1976 Centurion Super LeMans

A very striking bike entered my life when I liberated a grubby, but very, very solid Centurion from a yard sale (along with a 1974 Raleigh Sprite – which, to my delight, was in showroom condition!) At first glance, I thought the Centurion was going to be way too big for me, but after riding it around for a bit I was pleased to discover that it’s actually a very comfortable fit for me.

Somewhere along the way a Schwinn generator, headlamp, and tail light had been mounted – all of which worked surprisingly well; the headlamp was startlingly bright. But I couldn’t get past the huge areas of missing paint on the tubing though – bare metal was showing and it was way beyond the look of “charming patina!”

Before

After

I’ve cleaned up and polished all the components (which appear to be 100% original, by the way…right down to the tires.) The original cotton bar wrap had never had a shellac coating applied and was in pretty good condition.

Before

After

I’d read on Lovely Bicycle! that shellac resulted in a very comfortable grip surface and that with subsequent annual coats, the wrap would last virtually forever. I confess that I had my doubts about the “comfort” of shellac, but I was intrigued with the look and the tradition. The first application sucked up a lot of the amber shellac I purchased for the task, but as noted in the various online references on the subject, the subsequent coats went on more quickly and much more thinly. My bars have seven coats and I confess that I’m glad to have decided upon adding shellac. Those initial misgivings about the surface comfort were – happily! – misinformed, and the feel of gripping the randonneur style handlebars is very natural. It’s not as cushy or as pliable as modern cork and it certainly doesn’t feel like the 1970’s-era thick foam grip. It just feels … right.

The lights and generator are pretty heavy and I decided not to re-install them when I built the bike back up again after the repaint and application of decals. Shortly after the build up, I ran across a set of vintage Peugeot fenders which fit the look I was going for perfectly – it’s amazing how often such things transpire by fortuitous happenstance! I have a modern NiteRider lighting system that can be swapped between bikes and I’m now considering racks, handlebar bag and choice of saddle to transform this into a solid touring/randonneur machine.

Here is the Centurion right after the initial shakedown ride. The fenders were added later.

More photos available here.

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45 thoughts on “1976 Centurion Super LeMans

    • John, I did grudgingly decide to sell this bike a few months ago. It now resides in San Francisco (albeit with a set of lower geared triple rings up front to offset the challenge of SF hills.) I enjoyed the ride of this bike immensely but I confess it was a real lead weight on hills.

  1. Ed Mills says:

    This is exactly the same bike I had in 1976 – same frame height, same Pearlescent Orange paint. I switched it to downtube shifters and removed the spoke & chain guards because I was a pretentious little twit in those days. Incidentally, I lived in San Francisco at the time, and thought the stock gears were just fine for those hills! Oh, to be young and ignorant and indestructible and only weigh 150 pounds with zero body fat again.

  2. DRH says:

    I found exactly that same bike at a thrift shop for forty dollars. Am considering repainting but concerned about decals and head badge. How did you deal with them on your bike?

    • The head badge was still attached when the bike came to me. To remove it, I first pulled the stem. I used a narrow chisel to knock off the end of the two rivets on the inside of the head tube. (Make sure those ends don’t remain in the head tube.) After painting, I used an adhesive to bond the head badge back into place and used a couple of decorative brass brads to replace the rivets. (They are purely cosmetic and are also held in place with adhesive.)

      The graphics were more problematic. I simply could not find the correct typeface to recreate the decal and finally decided it must be a custom lettered logo. I made photographs of the logo straight on and “corrected” the angle of curve in Photoshop as best I could. Beginning with a font that was moderately close, I aligned the lettering against the reference photo in Illustrator. The lettering was then changed to paths so that I could customize each character and each letter space. Now I had a digital file that could be used to send to a printing firm that I use – they can generate self adhesive lettering in metallics and opaque colors. I, however, chose not to send it off to the printer. I was feeling particularly masochistic that day and decided to print the file to a black and white laser print. I laid it on top of some silver self-adhesive decal material I have on hand and then used an X-Acto knife to cut through both the laser print and the decal material at the same time. I very carefully and precisely hand cut each letter and then adhered them to the tubing. Unless you have a lot of experience hand cutting letters (I do have: I was a graphic designer for twenty-five years), I’d recommend the option of going to a printer.

