SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

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Brucey
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SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby Brucey » 11 Feb 2020, 11:59pm

With just a handful of development engineers, SunTour was an innovative and successful manufacturer of bicycle components in the 1970s.

A very good example of this is their multiple freewheels. From the late 1960s their 'Perfect' and 'Pro Compe' models had allowed 5s and later 6s freewheels to be built with 14-34T range and these freewheels used just two styles of sprocket; e.g. in a 5s freewheel there were three splined sprockets (16-34T) on a common fitting and two smaller threaded sprockets. This meant that it was simple to build a different freewheel for a different purpose. Even their remover tool was better than most other freewheels; the two prongs were thicker and stronger.

The Regina Oro was a typical European freewheel of the 1960s;

Image

although it was not heavy and was reasonably well made, in many other respects it could hardly have been better designed if they were trying to drive you berserk. To build the freewheel up you might need any of seven or so different sprockets, and only a few of them could ever be used in a different position. The larger sprockets were left-threaded onto the left side of the freewheel body. In practice it was almost impossible to remove all the sprockets from the body (you would have nothing to grip when removing the final one) and that was only a possibility if you managed to get the thing off the wheel in the first place; a common outcome was that the remover broke, or the freewheel notches got chewed up.

After this the simpler, workmanlike SunTour freewheels were a breath of fresh air. They shifted better than average, because the sprockets were chamfered slightly, and they were not expensive either. However the bearings in the bodies remained shim-adjustable and riders were wanting to use 13T sprockets sometimes.

Thus in the mid 1970s SunTour went one step further with a freewheel they called 'Winner'. This used aluminium (for racing) or steel sprockets (Winner S) and some of the sprocket fittings were the same as those used in earlier SunTour freewheels. The bearings were adjustable in situ, and the adjustment could be locked by simply refitting the sprockets to the freewheel body. Winner freewheels were available in 5s and 6s forms.

1976-01 winner.jpg
Anatomy of a 1976 winner


Neat huh?

Well it was, but there were two different freewheel bodies, the aluminium sprockets were fragile and the bearing adjustment was a bit fiddly, so in late 1978 they came out with the 'New Winner'; this used a single body (with easier bearing adjustment) and (mostly) the same sprockets to enable 5s standard spaced, 6s standard spaced, 6s narrow spaced or 7s narrow spaced freewheels. It was one of the first freewheels that offered a 12T top sprocket in 7s form.

Image

In reality the end sprockets (the smallest ones) needed to be made in several different versions and there were quite a few different spacers etc. To the above chart, further U and E sprocket sizes were added, so eventually there were eight different spacers and about as many different sprocket fittings too; in (say) 14T size alone you would need seven different sprockets to cover all eventualities.

In about 1983 they revised the body with deeper more curved grooves in the splines so that almost any older splined sprocket would fit in the 'A' position. This meant there are more sizes; from other SunTour freewheel models there are 27T, 34T and even 38T sprockets which fit the 'New Winner' body.

Although it was complicated, it was progress; I used New Winner freewheels for about a decade or more (for racing and touring) and they pretty much did what they said on the tin. The move to narrow spacing and fitting six sprockets where five had been before, or seven where six had been before was arguably the start of a trend to more and more sprockets, smaller sprockets and ever skinnier chains that continues to this day.

From my spare parts stash;
Image01578.jpg
13-19T 7s New Winner

Image01583.jpg
13-19T 7s New Winner, with used middle sprocket

Image01584.jpg
13-19T 7s New Winner, with second version body


Eventually -in no small part because they were nearly always a well-used part of any freewheel that I built, be it for touring or racing- I started to run out of good threaded (T/R type) 15T and 16T sprockets, hence the freewheel above has a lightly used 16T sprocket amidst unused ones.

