Friday, July 1, 2016

The Perfect Number of Bikes?

X+1, whereas "X" represents the number of bikes you own currently.

I found this lovely Mercian track bike, offered up from a seller in Britain. 1988 Professional model with original paint. And even though I need another bike like I need . . . well . . . another bike, I just couldn't pass it by. I'm such a sucker for these things. Of course, if I'd found it after last week's Brexit vote, the cost to me would have come down some more, but it's still a lovely find.

The flamboyant blue paint was a bit dull, and there were plenty of tiny little nicks in the paint, but on the whole it was in very good shape. I was able to do some touch-ups, and a bit of effort with a soft cloth and some polishing compound brought back a lot of the paint's original gloss.

Here's a cool build detail you don't see every day. The wrap-over seat stay treatment used to be fairly common on British bikes, including Mercians, but has really faded away since the '70s. I'm actually shocked that this frame, built in '88, would feature it. The original Reynolds decal was about half peeled off, but I was able to find an exact replacement.
Those long spear-points on the bottom bracket mark this as the Professional model. At the Mercian workshop, I got to see how those tangs are welded onto a shell, then filed seamlessly. They should add a lot of stiffness to the bottom bracket - not that my skinny legs need it.
The lugs on this bike are Prugnat 62D, which have long points, and a small "scroll" detail cut into them. But the really cool piece here is the fork crown. . .
That's a Fischer fork crown with long tangs added, to echo the tangs on the bottom bracket. The Fischer gives the overall impression of a twin-plate crown, but in a cast one-piece design. Being sand-cast, they were very rough-looking in their "raw" state and took a lot of filing and work to make them look good.
These pictures previously appeared in a couple of posts from this blog's earlier days - Lovely Fork Crowns, Parts I and II. There you can see the crown in its raw state, and with a bit of machining to pretty it up.
A look at the upper head lug. After the Nervex Professional, those Prugnats are among my favorite lugs out of the box. The long points and that little scroll detail have such a well-balanced, classic look that's hard to beat.
When I get this put together, I'll be sure to post more photos.


  1. Quite the find, Brooks! Once more you've made me green with envy. Looking forward to seeing the finished product!

  2. Such a neat frame!

    A lot like the new bike I've been thinking about for a while. A road/path bike I can run fixed/free or with a 3spd hub, with brazed on centerpull bosses on the fork and some interesting lugs. With the beating the pounds been taking lately I'm really tempted to do it. I've checked on prices with Ellis Briggs and Mercian and will check in with Woodrup too, I'll probably go with Mercian again but it might come down to who's willing to do that sort of wrapover stays.

    I can justify it now as an act of generosity toward preserving the Traditional British Framebuilding Tradition, right? It's like a Ministry! Maybe I should buy 2!


  3. Brooks--I think we all would have loved to find that frame. Congratulations!

  4. Mercian track frame just gone up on UK ebay, three hundred of our finest english pounds

  5. For years, I aspired to own a steel frame Serrotta. Unless I can find a nice used one, that's not really an option now. You and Lovely Bicycle are convincing me to aspire to own a Mercian!

    1. I do see used Serottas come up now and then, and bargains can be had, but Mercians are a bargain, new or used. Used ones often don't sell for a premium, as they kind of fly "under the radar" of a lot of collectors.