Some bikes are tough to get rid of. They aren’t the coolest, they aren’t quite compatible with everything you want to do with them, but they’ve been sturdy and trusty, and casting them aside would feel strangely like a betrayal. This is my 1983 Centurion ProTour, one of the finer Japanese-made touring machines of the 1980s. This is my do-everything bike, and while I’m confident I could find a more optimal do-everything bike like the Surly Disc Trucker or the Salsa Vaya or my Pelican, it feels perfect and I can’t let it go.
As pictured, this is my everyday city rig. Most of the parts on the bike have been changed or updated, but the cranks, front derailleur, brakes and headset remain original. If you’ve got a bike that handles the weight well, the Pass and Stow is unbeatable as a front rack – I comfortably carry about 50 pounds of records when I ride it to the bar to DJ. I use a Shimano dynohub, which adds a little friction over the SON but at a significant price reduction.
It’s also my touring bike. You can see that I’ve soldered the cable ends so I can slip them through the derailleur and brake anchor bolts without worrying about fraying. I have an entire separate set of drop bars with bar-end shifters for longer camping trips and any ride where I would like extra hand positions and more extension. Swapping the bars takes about twenty minutes. I plan to install cable couplers at some point for the shifters, but not much can be done about the full rear cable housing. And while I’d like to have cable stops installed, the bike is fully chromed under the paint, which adds some difficulty to that job.
While the heavy-duty Tange Champion No. 2 tubeset doesn’t give it a very supple feel as a road bike, it handles a lot of weight very well, and descends nicely even when loaded. After reading about half-step gearing I decided to give it a try, swapping the old 50-tooth outer ring for a 46 and the old 30-tooth granny for a 26. Paired to an 11-32 8-speed cassette, this 46-42-26 chainset gives you a very low low gear and, with a little practice, the half-step shifting sequence offers nearly imperceptible gradations between shifts. Perfect for cruising the flats until that soul-crushing climb.
There are cooler bikes, lighter bikes, prettier bikes, rarer bikes, better touring bikes, better city bikes, bikes that are actually designed for 700c instead of 27″ wheels, bikes that I didn’t have to custom dent the chainstay so that the inner chainring would clear, and bikes that fit me better. But this one is just fine.