More about the 'Sunset for SunTour' here;

http://pages.citebite.com/o2n1u6u4w3qui

cheers
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peetee
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby peetee » 12 Feb 2020, 12:32pm

Thanks for that trip down memory lane. Reminds me of working an early shift through the summer months and spending every afternoon possible riding the downs and New Forest on my Holdsworth.
I remember the New Winner well. More than once I popped into Rotrax to get sprockets replaced or changed for a different combination. They had that backing board, which was predominantly blue IIRC, on the wall by the window in the shop. Late on, about 1985 IIRC there was a bit of an issue with the quality on some of the sprockets. I was not a powerful rider but managed to break some teeth off the newly replaced cogs (on a new chain) and many of those that were left were fractured. I remember it well as I was left in a 42/15 gear on one particularly steep hill! :oops:
Current status report:
Back on two wheels in deepest Pastyland and loving every minute. Mission: to enjoy big, bad hills again.

Brucey
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby Brucey » 12 Feb 2020, 1:05pm

it is interesting that you mention variable quality. IIRC 'fastpedaller' had a similar experience, not quite sure when. I guess BITD I'd bought most of my stuff before they produced the second body version of New Winner; in recent years I've occasionally got hold of more New Winner freewheels as the opportunity arises and it is amongst these that all my 'second version' NW bodies occur. [I suspect that the LBSs where I used to buy my sprockets were mostly selling sprockets which arrived with the board in about 1979, right up until the Winner Pro arrived, at which point they cheerfully sold all the NW-only screw fit sprockets and couldn't buy any more, only WP sprockets which were of no use to me....ho hum.. :roll: .]

Anyway if I sift through my collection of parts the worst (slackest) fit occurs on some second version NW bodies and some sprockets are clearly not made to such good tolerances either. One body I have has slightly undersized threads where the rightmost 'T' fit sprocket fits, and even some damage to the last thread top. I have it in mind to only use that body with a 14T sprocket (N or P) in that position on that body, because that will have more threads on it (having an integral spacer) , and will probably be OK, whereas if I choose the sprocket at random, I think it may strip under duress.

I still need to have and use freewheels because I still have several sets of 'vintage' wheels with campag screw threaded hubs and so forth. Fortunately I don't do many miles on those bikes so it isn't a major undertaking, but I will admit to picking up old SunTour parts when the opportunity arises.

cheers
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foxyrider
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby foxyrider » 12 Feb 2020, 4:31pm

Having previously only used Regina blocks and chains of varying qualities, i ended up with my one and only Sun Tour fw in the summer of '78. You see i was at the Harrogate Festival (remember that folks, 10 days of racing, touring and public exhibition) and i had got a slot in the middle markers 25 on the Boro, my team 'director' suggested fitting a straight through fw would be helpful on the rolling A1 and a visit to Kitchings (on a little trading estate IIRC) later i had a nice gold finished 13-18 6sp. That block fitted to my l/f Record 28 spoke wheel was my go to for time trials for at least 15 years, has never been serviced or had any sprockets changed, at which point cassettes and 12 sprockets gained my attention, however old faithful was not discarded and is currently on my Eroica build apparently none the worse for all the abuse its had.

Its quite interesting though that when i put it back into service i tried a variety of 6/7 speed period correct chains but they all ran quite rough - after a lot of experimentation i eventually fitted a 10sp Connex which still looks the part but also runs sweet as a nut :D
Convention? what's that then?
Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

rjb
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby rjb » 12 Feb 2020, 4:50pm

1988 Ron Kit everything cycling catalogue has these pages which might be of interest.
IMG_20200212_164756.jpg
IMG_20200212_164815.jpg
At the last count:- Focus Variado, Peugeot 531 pro, Dawes Discovery Tandem, Dawes Kingpin, Raleigh 20, Falcon K2 MTB dropped bar tourer, Longstaff trike conversion on a Falcon corsa. :D

Brucey
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby Brucey » 12 Feb 2020, 6:17pm

rjb wrote:1988 Ron Kit everything cycling catalogue has these pages which might be of interest.


SunTour revamped their freewheel range in about 1985. The New Winner (NW) was replaced by the Winner Pro (WP) and additionally a pair of other less expensive models the 'Winner' (WT) and the 'Alpha' were introduced, all using the same new type splined middle sprockets. These went to 23T (cf 21T previously) , which made the construction of a good touring freewheel easier. Apart from the new splined middle sprockets, the WP/WT freewheels used the same large and small sprockets as the New Winner model.

