At the beginning

In my family back in the sixties and seventies bikes just didn´t figure. We lived rurally, it was more than 10 miles/15km one way to my school, and you either had a car or waited to get one. A moped was the first step into motorization, and I had a candy apple red Puch Maxi as soon as I was 15.

Xdownttranfs

In the mid-eighties I worked in the UK. I had attended university in a town where people used cycles a lot, so had become acquainted with utility cycling, and had been struck by the simplicitiy and effectivity of self propelled transport. Now in the UK I saw the tradition and culture of club cycling on made to measure machines. At 6`6″ it is not easy to find a suitable bicycle off the peg, so learning about those was a real eye opener experience. Problem was the money, but I had set my mind on a handmade British tourer ever since I had nicked this

from the common room of a Lakes Youth Hostel. I was impressed to say the least.

Back in Germany the first thing I did was buy an off the peg, 531 touring bike, the 1985 Revell Romany (pic in the Work in Progress post) I still have. It has since served as the apple of my eye, a town bike, a randonneur and a spare bike and has always given stalwart service.

After two years I thought it would be a good idea to have a real made to measure loaded tourer. I got a job and saved up for one, buying parts whenever I could afford them or when used ones would be available. The front light for example came off a fleamarket and cost 50 Pfennigs. Then I started to shopp around with several British framebuilders – there weren´t any in Germany that were suitable; Rickert in Dortmund made racing frames, Mittendorf charged US prices.

I received leaflets from all sorts of people, among them Jack Taylor, who sent one printed on very thin paper showing line drawings of bikes kitted out with fifties equipment. I thought someone was pulling my leg. I was not very experienced then and had failed to look deep enough into things. Little did I know about open hearth brazing and glitzy leaflets vs. the experience of a lifetime. OTOH, I was 25 then and had grown up in an environment about as bike friendly as the Sahara.

I settled for a Mercian Vincitore Special at 66cm frame height. I ordered it by letter, real snailmail, Dear Sir or Madam, written on a typewriter, and received it in a huge package (the first of many to come in later years) for which I had to pay import duty, unimaginable today with both the UK and Germany being parts of the EU.

I was smitten with the quality of the paintwork, the well prepared threads, the fact that the Blackburn Low Rider fitted perfectly onto the front fork, no bending or filing as had been the case on so many lesser bikes I had started to earn some money with by repairing.

In a vintage cycle post it might be interesting to know that bits like tires, rims, brake blocks and so on have been changed, but that the rest is still original excepting the crankset which has only been on the bike for about 15 years replacing a cheap Shimano mountain bike set.

Where did I go on the Mercian? England, of course, Hungary, Austria, Holland, Belgium and France come to mind instantly. I kept it in my small room in a students´ hall of residence and in my first flat. My then girlfriend must have been very tolerant, or in love, or both, as the flat was very small. The bike made me feel great until the year before last when I rode it in a vintage bike event – I suddenly felt rather old, but have forgiven the Mercian since.

Xbb Xcrank Xcrown Xdyn Xdynbracket

The dynmo bracket specially made to order.Xfrontbk Xfronthub Xftcarrier Xheadsetnut

Tange made a special series of headsets for Mercian. This is the headset nut taken from above.Xheadtransf Xlwrheadlug Xrearbkbridge Xreardo Xreynfork XReynseatt Xrim Xseatcl Xseatpin Xshiftlev XyellowheadlampA yellow bulb to go with the French parts.

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2 Comments

  1. Don Genovese
    Posted February 5, 2015 at 3:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a fine looking Mercian. Maxie-Car hubs too. Very impressive. I am a fan of Mercian also. I have four of them.

    • Posted February 6, 2015 at 6:35 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks, Don. Let´s have some pics – if you like, I can put them in the post to have a comparison.

One Trackback

  1. By A Wonderful Mercian « starostneradost on December 14, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    […] been a Mercian owner myself for the best part of three decades (see https://starostneradost.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/at-the-beginning/), I couldn´t resist snapping this one when I met it and its owner at Marten´s place […]

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