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  1. #1
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    1984 Mercian question

    I may have access to a 1984 Mercian frame that was bought new and never built up. I don't know the model but it was supposed to be their version of a road bike (not competition).

    Is it better to build a bike using a 1984 Mercian frame or would it be better to buy a new bike with? That is, has bike technology made the Mercian of the 1980 obsolete?

    BTW, I am riding a 1980's Novara 8-)

  2. #2
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markxsherman View Post
    I may have access to a 1984 Mercian frame that was bought new and never built up. I don't know the model but it was supposed to be their version of a road bike (not competition).

    Is it better to build a bike using a 1984 Mercian frame or would it be better to buy a new bike with? That is, has bike technology made the Mercian of the 1980 obsolete?

    BTW, I am riding a 1980's Novara 8-)
    I own 80's vintage bicycles, and I own vintage cars; on both cars and bikes I try to stay as much as possible with the original equipment found on that car or bike that came, or would have came, stock in the year in which it was made. Personally I would scour e-bay and find Campy parts of that vintage and put it on the frame because most Mercian's came with Campy. The older group sets from the 80's were actually more reliable then newer stuff so you don't have to worry about dependability. I have several bikes from the 80's and not one time do I worry I have obsolete parts, the parts are still available, but they rarely break anyways.

    Optionally, though not original on a Mercian, you could buy the complete Suntour Cyclone components that actually work better and last longer then the Campy and still be period correct, but be way less expensive then Campy.

    Either the Campy or the Suntour stuff can be found either unused or virtually unused on E-Bay.

  3. #3
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    [QUOTE=markxsherman;13256306]I may have access to a 1984 Mercian frame that was bought new and never built up. I don't know the model but it was supposed to be their version of a road bike (not competition).

    Is it better to build a bike using a 1984 Mercian frame or would it be better to buy a new bike with? That is, has bike technology made the Mercian of the 1980 obsolete?/QUOTE]

    I'm not sure what your are asking. Are you asking whether to build up the Mercian with new or old parts - or are you asking whether to build up the Mercian or get a new(er) bike?
    If you are asking whether to get a new(er) bike, then I'd say do it because you are not enthusiastic about a NOS 1984 Mercian - and there can't be very many of those around. No sense decreasing that number if it's not something you particularly want. On the other hand, if you are enthusiastic about it, then I wouldn't worry too much about authenticity (though I think it would look better and work well with period correct components such as those recommended by rekmeyata). Personally, I'd be reluctant to do anything to the frame, such as spreading the rear triangle to accomodate newer wider hubs.

  4. #4
    Which bike should I ride? bullwinkle's Avatar
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    That '84 Mercian will build into a really sweet ride. I don't know what you're considering paying for the frame, and I'm not sure how much components will cost to build it up, but I suspect you would have to pay at least 2 to 3K (dollars) to get a new bike that would be of comparable quality. Mercian has an outstanding reputation, and for very good reasons.

  5. #5
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    I have an '85 Mercian.

    These are high-end bikes of lugged steel. As has been noted, you'd be hard-pressed to find this quality of a frame for under $1k (on deep discount).

    Key items to note:

    Is it your size?

    Is this a tight racing geometry or a looser touring frame?

    Do the dropouts have eyelets for racks or fenders? (This is also a good indicator of racing vs touring.)

    Is it reasonably priced?

    Are you ready to do the build up yourself?

    As for components, Mercian sold frames and the builds were entirely up to the buyer. Thus, don't listen to anyone about what you "must" use. You will need to find out if the rear is 120mm or 126mm. My 1985 Mercian is 126mm. The rear can be cold-set to wider, but should be done by someone who knows how to do it correctly.

    Finally, you need to post some very nice, detailed photos for us to admire.

    Sooner, rather than later.

    1959 Hilton Wrigley Connoisseur (still my favorite!)
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  6. #6
    I'm doing it wrong. RJM's Avatar
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    The frame you have isn't obsolete, and it is a quality frame so it would be a good platform to build into a bike that you actually want to ride if it is the right frame size for you. However, the question is really if you want to take the time to source out the parts and build the bike up and if you have the tools you would need to do that.