Annoyingly (for me) the splined Winner and Winner Pro bodies also had threads on, so that SunTour dealers wouldn't be stuck with a load of old Perfect/ProCompe/New Winner threaded middle sprockets; they could sell those to fit to new bodies. This had the effect of me running out of good threaded middle sprockets (which were always the ones that wore first anyway in my use) and they couldn't be replaced with anything else. I wasn't about to spend a small fortune on a bunch of WP freewheel bodies (none of my NW bodies were worn in any way because I'd looked after them) almost on principle. I was bored of replacing broken rear axles too, so I had it in mind to change to shimano cassette hubs anyway; Sun Tour's inconvenient (for me) sprocket policy merely hurried me along that road.

cheers
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steve.y.griffith
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby steve.y.griffith » 12 Feb 2020, 6:24pm

Worth reading Frank Berto article Sunset for SUNTOUR which you can find on line

Superb history and analysis of why they failed mainly due to not doing enough R and D and their ATB Mountech rear gear had to be recalled which allowed Shimano to conqueror the world with Deore...
There were quality issues with the Perfect and Compe V freewheels often the result of not enough grease inside but far far better than the competitors

Brucey
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby Brucey » 12 Feb 2020, 6:33pm

foxyrider wrote:Having previously only used Regina blocks and chains of varying qualities, i ended up with my one and only Sun Tour fw in the summer of '78. You see i was at the Harrogate Festival (remember that folks, 10 days of racing, touring and public exhibition) and i had got a slot in the middle markers 25 on the Boro, my team 'director' suggested fitting a straight through fw would be helpful on the rolling A1 and a visit to Kitchings (on a little trading estate IIRC) later i had a nice gold finished 13-18 6sp. That block fitted to my l/f Record 28 spoke wheel was my go to for time trials for at least 15 years, has never been serviced or had any sprockets changed, at which point cassettes and 12 sprockets gained my attention, however old faithful was not discarded and is currently on my Eroica build apparently none the worse for all the abuse its had.

Its quite interesting though that when i put it back into service i tried a variety of 6/7 speed period correct chains but they all ran quite rough - after a lot of experimentation i eventually fitted a 10sp Connex which still looks the part but also runs sweet as a nut :D


Gold finish and 13T top sprocket suggests the 6s version of the ProCompe which used a smaller top sprocket than the other Perfect/Pro-Compe models which would only accept a 14T top cog. Most (but not all) ProCompe bodies had an odd number of teeth in the ratchet and two opposed pawls (of which only one was ever in engagement) , giving about 34 clicks per revolution; quite a 'busy' sounding freewheel.

FWIW I am surprised that a 10s chain works on that freewheel; 10s chain (which is often listed as 11/128" instead of 3/32") is intended for sprockets which are ~1.7mm thickness, but the ProCompe sprockets are close to 2.0mm thickness. Most 10s chains are a snug fit on 2.0mm sprockets and are both noisy and very reluctant to shift well as a consequence.

cheers
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Brucey
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby Brucey » 13 Feb 2020, 12:46am

the 1978 model ProCompe 6s freewheel (PC-6000) is shown here

http://www.disraeligears.co.uk/Site/SunTour_Catalog_1978_-_page_6.html

The sharp-eyed will spot that the largest ProCompe sprocket offered is 26T. However in earlier versions larger sprockets 28T, 30T, 32T, 34T were offered. There is also a rare odd toothed ProCompe 27T sprocket too ( I have one).

The PC-6000 model -the only Procompe which allowed a 13T sprocket IIRC- didn't last that long; it doesn't appear in later catalogues.

By November of 1978 the 'New Winner' model freewheel emerged and this was soon the SunTour freewheel of choice for racers. By 1981 the only ProCompe model still offered was the original 5s one (PC-5000), but you could get a 6s ultra-spaced 'perfect' model and also note that the AG (PT-3800)freewheel came with a 38T sprocket in the same fitting as would work with many other SunTour freewheels.

http://www.disraeligears.co.uk/Site/SunTour_Catalog_No_59_-_Page_17.html

a notable omission in the 1981 catalogue is any indication of the sprocket sizes possible in the various freewheels.

