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Old 05-18-08, 04:48 PM   #1
lewt539
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Centurion Le Mans 1980 find - $125 worth it?

Hi I am a college student and I have been looking for a bike for a while now (cause my previous mountain bike was stolen on campus). I found this on craigslist. It is a blue Centurion Le Mans bought in 1980, say's in excellent condition with few scratches for $125. How is this deal? Should I go take a look, or I can find better?

I am mainly looking into purchasing a used low priced (preferably fully functionable, or cheap to repair) road bike for around $100 or less (I can stretch it to $150 if it's good). Or a very low price beater road bike or frame to just convert to a fixie.

Here are some of the pictures of the Centurion:
http://images.craigslist.org/0101120...bb31003507.jpg

http://images.craigslist.org/0101000...19940076f1.jpg

Thanks for your opinions and advice.
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Old 05-18-08, 05:40 PM   #2
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I would say that if it's ready to ride away and it fits you (it looks pretty small), that's not a bad price. If it needs new tires, cables, brake pads, etc, those things will add up and I would offer less.
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Old 05-18-08, 06:46 PM   #3
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19" - 48.26cm , I am around 5'4". I have not had much road bike experience, but I have ridden one a couple of times (still slightly unstable on one, but need some good practice or regular riding). I'm wondering what is the proper reach length of the top bar + stem for my height. I have read about the frame fitting on Sheldon Brown's website, and about the FitKit, but I can't seem to find one online that is free, with just a rough length or estimate for me.

I think I'll email the person, and go check out the bike.
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Old 05-18-08, 06:57 PM   #4
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I think your choice is good. Most old 10 and 12 speeds are not as prone to theft as a MTB, especially a name brand MTB with a suspension fork. That said, the price of those old road bikes seems to be on the rise. If the bike is in good shape and needs no repairs, parts, the $125 is not out of line.
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Old 05-18-08, 07:11 PM   #5
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First, I'd be careful of a seller's claim of road worthiness. Some people are simply dishonest, and others don't know what they are talking about. My guess is that bike would need a complete tune-up, which would be costly if you don't do it yourself, or time consuming if you do.

In my humble opinion, $125 is ridiculous for that bike, though in markets like NYC, it is the going asking price. If you have the time and means, you can find a similar bike at a yard sale for $10-$25.
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Old 05-19-08, 01:15 AM   #6
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How can I tell if a bike needs a tune-up? Are there quick things to look for, or would it be a timely thing? I am quite new to bikes.

And how much would a tune-up cost in a small college town to a large urban city?
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Old 05-19-08, 07:47 AM   #7
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Spin the wheels to see if they are true or wobbly. See if the brake pads rub, or need adjustment. adjust the seat post, stem & bars to fit you then ride it & check if the derailleurs work & shift into all gears. (This will also let you know if the seat post or stem is stuck) Check the cables for fraying or if any are broken. It is best to plan on replacing the tires & brake pads. Also its good to do a tear down & relube of the headset & bottom bracket & hubs on an old bike. Centurions are good bikes, but $125 is probably the most I would pay for a LeTour. If you are patient, you may find one in the $10-$35 range at a thrift store or yard sale. Don

Last edited by ollo_ollo; 05-19-08 at 07:48 AM. Reason: add info
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Old 05-19-08, 08:17 AM   #8
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Don has given good advice.

It's much cheaper to learn to service and maintain the bike yourself, and helpful in the event of a bike breakdown. The downside is that tools cost money. However, if you can find a local bike co-op, they often provide all the necessary tools and often instructional help.

As to your question regarding 'professional service' at an LBS, the prices on this website appear close to standard: http://www.communitybicycle.com/servicesmain.html

$60 for a tune-up, which is simply adjusting things, truing the wheels a bit, and finding all the problems they'll try to sell you parts for.

$40 for a drivetrain cleaning, which is necessary if the previous owner decided to use motor oil on the chain, then didn't ride it for 20 years.

$150 for all of the bearing service overhauls Don mentions above.

Figure, at minimum, $10 a piece for new tires. At least $10 for brake pads, though that's for real cheapies. $3 a piece if you need new cables. Looks like the LBS I linked to charges $10 for cable installation (I hope that includes the cable). Cable housing can run $2 a foot at the LBS.

Now, having written all this, I'll ask: do you intent to use this simply as a campus beater? And is your campus very big? Because, while it can be dangerous to have a beater that doesn't brake well, or at all, or have tires that can blow out on you, there are plenty of college students who have successfully pressed complete POS bikes into service.

But I still wouldn't pay more than $25 for either of those bikes.
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Old 05-21-08, 04:53 PM   #9
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So I bought the Le Man for $100. The bike is in great condition, cosmetically great (few scratches at some places, but the paint is great with the original Centurion designs). The seller was not quite sure how much miles has been done on it, but he was selling it for someone that was going to toss the bikes away; so I'm thinking this bike has not have much riding done on it. It still has the original saddle, and "Centurion" tires (I am expecting to replace these, whenever either one of the tubes give up). He also gave me the original bill of sales (sold at $210), and owner's manual.

There is several things.
1)Based on Sheldon's website, http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html, are front brakes suppose to be used majority of the time? The front brakes on the brake screeches opposed to the rear brakes.

