|Stopped at an old farmhouse (now a visitor center)|
in the national park.
I'd forgotten what a pleasure the red Mercian is to ride. It's a Strada Speciale model, built from Reynolds 531 steel, with cool-looking "fastback" stays and neat little clover leaf cutouts in the lugs. The angles are pretty steep, and the wheelbase is pretty short - in typical '80s fashion. But despite geometry that could potentially be punishing, the bike seams to glide over imperfect pavement. Lately I tend to attribute a smooth ride to good large-volume tires - but the Grand Bois "Cerf" tires are only about 25mm wide. Yes, that's "fatter" than the 20mm tires that were so fashionable when this bike was new, but no doubt a lot of the ride has to be credited to a great steel frame.
The red Mercian has changed a little since the last time it appeared here on the blog. One change was brakes. I had originally equipped the bike with late '70s DiaCompe "G" side pulls. They looked decent and didn't cost a bunch. But recently I switched those out for a pair of Gran Compe calipers from the early '80s - they were like the "next generation" after the old "G" model - with a nicer finish and more deluxe hardware. The older DiaCompe brakes were likely modeled after brakes from Weinmann (if I recall correctly, DiaCompe center pulls were a licensed knockoff of a Weinmann design) - but by the early '80s it seemed they'd set their sights on Campagnolo. These old GCs are clearly a step in that direction. They have great "feel" - and respectable stopping power. On a long fast descent I found I was getting a bit of squeal from the front brake, but the pads don't have any adjustment for toe-in - so I guess I'm going to have to do some bending on the arms. Just a little ought to do it.
Another small change was in the front derailleur. I had originally built this up with a SunTour ARX, which I've mentioned elsewhere on the blog is an under-appreciated shifter and a favorite of mine. I moved that one over to the Motobecane 650B project, feeling that the ARX was a better match for the SunTour Vx rear derailleur I'd installed on that bike. I replaced it on the Mercian with a first-generation Cyclone front unit to be the perfect mate for the Cyclone I have on the back.
|Nice, clean, lightly used Cyclone front derailleur. First generation, to match the Cyclone derailleur in back. The crank is a Sugino Super Mighty, drilled out at the factory. The same basic crank was also sold for a time as the SunTour Superbe.|
|SunTour Cyclone rear derailleur - one of the lightest you could get - then or now.|
|DiaCompe ENE shifters with "power ratchet" action - like the SunTour shifters of old, but better. Fitted here with black rubber hoods as was the fashion back in the day.|
That's all for now. If you have a vintage classic in your collection, I hope you'll get it out for a ride. Enjoy it like you would have when you were younger. Let it take you back. It's a time machine after all.