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Suntour 126 OLD Index Shifting

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Suntour 126 OLD Index Shifting

Old 07-02-20, 08:28 AM
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breezwhey
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Suntour 126 OLD Index Shifting

Not trying beat a dead horse, as I have read most of the posts about this (hard to find every single one), but I have specific questions. I am bored during this quarantine, and deadset on using Suntour components to change to index shifting on a PX 10 (not willing to widen from 126 OLD) with a Stronglight 93 double up front. I have a mint set of Alpha 500 6 speed shifters. I want to use a Suntour 6 speed freewheel and rear derailleur. I'll experiment with Shimano at a later time on another bike, so not looking to debate whether this is a bad financial choice, lol.

My questions: Since the shifters are only a5000, is there any advantage to using anything better than an Alpha 5000 freewheel and a mid grade Suntour derailleur? I really want to try a 1987-? Superbe Pro rear derailleur, but would I just be wasting money? Is there any advantage in getting better shifters or will the a5000s be fine if I use a higher line of freewheel and RD ( I'm currently using them as indexed shifters on another bike, so not married to using them)? Is there a big difference between the a5000 freewheels and the higher end index ones? I am leaning towards using the a5000 shifters with an a5000 6 speed freewheel and Superbe Pro RD. Thoughts? Thanks!
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Old 07-02-20, 08:31 AM
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https://www.yellowjersey.org/Suntour21.pdf
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Old 07-02-20, 08:41 AM
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All of the Alpha freewheels were excellent. Suntour's best imo! Shifting under modest but considerable pedaling force is a reality with these, and there is NO chain "skating" using modern chain.

The Alpha 5000 shifters and derailers work VERY well as indexing components as long as contemporary chain is used.
I would definitely use 9s chain with any Accu-7 shifters because of their generous over-shift free-play when shifting toward larger cogs. This will prevent unwanted chain contact with adjacent larger cogs. This may preclude use of say a Stronglight 93 or SR Apex crankset because of the chainring spacing (though smaller rings can have their teeth bent a half-millimeter or so to prevent the chain riding between adjacent chainring's teeth).

For the 121mm rear of my 1974 PX10LE, I slightly modified the axle spacing and wheel dish to allow a 7s freewheel on a 124mm spacing width, and ended up with a very strong wheel by exploiting the redundant axle overhang dimension on the (originally) 5s hub. I kept the axle overhang past the face of the smallest cog down to about 3.3mm and it adequately cleared the frame using 8s chain after I massaged the dropout's axle-position hardware with a Dremel and kept the smallest cog down to 13 teeth or so.

Note that the 7s wheel shown was for use with Campag 8s shifters and derailer, not Suntour, but the 7s GIANG freewheel worked well in this application.
Also, since you will be using only a 6s freewheel, a very strong wheel can be built to 121mm spacing width if the axle spacing keeps the locknut from protruding much past the face of the smallest cog.


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Old 07-02-20, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
All of the Alpha freewheels were excellent. Suntour's best imo, shifting under considerable pedaling force is a reality with these and there is NO chain "skating" using modern chain.

The Alpha 5000 shifters and derailers work VERY well as indexing components as long as contemporary chain is used.
I would definitely use 9s chain with any Accu-7 shifters because of their generous over-shift free-play when shifting toward larger cogs. This will prevent unwanted chain contact with adjacent larger cogs. This may preclude use of say a Stronglight 93 or SR Apex crankset because of the chainring spacing (though smaller rings can have their teeth bent a half-millimeter or so to prevent the chain riding between adjacent chainring's teeth).

For the 121mm rear of my 1974 PX10LE, I slightly modified the axle spacing and wheel dish to allow a 7s freewheel on a 124mm spacing width, and ended up with a very strong wheel by exploiting the redundant axle overhang dimension on the (originally) 5s hub. I kept the axle overhang past the face of the smallest cog down to about 3.3mm and it adequately cleared the frame using 8s chain after I massaged the axle-position hardware with a Dremel and kept the smallest cog down to 13 teeth or so.

Note that the 7s wheel shown was for use with Campag 8s shifters and derailer, not Suntour, but the 7s freewheel worked well in this application.
Also, since you will be using only a 6s freewheel, a very strong wheel can be built to 121mm spacing width if the axle spacing keeps the locknut from protruding much past the face of the smallest cog.

If I stick with the 6 speed, do you think I could use a chain that will work with the Stronglight 93 chainrings? Sounds like I should just save alot of money and run with a straight Alpha 5000 setup. Thank You!
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Old 07-02-20, 10:05 AM
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Because of modern chain (the first was the Shimano UG Narrow model from ~1987), Suntour Alpha indexing can be much better than it was back in the day (even more so when using 9s chain together with Accu-7 shifters).

