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-   -   6 speed mid 80s: Suntour vs. Shimano (https://www.bikeforums.net/road-cycling/114761-6-speed-mid-80s-suntour-vs-shimano.html)

pgoat 06-17-05 11:26 AM

6 speed mid 80s: Suntour vs. Shimano
 
Need a little advice:

given the same frame quality (mid 80s built in Japan, lugged butted cro-mo), would you pay the same for a bike spec'd with Shimano 600 or Suntour/Dia Compe AX 5000 components?

If not, which one would cost more/less and why?

The 600 bike had Wolber Super Champion Alpine rims, the Suntour bike had Araya 7000. Only other 'quality features' I could spot were tapered seatstay-to-seat tube welds with the maker's name on the 600 bike (plain welds on the Sun Tour), and rear drop out screws on the 600's vertical slots (no screws, vertical slots on the ST).

Both bikes are from 1985. Not sure if the Suntour is indexed.....it has a Sugino GP-130 ax 5000 crankset vs the standard 600 shimano crank.

I have a chance to buy the used ST bike - the 600 just sold for $150 in mint NOS condition; should the ST bike be less? a lot less? It's in very nice condition , maybe some teeny scratches here & there but nice.

alanbikehouston 06-17-05 11:50 AM

It is difficult to compare a Shimano 600 group from the '80's with a Sun Tour group without seeing the bike or knowing the exact age of the components. From 1982 to 1989, those two companies competing to "upgrade" their components, with Sun Tour having the "lead" in 1982, but with Shimano being a knock-out winner by 1989.

In 1982, the Sun Tour drivetrains worked better than Shimano's, due to a patented feature on the rear gear changer. The Sun Tour Superbe components of that era shifted better and more reliably than any other group in the world, better than anything made by Campy or Shimano. Today, you can buy a well made copy of those shifters at Rivendell.com. Still the best friction shifters ever made for a road bike.

By 1986, the Sun Tour patent had expired. Shimano took the best aspects of the Sun Tour changer, and added a reliable indexing system. So, the 1986 Shimano 600 rear changer is marked "SIS" to denote the indexing feature. It took Sun Tour until about 1989 to get its indexing system to work as well as the indexing on the 1986 Shimano 600.

The brakes from both were more or less equal until 1987. In 1987, Shimano introduced SLR braking on the 105 group. That was the best braking system for a road bike, before or since. In 1989, both Dura-Ace and Shimano 600 were "upgraded" to the 105 SLR brake design.

By 1989, Sun Tour had partnered with Dia-Compe to design the BRS brake system (a copy of the 1987 105 brakes) with an added feature: adjustable reach. But, by 1989, Sun Tour was down to about 10% or less of the new bike market, and was soon on its way out of business.

So, from 1982 to 1985, Sun Tour components had an "edge" over Shimano. From 1986 to 1989, Shimano took the lead. By 1989, Sun Tour had caught up to where Shimano was in 1987, but it was "too little, too late".

Of course, around 1990, STI shifting came along, with its "brifters". The "golden" era of precise shifting and precise braking came to an end...sacrificed on the alter of "modern technology" and "convenience".

pgoat 06-17-05 12:06 PM

2 Attachment(s)
here's the two bikes:

A Nishiki Prestige with the ST ax 5000 and a Centurion Elite RS

lrnorup 06-17-05 12:21 PM

I started riding in '86. Back then Shimano was more expensive than SunTour. I guess the Wolber Rims was in another class, but I'm not sure. I'd guess you could get the bike a bit cheaper. But compared to the bikes today i don't think you could say the one is better than the other.

sydney 06-17-05 01:35 PM


Originally Posted by pgoat
Need a little advice:

given the same frame quality (mid 80s built in Japan, lugged butted cro-mo), would you pay the same for a bike spec'd with Shimano 600 or Suntour/Dia Compe AX 5000 components?

If not, which one would cost more/less and why?

The 600 bike had Wolber Super Champion Alpine rims, the Suntour bike had Araya 7000. Only other 'quality features' I could spot were tapered seatstay-to-seat tube welds with the maker's name on the 600 bike (plain welds on the Sun Tour), and rear drop out screws on the 600's vertical slots (no screws, vertical slots on the ST).

Both bikes are from 1985. Not sure if the Suntour is indexed.....it has a Sugino GP-130 ax 5000 crankset vs the standard 600 shimano crank.

I have a chance to buy the used ST bike - the 600 just sold for $150 in mint NOS condition; should the ST bike be less? a lot less? It's in very nice condition , maybe some teeny scratches here & there but nice.

I'd take early shiamno index over the same in suntour(ax5000 is index) any day. Shimano works.

kandnhome 06-17-05 06:03 PM

I actually have both; well almost. My Univega has Shimano Exage Sport components (probably actually a step below the 600 stuff, but newer); my girlfriend's Bianchi has the SunTour 5000 (I think it's actually alpha 5000, the symbol looks like a greek alpha). Interestingly, her front derailer/shifter is not indexed, but the rear is. Mine is indexed all around.

Having spent a good deal of time working on and test riding both (though obviously more time on mine) I think they're about equal, properly tuned. Her rear derailer may actually be a bit smoother, but it looks practically brand new, while my Exage stuff has seen a lot of use.

Basically, if it works, both setups are quality and will get the job of a recreational/fitness/commute bike done just fine. Either of those bikes is worth $150 to me; that's what I paid for both mine and my girlfriend's, and we've totally gotten our money's worth.

If the bike fits, buy it, ride it, and have fun.


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