in the 1983 catalogue

http://www.disraeligears.co.uk/Site/SunTour_Bicycle_Equipment_Catalog_No_61_-_Page_35.html

there are excellent illustrations of the build up of both New Winner and Micro-Lite freewheels. A later addition to the range (absent in the 1983 catalogue) was a 15T 'S' type sprocket, which allowed a junior racing 15-up freewheel in ultra-6 format to be built.

cheers
Last edited by Brucey on 13 Feb 2020, 1:50am, edited 1 time in total.
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Brucey
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby Brucey » 13 Feb 2020, 1:18am

steve.y.griffith wrote:Worth reading Frank Berto article Sunset for SUNTOUR which you can find on line


there is a link to the text of this in the first post. If there is an accessible online version of this which includes all the figures, this would be a handy link to have.

cheers
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foxyrider
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby foxyrider » 13 Feb 2020, 10:28am

Brucey wrote:
foxyrider wrote:Having previously only used Regina blocks and chains of varying qualities, i ended up with my one and only Sun Tour fw in the summer of '78. You see i was at the Harrogate Festival (remember that folks, 10 days of racing, touring and public exhibition) and i had got a slot in the middle markers 25 on the Boro, my team 'director' suggested fitting a straight through fw would be helpful on the rolling A1 and a visit to Kitchings (on a little trading estate IIRC) later i had a nice gold finished 13-18 6sp. That block fitted to my l/f Record 28 spoke wheel was my go to for time trials for at least 15 years, has never been serviced or had any sprockets changed, at which point cassettes and 12 sprockets gained my attention, however old faithful was not discarded and is currently on my Eroica build apparently none the worse for all the abuse its had.

Its quite interesting though that when i put it back into service i tried a variety of 6/7 speed period correct chains but they all ran quite rough - after a lot of experimentation i eventually fitted a 10sp Connex which still looks the part but also runs sweet as a nut :D


Gold finish and 13T top sprocket suggests the 6s version of the ProCompe which used a smaller top sprocket than the other Perfect/Pro-Compe models which would only accept a 14T top cog. Most (but not all) ProCompe bodies had an odd number of teeth in the ratchet and two opposed pawls (of which only one was ever in engagement) , giving about 34 clicks per revolution; quite a 'busy' sounding freewheel.

FWIW I am surprised that a 10s chain works on that freewheel; 10s chain (which is often listed as 11/128" instead of 3/32") is intended for sprockets which are ~1.7mm thickness, but the ProCompe sprockets are close to 2.0mm thickness. Most 10s chains are a snug fit on 2.0mm sprockets and are both noisy and very reluctant to shift well as a consequence.

cheers


Found a pic or two taken during renovations!

IMG_20150228_215004.jpg
IMG_20150228_215015.jpg
IMG_20150228_215106.jpg


the chain fitted is this

DSCN7657.jpg


and finally one in situ

DSCN7669.jpg


The gold finish doesn't show very well - its not bright to start with and is washed out by the flash.
Convention? what's that then?
Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

Brucey
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby Brucey » 13 Feb 2020, 11:13am

that looks like a NW-6500 Ultra 6 New Winner to me (with a V1 NW body). The finish on those sprockets is normally described as 'silver'. You can see the difference between that and the ProCompe 'gold' sprockets in the photos in the various links I have posted. I'm no expert on Connex chains but that chain does look like an early Connex 10s chain alright; if so I'm still surprised it works well on those sprockets.

If the bearings ever need adjustment you can do it from the front of the freewheel, in situ (which means the freewheel isn't trying to turn; once it is off the wheel you need to hold it somehow). However if the remover slot is burred over, sometimes the lockring for the bearing adjustment doesn't want to move, not until the burrs have been carefully dressed (eg using a Dremel tool).

I do have the special adjusting spanner but for years I didn't, and used a small drift to loosen and tighten the lockring instead. You may read elsewhere that you need two spanners to make the adjustment; this is not so, because there is a very meaty tab washer between the locknut and cone. You therefore need only one spanner, or in my case only one small hammer and punch.