Shimano HG70 chain or any good 7.3mm chain often works well with the Stronglight 93 cranks, especially when bigger chainring size difference than 52-45t is used. This chain is perfect for the Alpha 6-speed group.
One can hold a file against the small ring while turning the cranks backward to move the tips of the teeth toward the big ring. Very little actual metal removal is needed here, just a few turns. Use a good, sharp file resting on a support block (while you angle your arm to stay clear of the rotating crankarms).
In cases where the chainrings are more similar in size, I might remove the small ring and bend each tooth about a half-millimeter using an adjustable wrench. Never broke a tooth and have modified many such rings over the years, I keep the wrench gripping toward the tip instead of the base of the tooth and it is easy to eyeball.


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Old 07-02-20, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
Because of modern chain (the first was the Shimano UG Narrow model from ~1987), Suntour Alpha indexing can be much better than it was back in the day (even more so when using 9s chain together with Accu-7 shifters).

Shimano HG70 chain or any good 7.3mm chain often works well with the Stronglight 93 cranks, especially when bigger chainring size difference than 52-45t is used. This chain is perfect for the Alpha 6-speed group.
One can hold a file against the small ring while turning the cranks backward to move the tips of the teeth toward the big ring. Very little actual metal removal is needed here, just a few turns. Use a good, sharp file resting on a support block (while you angle your arm to stay clear of the rotating crankarms).
In cases where the chainrings are more similar in size, I might remove the small ring and bend each tooth about a half-millimeter using an adjustable wrench. Never broke a tooth and have modified many such rings over the years, I keep the wrench gripping toward the tip instead of the base of the tooth and it is easy to eyeball.

I have a Redclover custom small front chainring on a different bike, so maybe that chainring is shaped already to work just fine. I guess I'll try that chainring first if I have issues. This looks like a good alternative if it doesn't fix it. If I use that chainring I will have a rather large difference 37-52. I'm currently running a 37-50 on a Stronglight 104, but with the stock Sedis chain, so hopefully this won't be too wide a difference, although that has to be pushing it.
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Old 07-02-20, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by breezwhey View Post
I have a Redclover custom small front chainring on a different bike, so maybe that chainring is shaped already to work just fine. I guess I'll try that chainring first if I have issues. This looks like a good alternative if it doesn't fix it. If I use that chainring I will have a rather large difference 37-52. I'm currently running a 37-50 on a Stronglight 104, but with the stock Sedis chain, so hopefully this won't be too wide a difference, although that has to be pushing it.
The bigger tooth difference should work in your favor.
But, if the chain decides to start falling inboard of the smallest chainring, you can just reverse the file and cut from the driveside of the teeth as shown below:

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Old 07-02-20, 07:33 PM
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A lot of great info packef into this thread. I had forgotten I have a Alpha set in the bin.
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Old 07-02-20, 08:03 PM
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The Alpha shifters are like 30 years old today, so be sure to get some oil into the levers and clicker so that they work right.

I recall one Goodwill-sourced Accushift 7-speed Lotus road bike that I did a group training ride on some years ago, had to stop at a bar/grill for frying pan spray to revive my dried-out shift lever internals!
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Old 07-02-20, 10:32 PM
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I had a complete a5000 group on a Takara I tuned up for my daughter. It was fantastic with the crisp shifting. (She didn't like the pink color of the frame and I sold it. I'm a dummy. Shoulda painted it.)
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Old 07-03-20, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
The Alpha shifters are like 30 years old today, so be sure to get some oil into the levers and clicker so that they work right.

I recall one Goodwill-sourced Accushift 7-speed Lotus road bike that I did a group training ride on some years ago, had to stop at a bar/grill for frying pan spray to revive my dried-out shift lever internals!
Good point. I often think of something made around 1990 as new. 30 years may not be a long time in bike time, but is in grease time.
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Old 07-09-20, 11:44 AM
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Do any of the higher end Suntour index rear derailleurs have more travel than the Alpha 5000? I installed one using an adaptor claw (green arrow) so I don't have to alter my Simplex dropout, with an Alpha 6 speed freewheel; and in order to get 1st gear, I need to have the freewheel this close (blue arrow). Any further away and the derailleur runs out of travel before going unto the the innermost cog. The chain doesn't hit the frame during the 6-5 shift, but it doesn't miss by much at all.
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Old 07-09-20, 06:01 PM
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You could try a nice Shimano 6 speed freewheel, like a 600 if you can find one. The spacing on 6 speeds is the same, it's a 7 speed group that's more finicky in my experience.
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Old 07-09-20, 06:59 PM
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I Have Alpha 4500 6 speed on one of my bikes a older MTB and have no real issues shifting with the original AR freewheel and have got good results using spare wheels with 7 or 6 speed Shimmano. Alot of shifting good with Suntour accushift has to do with shift skill ability you need to hold push light on the index shift till the gears are shifted then let go and make smart reasonable shift choices which is easy for for riders having road a lot on just OK friction where this is pretty basic. But is a a learned skill for riders that have used mostly nice indexing modern better 7+ speed Shimano and Sram stuff. One thing that may help that I have found is to get cheap derailluer frame extension about $5 online and it will give the bike a bit more modern DR mount for the modern parts.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Alloy-Bike-...53.m2749.l2649

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Old 07-09-20, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by breezwhey View Post

Do any of the higher end Suntour index rear derailleurs have more travel than the Alpha 5000? I installed one using an adaptor claw (green arrow) so I don't have to alter my Simplex dropout, with an Alpha 6 speed freewheel; and in order to get 1st gear, I need to have the freewheel this close (blue arrow). Any further away and the derailleur runs out of travel before going unto the the innermost cog. The chain doesn't hit the frame during the 6-5 shift, but it doesn't miss by much at all.

