22 June 2016

Vera's And Helene's Cousin?

And here I was, thinking that I rode the only Mercians with Velo Orange Porteur handlebars in New York City.

On my way home, I wandered, as I often do, through Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  It's just across the Pulaski Bridge from Long Island City, Queens--which, in turn, is just upstream (on the East River) from Astoria, where I live.

I was spinning the gears on Tosca, my Mercian fixed-gear, on Greenpoint Avenue, one of the neighborhood's main throughfares.  (I won't use the word "drag" because I don't want to create unintended connotations!)  Out of the corner of my eye, I tawt I taw, not a puddy tat, but an interesting bike.

My instincts proved correct.  Indeed, parked on the street was a Mercian.  Of course, I will find a bike interesting just because it's a Mercian, but this one--in spite of its classic panel scheme--would prove to be unique.

I wish a car weren't parked right next to it and that I had something more suited to close-range photography than my cell phone. I did the best I could by squeezing myself between the car and bike and doing my best imitation of Gumby.  At least I captured, I think, something of the bike's look, with its pewter-gray paint and its creme anglaise-coloured panels.  

The grips, I think, made those Porteur bars look like they belonged on the bike.  If I were building it, I would have gone with a honey or brown Brooks saddle, though I don't think the black seat looks bad.  I'm guessing that whoever put the bike together had that saddle on hand, possibly from another bike he or she had ridden.

One nice thing about the bike was that it looks as if it wasn't put together merely for looks or style.  For one thing, it is a Mercian, so it is built for a nice ride. (Why do you think I own four of them?)  The frame is constructed of a Reynolds 531 "Super Tube" set.  Reynolds 531, like other top-quality bicycle tubing, was made in different thicknesses.  The "Super Tube" sets combined different thicknesses. I suspect that, as the frame is a small size, lighter tubes were used on the top tube and possibly the seat tube. The components are all first-rate:  mainly Shimano, including Dura Ace hubs and rear derailleur. 

I was tempted to leave a note on the bike, in the hopes that its owner would contact me.  That is a risky thing to do here in New York (and, I suspect, in many other places).  So all I can do is hope that the bike's owner sees this post and contacts me.  I would love to know more about the bike--and, possibly, whoever rides it.  Perhaps he or she would like to meet Vera or Helene, my Mercian mixtes with Velo Orange Porteur bars!


  1. From your more recent posts we would conclude that both Vera and Helene have become stay at home recluses, perhaps a little scared of the urban jungle...

  2. Coline--I admit, Helene's been a stay-at-home lately. She's a bit vain, trying to hold on to her looks. But I've been riding Vera: I just haven't always mentioned which bike I rode when I write about a ride.

  3. I love the panel with bands on the seat-tube -- such a classic design. You're right, that the silver/gray with cream contrasts is an unusual combination. It works, though. Also, I noticed that there is a slight "upstand" on the head-tube to make it a little taller. That tells me it probably isn't all that old of a frame (though nowadays, I often refer to things that are 20 years old as being "new" or "recent").

  4. Brooks--I noticed that "upstand" too. That, as you say, probably dates it no further back than about 20 years. Also, it probably shows that the rider is short (small frame size) and has a short torso and/or arms even for his/her size.

    I agree that it's a nice-looking bike, even though it never would have occured to most of us to choose that color combination.