I have an old Centurion Ironman Expert that has been neglected that I'm having powdercoated and getting back on the road. Just dropped it off at the powdercoaters this morning. In the process of stripping everything off to prep for powdercoating, I confirmed what I suspected, that both the headset and the bottom bracket were in need of replacement. The old headset was shimano 105, but was so worn that it was binding and "indexed." The old BB was a Kiyata cup and cone type BB. I'd never heard of Kiyata before, it seems like a generic asian BB that centurion put on to save money rather than use shimano 105, like the rest of the bike, because most people wouldn't notice that the BB was different.
So now that I'm replacing them, I want to get something solid and decent, but I don't need anything fancy. I want something relatively inexpensive, but also solid and durable, and that will offer good performance. I don't race or anything, I mostly use the centurion as a fast commuter.
I figured since the spindle and bearings need to be replaced (the cups look like they might be okay, but I didn't bother to really clean them up and inspect them since the spindle obviously needs replacement), it made sense to install a cartridge BB. So I have been looking at the velo-orange grand cru bb, as compared to the shumano un55. The shimano is about $10 cheaper. With the extra ten bucks for the grand cru, what am I getting? Am I getting better performance, better durability, lighter weight, or am I just paying for the shiny boron steel spindle (as opposed to the shimano's black spindle) and the faux-French velo orange hipster cred?
As for the headset, I'm limited to JIS (27mm crown race), since I'm not really interested in having the fork milled to fit an ISO headset. I've been comparing the velo orange alloy headset with the tange levin steel alloy headset. The price is within a few dollars on either one, and from what I can tell, they are pretty comparable, but if anyone has any experience with these, I would appreciate any feedback.
'''96 Litespeed Catalyst, '05 Litespeed Firenze, '06 Litespeed Tuscany, '12 Surly Pacer, All are 3x8,9 or 10. It is hilly around here!
Get the Shimano UN55 bottom bracket. They are reliable and well proven. Save the $10.
As to the headset, a cartridge bearing type is highly recommended if one will fit. However, was your old 105 the "loose ball" (even if they were in retainers) design? If so any new cartridge bearing design, even Shimano's NOS 105 HP-1050 or Ultegra HP6400, headsets will have a significantly greater stack height and your fork may not have a long enough steerer to accept them. The Tange Levin is also a well proven design and has the low stack height you may need. BTW, why not mill the fork crown? It's a low cost one-time job and opens up a world of headset choices in the future.
I don't know, maybe I should be open to milling the fork crown. I just figured I can get what I need in JIS, why bother on this bike? Once this rebuild/restoration is complete, I don't think I'll be looking to put much more money into upgrades on the centurion; I'll be more focused on getting a new bike altogether or building up my winter commuter. (That's a whole different project: I have a cheap old Giant Rincon frame with broken grip shifters that I want to set up with fenders and either convert to single speed or put on an IGH)