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Mystery bike with no markings - is it a Centurion or what?

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Mystery bike with no markings - is it a Centurion or what?

Old 05-26-20, 12:52 AM
  #1  
Nihog
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Mystery bike with no markings - is it a Centurion or what?

Dear all

I greatly enjoy posts about vintage bikes and serial number hunting, a modern and online bike archeology! I must say that T-mar must be getting some kind of reward soon for simply just knowing everything!

Now to my mystery bike! I have picked up a nice bike that I thought I new what it was, but now I am confused. I was sure it was a Centurion for a while but after reading A LOT here in posts, seeing photos and serial numbers etc, I began to wonder if it can be another Japanese/asian bike. Mind you, me and the bike is in Sweden, and although Centurions are around, feels like others such as Nishiki are more common.

The bike has been stripped and painted (and not very well so I must redo that) and has no marking left besides serial nr. I would really appreciate help in clues to what this bike can be, or what is was born as. So here is what I have and I do have pictures but not sure they help much because of white paint all over. The only paint that seem original is on the crank arms and fork and they are both a glittery white, has like a "pearl" touch in it?

Pictures on my google drive: drive.google.com/open?id=1-0xofWAqRxv5d3EB91VXsTVNnUwR4nzh

Road bike, only original color is white on fork and cranks
Serial number: K9D5102 on bottom bracket stamped across so readable from front of bike looking back
Frame size: 61cm from crank center to top of tube
Seat post: SR Laprade 26,9mm (Dated late 1988)
Stem: Sakae 22mm
handlebars: SR Sakae Custom (stamped with "anatomic bend, Modolo pat.)
Headset cone marked: "Tange Pat pend"
wheels: Araya 700c
hubs: Shimano F/RH-A451 (Stamped "ML")
Drop out measurement: 126mm
Cassette: 7 speed ( freehub, must check but think Uniglide) hub has that "bulge" on drive side
Group all around is Exage sport LX stuff:
Rear derail: A452
front derail: A452
Shifters: A-453 (7s) white rubber
Brakes: Exage sport A450 SLR (stamped "MK") with white hoods
Pedals: Exage sport, white with a plastic white cage
Cranks: Shimano 170 (stamped "MI")
Front: 42 and 52 T Biopace

I have already figured out that the bike really must be from 1989, based on all the parts and stamps. IF the serial follows what T-Mar has told us, the second "9" should confirm that. Question is if the number itself gives any guidance to what make it is? Other features worth mentioning is perhaps that the back brake wire tube is on top of the frame and runs through small hoops. Like I said, I thought it was a Centurion but turns out it could be a Nishiki, Panasonic or what? It may be my mistake to think of it as Japanese made but every single part seems to be from Japan/Asia. All part seem so original and it would be so cool to be able to paint it back to some kind of original and get it done with decals and all..

Any help, hints of ideas are appreciated!!

Warm regards from Sweden
N.
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Old 05-26-20, 01:20 AM
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S/n looks like a match for Fuji based on post #1 in the stickied "Asian Serial Number" topic.
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Old 05-26-20, 02:11 AM
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Hi and thanks.
Yes the serial number seem to indicate that (however mine is FyMyyyy and 1989 must be the year), but as I read (or understand) it also others are possible. I have really tried to find specs on Fuji bikes from 1989 with all those Exage parts and cannot find match. Fuji club was a candidate but has different dropout for example. But hey, I am a newbie for sure at this, and none the less intrigued by it all ;-)
N.

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Old 05-26-20, 05:12 AM
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Seat post diameter leads away from Centurion.
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Old 05-26-20, 05:23 AM
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Thanks! Perhaps I got the measurement wrong and its 26,6mm, would that change anything? I have to check that again I think..

Update: nope, measured again and it really is 26,9-27mm

N.

