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Old 06-18-17, 05:44 PM   #1
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Dipping My Toes in the Touring Waters

My only unsupported tour was at the age of 16 on my Peugeot UO8. I went out for two nights with all my Boy Scout camping gear... Loaded in my Boy Scout backpack and carried on my back! I barely struggled through about 40 miles of torture with that 30-pound pack on my back.

The psychic scars have now healed sufficiently, 49 years later, that I want to try it again without the backpack. I bought used racks and panniers over the last few months and thought that I would just clamp them onto my Panasonic DX-3000: But then fate and the N+1 urge intervened in the form of a cheap Craigslist bike with rack braze-ons and cantilever brakes; a mystery bike with an awful rattlecan paint job and an accumulated 30 years of hard living.

But what kind of bike is it?








The chrome chain stay, Suntour dropouts, chrome seat stay caps, and the curved fender bridge looked an awful lot to me like pictures I found of the Centurion Pro Tour. But the clincher was the Suntour "symmetric" aero shifters mounted on this square shifter boss.




If I am interpreting the serial number correctly this bike was built in 1984.



I stripped the spray paint to reveal a fully chromed frame, polished only at the dropouts, drive-side chain stay, and seat stay caps. I'm tempted to build up the frame without paint but I need to source a few parts so I probably have time to paint before assembly. In stripping the paint I found the wiring holes that were characteristic of this bike which was available with a bottom bracket mounted generator.





Unfortunately the original triple chainring crankset had been replaced with a double and the original derailleurs replaced with a pair of nice Shimano 105's that will not handle the wide gear range and triple chainrings that I want to put on this bike. So first order of business is to find a crankset. (See my post in the "ISO and for trade thread")

The "symmetric" shifters are new to me an have their own mysteries.



When I pull back on the right shifter the left shifter slides forward a couple millimeters, acting as a trimming device I assume. I would love to know more about this. But the biggest mystery for me is "Why did Centurion think that a touring bike needed aero shifters?"

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Old 06-18-17, 05:54 PM   #2
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Correct on the trimming. It does work. Nice find and good luck. Keep in mind that while your touring chops might have improved your youthful resilience has not.
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Old 06-18-17, 06:02 PM   #3
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The shifters also look "circa" 1984. That time period was pretty much a "golden age" for touring bikes. Looks like you did well. Maybe a crank set off an inexpensive older mountain bike "donor" might work. Show a few more pix of the stripped frame. Might look good with a layer of clear coat only. Maybe you can just paint the lugs black or burgundy red. Plenty of decals available online.
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Old 06-18-17, 06:23 PM   #4
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Interesting project. Keep us informed.
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Old 06-18-17, 06:26 PM   #5
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Nice find. I believe the Shifters were there as Aero was in its full early years swing and the thought was saved energy. Or maybe improved clearance/reduction of risk of breaking if dropped with a heavy load. The 80' Shogun Sports Tourer I have is originally equipped with Aero hubs and the solid countersunk seat post clamp to keep from over tightening or breaking when out on the road. Basically, I would think it boils down to anticipated efficiency and/or lower maintenance.
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Old 06-18-17, 07:03 PM   #6
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Nice -- I hadn't seen those aero shifters on a Pro Tour, but looking at the 1984 catalog, there they are.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/centuri...0pro-tour.html

I've got a 1976 Pro Tour -- absolutely love it.

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Old 06-18-17, 07:20 PM   #7
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Accept what it is and what it will accommodate. A U08 is a good legacy to leave in the past, as is the trauma of backpack touring.

The "badness" of the rattlecan doesn't rear it's head blatantly in your pictures, and despite the gnawing of wonder against mystery, I advise simply embracing what you have for the time being. You have trauma to exorcise, and it looks like this bicycle could help punch that ticket.

If you have a wishful desire for this to be a Centurion, I'll step forward to splash cold water on your face and challenge you with, "why?". They do have a following, and typically do not have flaws in production, but imo, lack entirely in the aspect of conveying any character of the builder. Certainly not anywhere near being the worst, but also disqualified from being worshipped.
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Old 06-18-17, 07:26 PM   #8
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Or maybe improved clearance/reduction of risk of breaking if dropped with a heavy load.
OK, I'll bite... how many cases of damaged shifters does this group know of due to a bike being dropped on its side, loaded or not?
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Old 06-18-17, 07:36 PM   #9
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Nice Score! Just rebuilt an 86 Schwinn Passage in March after getting bit by the touring bike bug, as someone above mentioned the mid 80s Japanese bikes are a "golden age" of lugged steel construction especially for touring bikes. Have fun, I for one vote for clear coat over the "raw" finish. I have found my local bike co-op is a great source of vintage parts if you decide to go that route.

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Old 06-18-17, 07:40 PM   #10
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Great find for sure. Congrats!

That is a very nice bike from (arguably) the golden age of Japanese production touring bikes. I would use the fact that it's been boogered up as an excuse to put some good retro-ish parts on and slightly modernize it. Seeing as you want to use this a an actual touring machine, this would be a practical approach.