    If you decide to build it, you need to figure out what hub spacing you would need so you can get some wheels. You can buy new hubs (expensive and quality ones even) for your spacing or you could get a pretty good set of used wheels too.

    Do you have a picture of the frame?

  7. #7
    AmiableNitrite Member VonCarlos's Avatar
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    I have a new-to-me 1985 Mercian, King of Mercia and I've had it for 2.5 weeks now and love it! It has an original Campy Victory gruppo.

    Mercian's are hand made in a small shop in England. Here is their website:
    http://www.merciancycles.co.uk/
    You should be able to tell what model you have from their website, I don't think much has changed.
    I have removed every component and given the frame a thorough looking-over, and have to say it is a very well-built frame. Very clean brazing, lines and paint. In my opinion it is a very fine frame.
    The Campy Victory components, I'm happy to say, work very well and are the most quiet drive-train I have. Although I think the RD is ugly.
    Keep us posted on what you decide to do.
    Here's a pic, and you can see more at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/5714857...7627509448681/


  8. #8
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    you shouldn't use it... it is entirely obsolete...

    i'll give you my address and you can give it to me.. and i'lll.. dispose of it ethically for you.

  9. #9
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    To add what others have said, the Mercian is even a better frame then anything Rivendell puts out...oh god , now I've gone off the deep end. But I wholly stand by what I said, I to own a 07 Mercian Vincitore, and was considering a Atlantis from Rivedell, but for the same price as a Atlantis I got a bunch of custom features that Rivendell could not do. And there's just something oddly wonderful about a bike built the way they were built in the early 1900's using a hearth to heat the tube sets and put the tubes together. And as old of a process used to make the frames they hold up amazingly well, even better then the Rivendell's who lately have had some issues of stays breaking. I may be going out on a limb here, but I've done that before so no biggie, but I think their the best hand made steel bike in the world today...there I said it now crucify me.

    It's a wonderful bike and wonderfully made by artisans not some robot or assembly line process, only one artisan is assigned to a Mercian frame from start to finish not several who could care less what the previous person did on it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member oggypop's Avatar
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    Amen ... Buy it a build it up with VO parts or old stock. I'm biased as my Vincitore touring frame arrived a week ago and I'm currently building it. The quality is stunning. A NOS frame would be worth $500-$1000 easily in my book.

    Pics: http://gallery.me.com/stephen.ogden#...&bgcolor=white
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  11. #11
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    Thanks for the great advice

    The frame is going to be a gift 8-) which I will honorably accept. I shall build up this bike most probably with the best components for basic commuting. I am looking forward to having a lot of fun with this.

  12. #12
    I'm doing it wrong. RJM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
    To add what others have said, the Mercian is even a better frame then anything Rivendell puts out...oh god , now I've gone off the deep end. But I wholly stand by what I said, I to own a 07 Mercian Vincitore, and was considering a Atlantis from Rivedell, but for the same price as a Atlantis I got a bunch of custom features that Rivendell could not do. And there's just something oddly wonderful about a bike built the way they were built in the early 1900's using a hearth to heat the tube sets and put the tubes together. And as old of a process used to make the frames they hold up amazingly well, even better then the Rivendell's who lately have had some issues of stays breaking. I may be going out on a limb here, but I've done that before so no biggie, but I think their the best hand made steel bike in the world today...there I said it now crucify me.

    It's a wonderful bike and wonderfully made by artisans not some robot or assembly line process, only one artisan is assigned to a Mercian frame from start to finish not several who could care less what the previous person did on it.
    How many Riv frames have you owned?

    Mercian makes fine frames, I wouldn't rag on them at all, but to rag on Riv like you did is cheap and unwarranted.

  13. #13
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJM View Post
    How many Riv frames have you owned?

