Decades ago, the best components outside of Europe were manufactured by Suntour of Japan, but today everyone knows that Shimano dominates the industry worldwide while Suntour is little more than name that was sold off years ago. The Suntour’s demise is generally attributed to a failure to develop worthy index shifting systems to compete against Shimano. The story is a little more complex than that. Index shifting necessitates developing the drivetrain as an integrated system, a concept that Suntour never really grasped until the company was already hopelessly behind. But in those last years before index shifting, Suntour made some of the finest friction shift derailleurs to ever grace a bicycle. And what’s interesting is that mid-level Cyclone series is often lauded as the best, rather than the racer’s flagship model, Superbe.
Recently a customer brought me a NOS Cyclone 7000 rear derailleur to replace his battered existing Suntour derailleur. This is the first new Suntour rear derailleur I have touched in over twenty years; I kept the box as a memento. The 7000 derailleur is actually from 1987, after the index revolution had already begun. For my own vintage bike project, a red 1983 Sannino, I hunted down a relatively clean Cyclone Mk.II (also known as model#3500). Aesthetically it was considered a little plain looking; nevertheless the dainty thing weighed a mere 176gr and shifted better than just about anything else.
I needed a front derailleur and I happened to find a NOS front Cyclone to match the rear. No box though.
Here is the stock Galli rear derailleur, as reasonable facsimile of a Campagnolo Nuovo Record. Not without its charm, but the Cyclone Mk.II outperforms it. Period.