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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Beautiful Bike of the Week: 1987 Centurion Ironman Expert

By Andrew Wise
By Andrew Wise

Every day, a two-wheeled swarm descends on this campus from all directions. Students dutifully pedal through rain or shine on bikes that fall anywhere on a spectrum from rusty and worn out mountain bikes to slim and smooth-running road machines.

The aim here is to highlight those bikes that rise above the rest. What sets apart a beautiful bicycle isn’t just the quality of its parts, but the harmony that it has with its cyclist, the quirks of its history and cleverness of its assemblage.

This first installment features Western Sophomore Brittany Grant’s 1987 Centurion Ironman Expert.

History of the Bike:

Dave Scott, who’s signature is emblazoned on the top tube of this frame, dominated the then-brand-new sport of triathlon throughout the 80’s, winning the Ironman World Championship six times.

By Andrew Wise

Tagging Scott’s name onto these frames was an ad gimmick that went along with Centurion’s claim that the geometry was specially formulated to keep weight off of the rider’s arms during a race, but all that means is that it’s not as aggressive as the top of the line Italian and French road offerings of the era.

Thus, Centurion created a light, stiff, sturdy racing frame with slightly relaxed geometry that makes for a fast and reliable commuter. This particular example shows all the hallmarks of a frame that has existed in many different iterations, and the resulting mismatched wheels and bottle cages give it a hearty character.

The fact that this is one of at least three Dave Scott Centurions on campus is a testament to the longevity of these frames and the affection of their owners. The brooks saddle, stickers you’d only find in Bellingham, and mean stance are what sets this particular build apart and make this ride the inaugural Beautiful Bike of the Week.

The Specs:

Frame: Centurion Dave Scott Ironman Expert

Groupset: Shimano 105 with the classic, if misguided, Biopace oval-shaped crank

Wheelset: jumble of different mavic rims and Shimano 105 hubs

Stem/bar: Nitto. Classy.Saddle: Brooks B-17 in black. Classic.

Saddle: Brooks B-17 in black. Classic.

By Andrew Wise

From the cyclist, Brittany Grant:

How did you acquire the bike:

Classic Craigslist deal. The guy was looking to move across the state and was selling it cheap, so that day I drove out with my trusty bike critic and a friend, so after the critic’s approval and a quick test run, it was mine.

Best memory involving the bike:

This bike was my vehicle for the naked bike ride, which turned out to be the beginning of one of the best nights in Bellingham I’ve had so far.

One word to describe the bike:

Bombproof. This thing won’t die.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I have been riding this great bike model for 10 years and for 10 years before that my nephew spent 15 years “jamming” from Rochester NY to Dansville and return every Sunday.

    It’s impossible to describe the beauty, quality and functionality of this Vintage bike except to say that I have owned many other bikes, costing up to $3,000 (carbon fork, seatpost, pedals,all Ultegra group; 16.8 lbs.) NONE compared to the way the Centurion fits me and performs.

    Which is why I still have the Centurion have and sold every one of my “expensive” bikes.

  2. I have been through 1/2 dz cars in the time that I’ve been riding this model of bike. I get the feeling that it will last me through at least another 6 cars. I don’t agree that the Biopace is ‘misguided’. In fact, I have found that I get less knee strain with Biopace chainring than with a round chainring. That said, I will grant that not all knees are alike. To each their own…

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