Looking at how far the chain is to the dropout, that doesn't look too close to me. A mere millimeter of clearance is adequate on most setups, provided that the chain gap is kept small enough that the chain doesn't need to be angled wildly so as to fall onto the smallest cog, and provided that the small cog is small enough so that the chain doesn't hit the seatstay when shifting off of the smallest cog (a 14t cog more often causes problems in this regard). I have many times taken a Dremel to the tip of the seatstay where hard contact left a mark that made it easy to see where grinding actually was needed.

You really want the shortest driveside axle extension possible for any given freewheel width.
This helps lessen the required dish in the spoking, and helps prevent axle flex, bending and breakage (which in turn helps prevent the too-common breakage of the dropout).

With modern 8s chain, I leave the axle locknut face extending only 3.3-3.5mm past the face of the small cog. You could check yours to see where it's at in this regard.

The claw hanger is costing you at least 4mm of inward travel of the derailer and maybe more than that if the face of the dropout is out any further than the face of the hanger.
I think you may have to grind the end of the seatstay or deal with modifying the hanger.

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Old 07-10-20, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by clubman View Post
You could try a nice Shimano 6 speed freewheel, like a 600 if you can find one. The spacing on 6 speeds is the same, it's a 7 speed group that's more finicky in my experience.
I am deadset on using all Suntour on this experiment. I am using Shimano on a different one.
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Old 07-10-20, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
Looking at how far the chain is to the dropout, that doesn't look too close to me. A mere millimeter of clearance is adequate on most setups, provided that the chain gap is kept small enough that the chain doesn't need to be angled wildly so as to fall onto the smallest cog, and provided that the small cog is small enough so that the chain doesn't hit the seatstay when shifting off of the smallest cog (a 14t cog more often causes problems in this regard). I have many times taken a Dremel to the tip of the seatstay where hard contact left a mark that made it easy to see where grinding actually was needed.

You really want the shortest driveside axle extension possible for any given freewheel width.
This helps lessen the required dish in the spoking, and helps prevent axle flex, bending and breakage (which in turn helps prevent the too-common breakage of the dropout).

With modern 8s chain, I leave the axle locknut face extending only 3.3-3.5mm past the face of the small cog. You could check yours to see where it's at in this regard.

The claw hanger is costing you at least 4mm of inward travel of the derailer and maybe more than that if the face of the dropout is out any further than the face of the hanger.
I think you may have to grind the end of the seatstay or deal with modifying the hanger.

The angle of that picture is bad. I am trying to get closer to a mm of clearance, as I don't have near that where the tube gets wider. During the shift, you can't get a piece of paper between the chain and the tube. The chain is actually inside the wider part of the tube, even though I can't capture that, as the phone hits the spokes, lol. It does work fine, I would just like a little more clearance, even a half mm. Thinking of trying a 7.1mm chain as opposed this 7.3mm. Worried the Stronglight chainrings won't like it though.I have a 7.1mm on a Suntour X-1 group that works fine on my MTB.
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Old 07-10-20, 07:35 AM
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Ran out of characters on that reply. As for the axle nut, that is how I have been adjusting the gap. If I turn the nut even a quarter turn more in, the chain will bind when I shift. If I go a quarter turn more out, I can't shift on the innermost cog. I would kill for 1 mm more movement. I am going to try the chain swap, and then probably look for a different claw if that doesn't work.If it was longer and then bent in even a little, it would work great, and I could use a little length anyway. I have thought about grinding on this one, but to make a difference, I think I would sacrifice the integrity of it.Of course you may be right and I have enough clearance, I will ride it before going overboard over this. Thanks for all the ideas!
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Old 07-10-20, 12:05 PM
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After riding it, I think it's fine as is. No issue at all with the 6-5 shift under load or at speed. I'm really impressed at how well it all shifts. It's a hair slow between 2 and 3, but is otherwise absolutely perfect. Really crisp. I'm still going to try a 7.1mm chain, just to see if that smooths that 2-3 shift out, as it's not an adjustment (trust me) or cable/shifter issue.

I even put an Alpha 5000 FD on to keep all components in the same group. Of course I had to paper shim it, since the 1972 French seat tube is 28mm OD rather than 28.6, lol. No problem at all with the front shift, actually no worse than when it had the stock chain. Really happy with this upgrade, probably never put the Simplex components back on, as I've got other nearly identical bikes still with them, and there's always another frame in the bucket list.
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