    Mercian makes fine frames, I wouldn't rag on them at all, but to rag on Riv like you did is cheap and unwarranted.
    Where did I say they were cheap? I said they don't offer the options or custom features for the same price. And Atlantis's are not built by one person, they were built in Osaka, Japan by Toyo, a 10-person custom bicycle frame shop and the lugs come out of Taiwan...that's where they were being built when I was deciding to buy mine, now their being built by Waterford of Wisconsin so it became more of a factory built bike instead of less. Regardless Mercian is build process and quality is better and you can select the tubeset and lugs, you can't do that with any Rivendell. But again just because you can't select the tubeset or lugs doesn't mean the Riv is cheap, it just means you have less options and you can't customize it for your needs or desires. There may be a few custom bike builders out there that can do fully customized bikes for the customer needs, and even fewer that have different tubesets and lugs you can chose, but no one use hearths anymore. Not saying it's a better way, but hear it explained from Mercian they believe it's better because it puts less heat stress on the frame.

  14. #14
    Senior Member oggypop's Avatar
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    From a design & marketing standpoint ... the perception of quality outweighs the actuality of it. I juggled the Riv vs Mercian question as well and chose Mercian based off of the perception of a higher quality. Quality being defined by the reputation and history of the company, the optional features (tons more than Riv and for the same general price), the color selection, and the fact that they actually make the frame. A guy named Derek built my frame.

    Weighing all those factors (which were important to me and might not be to others) ... it was clear to me that Riv was 'less bike' for the same money. They charge you an additional $350 bucks to alter the color (if they wave their magic wand of approval) ... come on!
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  15. #15
    I'm doing it wrong. RJM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
    Where did I say they were cheap? I said they don't offer the options or custom features for the same price. And Atlantis's are not built by one person, they were built in Osaka, Japan by Toyo, a 10-person custom bicycle frame shop and the lugs come out of Taiwan...that's where they were being built when I was deciding to buy mine, now their being built by Waterford of Wisconsin so it became more of a factory built bike instead of less. Regardless Mercian is build process and quality is better and you can select the tubeset and lugs, you can't do that with any Rivendell. But again just because you can't select the tubeset or lugs doesn't mean the Riv is cheap, it just means you have less options and you can't customize it for your needs or desires. There may be a few custom bike builders out there that can do fully customized bikes for the customer needs, and even fewer that have different tubesets and lugs you can chose, but no one use hearths anymore. Not saying it's a better way, but hear it explained from Mercian they believe it's better because it puts less heat stress on the frame.
    Your comment was a cheap shot at Riv, and was/is not warranted. Talking about how Riv frames fail because you heard it so is calling the frames cheap, have you owned a failed Riv? Riv is Riv, Mercian is Mercian, they are different companies with different philosophies and sure, you can have a preference for one over the other. Mercian makes great frames and does let you make choices that production Rivs don't, but those are production frames. BTW you can get a custom frame from Riv.

    Can you get a Mercian built like a Bombadil or Yves Gomez?

  16. #16
    Senior Member oggypop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJM View Post
    Can you get a Mercian built like a Bombadil or Yves Gomez?
    Why would you want to? : ] ... They do have a step-through frame set and did make Mixte frames in the past. They've been around since 46' so I bet they can make about anything. I know they can do a lot more than their custom frame generator can show. Like chroming.

    The Bombadil is a freakish mountain bike, I think. It begs to question ... what, I don't know ... just questions.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member southpawboston's Avatar
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    I don't have much to add to the discussion, except that I just took delivery of a new-to-me 1971 Mercian, and I do agree with some the previous comments regarding the frame quality. The brazing, lug filing and overall finish on this frame is outstanding, certainly better than any modern production frame.

  18. #18
    Rustbelt Rider mkeller234's Avatar
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    Oh boy... get ready for 10 pages! I think RJM has it right though... they are different companies with different product. It's ok to prefer one... or both.

