Thursday, June 5, 2014

New Old Mercian Strada Speciale

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some photos of a 1980 Mercian Strada Speciale that I had recently acquired. At that point, it was mostly just the frame and fork, which I wanted to touch up and buff before putting parts back on it. Today, it is done and ready to ride:

The complete bike, pictured among the poppies. As I got the bike, it already had most of what you see here. I essentially needed to add derailleurs, shifters, and brakes, along with new cables, etc. You can see in the photo that the bike has some pretty steep angles and a short wheelbase. We've got a nice weekend coming up, so I'm looking forward to giving it a tryout.
The crank is a late 70s/early 80s Sugino Super Mighty, which had some major "drillium" going on from the factory. Note that even the arms of the spider are milled through completely. The pedals are Campagnolo copies, I believe by Sakae. The black cages show a fair amount of cosmetic wear, but the bearings are in great shape. Front derailleur is SunTour ARX, which was a step below Cyclone, but the body and clamp are all aluminum, so it's still a pretty nice piece.
A brand new late 70s 1st generation SunTour Cyclone derailleur. I've had this one in my collection for a while, waiting for the right project to put it on. Five-speed SunTour freewheel is mounted on Campagnolo Tipo hubs. The rims are vintage Rigida, which were pretty light for clinchers -- though I'm not sure of their durability. They came with the bike, but I had to true them up quite a bit before putting them back into use. You can see here that the bike has eyelets for fenders, and while there is plenty of clearance under the brakes, the wheelbase is pretty short, so I think it would be a tight squeeze to get a fender between the back tire and the seat tube. No, I'm not adding fenders.
The bike came with an SR Laprade seat post which was really common in the 80s, but it had some deep gouges in it, so I put on this SR (Sakae) Nuovo Record clone, which looks like new. The old Selle Italia Turbo was a popular saddle in the 80s, and this one is still in great shape. The fastback stays are a nice touch, also seen on the Mercian Superlight.
The Cinelli bars and stem came with the bike. I needed to add the brakes -- period-correct Dia Compe calipers, with 57 mm reach (which we used to call "normal" reach -- but by today's standards is more like "long" reach). I updated them with modern pads. I already had those old Dia Compe levers with the cool-looking quick release built in (look at the details on those things!). The old gum-rubber hoods were completely rotten, so I put on some new replacements, still available from Cane Creek. I had to modify the hoods slightly to accommodate the cable adjusters that are built into the tops of these. Neither the cable adjusters nor the quick releases are totally necessary with these brake calipers, but they're still handy to have.
In this shot, you can see how the paint really gleams like new. A bit of elbow grease and a couple different types of buffing compounds, and the shine really came back to the paint. You can also see that I installed a set of Simplex Retrofriction levers -- which were among the best in their day (some would say the best in any day). These shifters were another of those components I had sitting in my parts bin, waiting for the right project to come along. I had to decide between these and a pair of SunTour ratcheting bar end shifters that I also have waiting to be used. Tires are 28 mm Grand Bois Cerfs, which have a very classic, traditional look.
Another shot where you can see the Campagnolo-clone seat post.  
One of the things I love about this frame is the lugwork. The clover leaf cutouts are nicely done, and the Prugnat lugs have been very subtly re-contoured. The flamboyant, or candy-apple red looks fantastic.

Well -- that's all for now. Hope you enjoyed the pictures.


  1. What a beautiful bicycle! I hope you report on how it rides.

  2. Great job! Those cranks are quite nice looking. The paint looks to be in phenomenal condition, even the lug-lining seems surprisingly sharp for the age. What a knock-out.

    Did you already shellac your wraps? If so, how many coats? I know some people like to put just barely enough to "seal" the cloth (particularly with black, it seems) and keep a rough texture, others like to make it glossy.

    I second Pondero's comment: please give us a post after you get a few miles behind it and report your thoughts on your component selection. It seems a smart mix, to me.


    1. Hi Wolf -- I did shellac the bar wrap. I just did maybe two coats -- the first one having soaked up quickly and disappearing. So it is just enough to "seal" the cloth. Normally, I go with a few more coats, making it more glossy, but I did want to keep this with a slightly rougher texture.

  3. I just found out about you today, on the Mercian Cycles blog. I wrote about you and your bikes on my blog:

  4. Thanks, Justine -- Nice to hear from you. I've seen your blog, and check in on it from time to time -- I've seen some of your Mercians there. Good to hear from another Mercian fan.