      By the way, I have the file for that decal and – I think – the head badge as well. They are on a Yahoo! Group site I sometimes manage at http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/bicycle_decals/

  3. David Crockett says:

    Hi,

    I just came accross your web site. I have virtually the same bike. Except I got mine free, rescued from the trash by a colleague. It came to me clean and although there are a fair number of paint chips it does not need repaining. Mine has all original equipment with center pull brakes.

    I replaced the saddle with a Brooks B17 Champion Special and added toe clops. I too shallacked the handlebar tapes (I used cork a la Rivendell) and installed a nice brass bell on the stem. Unfortunately I had to replace the bottom bracket last year.

    I have had the bike for at least 6 years and I keep it at work for afternoon or lunch time rides. And I take it with me on vacations where I strap the bike to the car (I don’t want to risk damage to my good bike which I keep at home.).

    It may not have a fancy steel frame, but by today’s standards it is a well designed bike with plenty of clearance for thicker tires and fienders (which I have not installed) with the inlcued eylets on the frame. It is stable with a low bottom bracket. The fork has a very nice rake (missing on most modern bikes) ant it is a steel-lugged frame. New steel-lugged frames cost plenty–I know I bought one. They are great–being versitile, pretty to look at are long-llived. This bike is a witness.

    With the chrome, it is rather eye catching and I have received many questions about it. I won’t win any races on it. But then again, I am past that…..

    Cheers,
    David

    • Thanks for sharing, David. I’m a little amazed at the number of people who contact me about that bike! I always felt like it was a pretty sharp looking bike myself.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Great job on this bike. I am working on repainting a centurion lemans, and I was wondering if you could send me the file of the logo that you created. I tried to join the yahoo group you mentioned in a different comment, but it doesn’t look like theres been any very recent activity. If you would be willing to share, my email is s_tarbous@yahoo.com. Thank you!

      • Bill Fraser says:

        Just came across your bike info. I have a 1976 Super Le Mans purchased new for $195.00. It has over 50,000 miles and only the frame, fork and handle bar stem are original. the bike has been painted (several times poorly by me) by Keith Anderson. It’s on its third set of wheels. Still rides well although I’ve replaced it as my touring bike with a tweaked Seven Cycles Alaris.

      • Good to hear that you’ve still got your Centurion on the road, Bill. I’m always a little surprised at how much this particular model seems to resonate with some folks.

  5. Erik Smith says:

    It’s funny — I was trolling the Internet for info about the bike I’ve been riding since high school, and ran across this posting. I purchased my Centurion Super LeMans at a bike shop in Spokane, brand-new, for $235 in 1980. Still ride it, too, though after 33 years of no real maintenance and maybe 25,000 miles it feels like the crank bearings are wearing out. And a bike that was considered super-light at the time now seems super-heavy by comparison with modern bikes. I took it into a bike shop yesterday to inquire about a rebuild/powder coat, and was quoted $450-$500. Still wrestling with that idea. In some respects I know I might be crazy. But I am also daunted by the prices of new bikes and I know that this one will last. Okay, what I’m wondering is how did you get the rear-wheel stays looking like that? Did you take off the paint and find out they were chrome underneath? I honestly don’t get it — looks like I have exactly the same frame, but there are many paint chips in this area, and I see surface rust, meaning that it’s plain old steel underneath. I love the look and wonder, did you coat the steel somehow? Or perhaps is the 1980 model different than the 1976 and did yours use chrome-steel here? I’m also one of the many that seems to be interested in the decal. The 1980 decal (like the headbadge) is different than on your 1976 model, so I might have to try the same process myself. And yet I find the 1976 decal more aesthetically pleasing, so I’m not sure if I’d be better off just using the file you created. Any other tips/thoughts for someone considering the same project? You certainly got a lovely result.