In my professional opinion you should paint it and leave the polished chrome tips only exposed. IMO unpolished chrome looks kind of cheezy, and paint will protect better from rust, plus its more stealth. I'd probably spread it to 130 as well, if only because 120mm OLD stuff is hard to find nowadays.

I vote for a Sugino XD600 or similar crank. 10t spread like 30/40/50 works well with non mountain specific front derailleurs. I'd probably lose the brakes while you're at it. Those were never that great. I prefer the Gran Compe CP of earlier models, but cantilever brakes were all the rage in 1984, and marketing is marketing. If you keep them, new pads and a shorter straddle cable will be helpful.

The aero stuff was obviously very in at that time. They found later than most of it wasn't any more aero than the old parts. Aero brake levers are pretty useful on tour though, but not because they are aero. The practical advantage is you can flip your bike upside down to adjust a derailleur or true a wheel or whatever, without messing up your brake cables. A handy feature when camping.

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Old 06-18-17, 07:41 PM   #11
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As a DX-3000 owner, I would not want to do loaded touring on it. Too racy. Nice alternative you found.
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Old 06-18-17, 08:24 PM   #12
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OK, I'll bite... how many cases of damaged shifters does this group know of due to a bike being dropped on its side, loaded or not?
Was not a loaded comment, just trying to make sense of a thought process. Not all thoughts or creations from them are supported or warranted. Many bike products have gone the wayside as a bad idea. And many ideas include lesser potential benefits beyond a primary. I don't know about the trimming either, may be part of it as well.

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Old 06-18-17, 08:25 PM   #13
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Accept what it is and what it will accommodate. A U08 is a good legacy to leave in the past, as is the trauma of backpack touring.

The "badness" of the rattlecan doesn't rear it's head blatantly in your pictures, and despite the gnawing of wonder against mystery, I advise simply embracing what you have for the time being. You have trauma to exorcise, and it looks like this bicycle could help punch that ticket.

If you have a wishful desire for this to be a Centurion, I'll step forward to splash cold water on your face and challenge you with, "why?". They do have a following, and typically do not have flaws in production, but imo, lack entirely in the aspect of conveying any character of the builder. Certainly not anywhere near being the worst, but also disqualified from being worshipped.
Assuming you're not just having a bad day, what do you suggest as an object of worship? Centurion Pro Tours aren't magical, but are pretty darn nice for a production bike. I'm not aware of any other production bike that is substantially better, and only a few that are as nice. Certainly there are some custom bikes that would put them to shame, but not off the shelf, or at a similar price.

Sure, there is a lot more to successful touring than a nice bike, but there's nothing wrong with having nice equipment.
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Old 06-18-17, 08:26 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the kind words and advice!

As @Salamandrine suggests I am seriously considering spreading the dropouts to 130; even going a step farther and putting either brifters since I have a pair sitting around, or bar end shifters on it. That leaves me with the dilemma of what to do about that shifter boss. I've looked in vain for a cable stop adapter. If I'm going to cut off the boss now is the time to do it before I put a finish on the bike.
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Old 06-18-17, 08:59 PM   #15
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I've looked in vain for a cable stop adapter. If I'm going to cut off the boss now is the time to do it before I put a finish on the bike.
Brent
Free advice freely given. But you know what it's worth...

Anyhow, I'm not sure I'd have the heart to cut off the boss, though I see the reasoning. Sure, it was an evolutionary dead end, but those weird shifters really worked, and it was a good idea.

Secondarily, if you are converting to brifters or bar ends and indexing, you'll want something more solid than a band clamp stop. At a minimum a portion of that thing will need to stay to act as a stop. I would probably just DIY a cable stop from a small block of 6061, and bolt it on. Even without machine tools it wouldn't be that hard.
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Old 06-18-17, 09:07 PM   #16
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Assuming you're not just having a bad day, what do you suggest as an object of worship? Centurion Pro Tours aren't magical, but are pretty darn nice for a production bike. I'm not aware of any other production bike that is substantially better, and only a few that are as nice. Certainly there are some custom bikes that would put them to shame, but not off the shelf, or at a similar price.

Sure, there is a lot more to successful touring than a nice bike, but there's nothing wrong with having nice equipment.
As I stated, nothing wrong with them, but they seem to have a bit of a cultish following. If that's what makes you happy, I am 100% fine with your decision. Frankly, I prefer '70's to '80's, and don't perceive much difference between anything make in Taiwan or Japan with decent 531, Ishiwata or Miyata tubing. Saying it is not well made would be dishonest - as would, imo, stating that it is somehow exceptional, and should be more desired that a frame of comparable quality.
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Old 06-19-17, 09:50 AM   #17
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The serial number stamped on the BB should indicate the manufacturer if not the mark. There are some regulars on this forum who can decipher these numbers.
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Old 06-19-17, 10:34 AM   #18
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May have overlooked the advantage of the "Aero" shifters. They are asymmetric and work together as a system. Don't know if that system would be possible with standard shifter braze-ons, doubt it. The above DT configuration may have allowed for this design to exist.
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Old 06-19-17, 11:26 AM   #19
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Thanks for all the kind words and advice!

