Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Perfect Number of Bikes? Update

As promised, I have an update with some photos of the Mercian Professional Track bike I picked up recently from Britain. The frame is from 1988 and has, as far as I can tell, original paint. I built it up with a mix of parts -- some new and some old, but I figure most have generally an appropriate "look" for a classic skinny-tubed lugged steel frame. Most of the components were things that I already had stashed away.
Wheels are modern sealed bearing hubs with large flanges. They are marked Origin 8, but the same hubs are sold under a variety of different brand names, including Formula. Even though they are modern, they have a traditional style -- sort of reminiscent of hubs from the '70s. The rims are Mavic CXP22 which have a modest aero profile (slightly taller than the Open Pro model), but not so much that they look odd on an older bike.
I installed a front brake, Dia Compe GC400, which is a decent quality piece from the '80s. I won't ride a bike on the road, even a fixed-gear, without a brake. I also put on a modern "interrupter" type of brake lever (sometimes called "cross levers,") which is a modern touch, and doesn't quite look right on a vintage bike -- but has the advantage of being easily unbolted from the bar with a single allen bolt, and the entire front brake assembly - lever, cable, and brake caliper - can all be removed together without detaching the cables or anything. Nice, if I ever take the bike up to the Cleveland Velodrome.
Crank is an old Sugino Mighty from the late '70s or maybe early '80s. The chainring is a new one, 46t, labeled Origin 8. Pedals are Specialized short-cage racing pedals from the '80s. I wrote about the touring version of these in a post from January.
Brooks Swift titanium railed saddle and a Nitto Jaguar 2-bolt seat post -- modern and classic looking at the same time. That's also another look at that wrap-over seat cluster.

The bars came off another bike and were already wrapped in that purple cotton tape. I was going to remove the purple and re-wrap them with a plain black Tressostar cotton wrap - but once I installed the bars, I thought that the purple looked kind of interesting with the blue frame. So I'm hesitating. Any thoughts? Leave a comment.

16 comments:

  1. I like the purple.:) I was looking at it before you said anything about it and thought, "Wow, I never would have thought of that."

    Beautiful, beautiful bike.

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  2. First, the bike looks great. I have a road Mercian that looks exactly like yours. IMO the purple wrap is o.k. but at some point in time I would change to another color. I had a pair of those Origin 8 hubs on my track bike and found them to be as smooth as Phil Wood hubs and they look great and are far less expensive. I have Paul cross brakes on a bike and found them to be very convenient especially in city traffic and steep, long descents . . . better sight from the slightly upright position. I'm looking at the purple wrap as I wright this and it's growing on me. You did a wonderful job here. Last thing, did you have to pay customs fees? I've bought several frames from Hilary Stone and never paid a fee. I had Mercian build me a frame and I paid $90 import fee. Your new Mercian looks just great.

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    1. About customs fees -- A few of my bikes were ordered direct from Mercian. One came to me with no customs/import fee. A couple others, I got socked with the fee after the frame arrived. Like yours, about $90. Used bikes and frames that I've had shipped by private individuals avoided the fee. I don't know the official rules on it, but I'm guessing that part of it is due to the claimed value. Perhaps if it's under a certain amount, they don't bother assessing the fee. Used frame from someone like Hilary Stone? Maybe the price is under the radar. New frame from a regular shop/retailer/builder? Not slipping under the radar. Just a guess.

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    2. That Bike is pretty Boss.

      I had to pay the Customs fee when I got my Mercian 3 years ago, I had to write the check to UPS but they said they never received it and made me write them another, then they cashed them both and when I tried sorting it out they eventually ended up sending me 2 separate checks to re-imburse me for my original payments. I just gave up at that point. I'm this close to buying another one, and if I do I'll remind myself not to complain about it too much if I get charged again.

      Spindizzy

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    3. Funny thing about those customs fees: When I bought my three custom Mercians via Bicycle Habitat, I didn't have to pay any. However, on the Mercian I bought secondhand ("Vera", my green mixte), I had to pay $90. It was shipped from England--but then again, so were my new Mercians. Go figure.

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    4. There doesn't seem to be a lot of consistency in it, does there?

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  3. Nice work! 'Though i'm not a fan of the interrupter lever, it looks appropriate. The purple tape looks very good, but when it wears out i'd probably go with heavily shellacked white. What headset is installed? Will the frame clear 28mm tyres? Enjoy the ride!

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    1. The headset is a plain & simple chromed steel Tange. It's got 25 mm tires on there right now and there's room for more. 28 would be no problem. The interrupter lever isn't the best thing, but it does have the advantage that it can go on or off without removing tape or anything else.

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  4. As an owner of deep purple metallic frame, I have to say, it's quite distasteful match: blue + purple. Once upon a time I've bought Maxxis Re-Fuse in blue color because blacks were absent that day. The bike looked "interesting", granted, but far from being beautiful. Black wrap will look good, IMO. Or even better — deep, very deep burgundy red.

    That purple wrap can match the tone of the frame if there will be something green to balance.

    Just 1 cent.

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  5. I love the bike--and the tape.

    "Interrupter" brake levers have long been used on cyclo-cross and touring bikes. They seem "modern" because people who aren't involved in CX or touring rediscovered them over the past decade or so. Also, Mafac and a couple of other companies that are no longer in business made the "interrupter" levers. It seemed that nobody was making them until Tektro commenced production of them around the time people rediscovered them.

    Formula makes Origin 8 hubs, which are sold under other brands. Also, Formula makes hubs for a number of "boutique" wheelsets. Nothing wrong with anything Formula makes, and your hubs look like classic high-flange hubs.

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    1. The Formula hubs are very nice for the money. I've had several sets. The bearings however are the usual china crap that seems to be in everything nowadays. Just run them till they puke then replace with SKF 6000 22JEM (C3) for a nice upgrade.

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  6. Such a nice bike. Those Sugino Mighty's are perfect on that bike.

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  7. Gorgeously put-together bike. Nice! Your new bikes are making me envious, for sure.


    I was looking at the pics before I read anything, and I thought to myself that the purple tape was nice on there. I'd keep it. I think it adds a bit of whimsy without being too "look at me".
    If you just can't get on-board with it, maybe try a couple of coats of amber shellac to deepen it?



    As for Origin 8 stuff, I've always had pretty good luck with it. Anytime I needed "value" over anything else, I usually start my search with O8 products.


    Wolf.

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  8. So... What tires are those? They look like Compass Chinook Pass or something similar. I've been buying more and more Compass tires but haven't tried any narrower than 32 yet...

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    1. You're close -- they are Grand Bois Cerf tires, which are available in 28 mm (green label) and 26 (blue label). Mine are the 26, but they seem to measure more like 24 or 25 on these rims. Very similar to the Compass tires.

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