Last Updated on March 9, 2023 by FAB Jim The Cyclist
The history of Suntour goes all the way back to 1912 with Maeda Iron Works Company. They began by manufacturing freewheels and sprockets. It was in the 1950s that they began to make derailleurs.
In 1964 Suntour invented the slant-parallelogram rear derailleur. This gave them what most believe was the easiest shifting derailleurs. It allowed a more consistent distance from the sprockets which resulted in easier shifting, even under load.
During the 70s they became more and more common on bicycles thanks to the bike boom. Several Raleigh derailleurs are rebranded Suntour. Many consider them the best for this time period. They had a full range from entry to pro level.
Times were good for Suntour until the patent ran out on the slant-parallelogram design and competitors instantly started copying it. Suntour was a much smaller company than Shimano who quickly began to surpass them. In 1984 Shimano introduced Shimano Indexed Shifting (SIS) which became very popular. It wasn’t until 1987 that Suntour introduced AccuShift indexed shifting which is generally considered not as good as SIS.
On top of falling behind in technology, the yen had been revalued which made Suntour products less competitive in price with other manufacturers producing in Taiwan. In 1988 Suntour went bankrupt and were bought by Sakae Ringyo Company and became SR Suntour.
Shimano would come out with Shimano Integrated Shifting in 1990 and that was really the end for Suntour derailleurs. They are now mostly known for making bicycle shocks which are quite common.
Road Derailleur Rankings
2000 – AccuShift entry level
3000 – AccuShift upper entry level
3040 – AccuShift upper entry level
4050 – AccuShift mid-level
5000 – AccuShift mid-level
7-GT – upper entry level
AR – mid-level
ARX – slightly upgraded AR
Blaze – entry level
Blue Line BL – mid- level
Cyclone – top of the line from 1975-1976, lower high level, behind top level Superbe after 1977
Cyclone 6000 – lower high level
Cyclone 7000 – AccuShift high mid-level behind Superbe Pro and Sprint 9000
Cyclone GT – touring version of Cyclone, lower high level
Cyclone M-II – lower high level
Edge – mid-level
GPX – high mid-level, replaced Cyclone
GT – entry level
Hero – entry level
Hole Shot – entry level
Honor – entry level
LePree – mid-level
Ole – mid-level
Radius – mid-level
Seven – entry level
Skitter – entry level
Sprint – high mid-level below Superbe
Sprint 9000 – AccuShift high mid-level below Superbe
Superbe – briefly top of line until Superbe Pro introduced
Superbe Pro – top of the line
Superbe Tech – not very popular, considered unreliable
U – entry level
V – entry level
V-GT – mid-level touring
V-GT Luxe – mid-level touring
VT – entry level touring
VX – mid-level
Volante – entry level