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Old 05-26-20, 05:34 AM
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I don't recall any Centurion models using the Exage group, but some Univegas did. Although the Exage Sport LX was on some Univega mountain bikes, not drop bar road bikes. If the bike was repainted the group may have come from another bike. Ditto the Biopace rings -- they appear to be a cosmetic mismatch with that crankset.
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Old 05-26-20, 05:39 AM
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Thanks for posting
Well, actually the first reason I did suspect Centurion was because the Le Mans from 1989 seem to have more or less all the parts as mine, including the biopace. But looking closer at the tubes and seat post etc it does not seem to match. Previous owner at least said he did not change a thing on it but dont know about further back in history of course.
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Old 05-26-20, 07:41 AM
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I recently sold a beautiful 1989 Centurion LeMans that was originally all Exage groupset. White hoods on Exage brake levers. 6 speed Shimano Uniglide on Exage hubs. This is the only "before" picture I could find :


It had a beautiful paint job. I spread the rear dropouts to 130mm and upgraded it to a 7 speed STI drivetrain. After:



It was an absolute joy to ride. Very comfortable.
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Old 05-26-20, 08:12 AM
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Wow thanks!
Yes it does look very close to this one, but with some tiny details I cant really figure out. A clear one is the slightly rounded seat tube top there? Min is totally straight and not with that cut out U shaped top. Also, my bike has 7 speed as original. Actually, you bike on the picture matches exactly the 1988 model found on the Centurion vintage bike page, decal set, paint etc: vintage-centurion.com/models/sports-rec/lemans.shtml

And as pointed out by the gentleman above, the seat post size does not seem to match a Centurion at 26,9-27 mm but Sheldon Brown has an archive there that does hint Centurions in rages between 26-27.

N.
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Old 05-26-20, 08:42 AM
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Do not place too much faith in components as an indicator of bike model. Components are easily switched. It is quite possible that a previous owner who was willing to go to the effort of painting may have also switched some of the components.

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Old 05-26-20, 08:53 AM
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Somewhat interesting bike to ID as nearly all the exchage equiped bikes from 88-89 I can think of had some embosing/branding on the framset. As for the seat post 26.6 would be conistant with mid level Tange tubeset from this time which doesn't help much since nearly every Japnese maker used thiese on some of there bikes.
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Old 05-26-20, 11:07 AM
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It's definitely a 1989 model based on the serial number, frame features and Sport LX compnents. However, it's not a Fuji, as they didn't use that format during this era. It's also unlikely to be a Centurion. The OP is located in Sweden and that market's Centurion would have come from the German Centurion company, which were typically sourced form Merida or Yamamguchi, which would have a different format. Two brands where we have seen that format are Sekai and Campania. Sekai was a USA marketing brand, so I doubt there was a Swedish equivalent and Camapnia wasn't widely distributed, even in the USA. Given that there is no embossing, it's unlikely to a major brand and is probably some relatively small, possibly local, marketing brand that was contract manufactured.

A 26.6mm seat post suggests a Tange tubeset. Given the era and apparent level, it's likely Tange Infinity.
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Old 05-27-20, 01:37 AM
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Thanks T-Mar!
You are perhaps right, this bike is a "no-name" imported by some of the Swedish brands and made as their own. At the time, we did not really have that many doing that as I understand but a few (e.g. Crescent, Monark, Mustang).

A few extra details from last night that may be of use:
-Seat post measurement is not 26,6. It is slightly more then that, towards 26,9-27. Even if I squeeze the caliper at max I cant really get it to 26,6.
-the bike weighs in (with a retrofitted sadle that is a bit clunky) at 11,40kg or 25,1 lb

If it turns out to remain a mystery, its ok because then I dont have to feel awful for playing with it and getting some new paint on it etc. It does ride like a dream and I think better than an earlier Italian bike I had.

N.
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Old 05-27-20, 06:59 AM
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If you ride it and are instantly more attractive to suitors, likely an Ironman.

