Mercier Getting Close

A couple of years or so ago I took a punt on a bike on eBay that was very badly described and that had no more than a non-drive side overall photograph. But Mercier and Campagnolo were mentioned by the vendor who read the names off the fork crown and headset.  The price only went up to about £80 and I became its happy owner, having to drive 75 miles to pick it up.

What I found was a rather drably painted bike with brazed-on saddlebag support, dynamo and lamp brackets.  Closer inspection revealed drilled Campagnolo dropouts, a racing number tab under the top tube and a first generation Super Record rear derailleur, Record crankset and Record brakes.  I had struck gold!  Clearly this was someone’s much-loved racing bike and rather than sell it and buy a touring frame, he had it converted into a tourer.  The standard of workmanship was very high and the cost cannot have been much less than a new frame – it even had a 1″ steerer fitted in place of the 25mm one so that a modern headset could be used. It should also be pointed out that the workmanship on the basic frame was superb too with nicely filed lugs – definitely “Fait Main”, definitely “Service Des Courses”

But my passion is racing bikes, so I stuck the bike in the loft to await restoration back to racing spec.  The first obstacle was that nobody was making reproduction decals at the time. A set of OEM decals came up on eBay but I missed out.  Then Cyclomondo started offering them but they did not have the narrower lettering on the seat tube decal as used on team bikes in the late 1970s and the head tube decal was a bit out of shape. So I patiently waited for a Mercier frame with the correct decals to come up on eBay at a reasonable price so that I could get the decals copied (the things we do for our hobby!). I ended up buying two – one for the head tube decal, one for the other decals (both will go on sale soon, so let me know if you are interested) and got the decals copied by bicycledecals.net.

Roll on another year while I was preoccupied with other things, then I dropped the frame off at Atlantic Boulevard in Bury together with the other Mercier frame for colour match.  And a couple of days ago I called by there and saw my frame with all its touring bits removed and a new coat of paint – and it looked gorgeous.  It still needs its decals, but then it will be full steam ahead to build it up as the real racer that it once was.  I can hardly wait.

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