 9s chain to the rescue, eliminates the problems, shifts like butter, no noises.

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Old 01-23-24, 05:57 PM
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I detest RapidFire shifters and really like my SunTour thumbies, which I run in friction mode, since I am running an 8-speed freehub with a 7-speed thumbie. I have always liked SunTour's rear derailleurs, and my XCD is no exception. I also always greatly prefer non-indexed gear selection up front, particularly with a triple. I hae some of the newer SunTour thumbies that lack a true, smooth friction mode.
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Old 01-23-24, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by chain_whipped
The Accushift was excellent but the problems and negativity came from inept shops when they started to mix components, freewheels, chains, etc.. Suntour was clear from the service training, instructions bulletins in not deviating from the Accushift compatibility. There's some workable give and leeway by going outside of their compatible specs to Accushift but takes a bit more of understanding. Many shops were butchers and customers obviously didn't realize and trusted those shops. Shimano indexing got a better vibe and recognition from buyers.

Liked and still use both.
I'm an Accushift homer but it's absolutely clear that Accushift had to have EXACTLY the right derailleurs, shifters, cables, housings and chains, and have the tolerances EXACTLY right for it to work. The system was designed on precision. If ANYTHING was off or fouled- it failed.

SIS was designed with imprecision built in, so it still worked when things were off.

But you are right that people don't understand Accushift- read through all the Accushift threads with people saying they're using Accushift shifters, KMC chain, Jagwire housing, Kmart cables and a Sora derailleur in the front and a 1st gen Cyclone in the front with a 10 speed Ultegra cassette and someone and route the shift cable under the bottom bracket then around the chain stay - they'll will SWEAR that if they turn around 3 times and run the bike in reverse for 11 feet then start riding they can get it to function flawlessly. Or people getting mad when they say Accushift doesn't work at all and they're using Accushift shifters and an SIS derailleur... duh.
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Old 01-24-24, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy
I'm an Accushift homer but it's absolutely clear that Accushift had to have EXACTLY the right derailleurs, shifters, cables, housings and chains, and have the tolerances EXACTLY right for it to work. The system was designed on precision. If ANYTHING was off or fouled- it failed.

SIS was designed with imprecision built in, so it still worked when things were off.

But you are right that people don't understand Accushift- read through all the Accushift threads with people saying they're using Accushift shifters, KMC chain, Jagwire housing, Kmart cables and a Sora derailleur in the front and a 1st gen Cyclone in the front with a 10 speed Ultegra cassette and someone and route the shift cable under the bottom bracket then around the chain stay - they'll will SWEAR that if they turn around 3 times and run the bike in reverse for 11 feet then start riding they can get it to function flawlessly. Or people getting mad when they say Accushift doesn't work at all and they're using Accushift shifters and an SIS derailleur... duh.
At least for the cables/housings and for the chain, the newer stuff can be even better than what was spec'd by Suntour (or even available at all) in that 1990-ish time period.

But a couple of things about Accushift:

Other than the lower-tier 3040 series, the 6s and 7s Accushift indexing was closely matched to 74xx-series Dura-Ace components in terms of the rear derailer's "actuation" or "pull ratio". So Accushift shifters wouldn't index their specified number of gears if a Shimano (non Dura-Ace) rear derailer was used.

And, other than the later "Plug 'N Play" (read "Shimano-Compatible") components of their final couple of years (1994-ish), their 7s freewheels all had unique-to-them asymmetric cog spacing that was a noticeable-in-use deviation from Shimano's own Asymmetric 7s cog spacing. Suntour's Accu-7 placed the larger three cogs closer together, while Shimano's SIS-7 and HG-7 freewheels and cassettes always used a thicker spacer between the 2nd- and 3rd-smallest cogs. Though noticeably different, they both addressed the same sort of indexing issues with narrower cog spacing being applied to relatively primitive componentry (Suntour's indexing performance being arguably more-primitive if I may opine) with these rear derailer's return-force and chain-gap ranges from one end of the derailer's travel to the other being perhaps the biggest issues.
Shimano's 1989 introduction of HG cogs, along with their more-linear extension return springs, put an end to asymmetric cog spacing going forward from 7s.

The Accushift shifters dealt with primitive chain pick-up during shifts to larger cogs by having the shifter over-shift by a larger amount than a contemporaneous Shimano shifter. The over-shift movement recovered (reversed) to the actual index position only after you stopped pushing the lever.
So noticeably, when using Accushift levers with shift-enhancing cogs and modern chain, the chain may have a tendency to momentarily shift to a larger cog than intended, usually causing some noisy, crunchy slippage until the chain falls back down to the cog you were trying to shift to.
That's where "smoother" chains like the early Sachs index chain help, and where narrower 9s chain helps even more, preventing the chain from snagging the next-bigger cog than you are wanting to shift to.
The 9s chain can also make any indexing mis-match between the cog spacing and the derailer movement less noticeable.
Even adjusting the chain gap bigger using the B-tension screw can have a similar effect, as can retro-fitting a floating top pulley.

So there can be a very wide-ranging shifting-performance spectrum experienced by different experimenters such as myself and y'all, from one install to another.

My current MTB of choice (a 2016 Huffy 27.5er) uses it's original 8s EZ-Fire shifters but with a wide-rimmed wheelset having a 7s freewheel. It thus requires a compromised cable tension adjustment, since it's cog spacing is wider (asymmetrically wider-yet in the 2-3 position).
But having adapted to it's minor shifting and adjustment peculiarities, it's "fine".

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Old 01-26-24, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by t2p
XT rapidfire shifters / shifting was lightyears ahead of the Suntour thumb shifters

( and any thumb shifters )
Them's fightin' words...

I will say that there are times I like one or the other, depending on the bike and riding conditions. But I've never had to run any thumbie through an ultrasonic cleaner umpteen plus times to completely remove the cruddy solidified grease to get it working again, as I have done rehabilitating countless gunked-up Rapidfire shifters.
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Old 01-26-24, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by chain_whipped
The Accushift was excellent but the problems and negativity came from inept shops when they started to mix components, freewheels, chains, etc.. Suntour was clear from the service training, instructions bulletins in not deviating from the Accushift compatibility. There's some workable give and leeway by going outside of their compatible specs to Accushift but takes a bit more of understanding. Many shops were butchers and customers obviously didn't realize and trusted those shops.
You say that like it's a bad thing...
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Old 01-26-24, 10:23 PM
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As a somewhat-fan of Shimano and a bigger fan of Suntour - great article.

I like the dueling tandem ads too. I wonder if the couple in the Burley ad (if it is a real couple and not two random models) is still riding. And of course the humility and understatement of Santana's founder evidences itself in its advertising (I mock in jest - nearly all tand-brands are good, and we've happily owned a LaVerne-built two-seater for nearly 30 years.)
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Old 01-27-24, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by RCMoeur
Them's fightin' words...

I will say that there are times I like one or the other, depending on the bike and riding conditions. But I've never had to run any thumbie through an ultrasonic cleaner umpteen plus times to completely remove the cruddy solidified grease to get it working again, as I have done rehabilitating countless gunked-up Rapidfire shifters.
there is definitely a downside to Rapidfire shifters - especially maintenance when compared a a simple thumb shifter that consists of fewer parts , etc

but the operation of Rapidfire shifters is a big plus - and they are obviously still popular today 30 years later
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