Saturday, June 20, 2015

Old Mercian Catalog - 1969

Going through a box of old magazines and catalogs, I came across this Mercian Cycles catalog from 1969. Regular Retrogrouch readers know I've been a big Mercian fan for a lot of years and have eight of them -- from a 1973 Superlight to a 2012 Vincitore. The only models I don't have are a tandem, and a "Miss Mercian" ladies model. As far as that goes, somebody had a really nice '70s-era ladies model in a mixte configuration with a lot of cool French components on eBay recently, and I thought about getting it for my wife, but I took a little too long to think about it and somebody snatched it up with a "buy it now" option. Oh well.

The front of the catalog lists W. Betton and his family as company directors -- Bill Betton, one of Mercian's frame builders, had purchased the company in 1965 from Ethel Crowther, who was the ex-wife of one of Mercian's founders, Tom Crowther. The catalog also lists the shop location as 191 London Road, Derby. They would move out of that location a couple years later, in 1971. The current shop is on Shardlow Road in Alvaston, which is very near Derby.

I scanned the catalog and thought I'd share the images here.

The first pages include the company guarantee, and a description of the Professional model, which they say was first introduced in 1967 for the Mercian-Bantel pro racing team. The Professional is easily identified by the extra-long spearpoint tangs on the bottom bracket shell.
The next pages have pictures of some of the head lugs used - for the Vincitore, the King of Mercia, and the Superlight models, as well as the wrapover seat stay treatment. There is also a description of the Superlight model, which has lugs which are decorative, yet cut down to the minimum.
The next pages describe the Vincitore with its elaborate hand-cut lugs, the King of Mercia model, the Super Vigorelli track/time trial model, and the Olympique "all-rounder."
The Campionissimo was a pretty standard all-round road machine - and the only complete bicycle listed in the Mercian lineup. Everything else was sold as a frame set, to be built up with the owner's choice of parts.

These two insert pages listed the full range of frame options and renovation/repair costs. I know it was 1969, but the prices still seem unbelievably low.

And here is the price list for the frames.  £25 for a new Vincitore? Oh, to have a time machine.
I hope you enjoyed this little blast from the past. I have a couple other old catalogs as well - I'll probably put them up in upcoming posts.


  1. I think that in 1969, the Pound Sterling was still equivalent to four or five American dollars. Still, those prices seem incredibly low.

    Like you, I am a Mercian fan. One from any era is a great buy, and ride!

    1. I can't believe you were able to pull up that figure for the exchange rate in the late 60s!

    2. I found a convertor website that said that 25 pounds in 1969 is about 390 today, or about $630 US. Not as expensive as I thought it would work forward to be!

  2. I am a big Mercian fan also. I have only three now, two KOM and one '75 Superlight. I always enjoy your post. Thanks.

  3. Now lets put those Schwinn prices into perspective