Thursday, July 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday: 1970s Mercian Catalog

In an earlier post I had some scans of an old Mercian catalog from my collection - one from the 1960s. I have several others, including this one from the 1970s, a time that Mercian was probably at a high point, at least here in the U.S. At that time, and into the early 80s, the company's presence in the U.S. was pretty broad, as their frames were available from a number of bike shops, and even some of the big mail-order shops like Bikecology. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first full-color catalog Mercian offered. One of the things I like about it is seeing some of the classic color schemes pictured on its pages.

I have below some nice scans of the full catalog. Take a look!

The first page of the catalog says the company has been in business for 30 years (since 1946) so the catalog probably came out in the mid-to-late '70s. The text also explains that the company took its name from the ancient Kingdom of Mercia which once had its capitol near the town of Derby, where the company was located.
The Professional Model - introduced in 1968. The catalog touts the stiffness of the frame due to the long spearpoint tangs on the bottom bracket shell. 
I dig all those multi-colored bands around the seat tube on this Vincitore.
The Superlight model is listed as a "time triallist's dream" as the lugs are cut down to the bare minimum (yet still somewhat ornate) to save weight. I have one from the early '70s that has pencil-thin seat stays. A great model - sadly, no longer in the Mercian lineup.
The Strada Speciale was a fairly recent addition to the lineup when this catalog came out. Mercian calls it a frame for the "discerning rider" who "prefers some individuality." It features clover-leaf cutouts in all the lugs, and also has the same "fastback" seat stay attachment (Mercian calls it "shot-in") that the Superlight has.

"Distinctive Mercian features" - like the ornate lugs of the Vincitore, or the minimalist lugs of the Superlight, the spearpoint bottom bracket of the Professional, and the fastback seat stays of the Superlight and Strada Speciale. Notice that the King of Mercia was available with Nervex Professional lugs as an option. I almost never see Mercians with Nervex lugs, but I sure would like to find one.

The King of Mercia was (maybe still is?) a fairly common model. It typically came with standard Prugnat lugs with a vaguely heart-shaped cutout in them, but had plenty of custom options. There's something kind of patriotic about that color scheme.

The Super Vigorelli track model.

Miss Mercian "ladies" model. I've also seen the Miss Mercian offered in a mixte configuration.

The Olympic was the closest thing to a "standard" production model. Mercian says it is for "general use and occasional racing." Buyers didn't have many custom options or get to specify geometry and the like, but they did get to choose colors. Later on, this would be re-named the "Classic."

The Campionissimo was more of a budget-oriented bike, but like the Olympic, one could still specify colors (provided they ordered direct from Mercian, I suppose). It was also sold as a complete bicycle.
Hope you enjoyed this little look back at the past. I assume one doesn't have to be a Mercian fan to enjoy a look at so many gorgeous classic steel frames.


  1. That was fun. I have a 1975 Superlight with shot-in stays and no cable guides on the top tube. Right, close clearances tires not wider than 23mm, IMO and no eyelets. As all Mercians, it is a joy to ride.


  2. That catalogue is practically the definition of "bike porn".

    I don't think Mercian could make an un-lovely bike (or one that doesn't ride well) if they tried.

  3. Thanks, you made me close my Maxxim tab for a good hour. I've never seen any of those bikes.