25 May 2017

I Will Tell You More...

Today I am going to explain something.

No, not the conspiracy Great Girl Conspiracy in yesterday's post.  Or quantum mechanics.  Or, for that matter, why the other line moves faster.

Instead, I'm going to talk about something far more mundane--at least, to almost everybody in the world but me.  I am going to tell you, now, about Helene.


Last week, I stripped her.  And shipped her.  Soon she will be in her new home, with a rider who will, I hope, appreciate her more than I did.

There was nothing wrong with her as a bike.  In fact, I liked her quite a lot.  I just didn't ride her much, at least after the first year or two I had her.  

You see, when I ordered her from Mercian, they had stopped making mixte frames with the twin-lateral "top" tubes because Reynolds--which makes the tubing used to build most Mercian frames--stopped producing those skinny frame members.  So, wanting a ladies' Mercian to go with my other Mercians, I ordered the "traditional" style frame, with a single top tube that slanted downward.

Then, about a year later, I came across Vera--an older Miss Mercian with the twin tubes.  Women's and mixte frames tend not to have very high resale values; even so, Vera's price was less than I expected.  

Vera--a Miss Mercian from 1994

The rest is history, as they say.  Vera became my commuter when I had a longer commute because she has a stable and comfortable, but still responsive, ride.  Also:  Who doesn't like the look of a twin-tube mixte?  If I do say so myself, it is a stylish ride--and, of course, style is one of the reasons I wanted to have a nice mixte (or ladies') bike.

Not that Helene doesn't have style.  But Vera has more of the style, as well as the ride, I want from my mixte.  Helene, in contrast, rides a bit more like a road bike.

Anyway, aside from disuse, there is another reason I stripped and sold Helene:  I've ordered another Mercian.

Why?, you ask.  Well, if you've been reading this blog, you know I'm something of a Mercian aficionado.  I don't believe I can have too many Mercians; I know I can only have enough time to ride but so many of them (or any other bike) and space to keep them.

Still, you may be forgiven for asking why I've ordered another.  Well, the exchange rates have been favorable to the dollar for a while, and I don't know how much longer that will hold.  When I ordered Arielle, my Mercian Audax, during the time I waited for it, the exchange rate had become about 25 percent more favorable to the pound than it was when I placed the order.  So, this time, I've already paid for the cost of the frame.  When the frame is ready, I will only have to pay for shipping and, perhaps, some small additional charges for things I've requested that may or may not be included in the base price.

Now, the money I got for Helene doesn't come close to paying for this new frame.  But I wanted to sell her while she's still very clean:  There's barely a scratch on her.  Also, I am going to use some of her parts on the new frame, along with a few parts from my other bikes, and a few more new parts I've collected.

Mercian's website says there's a 10-month wait for new frames.  I don't even mind that; in fact, I'm rather happy about it.  Why?  Well, next year will be a round-number birthday for me, and that frame will be a gift to myself.

Peter's Vincitore Special

And, given that I've ordered it for such an occasion, I've ordered what seems the most appropriate frame of all:  a Vincitore Special made from Reynolds 853 tubing.  Its design will be very similar to that of Arielle, so it will be a bike that is capable of both comfort and speed on long rides, and can accomodate 700 x 28C tires--as well as fenders and a rear rack, should I decide to add them later.  It will also have a nice, traditional quill stem and downtube shifters.

Arielle, my Mercian Audax

In addition to being a birthday gift to myself, I see the Super Vincitore as the sort of frame that hardly anyone makes anymore.  I am guessing that Mercian will make it as long as they can get the materials and they have framebuilders with the necessary skills and passion.  Still, I figure it's better to order such a frame sooner rather than later.

Now, all I have to do is find ways not to think about it all the time--for the next ten months.  That's, what, March?

Oh, in case you were wondering:  I have chosen Lilac Polychromatic (#17) as the main color.  The seat tube panel and head tube panel will be Deep Plum Pearl (#56).  All of that will be trimmed with white lug pinstriping and Gothic-letter transfers.  And a 1950's-style metal headbadge, if it will fit into the lugwork.  I've even found the handlebar tape--Newbaum's Eggplant--I'm going to wrap around the handlebars.  Finally, the new frame will get a well-aged honey Brooks Professional with copper rails and rivets, as well as one or two of the bags Ely made for me.


  1. I've heard it said that "mixte" being the french for mixed implies the bikes are unisex, at least as originally comceived. Nowadays they seem to be consdered a ladies frame.

    Congrats on the new Merc. The next 10 months are gonna crawl for you.

  2. Lovely! If I had the money and patience to order such a beauty I would have been driven demented by the choices to be made. 3,969 combinations of two colours, double that for changing which goes where, multiply that by the number of curly lug lining colours! My head is spinning at the thought before even considering all the braze on options, no wonder when I ordered a frame forty years ago I chose all black, not even any transfers! I did finally give in to Jack, my friendly bike dealer, and get a traditional cast head badge and it still looks beautiful so hope that you can fit one between those fancy lugs.

    What a birthday present, what a treat.

  3. Oh, the Vincitore is an amazing looking bike. Can't wait to see pictures of the finished product! 10 months, though.

    That Newbaum's tape in eggplant is so nice looking. Every now and then I'll get some vibrant (or unusual) colored cloth tape and wrap my bars to add a change of pace/ pop of color. Usually I don't shellac them, and just accept that the color will only last a short while, then go back to my usual microfiber tape. I bought the eggplant on a whim (and I do like purples, anyway), for a bike that it really didn't "go with", and the color was so striking that I actually did consider shellacking it to preserve it. (I tested a small section of tape, and the clear shellac was my preference over the amber, which is not usually the case.)


  4. I like the twin-lateral tube mixte frames so much more than the single top tube design. I believe you made a wise choice.
    I'm a year behind you in that round number birthday:)

  5. While Brooks is a fine saddle choice, why not an even nicer Berthoud? That being said, ten months isn't long to wait for something that'll last a lifetime...

  6. Phillip--As I understand it, that is the reason why the French call them "mixte". I guess it became a ladies' frame by default because, for a time, hardly any good traditional ladies' frames were being made.

    Coline--I knew a lot of combinations were possible. Still, I am amazed there are that many. Maybe it's a good thing Mercian took down their frame builder: Otherwise, I might still be on it!

    Wolf--I was thinking the same thing about the shellac. If I do shellac it, I don't want to change the color much, so I'll probably go with clear.

    Chris--I agree with your preference. So, you're going to hit that round number in 2019?

    Steve--I was, and am, thinking about a Berthoud. The chief reason I lean toward the Brooks is the particular one I have, which is broken in and, I believe, will give the bike the look I want. I really don't want to break in another saddle unless I absolutely must. (I hear, though, that Berthouds don't require that much breaking-in!)

    1. No, my mistake lol - in October of 2018.

  7. Chris--I'll get there three months "ahead" of you!