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  1. #1
    Senior Member A.Winthrop's Avatar
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    Centurion Bicycles - Aug 2010 update

    Last edited by A.Winthrop; 07-13-11 at 11:41 AM. Reason: Aug 2010 update

  2. #2
    Knows Bigfoot's Momma
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    Thanks for that; a very good read!
    nice lugs baby!

  3. #3
    we are 138 Philatio's Avatar
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    very interesting, especially since I just bought this and it's supposed to be here tomorrow

    thanks for all the work

  4. #4
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    According to Frank J. Berto in 'The Dancing Chain', the Centurion story starts in 1969, when Raleigh Industries of America was looking at a Japanese source for the Grand Prix. An order was placed for 2,000 bicycles, but TI-Raleigh in England killed the project, leaving the sales agent, Mitchel Weiner, with 2,000 bicycles painted in Grand Prix colours. He placed Centurion decals on them, sold them for a huge profit and shortly thereafter formed Western State Imports.

  5. #5
    Glutton for Punishment
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    That jibes with the story my LBS guy -- a longtime Raleigh dealer -- told me. I believe the date would be 1979 though, not 1969. There was no TI-Raleigh as such until 1972, and I've got what's left of one of the phony GPs, and the components are mid to late '70s.

  6. #6
    Senior Member slagjumper's Avatar
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    I worked in a bike shop and rememember Centurions from 1979.

  7. #7
    bum bike chajmahal's Avatar
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    I have 4 Centurions:
    2 red/white LeMans RS, Tange 2, Shimano Light Action, Sugino GP 130 cranks, areo diacompe brake levers.
    1 blue LeMans, Suntour Vx, Suntour barcons, non-aero brake levers.
    1 red LeMans, Suntour Cyclone, non-aero brake levers.

    The latter 2, Suntour equipped, bikes don't have Tange stickers on the downtube. I forget exactly what they read but it's along the lines of: "Made with... Light Tubeset...". Led me to believe they were gaspipe.

    They still get me to work 3-5 days a week.

    According to a few websites, Suntour Vx and later the Cyclone, were Suntours top of the line derailers. Is this normal to see them on high tensile frames?
    Last edited by chajmahal; 10-07-05 at 10:28 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mswantak
    That jibes with the story my LBS guy -- a longtime Raleigh dealer -- told me. I believe the date would be 1979 though, not 1969. There was no TI-Raleigh as such until 1972, and I've got what's left of one of the phony GPs, and the components are mid to late '70s.
    Numerous sources (Retro-Raleigh, Tony Hadland, etc.) state the TI-Raleigh merger as being 1960, so Berto's date could well be correct. I know that the first Centrurions appeared well before 1979, as I have seen several references to Centurion bicycles in magazines from the early 1970s. However, Centurion did not receive national recognition until the late 1970s. In the early 1970s, distribution was restricted primarily to California.

  9. #9
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    Very interesting post. Since I have an old Centurion myself, I am curious about any and all Centurions. I would appreciate any new info on my bike. The thread describing my old bike is here.

    One thing I have found is that the SR cranks on my bike bear a date from 1977. That seems to make the 1979 start date for Centurions mentioned in the followups unlikely, though it is possible that the previous owner replaced the original cranks with cranks from 1977.

  10. #10
    bum bike chajmahal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheapskate
    Very interesting post. Since I have an old Centurion myself, I am curious about any and all Centurions. I would appreciate any new info on my bike. The thread describing my old bike is here.

    One thing I have found is that the SR cranks on my bike bear a date from 1977. That seems to make the 1979 start date for Centurions mentioned in the followups unlikely, though it is possible that the previous owner replaced the original cranks with cranks from 1977.
    "Lugged steel frame - no decals or stickers - seems to have been painted over at least once
    Chromed fork and stays" quote from your other post.

    Unless I'm mistaken, chromed stays generally means the entire frame is chromed and then the main triangle is painted over. Another option for you to consider. Take the paint off and polish the bike chrome.

    Your headbadge sounds similar to the ones on my two late 70's centurions.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheapskate
    Very interesting post. Since I have an old Centurion myself, I am curious about any and all Centurions. I would appreciate any new info on my bike. The thread describing my old bike is here.

