Listing Update...Please note this freewheel unit includes Suntour's newer four-notch body design, so will require the four-notch freewheel removal tool. We do not stock these tools, but they are readily available from other vendors.
This offering is for a new-old-stock (NOS) Suntour Alpha 5-speed freewheel that includes a 14-17-21-26-32 cluster (so probably best suited for a drivetrain having a rear derailleur with an extremely long pulley cage that is capable of handing tall gears). This is a slightly newer Suntour freewheel model relative to some of the others we have available, as it appears Suntour introduced these "Alpha" models about the same time they introduced their index shifting drivetrains in the late 80's. We're not sure if this transition was intentional...possibly to signify the end of the friction era drivetrains and the introduction of the index shifting era (with the Alpha freewheels)...we just do not know. Although, please also keep in mind these Alpha freewheels will function equally well with friction-based shifters/drivetrains (and we are not sure if Suntour ever developed index shifting 5-speed shifters/drivetrains).
Regardless of the thinking, we still want to emphasize these are legitimate new-old-stock freewheels that were produced in one of Suntour's respected Japanese plants (before the Company's closure in the early 90's). So not surprisingly, these freewheel units spin well, which is a good indicator the ball (bearing) races have been machined to the same high standards of Suntour's more popular freewheel models (Winner, New Winner, etc.) that pre-date the advent of index shifting technology. It's also worth noting the freewheel body is made from forged steel and the sprockets are made from high grade steel with Suntour's trusted beveled tooth design, which provides for reliable shifting performance that compares favorably to (or is at least the equivalent of) European counterparts from this era.
In terms of compatibility, this is a freewheel, so it will only install on a threaded rear hub (as opposed to the newer cassette/splined freehub designs that are more common today). The threading is British/English, so it's 1.370" x 24 tpi (threads per inch), which was one of the more prominent standards during this period...and very near a couple of other standards. More specifically, there is the Italian standard of 1.378" x 24 tpi with a slightly larger thread diameter and different thread angle, but the same thread pitch as the British/English standard. Then there is the newer ISO standard of 1.375" x 24 tpi (which is the preferred specification of most newer freewheel manufactures) with the same thread pitch and angle as the British/English standard and a thread diameter between the British/English and Italian models.
When considering the three aforementioned standards, conventional wisdom indicates there is some interchangeability among them...with a few caveats. More specifically the thread pitches are the same, while the thread diameters and angles are close enough that it's possible to install a freewheel spec'd to one standard on a threaded rear hub spec'd to a different standard (among the three included in this discussion). Although, one of the caveats is to avoid switching back and forth between standards, as there is still enough of a diameter and/or angle difference to prematurely wear-out/damage rear hub threading if this (switching back and forth) practice is employed. In other words, it's best to identify a freewheel standard (among the three mentioned) and then consistently use freewheels spec'd to that standard to help preserve the threads on a particular aluminum alloy rear hub. Additionally, we have learned these mix-n-match combinations may not be recommended for stronger riders and tandem applications...where there is additional drivetrain stress...as this combination may also result in premature thread damage to an aluminum alloy rear hub. I realize this latter commentary is somewhat subjective...and maybe somewhat conservative...but we feel like it's better to error on the downside of product function, so there are no disappointments concerning product performance down the road.
In terms of condition, all of our Suntour freewheels (unless otherwise noted) are new and in their original box...although some of the boxes are shopworn. The boxes aside, we cannot believe anybody will be disappointed with the condition of the freewheels.
A brief word about Suntour and their freewheel...
Like so many of the Suntour components, there was a period of time during the 70's and into the 80's where Suntour was arguably producing some of the finest bicycle components in the industry. Their freewheels were no exception...and even as late as the very early 90's, we have read or been told by respected sources that Suntour index (or AccuShift / AccuShift Plus) technology was on par with Shimano's index (or SIS) technology...but by this time Shimano was so firmly entrenched and so much stronger financially (for a number of different reasons), that Suntour was unable to recover lost market share, which led to it's ultimate demise.
As it relates specifically to Suntour freewheels, by the early to mid 70's they were considered as good or better than anything else on the market. Suntour's beveled teeth were universally accepted as one of the better sprocket designs that improved shifting performance and reliability. During this period, Suntour was already producing significant freewheel quantities, which included the Perfect, Procompe and Winner models.
By the late 70's, Suntour rolled out it's version of an Ultra 6-speed freewheel, which was essentially a 6-speed freewheel made with narrower spacers to fit on a standard 5-speed wheel (with locknut-to-locknut dimensions of 120 mm). Suntour followed this innovation with an Ultra 7-speed freewheel a couple of years later, which was built on the same premise...using narrower spacers, Suntour designed an Ultra 7-speed freewheel that was compatible with a standard 6-speed wheel (with locknut-to-locknut dimensions of 126 mm). This was followed by the introduction of the New Winner and Winner Pro freewheels in the 80's, which included a re-designed freewheel body that allowed for greater interchangeability of sprockets (to create standard and narrow spaced freewheels in the 5, 6 or 7 speed variety using the same body). It was a rather complex system (to build Suntour freewheels on this single body) with different spline, thread and spacer sizes, but it was still technically possible with the correct parts for assembly.
The late 80's and early 90's witnessed the roll-out of the "AccuShift" and "AccuShift Plus" index shifting compatible freewheels and cassettes. However (and even though Suntour was able to produce very competive and technically sound index shifting components into the early 90's), Shimano had long since established itself as the dominant bicycle components manufacturer headquartered in Japan, which signaled the end for Suntour shortly thereafter.
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Note to international customers regarding shipping...
We apologize to those that feel some of our international shipping charges are too high. We only charge actual shipping rates, but once an order exceeds a certain amount, we hesitate to use the least expensive US Postal Services First Class International service. We feel this way, because this service is not trackable or insurable...so more risk of loss. We prefer the US Postal Services Priority Mail International service for more expensive orders, because this service is trackable at USPS.com and insurable...so less risk of loss. Unfortunately, this service is more expensive, especially for smaller/lighter packages, relative to the First Class International service. We are sorry about these higher shipping costs, but hopefully our notes help to explain why this is the case.
Note to international customers regarding customs...
We also apologize to those that feel their country import taxes, duties and brokerage fees are excessive. As a small US business, we are required by customs' laws to declare each order as a retail sale. Additionally, the declared order value must be equal to total store purchases and/or winning auction bids (less any shipping costs, as these are not considered in the declared value). As a result, each customer will be responsible for paying his/her own country taxes, duties and brokerage fees, which will be collected upon delivery. Again, we apologize for these additional costs, but we cannot afford the penalties and fines that come with breaking customs' laws...so we have to strictly abide by them.