Vintage Bicycles Done Proper :: Corvallis, Oregon
I recently picked up gorgeous 1976 Centurion Semi Professional and before restoration occurred, I wanted to showcase the bike as it was for posterity. I was lucky enough to pick this gem up from the original owner (!!) who was friendly and chatty, so I got plenty of back story with it. It has been garaged and treated well throughout its life and was mainly used as the previous owners trainer (note the heavy wear on the drops), but obviously never abused while being pushed hard. The overall shape is fantastic with the bike being in nearly bone stock condition except for the saddle and wheels. An early mishap yielded reason for a new set of wheels so she is currently sporting Suntour Sprint hubs on Araya hooked 27″ wheels. From the factory, this Centurion would have been equipped with Araya non-hooked 27″ wheels on Sunshine Pro-Am hubs.
An interesting quirk I discovered of the previous owner was his brake cable neurosis. When he passed the machine to me for a look over, I noticed the brake caliper quick release levers were both in the unlocked position. I mentioned this and his response was that he stored all of his bikes that way to keep unnecessary pressure off of the calipers/cables. He said that he had been on numerous rides where he reached for the brakes only to find them barley grabbing whereas he would quickly realize that he had forgotten to engage the quick release lever and would have to stop his ride to fully close the brakes and resume riding. I thought that taking the pressure off the calipers/cables was a bit odd, so I asked some others about this. I was told that this was not necessary and if he really wanted to keep unnecessary pressure off of his components, he should be focusing more on having his derailleur’s shifted to the lowest ring before storing his bike as there is more pressure on the derailleur’s springs than there is on the brake calipers.
One of the more interesting areas of this bike is the fantastic lug work. My favorite spot is the seat stay caps and how the chromed area curves over the seat post lug. Just spectacular workmanship and wow are some of them ever deadly looking!
Overall, I am delighted with the potential the Semi-Pro promises and am extremely excited to bring it back to life with a freshening up. I am certain this will be an exciting restoration and am having a hard time keeping it hanging in the shop rather than having it seated in the bike stand and in progress. Other bikes are in line before the Centurion so until then, as difficult as it may be, I will need to put this one out of my mind.
On another note, sadly this bike does not fit me (or my wife or any of my very close friends. Trust me, I want to keep this one around!), so once completed, I will be looking for a loving home for it.
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I used to have a 1976 Centurion Super LeMans. I really think there’s something wonderful about the mid-70’s Centurion bikes, and others must feel the same way: by far, the most hits I get on my blog is for the post about that Super LeMans.
The chrome lugs on the Semi Pro (and I believe also the touring model) really make this bike special in my opinion. I also love the compliment of components your bike sports… that crankset is terrific!
If you decide to leave the ancient cotton wrap on — and really, unless it’s in tatters, there’s no reason not to do so — try giving it five or six coats of amber shellac. I think you may be amazed at the transformation!
I agree about the lug work on this bike. Those beauties caught my eye from the microscopic image provided on the sale ad. As for the bar wrap, that is a slippery slope. The black parts aren’t really my bag and I think it could sing with some chrome parts, plus I have a nice set of very early Dura-Ace pieces begging to be used. If that’s the case, the brake levers won’t match and must go, thus the bars need to be unwrapped. Although, I am still mulling over ideas and possibilities so I will certainly keep your idea in mind. Thanks for the suggestion!
Almost exactly the same as my bike! I have an old chromed and blue Centurion, no sure if it’s a semi-pro but maybe. It had a tange sticker which has since come off.
It’s my everyday commuter.
Some photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_salzberg/sets/72157603173775437/
Hello Ben! Looks like we are neighbors as your Flickr sets indicate you are, or have, spent some significant time in the Portland area.
Pre-1983 Centurions hierarchy of frames included the Professional, the Semi-Professional, the Pro Tour and the Trac. Unfortunately, the details of each a bit obscure. Although with more research, I am sure the characteristics of each bike is easily found. Since your Centurion has early Dura-Ace bits, being such high end pieces, I would gather it is either a Pro or Semi-pro. Although even that is odd because SunTour was typically the component set of choice by Centurion. Of course, there are always anomalies.
Whatever you have, enjoy it! Also, I should mention that I appreciate it being your daily commuter. With maintenance, it will last you for years to come.
Thanks for the comments and images!