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Old 09-01-05, 06:53 PM   #1
froze
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Mercian bikes?

This was posted on the General section but someone thought I should post here.

What can anyone tell me about the Mercian brand of bikes made in England? And Do you own one, which tubing did you select, how is the quality, what does it weigh and what do you think of it. Any and all comments would be appreciated. I am considering buying a Atlantis for touring when I found out about this bike. Thanks
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Old 09-01-05, 07:15 PM   #2
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I don't own one, but I've seen them in England. They seem very, very nice. The couple I know who each rides one have had them for decades. it seems like one of the last of the truly great touring bike "bargains," if that word can be used for a custom built frame. But you do seem to get a lot for your money.

BTW, I have a an 83 Trek 700 with Sun Tour Superbe. Didn't Trek make some fantastic bikes back then? (I'm not knocking their current bikes.)
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Old 09-02-05, 11:00 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Blackberry
BTW, I have a an 83 Trek 700 with Sun Tour Superbe. Didn't Trek make some fantastic bikes back then? (I'm not knocking their current bikes.)
I owned several models of Treks including their first racing bike a TX900 that I outfitted with Campy Super Record which I sold to buy a car so I could impress girls...that was a mistake!!! Just kidding. Then later had a Trek 412 which when I test rode it and a bunch of other bikes it out performed even bikes costing 3 times more! When that one got totaled I again when out test riding (1984) and settled on a Trek 660, except I built mine up with Superbe components rather then buying the Trek ready to ride version. Like you, I believe that the mid 80's was their last good years for bikes and Suntour was the last good component manufacture! Today I would not buy a Trek, their too common, like the Schwinn was in the 60's and 70's.
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Old 09-03-05, 02:18 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by froze
This was posted on the General section but someone thought I should post here.

What can anyone tell me about the Mercian brand of bikes made in England? And Do you own one, which tubing did you select, how is the quality, what does it weigh and what do you think of it. Any and all comments would be appreciated. I am considering buying a Atlantis for touring when I found out about this bike. Thanks
Mercian are an old established English company who have a deserved reputation for making high-quality bikes and frames. I've just sold my Mercian "Vincetore" custom-made touring bike after 18 years and the frame was as good as new. Great quality and they will make bikes to your spec. They specialise in touring machines and a Mercian bike will outlive you in all probability. I chose Reynolds 531 tubing but you would do well to take their advice re this when you tell them the purpose of the bike.
You can find them here.http://www.merciancycles.com/
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Old 09-04-05, 06:48 AM   #5
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Companies like Bob Jackson, Woodrup and Mercian are the long-established backbone of the tradition of bespoke framebuilding that Grant Peterson has re-packaged as his 'philosophy'.

I've been riding these kind of frames for 30 years and have owned a couple of examples for over 20. If you don't mind the understandable obstacles involved, in ordering a custom object from another continent, then I don't see how you can go wrong with a Mercian touring bike.

Rivendells look nice but i've never ridden one. They are a facsimile, a homage to companies like Mercian- well-designed and cleverly marketed: great, at the right price. Going up in cost to buy a Mercian is a bit like paying for any other small scale, hand built product: not always justifiable in practical terms but satisfying to own and use.
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Old 09-04-05, 07:53 AM   #6
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Going up in cost to buy a Mercian is a bit like paying for any other small scale, hand built product: not always justifiable in practical terms but satisfying to own and use.
One of the reasons I liked the Mercian was because it was less expensive then the Atlantis (forget the Rivendell, that one is way out price for me). A frame and fork from Mercian was $800 while the Atlantis was $1400. I don't think Woodrup is being built anymore are they? A web search did not turn up a manufacture web site.
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Old 09-05-05, 12:39 PM   #7
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Like the lazy git I am, I never bothered to compare prices between a Mercian and a Rivendell.

The idea that Rivendell's philosophy adds value, in some way, is comedic.

Save money AND buy a bespoke frame? The proverbial no-brainer.


www.woodrupcycles.com

(alive and kicking!)

