Resurrecting an Old Friend: a 1976 Centurion Pro Tour

1976 Centurion Pro Tour

I rode my 1976 Centurion Pro Tour for over 20 years before I crashed it back in 1999.  In fact, that crash and the resulting quest for a suitable replacement bike is what has led me here – to an appreciation of the rarity and quality of hand made vintage bicycles and to a side career as a bike mechanic, collector and restorer.

When I hit a car that had suddenly stopped in front of me while going about 20 mph, my front wheel collided with the car’s back end and I went down hard on the trunk.  (Thank you, helmet.)

fork damage

The fork legs were pushed back and the steerer tube was bent right above the crown.

fork damage

You can see the tell-tale paint cracks which clearly indicate a sudden impact.  The fork was definitely toast.

frame damage annotatedframe damage annotated 2

The frame itself sustained some damage to the downtube (left photo) and top tube (right photo).  You can again see the tell-tale paint cracks right at the lug points, but the cracks are not very pronounced.  And, looking at the tubes and holding a straight edge up to them, I cannot see any significant bends or twists.

2013-09-27 001 003 2013-09-27 001 004 Suntour dropouts 2013-09-27 001 017 2013-09-27 001 005

The rest of the frame looks great, with plenty of “buesage” evident in the scratched paint and fading logos.  But, overall, this is one nice frame.  If I could bring this bike back to life with a new fork, and any needed repairs to the tubes, I would be overjoyed.  Interestingly, this frame is “too big” for me – at 54 cm, but I managed to ride all over the place in tremendous comfort.  I did install a stem with shorter reach, plus rando bars (which my Pro Tour did not have originally), and that gave me a comfortable position.  After all, with the really tall frame my stem didn’t need to be tall because it was already even with my saddle height.

Once I remove the paint (to reveal the fully chromed frame underneath!!!), I’ll know for sure the extent of the damage.  Since I am really fond of that baby blue color, I might still decide to paint it again after stripping it, but it will be sad to lose the Centurion logos.  An experienced painter may be able to recreate them.  If all goes well, I’ll be riding this amazing bike once again.

Touring in the San Juan Islands

Centurion Pro Tour – San Juan Islands – c. 1985

6 thoughts on “Resurrecting an Old Friend: a 1976 Centurion Pro Tour

  1. Great homage to a wonderful machine, Nola. Those Centurion’s are incredible. One of my finest restorations was a Centurion Semi-Pro from the same year and same color as your Pro Tour. If the frame size on the Semi-Pro would have been a little bigger, that would have been tucked away nicely within my own personal collection. What’s funny is I was just recently contacted by a fella in Seattle who was the original owner of a ’76 Semi-Pro and he wanted to know if I wanted to purchase it. Again, another mismatch on the size as this one was 65cm (!!) and I ride a 57/58cm. So, I continue to search for another, beautiful milky blue metallic Centurion of the same era.

    Digressing only slightly, I did want to comment on your logo remarks. There are a number of very fine professionals who do an exemplary job of logo reproduction. Although I have an ongoing list of vendors, the artist I recommend most is JR at Velocals. I have now had two sets of logos created (most recently for my Raleigh Portage), from scratch, by his hand and I am very pleased with the results. Once he nails down the typeface nuances, sizes, etc. you can then pick from a myriad of colors to customize your selection. All lines and fills are fair game for custom color at no extra charge. Honestly, I have found that have logos created is the easy part. What has been difficult is finding a respectable, local, high quality painter/powder coater that won’t jerk me around, charge an outrageous, almost insulting amount and will complete the work in a rational time frame (3 months is appalling). Once you find that, the remainder of the restoration is a breeze and if you have the pateince, I strongly suggest you do just that.

  2. Hi Josh, thanks for the logo artist recommendation – that is very helpful. Regarding frame painters – I will get in touch with you via email regarding this – I don’t know yet if the same painter I have used in the past is still available and I will update you. I know that a few local frame builders are NOT using local painters – maybe for the reasons you outline above. I absolutely LOVE your Centurion Semi-Pro, and for all who are interested – here is the link to Josh’s Semi-Pro page – http://simplicityvintagecycles.com/2013/04/08/1976-centurion-semi-pro-rejuvenation/

  3. I had the exact same bike… purchased from the Bike Gallery on Sandy in 1978. It was a 1976 model (so I got a discount). Rode it to the ground… re welded the chain stays… repainted it twice and finally gave it to a friend.

    She was great – I road from Portland to LA twice… once in 1979 and later with my brother when I was on college. Loved the original baby blue paint and chrome dropouts… classic!

    Mine was just like the photo (leather bar tape and Zefal pump too!). I had an Avocet seat… and changed the bar end shifters to downtube SIS… just like yours! Great minds think alike!!

    • That’s amazing, Dan. Great memories! I still hope to maybe find another one in baby blue that has been hiding away somewhere. I haven’t continued working on the frame, but may get back to it this summer.

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