Just putting it out there.
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Old 05-28-20, 01:52 AM
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Hi again
Dont know if it can be of any help but I took a picture of the serial number and BB. It is added in my google drive folder here: called BB serial3
drive.google.com/file/d/120dm_y4dP7kbbcnS0t_asdcaueeLHyXE/view?usp=sharing

I went over the bike again and there are really no marks etc. Either sanded off or was never there. I also realize that the main body must have been red at original level, on the BB for example. So white forks and red frame perhaps.
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Old 05-28-20, 12:14 PM
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T-mar, could it be a Panasonic? The DX-4000 from 1989 looks darn near a match looking at photos and specs for that year. Like this one that even has the white crank arms: panasonicbikemuseum.info/1989-panasonic-dx-4000/

Or at least, could it be from same maker/factory since the look and parts are so close? Or is that thinking wrong with to many variables? I am a newbie and still think that there simply cant be that many alternatives once established it at 1989.

N.
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Old 06-11-20, 01:32 AM
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Update with totally stripped frame

Just wanted to follow up earlier posts here with new photos of a now stripped frame, all paint removed. I really have not found a single mark anywhere that gives any guidance. Only found new marks on fork that state “hi-ten steel 22 2x27“. It also says the year 1989 and what appears to say: B-c

Oh and the tripped frame weighs 2,40 kgs








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Old 06-11-20, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Nihog View Post
T-mar, could it be a Panasonic? The DX-4000 from 1989 looks darn near a match looking at photos and specs for that year. Like this one that even has the white crank arms: panasonicbikemuseum.info/1989-panasonic-dx-4000/

Or at least, could it be from same maker/factory since the look and parts are so close? Or is that thinking wrong with to many variables? I am a newbie and still think that there simply cant be that many alternatives once established it at 1989.

N.
It's definitely not a Panasonic, the serial number format is incorrect. All the brands contract manufactured by Panasonic/Matsu****a used the same serial number format as seen on Panasonic bicycles. There is nothing unique about the bicycle frame. It is built from standard tubing and fittings. The only clue as to the origin is the serial number., In 1989 there were literally hundreds of bicycle factories that could have manufactured a clone of this frame. . The best clue for the origin is the serial number.,
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Old 06-11-20, 10:08 AM
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it is not a Centurion as by the late 80s they had fluted seatstay caps.
I would think those Masi-style non-crimped chainstays would be a clue
for someone.
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Old 06-11-20, 03:41 PM
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Anything on the steerer tube?
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Old 06-12-20, 10:53 AM
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it's interesting that the chainstay housing stop is not fully under the stay
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Old 06-17-20, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Anything on the steerer tube?
Nope, not a dent even to hint at something that could have been sanded off earlier. Have now given the frame a white powder coat and think I have to live with the fact that it’s a mystery Japanese bike from 1989. Think I will get some nice decals for it on down tube: “Mystery” and then in smaller text for top tube “real steel”

;-)
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Old 06-17-20, 04:00 PM
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A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, under a powdercoat.
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Old 06-17-20, 04:54 PM
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regardless of what it is, thanks for posting the raw steel pics
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Old 06-19-20, 10:25 AM
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Update: Repainted and time for the fun bit

Dear all mystery bike commentators. As noted, the mystery white bike will likely remain as such. Wanted to share pictures or the frame now painted again in a white white powder coat. Found a local place that did the job for 50$ and I think a rather decent job for that!

now to the fun bit on putting it all together and perhaps get some new-old parts to adjust some details. I rides well and will serve well as daily commuter I am sure. Will get a new bottom bracket for sure as I just about killed the original fixed cup getting it off. Man it was stuck!! Was close to drilling and cutting it out..

I will though be on the lookout for another bike that is slightly bigger and more worthy of some of the old Campagnolo part or vintage shimano 105s I have (somewhere). Those Centurion iron man, an upper level Miyata could be nice. Any suggestions on something you think I should chase after is welcome :-)




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