Vintage Bicycles Done Proper :: Portland, Oregon
Some builds come together nearly instantly. Others, like this 1976 Centurion Semi Professional, take months to materialize. A combination of sourcing different, rare and specific parts plus a heavy course load at the University took its toll on this project. In fact, it almost took a year.
When this bicycle was acquired I knew it had serious potential. But it was going to take a little work. Keeping that in mind, I understood I would have to sacrifice a speedy restoration and be OK with settling in for the long haul. As expected, certain items took much longer than anticipated to sort out, such as attaining appropriate shift levers, drop bars, and properly polishing certain components. Tack these tasks on along with a full load of graduate level courses and this slowly slides into a 10-month project.
A major part of my delay for this build hinged from my desire to harmonize the components of the bike. Purchased from the previous owner with a set tried and true Suntour bar end shifters, I felt it necessary to bring her back to original, factory-equipped downtube shifting glory. The challenge became clear as although standard Suntour Power Shifters are not necessarily rare, the anodized black models were. Plus, anodized black groupsets of that vintage seemed to only be found on the Centurion Semi-Pro model. Luckily, a friend in Canada provided these to me off of his Centurion as he moved to bar end shifters (Go figure!). However, for his generosity, I am eternally grateful as the search had already spanned months and without him, likely would have continued.
The graceful and somewhat rare SR Royal seatpost and stem both came equipped with the bike. The smooth, brushed steel finish was soft and elegant but I wanted it to blend flawlessly with the aggressive, sharp angled chrome lug work. These items, along with the drop bars, were wet sanded and painstakingly hand polished to a mirror shine. I believe the hours put into these laborious task was worth the extra effort as it assists in giving the cockpit a finished and cohesive look.
What I am most surprised and impressed with, however, is the braking system. With nearly all of my builds, I tend to update the brakes in one form or another as I feel the difference between vintage and modern component technology can be a significant jump for both ease of adjustment and brake safety. However, to my appreciation, the Dia-Compe Gran Compe setup is a magnificent system. The levers are mated up perfectly with Velo Orange metallic braided cable. It looks fantastic and breaks up the “blackout” of the hoods, levers and bar tape. The housing also harmonizes with the rest of the metal bits and lugwork. I also found it to be some of the strongest pulling cable and slickest housing combos I have found. To finish off the brakes the Gran Compe calipers are outfitted with NOS Scott/Mathauser salmon pads that will nail the Semi-Pro to an instant dead stop, if I choose so.
What I love the most on this bicycle is the frame. It is clear to me that care, time and thought went into its creation. There is attention being paid in many areas, some so subtle that an owner may discover them weeks, months or even years later.
I also love how solid this bicycle is. It has a sturdy, well built intangible that just feels pronounced when you climb on. The last element I can’t not mention when speaking of the frame is the paint. Photographs do help convey but the creamy, pearlescent metallic baby blue paint is simply stunning. I really treasure the hue. I only wish I could see the other color that was offered during the same period (creamy, pearlescent orange!). Also, although hard to detect, the gold pin striping was also a factory addition. I felt it necessary to touch up the lugwork lines to get the pop I know the original creators were going for.
The Centurions of the late seventies may not have been as worshiped as their Italian counterparts, but what they lacked in following they made up for in artful, well built, cost-effective bicycles. That is why I will continue to tip my hat to the magnificent builds that were coming out of Japan during this legendary era.
Color: Pearlized Cobalt Blue with gold pinstripes
Frame Size: 54cm (C-T) seat post & 54cm (C-C) top tube
Frame/Drop-outs: Tange Champion Cro-moly double butted steel
Fork: Tange Champion Cro-moly double butted steel
Drop Bars: SR Sakae Custom Road Champion; Deda Nastro Per Manubrio bar wrap with black tape
Stem: SR Royal
Saddle: Avocet Touring I
Seat Post: SR Royal
Crankset: Sugino Mighty Competition; 52/42, 171mm
Front Derailleur: Suntour Cyclone (anodized black)
Rear Derailleur: Suntour Cyclone (anodized black)
Shifting Levers: Suntour Power Shifters (anodized black)
Brake Levers: Dia-Compe (anodized black) with Cane Creek hoods
Brake Calipers: Dia-Compe Gran Compe; Scott/Mathauser pads (black alloy casings); Velo Orange metallic braided cable & housing
Freewheel: 5-Speed Suntour Winner (13/15/18/21/24)
Chain: SRAM PC870
Hubs: Suntour Sprint Sealed Bearings
Wheels: Araya 27″ x 1″, 36h; Suntour skewers
Tires: Panaracer Pasela; 27″x1-1/8″
Pedals: MKS Unique Royal Road (anodized black)
Special Features: Chrome wrap-around seat stays; Exceptional chromed lug work; Fully chromed frame/fork under paint; Suntour GS dropouts; Single eyelets front/rear; Single bottle mount