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The Centurion mystique

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The Centurion mystique

Old 02-23-13, 12:48 PM
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belacqua
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The Centurion mystique

C&V seems especially fond of high-end Centurions. Is this true? Can you educate me about where the enthusiasm comes from?

I understand the other production favorites here--Trek, Miyata, and so forth--I dreamed about these bikes when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s. But I never knew anything about Centurion, and later for many years I thought it was a dept. store brand!

Like everyone else on the internet, I would also appreciate any pictures you have handy.
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Old 02-23-13, 02:20 PM
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Centurion was your typical, full range, US marketing brand until the phenominal success of the Ironman Dave Scott models in the late 1980s. The success was due to Western State Imports' foresight in obtaining the rights to the names of the world's biggest triathlon and most popular triathlete, at a time when the sport was exploding in popularity. Certainly, these bicycles were well designed and manufactured but they were not notably better than comparable models of competing brands. IMO, consumers simply bought into the association with two of the biggest names in the sport.
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Old 02-23-13, 02:21 PM
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Centurion stands alongside Bridgestone, Miyata, and Fuji as one of the best Japanese-made bikes to be imported to the USA in the 1980's. The Japanese had been refining their manufacturing techniques, tubing, and components since the 60's, and had finally becoming competitive with Italian brands by the 80's. They are good-looking, well-made vintage bikes that are usually cheaper than Italian brands of the same era.

The stand out Centurions are the Dave Scott Ironman series with the distinctive Miami Vice colorways, the Italian Cinelli Equipe version, and the early 80's Semi Pro and Pro Tour models.
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Old 02-23-13, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by belacqua View Post
C&V seems especially fond of high-end Centurions. Is this true? Can you educate me about where the enthusiasm comes from?
I blame a certain Robert Tunes.

but seriously, they have unique paint jobs, are in large supply and most are average to above average quality without quite as much name recognition of some of the other brands. This means you can pick them up for low prices and have a good quality bike.

I would also appreciate any pictures you have handy.
sure.. i don't think anyone has seen this pic before


Last edited by frantik; 02-23-13 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 02-23-13, 03:18 PM
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Personally, I would add Panasonic and Tsunoda to the Bridgestone, Fuji, and Miyata brands above. And for a lesser known brand, I would put Katakura up there as well.

There was really a long list of very well built Japanese bikes in the 1980s, many were marketing brands (sold bikes made by others). Several of these marketing brands had nice bikes, such as Nishiki, Centurion, Lotus, Univega, and many more. One issue I have with the marketing brands is that they switched manufacturers over the years. So not all Univegas are Miyata built, not all Lotus are Tsunoda built, not all Nishikis are Kawamura built, and so on.

Centurion really hit it out of the park with the Ironman series.
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Old 02-23-13, 03:41 PM
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1985. First year issue, with a new Shimano modern hub laced to the original Araya bronze hub. So, 10 speed double, friction shifting!

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Old 02-23-13, 03:50 PM
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Not really high end, but a mint condition original. It was too small for me, so I sold it.
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Old 02-23-13, 03:51 PM
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My 1984 ProTour was my only bike for over 10 years.
Good bike but I never thought of it as special or great quality.
Loved the chrome under paint to keep rust away.
Paid $300 on a closeout, so it was a deal at the time.
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Old 02-23-13, 04:04 PM
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I've had a couple of different Centurion models over the years. I've got a soft spot for them - more from nostalgia than anything else - probably because my first "real" road bike was a Centurion Turbo. That was in the early 80's. I had a LeMans a few years later which was nowhere near as light or "nice" a bike as the Turbo, but it rode well all the same. A few years ago I managed to get my hands on another 1984 Turbo - which, for all I know, might have even been the same one I used to own... it's the only other one I've ever seen in this area, so I guess it's a possibility. I also had a 1976 Super LeMans which looked great but was as heavy as a boat anchor, and just about as slow!


My second 1984 Turbo - the paint was a neat special process that I didn't really understand or appreciate when I had the first one back in 1984.