    One thing I have found is that the SR cranks on my bike bear a date from 1977. That seems to make the 1979 start date for Centurions mentioned in the followups unlikely, though it is possible that the previous owner replaced the original cranks with cranks from 1977.
    You'll be able to get date codes off the freewheel and stem and possibly the levers/brakes. It's unlikely that all the components were changed out at the same time, so if they are within a year of each other, you have a good approximation of the age of the bicycle. As for the derailleurs, they are probably an upgrade. The originals were probably SunTour, like the shifters.

    Given that the stays are chrome, it is likely a decent tubeset. Measure and post the seat post diameter, as it is a pretty good indicator of tubeset quality.

    .

  12. #12
    lurking nightrider LittleGinseng's Avatar
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    Interesting post, A.Winthrop. Thanks for the info. I've been a Centurion fan for only about a year, since winning an Ebay auction Dave Scott Expert frame for $25 bucks + shipping costs(came to about $50 w/ delivery from Pacific to Atlantic coast). The frame and fork are a ghastly lilac color with yellow seattube and headtube.

    But the ride is splendid! I built it up with Ultegra 9-speed drivetrain, and being a retro grouch I equipped it with DA downtube shifters and toe-clipped MKS track pedals. Yeah, I get the occasional expletives from the local yahoos(could it be the frame color? ) Have already gone through one set of tires over the summer. Definately worth the investment.
    "If there hadn't been women we'd still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization in order to impress our girl friends. And they tolerated it and let us go ahead and play with our toys."Orson Wells

  13. #13
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    My Centurion's SR stem has a couple of markings. I see "5355-logo-H-76" and below that in bigger font "AX-80". I don't know which one is the date code, the 76 or the 80. The back of the Weinmann centerpull brake calipers has "1234567890ND" in a circle and has the code I-78 in the middle. The DiaCompe brake levers, which btw, did not have any "suicide" extensions, did not have any date codes. By the date of the brake calipers, the bike seems to have been made in 1978 or later, and no earlier than 1976. The seat post diameter is 27.0mm or something close to that.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheapskate
    My Centurion's SR stem has a couple of markings. I see "5355-logo-H-76" and below that in bigger font "AX-80". I don't know which one is the date code, the 76 or the 80. The back of the Weinmann centerpull brake calipers has "1234567890ND" in a circle and has the code I-78 in the middle. The DiaCompe brake levers, which btw, did not have any "suicide" extensions, did not have any date codes. By the date of the brake calipers, the bike seems to have been made in 1978 or later, and no earlier than 1976. The seat post diameter is 27.0mm or something close to that.
    The stem is form Aug. 1976. The calipers are from 1978. The circle is the month indicator and the "I" is the pointer to the month. So the crank's 1977 code is in sync with the others. If the calipers are from early 1978, then it's probably a 1978 model. If they are from late in the year, it's probably a 1979 model.

    The seat post diameter points to one of the CrMo, butted tubesets. It would appear that you have one of the better models.
    Last edited by T-Mar; 10-08-05 at 07:55 AM.

  15. #15
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    Believe it or not, back in the Ď70s, Bicycling Magazine was actually worth reading. So I had a subscription, and when the December í76 issue showed up, my wife phoned me to say that someone had finally built by dream bike. http://bikesmithdesign.com/temp/ProTour1.jpg and http://bikesmithdesign.com/temp/ProTour2.jpg Note that back then, 10 speeds was considered adequate for heavy touring. Back then I was strong enough that I believed them.

    Through the shop I worked at part time, I was able to get the 1st ProTour in Minnesota. Absolutely georgeous in metallic Robinís Egg Blue. The brazed on centerpull brakes worked so well that I incorporated that feature in many of my early frames. The brazing is every bit as good as my Jack Taylor Super Tourist, maybe better. I hated the clamp-on top tube cable guides, but I never replaced them with braze ons as I couldnít bear to ruin the beautiful paint. The bike still has the original headset and the Sanshin Pro-Am hubs are still smooth as a babyís cheek.

    The racier Semi-Pro, with lighter tubing and more chrome, came in an orange that glowed like fire.

    Itís easy to believe the postings about a Raleigh connection. Some features of the frame were so similar to those on Raleighs that Cecil Behringer (The father of modern framebuilding) called it my Rarreigh.

  16. #16
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    T-Mar and others,

    Thanks for all the info. I found that only the stays and the blades of the fork are chromed, the rest of the bike's frame are not. So some time next spring, I will probably try my hand at painting it using rattle cans. I will be sure to post before and after pics.

