Here is a stunning and near-perfect 1978 Centurion Pro-Tour. This bike was a joy to work on – everything was in almost new condition, so the work went very quickly.
Although the Pro-Tour was a production touring bike, the build quality of this frame rivals that of any custom builder. It’s the reason both Richard Ballantine and Sheldon Brown dubbed the Centurion Pro-Tour one of the finest production touring bikes ever made. And, I should know because I rode a 1976 Pro-Tour for 20 years and put about 40,000 miles on the bike, before I crashed it irreparably. There are very few touring bikes built today that equal the quality of the Pro-Tour, which went for about $500 back in 1976.
The frame was fully chromed, then painted with the seat lug, drop-outs and head lug masked, leaving them as chrome. The rear drop-out is vertical, making flat repairs much easier, with double eyelets front and rear for fully loaded touring. Drop-outs are by Suntour.
The finish work on the seat lug is outstanding. The frame features a brake bridge and brazed on centerpulls.
All eight tubes are Tange Champion chrom-moly tubes. The condition of the paint is amazing. The components are all in as-new condition. I love these Dia-Compe brazed on centerpulls. They work well and never go out of adjustment.
The wheelset needed some truing, but the cups and cones were in really nice shape. The rims are double wall Araya laced to Sunshine Pro-Am hubs which feature bearing seals -shown above.
The drive train is 100% Suntour, with Suntour ratcheting bar-end shifters, Suntour Cyclone front and rear derailleurs, and Suntour 5 speed 14/30 freewheel. There’s nothing sweeter than the sound of a Suntour freewheel. The SR Apex triple crankset is color matched with 52/42/30 chainrings. After thoroughly cleaning the chain, I put it back on because I liked the bi-color look and because it was not stretched and showed no wear.
The hoods on the drilled Dia-Compe levers are in excellent shape, with no cracking, and the levers feature a quick release mechanism. SR Sakae stem and Randonneur bars – my favorite bar shape. I kept the original color matched housing in both an effort to keep the bike original, and because with a little lubrication, they are working fine. New cables, of course.
Here are more details:
1978 Centurion Pro-Tour 53 cm ST, 54 cm TT. Weight as pictured: 23.6 lbs. Original MKS Unique Royal Touring Pedals, Original Avocet Leather Touring saddle, new Panaracer Pasela 27″ x 1 tires, new tubes.
Alas, the bike is not my size and I will be putting it up for sale soon. I hope someday I’ll find a Pro-Tour in my size that I’ll be able to keep and treasure.
UPDATE December 19, 2013: SOLD! Congratulations to Randy in Minnesota.
Hi – Nice Pro Tour.
That’s a beautiful Pro Tour! I picked up a used mid 80’s model last summer that was in great shape with rough paint. I stripped the frame and have heavily changed the parts over to reflect my dream bikes (Rene Herse, Toei ). This bike ride great! a little slow but very comfortable. I love your 70’s Meral! I would love to own one of those. Here is a link to some pictures (http://www.flickr.com/photos/83311771@N04/)
Thanks for sharing your modified Pro Tour. It is lovely. The kitty photos are also amazing. Happy riding!
So Happy to find this post! What an excellent example of this fine beast.
I just acquired (for a hellofa deal) a 1979 Pro Tour in the champagne color, in my ideal size of 62cm, and it is a total time capsule just like this one! A good cleaning, lube, re-cabling, new tires, saddle and bar tape and it will be ready to last me until I am too old to ride 🙂
Hi Joshua, congratulations on your find. I hope you and your Pro Tour have many happy miles together! I have a Centurion Pro Tour Pinterest site, so if you want to share some photos I could post, just let me know.
I would be happy to do so as I start working on it. Just tell me where to send them.
Also, did you happen to note the serial number from this bike? want to see how it compares to mine for date accuracy. thanks!
I’m the original owner of a Centurion Semi-Pro. I bought my bike in 1976 for $525.00 Canadian. I was just a kid, and was smitten with the looks of this bike. I saved up my money and bought a pearlized brilliant orange colour bicycle.
It was a beautiful bike.
I have ridden it for 36 years. I would put approximately 350 km on it every week (that’s over 630,000 km). Every few years I would overhaul it and re-grease the wheel hubs and the crank-set. That’s all it needed to keep it going. The tuneup would take some time, as I would have to be very careful not to lose the ball-bearings, and to repack them in the original order.
Unfortunately, last year the rear dropouts failed, (on the derailleur side) a small piece of the chrome dropout fractured, which means the rear wheel cannot be attached to the bike. I am hopeful that someone who is an expert welder or frame builder might be able to repair the (stress) fracture, but I am not sure if it can be repaired…
If you have ideas or suggestions regarding possible repairs, I am all ears.
Depending on the type of damage, it may be fairly easy to rebraze a new dropout into the chain stay. Suntour dropouts can still be found. I would take your valued Semi Pro to a reputable local frame builder and get their advice. Hopefully you can be riding your Centurion again soon!
a stunning pro tour. The Pro Touring by Panasonic is the same thing with a few minor changes, less chrome and Tange 2 (superlite). The lightest touring bicycles around and they came with Nitto racks specially made for the bicycle in a unique mounting method. Schwann also sold Panasonic Pr Tours called Voyager but maybe spelled funny if I remember right. Just a few early years they were best, in general late 70s to the 1986 is the peak years for Japanese with 1985 the best IMO.
This bicycle that was purchased is a best of all time from that era. Good job putting Panaracers, the only tire that belongs on any touring or sport touring IMO.
This Pro Tour was a real find. The 70s and 80s were the decades for truly amazing production touring bikes. The brazed on center pulls and fully chromed frame make the Centurion the best of the bunch, I think.
Gorgeous bike! I stumbled across Josh’s blog recently had it has opened my eyes to the beauty of late 70’s to mid 80’s Japanese built touring frames and your Centurion was stunning
Agreed! Amazing quality and incredible value, which has lasted through the decades.
I have a 1978 Centurion Pro Tour 62cm 12 speed for sale. Do you know anyone that might be interested
I have one in brand new condition, size 57-59cm…. it is absolutely pristine, had been ridden once then stored indoors. It is the exact same bike with a period correct, high end rear rack. email@example.com if of any interest.