    • Howdy Erik, and thanks for the compliments on the bike. That one sure gets a lot of interest! First off, the “half socks” on the front and rear stays in 1976 were chromed about three-fourths of the way up – which is why they look the way they do. Secondly, I stripped and repainted the frame myself – you can see the results on my Flickr page for this bike at http://www.flickr.com/photos/azorch/sets/72157625334406359/ I’ve got plenty of detailed images of the frame prior to the repaint, complete with large swathes of flaking paint if you ever need to see some of those. Thirdly, if you are looking to restore your Super LeMans using the 1976 graphics, please know that I’ve just added the artwork for the down tube and head tube to a Yahoo! Group I run that archives vector files of bicycle decals. It’s located at http://sports.groups.yahoo.com/group/bicycle_decals/.

      I don’t mean to tell you that the folks who quoted you $500 for a powder coat are out of their freakin’ minds – well, actually, yes, in fact that is precisely what I’m telling you. You can get a wet paint from Waterford for around $700 – and that’s a damn good paint job. If you’re interested in powder coating, you really need to chat with a company who specializes in bicycles so that you don’t wind up with a thick, blobby, “un”bicycle coating. And $500 is waaaay more than I have ever paid. There are probably numerous outfits who know their way around a lug, but I’d recommend you speak to Mark Rainey at Groody Brothers in Kansas City. They’ve done a couple of frames for me and I’ve been quite pleased with the results. The most recent is a 1971 Raleigh International, which you can see at http://www.flickr.com/photos/azorch/sets/72157631973929803/

      You can certainly paint a bike yourself, but there is a real learning curve if you have no prior experience. I’m fortunate to have some related experience from the past and have had some decent success in respraying and adding graphics to frames that were in otherwise dismal condition. Take a look at the 1972 Paramount here at http://www.flickr.com/photos/azorch/sets/72157631741697031/ to get an idea of what’s possible.

      • Erik Smith says:

        Thanks for your quick response! It’s funny that I’ve been riding the same bike for so long that it is now considered a vintage bike! But even though it’s heavier than just about anything else anyone rides these days, I have to say I’m used to it. In 1980 I got the largest-size frame available — the same size frame you have pictured — and while it technically is larger than is recommended for me, I’ve never had a problem with it.

        I wonder if the rear tubes on the 1980 model are chromed in the same way as the ’76 — would be very cool if they are. As for cost, the bike shop actually told me that the cost of powder coating is $150; $150 is their labor for tearing it down and putting it back together again, and $150-$200 for new parts — bearings and stuff, I guess. I saw a few of their projects in progress and the powder coating work stunned me with its quality. There was one with a most-intriguing paint-scheme — the steel lugs at the head, the seat and the cranks had been painted an accent color, silver, over a black frame, and I have thought about going that route, even though the original is a single shade. My impression is that even though my bike is all original, it’s not exactly a collector’s item — it wasn’t top of the line in 1980, it was just better than what 95 percent of the people were riding at the time — and my thought is that there’s no need to adhere strictly to original style. Or is there?

        Which sort of leads me to the big thing I have been wondering. My research on the Internet reminds me that this wasn’t the top of the line model — the Pro Tour that year supposedly was 1.5 pounds lighter (for $100 more). This bike shop was actually working on a Pro Tour of similar vintage, and I could see that the brakes were of a different center-pull design. The bike shop told me that I could switch out/”upgrade” parts if I wished, at greater cost. And I wonder if there is any point in doing this, especially on a bike that has no cachet/fandom/value whatever. Of course I want new bearings and the like everywhere, but they were telling me things like I ought to replace the crank bearings with “a one-piece cassette” for $30 — and I have no idea what they are talking about. Does an old bike function better with newer running gear or with newer-style internal parts in the head and the crank area? Is there any point in this?

        There’s one other thing I guess I’ve wondered a little about, but judging by your blog you know more than a little about old bikes. The catalog back in 1980 said the bike weighed 25 pounds, but it has always struck me as heavier than that. Not long ago I tried weighing it in a hapazard way, holding it while standing on a bathroom scale, then subtracting my weight, and came up with 38 pounds. Mine has a kickstand and a rack, but I doubt that would explain it. Any guesses on why there would be such a variance? Thanks for your advice —

      • Well, it’s definitely pricey having someone else do the work for you. The powder coating on my Raleigh included tear down, stripping, masking the chromed lugs, and – of course! – the powder coating. That cost me $160 if I recall correctly. By contrast, I stripped the Paramount myself, prepped the frame, had the paint color matched and then sprayed it; finally I created the decals and applied them: all of this was my own labor and it cost me under $50.