However this can raise small burrs on the lockring, which did bite me in the backside; many years ago, in the middle of Norway, the lockring burrs decided to make contact with the overhanging #6/7 sprockets (on my touring freewheel), then the lockring backed out. The net result was that the freewheel locked solid, which made for some pretty tedious riding that day, and an evening in the (wild) campsite spent doing ad-hoc repairs.

cheers
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robc02
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby robc02 » 13 Feb 2020, 7:21pm

I well remember Regina freewheels. The difficulty of stripping them down to swap sprockets drove me nuts - but I did persevere so that I could swap cogs to suit different purposes.
I never did buy a Suntour freewheel, instead replacing Reginas with Maillard (subsequently to become Sachs Aris) which used similar principles to Suntour - narrow spacing and most sprockets fitting on a spline. As I recall there were two generations, the second of which had more of its sprockets on a spline and was therefore easier to rebuild. I used these until I eventually switched to 8 speed cassette hubs. I recently donated my remaining spare parts to a friend for an Eroica build.

Brucey
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby Brucey » 13 Feb 2020, 9:12pm

oddly enough I started out with Maillard Atom 77 five speed freewheels, thus BITD I 'dodged the Regina bullet' myself, and was slightly horrified that other people put up with them; I was well aware what they were like because I used to help my chums where I could.

The Atom 77 freewheel was -by the standards of the mid-1970s- in some respects a fairly modern design; it used a splined fitting for several of the sprockets, and a splined remover; all good stuff.

Image
A slightly earlier Atom freewheel, but using the same 5s construction as I had, with the #5 sprocket screwed into the #4 sprocket.

However in practice the splined remover was awkward to use, because it was solid, predating the thin-walled variety which would slide over the locknuts; to use it always required messing with the axle spacers and that meant messing with the hub bearings too in many instances. Also the freewheel bearings adjusted with shims, (which I thought archaic, little realising that we would be stuck with freehubs using tiny shims for decades to come... :roll: ) and that particular body design wouldn't easily accept close racing ratios. Worse yet the sprocket that wore fastest in my use was the fourth one, (which was the most expensive) and I couldn't easily buy that sprocket locally. Nor could I easily separate the #5 sprocket from the #4; trying to achieve this just made me a fair bit happier I wasn't wrestling with a Regina design, where I'd have the same problems several times over.

Some say a definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome. Well I was probably a crazy kid, because I knackered quite a few Atom 77 freewheels before the penny dropped and I finally realised that the standard freewheel which my bike had come with wasn't necessarily the ideal one. I think I managed to destroy one such freewheel in just a few weeks; one minute everything was fine, and then, almost suddenly, the chain was running rough because it was worn and the sprockets were too worn to accept a new chain without skipping; game over.... :shock: ...again.... :roll:

Having had a splined remover already, when the 'New Winner' came along, changing to a two dog remover seemed like a step sideways, if not backwards, for me. But at least they were two beefy dogs, not like the obviously feeble Regina ones, and suitably assured by the proprietor of the LBS re their strength, I took the shiny, almost futuristic silver box home with an Ultra 6 NW-6500 inside it.
Image

Six sprockets in place of five? Yeah, more is always better, right? I soon bought the necessary U, L, sprockets to convert it to 7s, because, er, more is always better, right? However whilst I could have fallen for it again and again subsequently, I (in hindsight surprisingly) resisted the temptations of ever more sprockets more often than I didn't. Seven cogs is usually enough, and seven really well chosen cogs is nearly always enough.

I next used 7s shimano freehubs, and when presented with ever wider hubs which were designed for more sprockets and the same wheel dish, I more often than not opted for less wheel dish and fewer sprockets than was current. I guess I still do; opportunities to go stronger and lighter don't crop up that often.

Below is an image of some tooth shapes which would have been current up to the mid '80s. IME of these, the shimano shape gave the best shifting.
Image

It occurs to me that this thread is of little relevance to modern cycling; a kind of 'which quill pen is best?' or something. Ah, but then again, if you don't take a look backwards from time to time, how can you really be sure that you are still going forwards....?

cheers
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drossall
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Re: SunTour 'New Winner' freewheel; state of the art in 1978

Postby drossall » 13 Feb 2020, 10:45pm

I've still got a tool for taking apart Suntour (?) freewheels. Can't remember now exactly how it works. This one.

Image

Also on Sheldon, near the bottom.