Regular readers know how much I love Mercian bikes, old and new - and that I have a small collection of them (I'm up to 8 complete bikes, plus one frameset). Well, Chuck's bike is one that any vintage bike fan would love to have - and would make any Mercian fans' knees get wobbly. It's a 1959 Superlight Road-Path, and it's a gem.
|Chuck's bike has terrific original paint and decals. He says the color has been described as "Creme Pesto Sauce" but it is not a color currently offered in the Mercian color pallette (a shame, really). One of the things I'd like to point out is the lettering style used on the down tube. That is a pretty rare style that, as far as I can tell, was only used for a very short time - probably no more than a few years. Most other Mercians I've seen from the '50s tend to have "script" style lettering. In the early 60s, Mercian adopted the lettering style they currently use, which they call "gothic." The lettering on this bike bears a resemblance to the current gothic style, but with the addition of a shadow detail -- making it almost a transitional design between the older script and the current style. Searching the whole archives of the Mercian Cycles Flickr page, I could only find a couple other examples with that style down tube lettering, and they were from about the same timeframe as this bike.|
|This may be the first Superlight - built|
for Tom Crowther. Other than color
and decals, it has a lot in common with
Chuck Schmidt's bike. (Photo from
Hilary Stone's site)
|Just by way of comparison, here is the revised seat-lug from my own '73 Superlight. Still nice, but there's something awesome about the super-minimalist original version.|
|Keeping with a "French Lightweight" theme, the bike has a Stronglight crank with a 48-tooth ring. In this shot, you can also see the curly details cut into the bottom bracket shell. Fantastic.|
Given the age, and the condition of this bike - and the fact that it is a very early example of a really special model, I'd call this one a very enviable bicycle.
Thanks, Chuck, for sharing the bike with us!