        So to take your questions one at a time:

        1. Are the rear stays chromed? I kind of doubt it – but I’ve never stripped a 1980 model, so I can’t be certain. Chroming costs additional dollars and the Super LeMans was a midrange sports touring model, so I have a hard time believing Centurion would’ve chromed it and then covered it with paint. Your best bet would be to tap into the collective conscience of the guys on bikeforums.net in the Classic and Vintage section. They are very sharing and there are many who are specialized experts – there are at least a couple of specialists in Centurion models.
        2. Cost for “new parts” needs to be spelled out in detail. If they are just going to repack the bearings in the headset and bottom bracket, $200 is exorbitant. If they are going to replace the bearings and cranks and cluster and derailleur… well, you can see how that would add up pretty quickly. Thing is, if you’re at all handy, these are mostly tasks you can do yourself. YouTube and bikeforums.net and a variety of other internet resources will show you precisely what you need to do to accomplish nearly anything. And if you can’t find specific instruction, the C&V guys at bikeforums.net are always happy to elaborate (at greaaaat length, I might add!) on anything you might need assistance with.
        3. Contrasting color schemes can be very sharp indeed! Do a little research by visiting Flickr and check out the various groups of bike photos. Your bike is pretty cool, but it’s far from collectible – so feel free to do what makes you happy, because clearly you and your bike have been together for three decades and it’s ok. Be advised however, that you’re easily stacking up waaaay more in costs than the bike is worth. I think that when I sold mine it went for something like $250 or $275 – essentially less than I had in the restoration, especially if you count in sweat equity!
        4. Yes, you can upgrade parts. Not all vintage parts will be interchangeable though – some brake calipers are “nutted” and others have a “recessed nut”; the rear is spaced differently for five, seven, eight, nine, ten speed clusters/cassettes – therefore, the rear hub and axel are different lengths and the rear wheel is “dished” differently. So you can’t just pick up parts indiscriminately. The good thing is that the kinds of parts that are appropriate for this bike – Japanese made Suntour – are excellent and can be had pretty cheaply.
        5. I like the idea of a new bottom bracket – what you are referring to as crank bearings. For $25 you can get a good Shimano bottom bracket that will not require the kind of regular servicing that your older unsealed bearing set does. Nothing at all wrong with the old bearings, by the way – they are cheap to replace, and easy to service. I wouldn’t replace the bottom bracket unless (a) it was total crap – and that is doubtful or (b) you decide to replace the crankset. The choice of crankset will determine the length of the spindle in the bottom bracket – and your original may be the wrong length for a new crankset. Again, unless the parts are trashed, don’t jump on the replacement band wagon. With a little elbow grease, you’d be amazed what WD-40, aluminum foil, and a clean rag will do to restore those cranks to like new condition. The chain rings on the cranks can be replaced and if you need something a little less aggressive, they can be replaced with smaller number of teeth.
        6. Does an old bike work better with new parts? Well it depends on the original parts and the condition they are currently in. New bearings and new grease are an absolute must on a thirty-plus year old bike. Don’t hesitate. Replace the bottom bracket entirely? Or the crank? I’m not in love with the idea – as I say above, those can be repaired or serviced easily. New chain and new cog – yes. The most substantial thing you can do is upgrade your wheels: lighter, stronger wheels with supple, lighter tires will make you feel like you’ve been visiting Lance Armstrong’s medicine cabinet. Truly, the change can be staggering. Upgrade on saddle is also something to strongly consider if you plan to spend a lot of time astride it. Don’t be conned into buying a gel pad or foam saddle by the way… gel moves, and movement causes friction. Friction is the bane of butts around the world.
        7. Weight – well you’ve got a larger frame and typically the weight is based on a 56cm model, which would be two or three sizes smaller than yours. That would account for a slight difference in weight… but 38 pounds? Holy smokes, there’s no way a Super LeMans comes in at that weight. If I were to guess, I’d call it 28 pounds, tops. Unless you’ve got a lead kickstand and rack, that is…

