Friday, April 27, 2012

Centurion, "Equipe", Part II

The Centurion brand, "Equipe"story started here with having received a scan of the 1985 BICYCLE GUIDE which had a feature behind the creation of this bicycle.

Subsequent to that blog entry we heard from the man behind the project, Alan Goldsmith, and you can read his comments in that blog entry.

Now we turn to a reader that owns a Centurion "Equipe" and wrote in with many interesting details. First, photos of his bike which is completely original with the exception of the brake hoods and tires:





SPECIFICATIONS: 1985 CINELLI EQUIPE CENTURION, as above

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:
Men's Cinelli 12-speed racing bike (1984\85; one year only).
Color : "Titanium silver" (4 primer\finish coats, 1 clear coat).
Serial Number: None. "60" (size c-c) stamped under BB.
MSRP: US$995 Introductory price: US$790.

FRAME:
Columbus SL(SP) "Cylex" CrMo steel frame and fork.
Campagnolo dropouts (chrome), seatpost binder bolt,
double water bottle braze-ons. 126mm rear spacing.

Total weight: 21lb, 2.5oz
Frame without fork: 5lb, 1.0oz
Fork only: 1lb, 10.5oz
Front wheel only: 2lb, 6.5oz
Rear wheel only: 3lb, 6.0oz

COMPONENTS:
Cinelli:
Record "Giro D'Italia" bar (64-42cm) and stem (120mm).
Volare unicanitor suede-over-plastic saddle.
Full set of investment cast lugs; sloped fork crown; bottom
bracket shell; seat and chain stays, and brake bridge. Fork
crown, head lugs and drive-side chain stay are chromed.

Campagnolo Nuovo Record derailleurs and downtube shifters.

Universal AER side pull brakes and levers.

Regina:
CX-S, 6-speed freewheel with 13-14-15-17-19-21 cogs.
Record chain (wide-spaced; 108 links, drilled).

Ofmega:
Mistral cotterless alloy crankset (170mm; 144mm BCD).
Mistral chainwheels (52\42).
Mistral bottom bracket (70mm\36x24); alloy spindle (118mm).
Mistral headset.
Sintesi composite platform pedals; toe clips\Binda straps.

Fiamme Hard Silver 700C tubular rims (340gr; 36-hole; eyelets).
Miche Competition quick-release hubs (36 hole; stainless spokes).
Vittoria Nuovo Pro tubular tires.

Gipiemme seatpost (27.2mm).

MARKINGS:
Cinelli logos (new style) embossed on bar and stem, fork crown,
seat and seat stays, rear brake bridge and under bottom bracket.

Other markings include: a "Cinelli Equipe" decal on down-tube
just above shifters and on left chain stay; an "Italia: Made in
Italy" decal high on seat tube.

Centurion decals on down-tube (left and right), and a Centurion
"C" decal badge on head tube.

Columbus tubing decals on fork ("FORCELLA ORIGINALE") and frame
("TUBI RINFORZATI GARANTIZI"; "ACCIAIO [dove] SPECIALE"; "COLUMBUS").

Centurion was the trade name for road bikes imported by the Canoga Park, CA, based Western States Imports (WSI). In 1984\85 WSI and Cinelli joined forces to produce a limited number of
high-end "project bikes," which were co-branded Cinelli\Centurion. This bike was produced for one year only.


The reader adds that an advertisement in the December 1984 issue of Bicycling Magazine, introducing the Cinelli Equipe Centurion, states: "The frame is designed by Cino Cinelli and production is coordinated and supervised by his staff." He then goes on to write:
".... Alan Goldsmith, the guy who did the deal with Cinelli for Western States Imports (WSI) has written to me and filled in many details that clear up questions about this bike's origins, who built it and where.

1. The deal was done between WSI and Cinelli (the company) of Milan.

2. Goldsmith represented WSI and Andrea Cinelli, Cino Cinelli's son, who remained working for Cinelli after his father retired and sold the company to Antonio Columbo in 1979, represented Cinelli
(the company) in the negotiations that began in late 1983.

3. The frame was designed by Goldsmith and built in the Chiricho (note: name of framebuilder) shop on the outskirts of Milan after design details were discussed among Goldsmith, Andrea Cinelli and Chiricho and revisions were made. The Chiricho shop also built Super Corsas for Cinelli (the company).

4. Goldsmith says not more than 150, or one shipping container load, of this bike was made. He has since had a chat with another former WSI principal who said he "feels" that the number was either 50 or 100, but was not sure.

5. Goldsmith said that "sales were horrible" due to a host of logistical and market factors. It was not a failure of the bicycle but a failure of distribution and marketing.

My own thinking is that the numbers must be more than 50 as I've seen 17 sell on eBay over the last seven years and am aware of half a dozen more in private hands. That would be an unusually large percentage of the total to track down. So maybe a 100 but I would go with Goldsmith's guess of 150 as one container load would seem a logical first contract target. It might also be a reasonable number for the shop to turn out in a year, in addition to whatever SCs it was producing. Just uninformed speculation here on my part.

There is still a question of Cino Cinelli's role, if any, in the Equipe project. The introductory ad in the December 1984 of Bicycling Magazine clearly states: "The frame is designed by Cino Cinelli and production is coordinated and supervised by his staff." But Alan told me that as far as he knows, Cino did not play a role in the Equipe project. He pointed out that Andrea Cinelli, who was running the company at the time for Antonio Columbo, was an expert in his own right and would not have needed his father's help executing the Equipe project.

I'm thinking the writer of the '85 Bicycle Guide article, which also implies a Cino role, may have confused Alan's visit with Cino to discuss the Centurion Ironman DS of '85 after Alan signed on Dave Scott as endorser/promoter of that model, not yet on the drawing boards. Alan said he had hoped to incorporate Cino's ideas into the Ironman design but WSI nixed the idea in favor of designing it after the already successful Comp TA, another project of Alan's.

Alan, a lawyer by profession, and his wife Susy started up Bikecology in Santa Monica, CA, in 1971. Bikecology (renamed Supergo in 1982) was a retail and mail order business dealing in high-end European bikes, frames and components. It was sold to Performance Bicycles in 2002. Alan did two stints with WSI under contract as a consultant, the first in the late '70s working on the Semi-Pro and Pro Tour models among others and in the early to mid- '80s focusing on the Comp TA, Equipe, Ironman and Accordo models."
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The following two photos were sent by www.vintageracingbicycles.com, note "Cinelli Equipe" decal above shifters:

 

Addendum: Alan Goldsmith wrote in with, "The metallic silver bike pictured in the article was the production model. There were 2 prototypes painted semi-matte black. The texture was close to what we would call “eggshell” in a house wall paint. Those were the bikes we showed to some dealers, test rode, etc. I don’t remember what happened to them, but they would be the rarest of the rare."

I invite you to contribute by sending in photographs of your Cinelli bike, illustrations, personal stories, and articles about Cinelli bikes and components.

Thanks for stopping by.

I can be contacted at veronaman@gmail.com










3 comments:

  1. The more I read about this bike, the more I like mine, but the proof is in the ride, which is exemplary. I have a Super Corsa and an Equipe, and the two share, at a minimum, a ride and crafstmanship that make them great to own.

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  2. I have had this bike since buying it for triathlons in 1985. It is still the bike I ride today. I have put some pictures of it up on my blog: http://recoveryourstride.blogspot.com/2012/05/1985-centurion-cinelli-equipe.html and yes, it is an awesome bike! I was happy to see the article from Bicycle Guide as I lost my copy.

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  3. Had one in 1988 but sold it cheap because I was obsessed with having an all C-Record bike. Totally regretting it now!

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