03 July 2018

I Could Blame Them....For This!

Blame Phillip Cowan.  And Coline.  And Leo.

I swear, they nudged me into it.  Yes, even though Phillip is in another part of my country--and Coline and Leo are in faraway foreign lands--they completely short-circuited my self-discipline.  Really, they did.  You know, they used powers that, in most circumstances, I deny believing in (sort of like a lot of conspiracy theories).  In the end, I simply couldn't stick to a promise I made myself.

And I've waited a couple of weeks to tell you about it, dear readers, because, well, I don't want to show how weak and vulnerable and suggestible I am.  I know, I don't have to pretend to be a Gary Cooper-type macho-guy anymore. (As if I ever did!)  Even when I end up loving what I'm pushed or cajoled into doing, it pains me to admit it!

So what am I talking about?  First, I'll mention the promise I made:  After Dee-Lilah, my new Mercian Vincitore Special came into my life, I swore I wasn't going to buy another bike.  Of course, we all know that such a pledge from a bike enthusiast is about as credible as anything a politician says when running for office.

And into what trepidation and turpitude did this ruptured oath lead me?  Well, instead of describing it, I'll show you the evidence of it:

Yes, I bought the Mercian-painted-like-a-Motobecane I sort of mocked in a post last month.  Really, if Phillip, Coline and Leo hadn't egged me on in their comments, I never, ever would have done such a thing.

Riiiiight, you say.  You believe that like you believe a single bullet killed JFK--or anything in the 9/11 Commission Report.

All right, I'll admit it:  I wanted that bike.  These days, I shy away from bikes in any combination of black and red because it's so common on new bikes--and done with none of the style of those old Motobecanes. Or this Mercian.

I finally bought the bike two weeks after that post, after the price dropped a couple of times. So what did I get?

Well, it's a King of Mercia built with Reynolds 531 throughout (of course) in 1973.  Somewhere along the way, it was repainted (originally, it was all red), which is why the Reynolds 531 decals aren't from that period.

But almost everything else on the bike is:  Check out the 1973 Campagnolo Nuovo Record gruppo.  I love the crank and large flange hubs--with the old-style flat-lever skewers.  And the shifters--with Campy lever covers!

Then there's--what else?--a Brooks Professional saddle.  And the Cinelli bars and stem.  The only non-period parts are the rims, spokes, tires, freewheel and chain.  

I am guessing that the bike originally had sew-up tires and rims, and someone rebuilt those wheels with Mavic Open Pro rims and DT spokes.  Of course, Mavic OP is my go-to rim for high-end wheels, and in silver it looks like a classic rim.  Hey, the wheels even have 36 spokes.  The bike was shipped with cheapo tires, one of which was worn.  I replaced them with Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tires--another favorite.

I also would imagine that the drivetrain originally included a Regina freewheel and chain, which were standard on Campagnolo-equipped machines. (Some Italian bikes came with Caimi/Everest.)  The freewheel I received, however, was a SunTour ProCompe and a chain whose provenance I couldn't determine.  That wasn't a problem:  I replaced them with a SunTour New Winner freewheel (5 speed, 13-26) and a Sedisport chain.  I replaced the two small cogs on the ProCompe and will most likely use it on my Trek.

I've ridden the bike only twice, and am astounded at how similar it is to Dee-Lilah:  very quick, smooth and stable.  The only other change I plan on making is a stem (Cinelli, of course) with a slightly longer extension--and to replace the Cycle Pro toe clips (pockmarked with rust) with a pair of Christophes.  

The bike was shipped to Bicycle Habitat, and Hal assembled it.  Of course, he took it for a ride.  When he called to tell me the bike was ready, he exclaimed, "You're really gonna like it!"  He's right.

I'm so lucky:  Dee-Lilah, and now this bike!  But they are going to have different roles:  Dee-Lilah is a modern/classic or classic/modern bike, depending on how you look at it (Reynolds 853 tubing with fancy lugs, traditionally constructed, kitted with modern components--and a Brooks Pro.)  On the other hand, if I do L'eroica--or any other event for vintage bikes--you know what I'll ride.

(P.S.  I have a handlebar bottle cage which I believe to be a Specialites TA.  If it isn't, it sure looks like one.  I might put it on this bike--if I can find some clamps for it.)


  1. It looks great! Also, a departure from the rest of your bikes. (color-wise, anyways)


  2. Wolf and MT--Thank you, for the compliments and in helping me to resist the temptation to bring it "in line" with my other Mercians. (BTW-- My Trek and Fuji have similar color schemes: blue with gray.)

  3. Coline, Phillip: I think it is time we come clean and tell Justine about the hidden survalence camera and our close cooperation in this project. Our efforts have born fruit.

  4. Have you rented parking space in your neighbour's apartment? Some people have all the luck, I can hardly believe how similar in looks and equipment it is to my Holdsworth which I still have since I bought the frame and all it's parts in about '74.

    There is something classic about the lines of "the bike with no name" which has not only not been bettered but seems to have been lost...

  5. Coline--Things are getting tight in my apartment. I really won't buy any more bikes after this. Really, I won't! ;-)

    I agree with your observations about classic bikes.

  6. That's a cool color scheme. Nicely equipped bike! Your Mercian collection is starting to rival the size of mine!

  7. Brooks--Perhaps we could become curators or something for Mercian!