  6. Erik Smith says:

    Thanks for your thoughts here! I guess I’m going to have to ponder tearing it down myself — hey, if I can save a hundred bucks or so, that just might do the trick. I guess I’m just mostly intrigued that there’s anyone else in the universe that knows anything about this bike — the Centurion was sort of an unusual model out in this part of the country, even at the time, but it certainly has served me well. And the idea of replacing the wheels — I honestly hadn’t considered it, but the idea is very intriguing… Thanks!

    • Centurion made some great bikes. The Turbo from ’83-84 is a grail bike for some, and perhaps more famously, the Dave Scott a little later.

  7. Mark Manning says:

    I have a similar Centurion Lemans and like you i rescued this great bike from the trash. I was wondering where you got the decals for the rebuild

    • Hi Mark. I hand cut each letter individually on the down tube graphic. I used a self adhesive reflective decal material that I happen to have on hand in my studio. Then I carefully placed each letter into position, cautiously burnishing down the letter and paying special attention to edges, corners, and thin areas. It was quite a PIA, to be very honest!

  8. Mark Manning says:

    I recently rescued a 76 Centurion LeMans as well. It’s a great ride. I would like to do a full restore on it and was wondering where you got your decals

  9. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful restoration. Had a silver ’76 Super Lemans a year or two ago. Rode it around for awhile, but it was really too small. Yes, it was heavy (surprisingly so), but the weight meant it ironed out the bumps. It was a smooth ride. A very smooth ride.
    I bought a Paramount for the same price I sold the Centurion for, as a replacement, but even as I shift through the fancy clicky click STI shifting, I find myself thinking of the trusty old barcons on the Centurion. I can’t believe I’m reminiscing about something that only happened a year ago, but, man it was a sweet bike!

  10. I’m going to chime in and say I picked up a Centurion Le Mans on Craigslist last month, and I’ve been trying to figure out how old it is. It looks identical to your before pictures (unfortunately, including some of the chipped paint) so my best guess is that it’s a ’76 as well. I don’t have the money or the inclination to redo it the way you did, but you have my compliments, that was an excellent job. I threw some new tubes and tires on mine, adjusted it up a bit, and I’ve just been riding it as my main bike. I can’t believe how well it rides after more than 30 years, it’s a great bike. Thanks again for the information and photos!

    • Nice, solid ride quality – if just a bit on the heavy side. A lot like the Schwinn Voyageur touring models, in fact. I’d love to see photos of your Super LeMans, Peter.

      • I can add a thought here — as I continue to ride the Centurion Le Mans I purchased brand-new in 1980. Heavy? Pshaw. It was lighter than just about every bike on the market back in 1980 — you don’t know what heavy is until you try to lift some of the Schwinns they made during this period. I bought it at a Spokane Schwinn store and compared it against every other bike they had. The only lighter-weight models high-end Schwinn Paramount and the top-of-the-line Centurion Le Tour.

        These days, I know — it’s a tank by comparison with any new bike. But when people tell me it’s heavy, I try to tell them what it was like to ride a Schwinn Varsity. No one believes me when I tell them the Schwinn frames were made of solid lead.

        I just rode 25 miles on my Le Mans over the weekend. Thirty-four years on the same bike? I must be approaching a record.

      • Erik, I agree with your analysis of what constitutes “heavy.” I favor vintage steel bikes over plastic, myself. There’s certainly a trade off in weight between the two categories (which is, of course, a bit like comparing apples and oranges.) The real advantage of steel isn’t in the comparison of a few pounds, but in comparing longevity and obsolescence. It will be interesting to see how many modern bikes outlast your thirty-four year old (and still counting!) Centurion! Keep her on the road, podna!

  11. Wow! Beautiful job on the bike! Thanks for sharing your restoration and posting all the nice high res pictures. I have a late 70’s Super LeMans I’m working on and it was helpful to compare to yours to narrow down to the right year.