2)I was wondering if I could remove the front reflector, the brake cable is leading through the center of the reflector metal bracket piece, it is where the rubber tubing and metal cable comes together, and it seems like it's use the reflector bracket as leverage. Can I remove the reflector and still be able to use the brakes. They are Dia Compe center pull caliper brakes.

3) There is slight creaking whenever I pedal downward on the right pedal. Do I just need to relubricate something? http://www.parktool.com/repair/readhowto.asp?id=123 .

4) I'm trying to learn to do entire bike cleaning and bearing overhaul. Are there really specific tools that I would necessarily need. I don't want to spend more money on tools that I might not be using that often. I could use the tools at my LBS, but I'm not sure if I can do entire bearing overhauls, cleaning, and greasing in their shop.

Thanks guys, for all the info.

P.S. I'm part of the Davis biking community =).
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Old 05-21-08, 05:34 PM   #10
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Congrats on your new bike!

I believe that Davis has a Bike Church. I'm sure they will have the tools to help you do all the maintenance you need to do and will be happy to teach you. Coops are a great resource and I would start there.

If you want to do it yourself, you can get a bike tool kit with everything you need for basic maintenance for about $50. A quick Google or Ebay search will turn up 5 or 6 different varieties, but I would really recommend the the coop first. They can also help you diagnose your squeak. It's hard to give you an answer for that over the internet.
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Old 05-21-08, 07:44 PM   #11
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I looked on Amazon and Ebay, I can't find the 1990 edition of "Bicycling Magazine's Complete Guide to Bicycle Maintenance and Repair" , but there are plenty of $2-3 1999 4th edition paperback copies. Is there more information in the 1990 edition that I would want, or are they the same?

It is actually a leather saddle. If you use shoe polish on leather saddles, wouldn't they stain your pants when you sit on them?

Yeah, Davis does have a Co-op Bike Church, I am thinking of heading over there in the weekend.

Thanks everyone, for all your advice.
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Old 05-21-08, 08:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewt539 View Post
1)Based on Sheldon's website, http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html, are front brakes suppose to be used majority of the time? The front brakes on the brake screeches opposed to the rear brakes.
Yes, Sheldon is right. The front brakes take most of the load. If you only use the rear, for instance, it will take longer to stop and you will skid on fast stops. That can be cool, though, I guess!

You may need new brake pads. If yours are cracked or feel very brittle or plastic like, replace them. To eliminate squeal, you'll need to play with the adjustment. The calipers should be centered, the pads should touch the rims at roughly the same time with equal force, at a similar angle, parallel to each other, and preferably with some toe in.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lewt539 View Post
2)I was wondering if I could remove the front reflector, the brake cable is leading through the center of the reflector metal bracket piece, it is where the rubber tubing and metal cable comes together, and it seems like it's use the reflector bracket as leverage. Can I remove the reflector and still be able to use the brakes. They are Dia Compe center pull caliper brakes.
So the reflector bracket doubles as a cable stop? You do need a cable stop, but they are relatively easy to find. It's likely the bike co-op has spares. Keep in mind, if you remove the reflector bracket (assuming it is separate from a cable stop), you'll probably need to add a headset washer to keep the stack height roughly equal to what it was, and you may need to readjust the headset.

The 1990 version of the repair guide may have repair information on mechanical systems that were all but obsolete by 1999. That's why A.Winthrop is recommending the older version.

Personally, I learned by using Sheldon Brown's website, parktool.com and BF's Mechanics forum.
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Old 05-22-08, 09:50 AM   #13
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The time and money you spend getting this bike "right" yourself is worth every penny, not just for the bike's worthiness, but for the experience. You'll learn a lot, period, and be glad you did, having spent what it costs to go to 3 or 4 movies and be a whole lot more entertained.

Plus, you'll have a smooth roller to ride.

When I get a bike, unless it's from a trusted BF member, I don't care if they say it was "just tuned up, lubed, and adjusted at a local bike shop." I double-check and make sure. If I can't tell it was done, I do it.

You'd be surprised how well a well-built bike will ride right up until the bearings are pebbles.
You'd also be surprised how much better it rides once it's actually serviced correctly.

Good luck on your bike.
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Old 05-22-08, 10:01 AM   #14
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Centurion bicycles

Quote:
Originally Posted by lewt539 View Post
Hi I am a college student and I have been looking for a bike for a while now (cause my previous mountain bike was stolen on campus). I found this on craigslist. It is a blue Centurion Le Mans bought in 1980, say's in excellent condition with few scratches for $125. How is this deal? Should I go take a look, or I can find better?

I am mainly looking into purchasing a used low priced (preferably fully functionable, or cheap to repair) road bike for around $100 or less (I can stretch it to $150 if it's good). Or a very low price beater road bike or frame to just convert to a fixie.

Here are some of the pictures of the Centurion:
http://images.craigslist.org/0101120...bb31003507.jpg

http://images.craigslist.org/0101000...19940076f1.jpg

Thanks for your opinions and advice.
I have a Super Lemans from about 1980 built with the straight gauge chrome moly tubing and its a tank. A great bike for a heavier rider like myself or for a commuter/touring bike. I got mine for $50 and spent another $500 making up a modified full restoration with new wheels etc. Vintage steel bikes rock! I have some photos posted on
www.Cyclofiend.com
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