Vintage 3 Speed English Bicycles

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An Interesting Story

There’s a bike parked up the street from me that looked to be a Raleigh 10 speed but branded a “Centurian”.

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A little research turned up an interesting story….

From Wikipedia:

“According to Frank J. Berto, Raleigh Industries of America had been looking at a Japanese source for their Grand Prix model. Raleigh America ordered 2,000 bicycles from Tano and Company of Osaka but their parent company in England, TI-Raleigh, disapproved — concerned that the Tano-built bikes were too well made and would have outsold their own British bikes.

Raleigh’s sales agent, Mitchell Weiner, who was reading The New Centurions at the time, took receipt of the bikes, placed Centurion decals on the bikes and marketed them successfully, subsequently forming Western State Imports after merging with Rick Wilson’s company, Wil-Go of Santa Clara, California. Because the bikes had all been intended as Raleigh Grand Prix models, as Centurions, they carried the colors of the Raleigh America Grand Prix model.”

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The original Raleigh version.

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One response

  1. Ah, Centurion! Great Japanese bikes.
    I’ve owned two of them: A mid-80’s Accordo, which was my first “nice” bike. Used it for two years but the heavy stresses of touring broke the frame. I also had a 70’s Le Mans that I converted to single speed. The Le Mans was the most common model.
    Western States Importers introduced Diamondback as a sister company to Centurion in the 80’s, concentrating on mountain bikes. WSI dumped the Centurion name in the early 90’s when road bikes were on the wane, incorporating road bikes into the Diamondback line.

    December 9, 2017 at 12:38 pm

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