  12. Marc says:

    Very nice bike! I have a 1982 Centurion Clic (became the Sport DLX is 1983), which I bought brand new for about $250. It’s a great bike, and though i have a lugged steel 1987 DeRosa Nuovo Classico, a Trek 5200 and a 2012 Bianchi Campione (downtube shifters) I still ove the Centurion. A few years back i had it bead blasted and then powder coated in a very bright red/orange. It is an eye catching ride to say the least. I also dumped the original components and installed Suntour friction shifters and derailleurs, which toss the chain nicely across a seven speed cogset. Also, as a concession to age, put on a 50/34 compact crank. Also put on some 700c wheels, shimano 600 hubs and wolber rims. Darned thing is a cadillac. Love it.

  13. Erik Smith says:

    Say, I just thought I’d leave a note — some two years after corresponding about my old Centurion Le Mans. Still have it. And even though I’ve been using a more modern bike lately for most of my riding, a wild suggestion from a friend last week got me thinking. I rode my Centurion when it was new from Spokane to Seattle. Now I live near Seattle, I’ve got a vacation coming up, and my friend said, “You know, you oughtta ride your bike across the state.” Well, why not?

    My new bike — actually new-er — an aluminum frame Schwinn 564 from 1989 — is incredibly light and incredibly fast. But the frame is so stiff I can’t imagine a 350-mile ride would be very pleasant. Besides, there’s no kickstand and no easy way to install a rack, things you have to have on a trip like that.

    So I took the old Centurion into a bike shop, told ’em it was time to upgrade the running gear, and I could tell they thought I was crazy putting money into an old bike like that… but…

    I just want to say you were right about the wheels. A pair of new 700c wheels does wonders on a bike like that. Maybe because all the spokes are tight, or maybe because the higher tire pressure with the Presta-valve inner tubes makes a better ride. But I just got it back from the shop, took it on a 15-mile spin, and wow, a world of difference!

    The funny thing is, the bike is heavier than my new one by about 10 pounds, and I could feel it going up hills, but something tells me the steel frame is more likely to hold up all the way to Spokane.

    • Erik, you’re discovering what many others – including myself – have: While overall weight is a factor, it’s not the only consideration. Frame fit, compliancy, geometry, and a host of other characteristics. I’m so glad it only took me owning and riding a couple of hundred different frames of couple hundred different sizes, configurations, and builds to find a bike that just plain feels good to me. In my case it turned out to be my Boulder Brevet which with racks and bags is definitely heavier than the average carbon fiber or aluminum bike. BUT the fit is amazing compared to anything else I’ve ever ridden, it’s not sluggish by a far piece, and it’s a joy to ride for long distances (or just down the block.) If a new set of wheels makes that transformation take place for you (and I’m not surprised to hear it might), then that’s a real win! Congrats!

      • Erik Smith says:

        Yes, it does ride like a Cadillac! People have trouble believing it when they pick it up — “OMG, it’s heavy!” — but maybe the weight has something to do with it. You know, now that I’ve seen what a difference an investment of a few hundred dollars can make on a reasonably-high-quality vintage steel touring bike, for new wheels, new brake levers and sundry other things — maybe I’m ready for a bike that costs more than a few hundred dollars. I’ve been reading up on the Boulder Brevet you mention. Maybe I have something to aspire to.

  14. George Presley says:

    I bought my silver Super Le Mans back in 1976 the same year I got married and it was my pride and joy. Since then I’ve purchased other bikes but couldn’t bring myself to parting with the Centurion so it has hung in the garage for the last 28 years unused. Recently I got the notion that I could extract some more fun out of my old bike by restoring it. I’m lucky I came upon your blog. I am so pleased to read that the fondness for an old Centurion is shared by others. Bike mechanics will be something new for me and so there lies the adventure. My last ride on that bike was a trip from Monterey California to Los Angeles. Although I had just purchased a Vitus aluminum bike, I knew the Centurion would not beat me up over those 400 miles. With racks and fully loaded bags it weighed in like a small motorcycle but it was as comfortable a ride as one could hope for. Wish me luck on my new adventure. Your bike is a beauty!