As @Salamandrine suggests I am seriously considering spreading the dropouts to 130; even going a step farther and putting either brifters since I have a pair sitting around, or bar end shifters on it. That leaves me with the dilemma of what to do about that shifter boss. I've looked in vain for a cable stop adapter. If I'm going to cut off the boss now is the time to do it before I put a finish on the bike.
Brent
Mount a bell on it!
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Old 06-19-17, 11:34 AM   #20
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Free advice freely given. But you know what it's worth...

Anyhow, I'm not sure I'd have the heart to cut off the boss, though I see the reasoning. Sure, it was an evolutionary dead end, but those weird shifters really worked, and it was a good idea.

Secondarily, if you are converting to brifters or bar ends and indexing, you'll want something more solid than a band clamp stop. At a minimum a portion of that thing will need to stay to act as a stop. I would probably just DIY a cable stop from a small block of 6061, and bolt it on. Even without machine tools it wouldn't be that hard
This is probably what I would do.

I considered doing barcons on mine but I it came with the matching Deore group so I didnt. I wouldn't cut the boss off. A drill, small block of steel or aluminum and a cutting wheel to cut and shape. It would have to overhang (top and bottom) on the ends with a lip (raise center) as it is a single bolt application or it would spin or move from pressure. A hole on top and the sides and good to go. Probably some trial and error but an easy solution and made by you.

If you get the parts and sell bike, the boss is usable.

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Old 06-19-17, 11:45 AM   #21
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Thanks for all the kind words and advice!

As @Salamandrine suggests I am seriously considering spreading the dropouts to 130; even going a step farther and putting either brifters since I have a pair sitting around, or bar end shifters on it. That leaves me with the dilemma of what to do about that shifter boss. I've looked in vain for a cable stop adapter. If I'm going to cut off the boss now is the time to do it before I put a finish on the bike.
Brent
I had a top mount and just filled it with a small squoosh of clear silicone then used the mount as a stop for a banded cable stop. Looked neat enough and the threads never rust.
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Old 06-19-17, 12:44 PM   #22
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This is probably what I would do.

I considered doing barcons on mine but I it came with the matching Deore group so I didnt. I wouldn't cut the boss off. A drill, small block of steel or aluminum and a cutting wheel to cut and shape. It would have to overhang (top and bottom) on the ends with a lip (raise center) as it is a single bolt application or it would spin or move from pressure. A hole on top and the sides and good to go. Probably some trial and error but an easy solution and made by you.

If you get the parts and sell bike, the boss is usable.
Yep.

I was thinking the simplest DIY way to do it would be a block of ~3/8" thick aluminum. Drill a hole in the center the same diameter as the width of the square boss. File out the corners to square by hand. Drill stepped holes for the housing stops and cable. Round off the exterior corners as desired. At that point it could be screwed to the boss with a washer and won't spin if well enough made. The underside could be rounded to fit the down tube, or simply use a leather washer.

That should be doable with a hand drill and a vise. A drill press would help of course.

Aluminum is strong, light and easy to work. Brass is pretty easy to work too. I don't think I'd try it in steel without a drill press and a milling machine.

Another idea would be to simply use the original friction shifters. They might travel enough for 9 spd. You could get wacky and use a cable travel multiplier to get a bit more travel for 10 or 11 too I suppose. Then again indexing is pretty nice to have, especially with bags.
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Old 06-19-17, 01:05 PM   #23
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Mount a bell on it!
A brilliant idea! Now I need to find a bell I can activate with my knees...

You all have convinced me to keep the boss. I'll mount the original shifters on it and see how I like them. Plan "B" will be to fabricate some sort of cable stop to bolt to the boss.

Here's the frame, prepped and awaiting primer in my highly sophisticated outdoor spray booth.



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Old 06-19-17, 01:12 PM   #24
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I have to admit the bell is a genius idea.

So what color? I guess we find out tomorrow?

My vote when asked is always: big flake metallic dune buggy purple.
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Old 06-19-17, 01:50 PM   #25
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Thanks for all the kind words and advice!

As @Salamandrine suggests I am seriously considering spreading the dropouts to 130; even going a step farther and putting either brifters since I have a pair sitting around, or bar end shifters on it. That leaves me with the dilemma of what to do about that shifter boss. I've looked in vain for a cable stop adapter. If I'm going to cut off the boss now is the time to do it before I put a finish on the bike.
Brent
Spread, yes, hack off boss, no

Here's my late 70's after spreading:


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Mount a bell on it!
Doing the math on 16 + 49, that's a long way to bend over to ring a bell.



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Yep.

I was thinking the simplest DIY way to do it would be a block of ~3/8" thick aluminum. Drill a hole in the center the same diameter as the width of the square boss. File out the corners to square by hand. Drill stepped holes for the housing stops and cable. Round off the exterior corners as desired. At that point it could be screwed to the boss with a washer and won't spin if well enough made. The underside could be rounded to fit the down tube, or simply use a leather washer.

That should be doable with a hand drill and a vise. A drill press would help of course.

Aluminum is strong, light and easy to work. Brass is pretty easy to work too. I don't think I'd try it in steel without a drill press and a milling machine.
Wouldn't the original top mount part work with a pair of these?



Might hafta file down the backsides
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