  17. #17
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    i have a centurion track bike (decal even says 'trac' on the frame) with track drop-outs, but i can't find any history on this bike. i've run into a few other with the same bike and questions about this model. anybody know anything about this baby? maybe they were discontinued real fast.

    thanks

  18. #18
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    Great post! I had retired my Lemans a year ago or so but have recently pressed it back into service w/Ultegra gruppo. I love that bike and pretty much have sworn off carbon and aluminium. She will be going to the paint shop this winter, along with the 50mm offset tange fork with 27mm crown race. Looking to add some new DT swiss hoops. IMO these bikes are very underrated .

  19. #19
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    Interesting history. My father used to ride a Centurion Elite back in the 80s. He was an avid rider but had to give it up because of emphysema. The bike is still in pretty good shape, but hasn't been ridden in about 15 years-- needs a tune up and new tires. I'd have fixed it up to ride myself but it's too big of a frame for me (I think maybe a 58 or bigger). Maybe time to find it a new home, it isn't doing much more than collecting spider webs right now.

  20. #20
    Never trust a smiling dog
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    Quote Originally Posted by MnHPVA Guy
    Believe it or not, back in the ‘70s, Bicycling Magazine was actually worth reading. So I had a subscription, and when the December ’76 issue showed up, my wife phoned me to say that someone had finally built by dream bike. http://bikesmithdesign.com/temp/ProTour1.jpg and http://bikesmithdesign.com/temp/ProTour2.jpg Note that back then, 10 speeds was considered adequate for heavy touring. Back then I was strong enough that I believed them.

    Through the shop I worked at part time, I was able to get the 1st ProTour in Minnesota. Absolutely georgeous in metallic Robin’s Egg Blue. The brazed on centerpull brakes worked so well that I incorporated that feature in many of my early frames. The brazing is every bit as good as my Jack Taylor Super Tourist, maybe better. I hated the clamp-on top tube cable guides, but I never replaced them with braze ons as I couldn’t bear to ruin the beautiful paint. The bike still has the original headset and the Sanshin Pro-Am hubs are still smooth as a baby’s cheek.
    My ProTour is 15 speeds and is a brown/copper color. Bought in '85 ($300), I have always assumed that it was an '84 or possibly an '83 model. MnHPVA - Do you have any idea about what year the color changed to brown/copper? The tubing was ho-hum but the total package was most durable and solid. It doesn't get ridden more than a couple of times each month, but the bike has more than 35,000 miles with most of the original components still working well. It was my only bike for 12 years when I rode year round in California and did some light touring up and down the central coast.

  21. #21
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Where does this Centurion fit in? What puzzles me is the Tange #5 tube material.

    Name: Centurion LeMans 12
    Color: Blue with silver painted detail/trim/lettering
    Date: Estimate early to mid-80s
    Frame: CroMo Tange Champion #5
    Hubs: Suzue 3 H LPF
    Rims: ARAYA 27"x1-1/4" 36 spoke
    Brake: Dia-Compe side pull
    Brake Levers: had suicide extention
    Handlebar: SAKAF Custom Road Champion, 38cm
    Cranks: Sugino GT 175mm
    Chainrings: 40/52
    Shifters: Suntour arx, with bolt on stem mounted shifters (no frame lugs)
    Seatpost: SR LaPrade



    Al

  22. #22
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    That looks like a lower model - the stem shifters are one easy clue. The crank also looks rather heavy - what is the total bike weight? I am guessing in the upper 20s at least. Not that that alone matters, or that it's not a good bike for some applications.
    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr View Post
    People whose sig line does not include a jsharr quote annoy me.

  23. #23
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    I never weighed it. Its been converted to a fixed bike that looks kind of like this now (since pic was taken I've put on new cranks and different bars)

    http://www.optionnz.com/users/afs/i1/CRW_3408-fixed.jpg

    Al

  24. #24
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    I never weighed it. Its been converted to a fixed bike that looks kind of like this now (since pic was taken I've put on new cranks and different stem, handlebarsbars & brake lever) I ride it 20mi everyday and have taken it on 70mi weekend rides, so it is indeed suitable for some applications.



    Al

  25. #25
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    Noisebeam, your Lemans 12 is circa 1981-1983, probably closer to latter. At the time, it was an entry level model, about 2nd or 3rd from the bottom of the line. In the late 1970s it was constructed of hi-tensile steel but was gradually updated until, by the mid 1980s, it was a mid-range model with a Tange #2, butted, CrMo tubeset. Your sample is from the transitionary period when it used a Tange #5, plain gauge, CrMo, main triangle in conjunction with hi-tensile stays and forks.

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