28 July 2011


Miss Mercian II is almost there.  Today, Hal at Bicycle Habitat installed a new headset for me.  I'd hoped to get it in silver or gold.  However, because the original headset has a short "stack height," the number of headsets I can use is limited--unless I replace the fork with one on which the steering column wasn't cut.  And why would I want to replace the fork?  So the headset I got is black, albeit of high quality.

I'm also making a couple of other changes, which you'll see when I unveil her--after my first ride.

And the mixte-o-mania continues.  I found this photo of an old Raleigh Super Course mixte:

Back in my early adolescence, when I was barreling around town on my Schwinn Continental, I wanted--for a time, anyway--this bike.  Of course, back then I wanted the diamond frame, which was no less pretty than this one.

Its color remains, to this day, my favorite shade of red I've ever seen on a bicycle.  I don't remember what Raleigh called it, but I would say it's a deep candy-apple shade.  And it looked great with those white panels and outlines.  

I didn't get the bike.  It was just as well, really:  Later, I ended up buying a Peugeot PX-10, which was a much nicer bike.  When I started to work in a bicycle shop, during the mid-1970's, I saw that the quality of all but the three or four top models of Raleigh was declining.  In fact, I saw more than a few new (at that time) Records, Grand Prix and Super Courses--not to mention Sprites and three-speeds--with misaligned frames, bottom bracket threads that weren't cut properly and bearings that seemed to have sand instead of grease in them.  

Even so, those red Super Courses sure were pretty!  Not as pretty as my bikes though, just as no other cats are as cute as Charlie and Max! ;-)


  1. What did you think of the PX-10 when you owned it?

  2. At first, I thought I was on a spaceship: It was a very light bike, especially for the money. It was my first bike made with "name" tubing (in this case, Reynolds 531). But as I rode harder and more agressively, the rear end seemed rather whippy. Of course, that may have been a matter of my size (Even in my youth, and in my condition, I weighed a good bit more than you do.) and the crazy things I did in those days. The flip-side of that is that it was a comfortable bike for long distances. For that reason, lots of people have updated them in various ways, for various purposes. As an example, Sheldon Brown outfitted one with an internal hub gear and used it as a kind of city/commuter bike. As a Reynolds 531 frame with reasonably good workmanship (most of the time, anyway), they are worth the effort of refurbishing and updating.

    It came with standard (for that time) components. The wheels were nice, though they were tubulars. (I had a set of clinchers built for mine.) And the crankset--Stronglight 93--was one of the nicest made, in my opinion. The only problem is that since it's been discontinued, you have to go to e-Bay or swap meets to find replacement chainrings. It had a 122 BCD which, to my knowledge, is unique. (Most modern road cranksets are 130; "compact" road and touring cransksets are usually 110 (double) or 110/74 (triple).