-while you're at it, Roberts Cycles of South London, is top quality, also Argos, M. Steel, et cetera.
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Old 09-05-05, 03:48 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Flaneur
Like the lazy git I am, I never bothered to compare prices between a Mercian and a Rivendell.

The idea that Rivendell's philosophy adds value, in some way, is comedic.

Save money AND buy a bespoke frame? The proverbial no-brainer.


www.woodrupcycles.com

(alive and kicking!)

-while you're at it, Roberts Cycles of South London, is top quality, also Argos, M. Steel, et cetera.
The Rivendell "philosophy" doesn't add any value, but it's execution is valuable to the right rider. The Atlantis is not a mere clone of the great British builders' bikes. They are built with a bias to comfort which, to them, means fat tires, low gearing and handle bars close to the same height as the saddle. To do this, they drop the BB and slope the top tube to allow for more standover and they use custom drawn curved chainstays and a custom fork crown to get spacing for wide tires =with= fenders. They also build up the head tube above the top tube to get the bars higher.

Some of these things are options on the British custom frames like Mercians, but they add to the cost. Some of these aren't likely available at all because the cost becomes prohibitive. They are also the kind of thing that, if you don't know about them, can leave a rider wondering why his bike doesn't work as well as an Atlantis.

All of that said, I love my Mercian and there's no way I would have paid more for an Atlantis or any other Rivendell. Production Rivendells don't work for me fitwise, I'd rather pick my own colors, and their recent price increases are way out of line.

There's a place for Rivendells, but not for every rider.
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Old 09-06-05, 05:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halfspeed
The Rivendell "philosophy" doesn't add any value, but it's execution is valuable to the right rider. The Atlantis is not a mere clone of the great British builders' bikes. They are built with a bias to comfort which, to them, means fat tires, low gearing and handle bars close to the same height as the saddle. To do this, they drop the BB and slope the top tube to allow for more standover and they use custom drawn curved chainstays and a custom fork crown to get spacing for wide tires =with= fenders. They also build up the head tube above the top tube to get the bars higher.

Some of these things are options on the British custom frames like Mercians, but they add to the cost. Some of these aren't likely available at all because the cost becomes prohibitive. They are also the kind of thing that, if you don't know about them, can leave a rider wondering why his bike doesn't work as well as an Atlantis.

All of that said, I love my Mercian and there's no way I would have paid more for an Atlantis or any other Rivendell. Production Rivendells don't work for me fitwise, I'd rather pick my own colors, and their recent price increases are way out of line.

There's a place for Rivendells, but not for every rider.
All classic touring bikes are built with a bias towards comfort, British, American, French............... they have to be long and low to handle the extra weight over often rough roads and tracks. Stock frames from a builder are a compromise, either a 'fast tourer', or more traditional style. You get what you ask for: the quicker handling bike isn't as stable or as comfortable under load, all day/week long. If you go the custom route, you get what you pay for. If you get into designing the frame, you'd better know what you're talking about, before overruling the builder's advice.

All decent builders ask you immediately what sort of wheels and tires you will be running and build accordingly. In the past, wide crowns were used (tandem crowns) and chainstay alterations were limited only by the availability of suitable rims, tires and hubs.

I cannot think of a single feature of a Rivendell bike which would be prohibitively expensive to include on a custom frame.

I agree completely that the combination of details which make a frame ride well is a subtle mix. Ernesto Colnago seemed to have the knack, back in the 70's and 80's, with his road racing frames. It is a fact that you can waste a lot of money by buying the wrong kind of frame, specifying the wrong features (in the face of advice to the contrary from the builder) and generally getting too involved in design, when your experience is limited. Rivendells are a little like Colnagos in that respect- they take away they element of design involvement from the customer, and offer a good conservative template, which works. It would be an exagerration, however, to suggest that Rivendells are an improvement on the original; they are an excellent compromise solution, for versatile use, or for riders without fixed ideas about what they want.
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