This is the 1976 Super LeMans I rode for a few years. Bears a passing resemblance to the touring model of the time.
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Old 02-23-13, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by AZORCH View Post
I also had a 1976 Super LeMans which looked great but was as heavy as a boat anchor, and just about as slow!
one time i picked up a repainted large framed centurion from the 70s.. that thing weighed as much as a few boat anchors
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Old 02-23-13, 04:32 PM
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Unlike Nishiki and Schwinn, the Centurion name has not been associated with new, lower end bikes sold by big box stores. The brand that bought/ took over Centurion was Diamondback back in the early 90s. Then DB went the route of becoming a house brand for Dick's Sporting goods as is Nishiki.
I would welcome the return of Centurion, even if it was resurrected by BikesDirect. Better them than Wally World or Dicks.
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Old 02-23-13, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by frantik View Post
one time i picked up a repainted large framed centurion from the 70s.. that thing weighed as much as a few boat anchors
Centurion had some very basic bikes too.

In Southern California KHS also had some decent bikes in the Ironman era, starting with the Turbo (who did not use this as a model name?) KHS also used British sourced Reynolds 531 for a number of their upper end frames and even Campagnolo components. If you don't have a name, might as well use name brand components.

The Centurion Ironmans' collectively were spec'd pretty well. I also give the Western States Imports design dept praise for coming up with modern appearing paint and graphics. They looked modern but had traditional lugged construction. Later they went to a unicorn fork, but that was later.
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Old 02-23-13, 04:54 PM
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I like their stuff through about 1982 or so. High quality components, tubing, craftsmanship. Classy design and paint colors.

My '77 Pro Tour, with it's classy champagne silver color and brazed-on centerpull brakes is a bike I'll never get rid of.
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Old 02-23-13, 05:46 PM
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this is the "cinelli" clon:





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Old 02-23-13, 06:37 PM
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Thanks everyone for the insight and the pics!
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Old 02-23-13, 06:46 PM
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Riding a well-tuned, well-maintained Ironman is like winning an argument with your wife,
but there's a warm afterglow instead of radioactive fallout.
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Old 02-23-13, 06:51 PM
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1988 Ironman Master


1989 Ironman Master


1988 Ironman Expert


1985 Prestige


1984 Turbo


1986 Facet


1989 Ironman Expert


1986 Ironman


1988 Ironman Carbon
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Old 02-23-13, 06:55 PM
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1987 Ironman Expert, the "Miami Vice"


Another 1986 Facet.


Another 1986 Ironman, currently being converted to 10-sp Campagnolo


1985 Ironman, re-paint of course, with 1988 Master decals.


1981 Semi Pro


1985 Cinelli Equipe Centurion
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Old 02-23-13, 07:01 PM
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Oh my.
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Old 02-23-13, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by roccobike View Post
The brand that bought/ took over Centurion was Diamondback back in the early 90s. Then DB went the route of becoming a house brand for Dick's Sporting goods as is Nishiki.
Centurion and Diamondback were brand names both owned by Western State Imports. In 1990 they decided to merge the Centurion brand into Diamondback since mountain bikes were so popular. In 1990 WSI had reduced their road line to 4 models.

I do think you are right that the Centurion name remains "untarnished" compared to Diamondback, Schwinn, etc
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Old 02-23-13, 07:03 PM
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My 85 Dave Scott. The previous name from the model year before escapes me now? I used to know it as well as anything else. But, it was one of my favorite bikes, but it came along at the wrong time, and was soon sold.. I wrecked it pretty badly on the maiden voyage, and it didn't hurt anything but me and one brake hood. The frame sustained no damage, and I went over the bars by getting too close to a curb, and hitting the next section that stuck out. I was only getting away from a fast moving driver, and wound up in the middle of the sidewalk. Ouch!,,,,BD

I am not sure about the final look of it when I sold it. It was pretty wild looking no doubt. I would have gone a more classic route, now.

But definitely an awesome lightweight bike, as echoed by others here. If I can find another one in this color, it's mine forever.

As found



As sold

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Old 02-23-13, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Catnap View Post
... They are good-looking, well-made vintage bikes that are usually cheaper than Italian brands of the same era.

The stand out Centurions are the Dave Scott Ironman series with the distinctive Miami Vice colorways, the Italian Cinelli Equipe version, and the early 80's Semi Pro and Pro Tour models.
I couldn't agree more. My Semi-Pro is a comfortable, fast, all day riding, bike.

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Old 02-24-13, 08:17 AM
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I love the look of the Pro Tour with the classy chrome touches.
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Old 02-24-13, 08:59 AM
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'77 Semi-Pro:

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Old 02-24-13, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by inkandsilver View Post
'77 Semi-Pro:

Classy.
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