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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
disclaimer: This is for historians and geeks only. Has absolutely nothing to do with current technology.

Once upon a time, rear cogs were flat and plain.

Then, Shimano introduced their innovation of the month: Uniglide, in which sprocket teeth exhibited a slight twist for improved shifting.

A few weeks later, Uniglide was out, and Hyperglide was in, with promises of even better shifting. My understanding is that modern cassettes are essentially utilizing Hyperglide technology. Shimano may have made some refinements, and other brands have their versions, but essentially we're all riding Hyperglide now, right?

my question: How much of an improvement was Uniglide? If we assign a score of 1 to the preceding cogs (plain and flat), and we assign a score of 10 to the best modern cogs, where would Uniglide fit into that spectrum?
 

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I used to ride freewheels on mountain bikes and they trick was no shifting under load or they would bind or jump or break your chain. Of course we were using no indexed shifting with them, meaning you had to fiddle with your shifter to get it running quietly but the flat straight teeth held the chain really well and prevented it from derailing with trim not perfect.

Uniglide was the next step that came with the indexing, allowing your derailleur to snap to each position and shift under higher loads. Hyperglide with the stepped profile teeth allowed even better under load shifting. If you ride around on a flat tooth cassette the effect is very similar to the skinny wide chainrings, they really hold the chain on. If you road in the era where you could turn off indexing on your uniglide equipped bike and rode in friction mode (old road groups had this setting) you would notice that the chain really was hard to keep on and you needed to be really good at trimming it. I The option to switch disappeared with hyperglide as I assume the chain would fall all over the place with the ramps, the indexing was essential to the performance of that cassette style.

The ramblings of a mountain biker that started with friction and moved to index and ramped cogs only and others may have more experience or better input on this.
 

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I ran the first Shimano SIS stuff, friend still using that road bike. Uniglide didnt make a huge difference, id give it a 3 to 4. Wasnt around for that long, HG was the quantum leap forward, id say 7 or 8 even. Everything since then has been refinements. I was running HG freewheels on my MTBs for a while. And switchable indexing stayed around for as long as thumbies were around. Once shifters went underbar push push two lever there was no way to do that. I dont recall if the deer antler single underbar levers had a friction mode.
 

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I remember the same sort of Luddites always against change and loving anything new group debate it all. If anything really stands out from maybe about then was Dura-Ace freewheels were really good and it was towards an era where overall lots of bike stuff was pretty good.
 

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If you ride around on a flat tooth cassette the effect is very similar to the skinny wide chainrings, they really hold the chain on. If you road in the era where you could turn off indexing on your uniglide equipped bike and rode in friction mode (old road groups had this setting) you would notice that the chain really was hard to keep on and you needed to be really good at trimming it. The option to switch disappeared with hyperglide as I assume the chain would fall all over the place with the ramps, the indexing was essential to the performance of that cassette style
Thanks for posting that. I remember all that stuff coming out but wasn't up with the tech side of things back then. It seemed at the time like friction hung on for awhile in switchable form then overnight it was gone. That would explain why it seemed to be that way.
 

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Only benefit of uniglide over hyperglide was that you could flip the cogs and get twice the life out of a cassette. As others have said it was very short lived, and unfortunately the cassette bodies weren’t compatible with hyperglide cassettes. Luckily back in those days you could simply swap the cassette body on the hubs. I would agree that it was maybe a 3/4 out of 10 on the shifting. Hyperglide then came out and shifted much better. Problem was initially you would break a chain coasting downhill. They really didn’t last long and in the early nineties you really did have to bring a chain tool on every ride. Shimano thimbles never had a friction mode, other then friction shifters of course, pre uniglide. All the Deore Xt and below was indexed. XTR moved to rapid fire. That was probably the prettiest off-road group ever made, even more so when you factored in both form and function. As some one else said, Dura Ace freewheels were some of the nicest around and you could steal crappy hyperglide freewheel cogs of their cheap mountain freewheels and stuck them on the Dura ace freewheel body and then stick that on your WTB, Phil, Bullseye hubs. That on a Yo Eddy, Valkyrie, Rock Lobster was some serious ****. Which they made bikes like that again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
disclaimer: This is for historians and geeks only.
Wow, we have some historians and geeks here! Nice, that was more feedback than I expected.

I was making fun of Shimano when I said Uniglide only lasted a few weeks, but it looks like I wasn't that far off. I don't think I ever had it on any of my bikes, as I didn't make a purchase in that era, except maybe a French road bike that had a Maillard freewheel.
 

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New Old Stock uniglide keychain, this stuff just won’t wear out. Been in use since I got my first car in 1990!!!!!! OK, maybe not new but I haven’t ever broken a link on this one:)
029DACBF-3AD3-45CB-A627-ACA19816010D.jpeg
EBBB46DF-CCC1-45C5-B2FA-C370B0E24EF5.jpeg
 

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Shimano thixxxxces never had a friction mode, other then friction shifters of course, pre uniglide. All the Deore Xt and below was indexed. XTR moved to rapid fire.
I'd like to correct you on that. Almost all (maybe all, I don't know, but I can't name any counter examples off the top of my head) Shimano thumb shifters had a friction mode.
1939527

This is a first generation indexing 6-speed Deore XT shifter. Note the F for friction (vs. SIS for Shimano Indexing System). Likewise Deore DX and even Exage also had a friction selection. 7-speed thumb shifters also had friction. I believe Shimano got away from thumb shifters by 8-speed, though the bar end shifters- which could be used as thumb shifters with products such as Paul Component Thumbies- had a friction mode up to their 9-speed version. And if you really wanted, Microshift has thumb shifters (and bar end shifters) that are Shimano compatible with a friction mode, even up to 12-speed.
 

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And Suntour had the D ring knob on top that you loosened to go into friction mode. Yes i never switched to friction on either beyond trying it out.
I broke very few chains, only one i can recall was a Suntour. Shimanos from really far back used the special pin to rejoin. I think from early HG?
 

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Been a while since I road anything like that...

But I remember friction shifters not really needing HG, since you had to do it all manually. Once we got to indexing, that was when we needed ramped cassettes.
 

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I certainly remember the Suntour Friction, is felt so much better with all of the little ratchet teeth in there. At least I think they were ratchet teeth. Suntour had friction down!! Sidewalk is right with not needing HG. You just let up on the torque, pushed the lever a little too far and then pulled it back just a bit when it finally did shift. Races were won back in the day, or I should say lost if you didn't know how to shift.
 

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First bike I bought had friction shift only. 1986. I remember swooning over Campagnolo add in the bike magazines. I think they were sun tour shifters. I rode that bike along time. By the time I bought another rapid fire was out and shifting was mechanical, not an art.
 

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I was under the impression that the Simplex retrofriction downtube shifters were the best for the ratchet/friction- they do look really nice. But honestly, they were before my time. I have a set of similar action Suntour barend shifters and I just missed the era of identical thumb shifters by a year or two.

Shimano's Light Action index+friction shifters- thumb, bar end and downtube- instead had an internal spring to help pull against the derailleur return spring and make shifts require less force. That seems to have been a feature that died off with the advent of STI and rapidfire.
 
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