|1973 Mercian Superlight with period-correct components.|
The frame was on eBay for a long time, and for some reason did not seem to be attracting a buyer. It was priced a bit on the high side, at around $900. I watched it for weeks debating back and forth whether it was worth the price. Eventually, it was gone -- I thought it had sold, and then was kicking myself for not getting it. A couple of weeks later, it was back again, still the same price, but I decided not to let it go again. The more I thought about it, $900 didn't seem to be that bad of a price. Yes, it was 37 years old, but it was also essentially a new frame. New Mercian frames start at around $1200, and this was one of the top-of-the-line models with hand-cut lugs, and it was a model that had been discontinued for years. Considering the price of a new frame, and given the rarity, I figured I could do a lot worse.
|As the frame appeared on eBay. Only a headset had been|
|A bit of evidence that the frame had never been built up:|
the dropouts had no marks whatsoever from a wheel. It
was almost a shame to install the wheels, knowing the
dropouts would never look like this again
In addition to the Campagnolo Nuovo Record components, I also found bars and a stem made by 3ttt of Italy. I considered using Cinelli parts, which are the classic choice, but the 3ttt parts are equally nice, as well as a bit more interesting-looking, and they were also a popular choice in the early 70s. The bars were NOS, and the stem was lightly used. A friend at the local bike shop was able to bring back the original lustre of the aluminum stem, and I was able to find reproduction stickers to restore it to that like-new look. For the saddle, I found an eBay seller in the UK with a Brooks Professional in virtually unused condition that just happened to have a 1972 date code. Perfect.
|Virtually new Campagnolo Nuovo Record crank. No date|
code, meaning it was made no later than 1973.
|Brooks Professional saddle, like-new, with a date code of|
1972. Mounted onto a NOS Campagnolo NR seat-post.
|A nice look at the lower head lug and the fork crown.|
The lugs are minimalist and fancy at the same time. Markings
on the brake calipers indicate they were probably made
between 1969 and 1973.
|The 3ttt bars and stem are a nice choice for the period.|
The reproduction decals make the stem look like new.
|Regina Oro freewheel and chain.|
The Nuovo Record rear derailleur is marked 72.
|Brake lever hoods have the correct "sunburst" logo for the time,|
but the levers shown are not quite right. They have since been
replaced with the period correct early version.
|"Correct" early version of the NR levers. Called "long-reach"|
by some. Note the more pronounced curves, slightly
thinner profile, and the round hole underneath for the cables.
|Earlier Mercian crest. (Photo from|
Lovely Bicycle, with permission)
I have a bit of a collection of Mercians, both old and new. This one is the oldest. My collecting goal is to have one of each model. I think the only models I don't have are a ladies/mixte frame, or a tandem. Why Mercians, in particular? I'm not totally sure, but I remember when I was in my teens and first getting into good bikes, one of the first people I got to know who shared that enthusiasm was a guy, a good bit older than I was, who had a really nice older Mercian that he'd bought new in the 70s. It was all Campagnolo Nuovo Record parts, and had an amazing barber-pole paint job (something Mercian is known for). I just couldn't stop looking at that bike, admiring it down to the little details. I think that bike must have really influenced my opinion as to what a really nice bike was, because today I have about seven of them.