    I own a Mercian and I love it BUT I think it's a pretty huge leap to call them " the best hand made steel bike in the world today". How about Sachs, Waterford, Vanilla and the one Aaron has... can't think of the name.
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  19. #19
    I'm doing it wrong. RJM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oggypop View Post
    Why would you want to? : ] ... They do have a step-through frame set and did make Mixte frames in the past. They've been around since 46' so I bet they can make about anything. I know they can do a lot more than their custom frame generator can show. Like chroming.

    The Bombadil is a freakish mountain bike, I think. It begs to question ... what, I don't know ... just questions.
    The Bombadil would make a great trail/touring bike using 650 wheels for me, but that is neither here nor there. The point I am making is that the two companies are as different as cotton and silk, you won't be getting a skinny tire road bike from Rivendell, where Mercian is happy to make those. I prefer Rivendell bikes, I like fat tires and slack angles, I enjoy sending my money to an American company, I like 650b wheels and canti brakes and I think their Musa shorts, Railroad shirts and Sackville bags are the bombdidilly. Saying all that, I still would spend money for a Mercian frame, they are making good frames and at a decent price and if I were looking for a new skinny tire bike I would probably get a frame from them.

    I own a Mercian and I love it BUT I think it's a pretty huge leap to call them " the best hand made steel bike in the world today". How about Sachs, Waterford, Vanilla and the one Aaron has... can't think of the name.
    I agree, there are a whole lot of current custom steel bike makers who are producing some excellent frames, I don't know if I would put Mercian as the best, but they are pretty good. I would like a Sachs, but don't think I could come up with the scratch to get one.

  20. #20
    Senior Member oggypop's Avatar
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    My Mercian will be sporting a few Sackville bags ... made in England : ]

    I have no economic allegiance.
    .........................

    Stephen Lee Ogden, person
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  21. #21
    I'm doing it wrong. RJM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oggypop View Post
    My Mercian will be sporting a few Sackville bags ... made in England : ]

    I have no economic allegiance.
    What are the bags?

  22. #22
    Senior Member oggypop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJM View Post
    What are the bags?

    http://www.rivbike.com/products/show...r-tweed/20-150
    .........................

    Stephen Lee Ogden, person
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  23. #23
    I'm doing it wrong. RJM's Avatar
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    Those Nigel Smythes are very cool! Should look great on a Mercian.

    I have a small olive Sackville bag that I put on a Nitto front rack on my Jamis, it works very well holding the tools and tubes ect for non-touring type rides. That Nigel may be a little bigger than mine, very cool bag. I am fully commited to the olive bags, but if I wasn't I would be poorer buying some of those Nigels.

  24. #24
    AmiableNitrite Member VonCarlos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oggypop View Post
    My Mercian will be sporting a few Sackville bags ... made in England : ]

    I have no economic allegiance.
    That link takes you to the Nigel Smythe bags.
    Those tweed bags are great, I love a Herringbone weave!
    If you wanted to keep your $$ in the States there are several bag makers in the states that could probably custom make a bag with your choice of material.
    I would think a salt-and-pepper Herringbone would look good on your Mercian.
    Here's a couple links to check-out.
    http://ruthworkssf.blogspot.com/2011...w-machine.html

    http://www.zugsterbags.com/products/rando-bag

    http://www.acornbags.com/boxybag.html

    In case anyone is wondering what the Sackville bags look like, here you go. You can't beat that price !

    Last edited by VonCarlos; 09-22-11 at 02:58 PM. Reason: wrong fabric nomenclature

  25. #25
    Senior Member oggypop's Avatar
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    As a closet economist I must ask the question: What is the incentive for buying domestically? We all have closet love affairs with Italian frames, Japanese parts, English leather saddles, etc. I've just never drank the "if it's from the USA, I'm a better American" koolaid. I would argue that trading globally translates to a strong world citizenship.

    That said, Duluth Packs (USA, Whooho America Man!) make some fine cycling bags. I own 2 and I fully suspect they'll outlive me.
    .........................

    Stephen Lee Ogden, person
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