    • I continue to be amazed by the number of people who reach out to me to share their fondness for the Super LeMans. There’s something about that model Centurion that tugged at more than a few heartstrings!

    • Say, is yours a 12 speed? I was just given a silver 12 speed Super LeMans (haven’t looked up the year yet) by a 70 year old man I helped move out of his house. It’s been in his garage for 30 or so years and was like a time capsule… everything is good on it and it’s even lubricated and fully functioning. I live in the country near some massive hills and compared with the cheap bikes I always had in my life, this cuts through them “like butter.” I’m thrilled with it and am finally riding again after 30 years. I’m trying to find more info on it online, including original specs, but have not had too much luck yet. I especially keep running into 10 speed models so that is confusing to me. Enjoy your bike! 🙂

      • I am going to have go back over my records, but yes I do want to say that bike came to me with a wide range Ultra 6 freewheel.

  15. Jeanne Poupore says:

    I am the original owner of my 1976 Orange Centurian Super LeMans Ladies Bike with nearly all original equipment and it is in very good condition. It was bought new in 1976 at a bike shop in Saratoga Springs, NY. The only thing I replaced was the seat right after I purchased it to give more comfort. Even the paint is in very good condition, partly because I have not ridden it much in years (I will be 70 years young my next birthday). Now the grandkids are wanting their Mom to have it so they can ride as a family and I am reluctant to let it go.

    • I, for one, can certainly appreciate the difficulty of letting go! For many, a bicycle has a powerfully nostalgic and sentimental pull – it’s nothing at all like a favorite shirt that becomes a hand-me-down. There’s a personal connection. Take care of your bike, but remember that bikes are meant to be ridden. There’s something terrifically sad about a bicycle that permanently hangs from a hook or leans against a wall. And thanks so much for sharing – I’ve never seen a step through model of the Super LeMans…if you send me a photograph and your story, I’d love to put both up on The Early Morning Cyclist.

      • Jeanne Poupore says:

        My 1976 Ladies Orange Super LeMans Centurian 10 Speed Bike was purchased new at a bike shop in Saratoga Springs, NY. All of the bike components are original except for the seat which was replaced for more comfort. Also, a rear view mirror, as well as front and rear deflectors were added for safety. The bike and even the paint are in very good condition because this bike was always very well cared for. It was bought in 1976 for me to ride with my family when the kids were able to ride their own bikes, but as of recent years it has not been ridden much.

  16. Phil says:

    I also have a 1976 Centurion Super LeMans bought new in the mid-70s. I have recenlty got it out and cleaned it up and had it tuned up at the bike shop where I bought it 40 years ago! The paint has quite a few chips and I’m wondering if you can tell me where I can get the exact orange paint color to try some touch-up work?
    Not sure how to attach a pic to this comment.

    • I always thought the orange color of this bike was particularly striking. Mine came to me almost entirely in original condition but unfortunately the paint was hanging off in strips in places. I did decide to repeat it and re-create the graphics which was real pain, to be honest! I don’t recall what the paint color mix was at the time. And sadly, that bike passed out of my hands a number of years ago.

      • Phil says:

        Thanks for the reply. Actually the paint is in pretty good shape overall, just bits and spots here and there. Luckily, the graphics are almost like new. I did get a small bottle of touch-up paint with the bike when I bought it which I still have, but it is dried in the bottle. I’m not sure if there is a way to revitalize that or not.

  17. If you’ve got the retouch paint you could take it into an auto paint supplier. If they can get a sample of the dried paint out of the bottle they can scan it and mix a match for you.

    If it’s just chips in your paint, apply the paint a drop at a time with a toothpick. Let it dry and apply again to level it out to the surrounding surface paint.

    • Phil says:

      Okay thanks. Great idea. I appreciate your taking the time to respond.
      And thanks for the tip on how to perform the touch up. I wasn’t sure how to apply it to make it blend and level out. I’ll try to post a before and after picture. (Not sure how to post a pic on this blog thought :). )

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