Sunday, 22 May 2016

Today it is so about THIS bike! Nostalgia meets practicality

When I started cycle racing at the age of 15 in 1976 it was pretty normal for riders to start out with less specialist equipment than today. After a year or so racing on "gas-pipe" bikes with basic components including coterie steel cranks and usually built with pretty basic high-tensile tubing we wanted to move on to something made of Reynolds 531 tubes.

My first 531 frame was a very well used, and slightly too big, Claud Butler which was cheaply resprayed in plain white. After another year or so I finally moved on to one of the aspirational frames - a Mercian - mine was an Olympic, used but in great condition purchased for £35 from the Mercian shop on the edge of Derby.

Over the next couple of years I used that frame for all sorts of racing and riding and gradually upgraded my equipment until I was on Cinelli bars and stem, Campag cranks, hubs, peddles and brakes and a mixture of other equipment of my choice.

Then in 1980 my Mercian was stolen. It was replaced by a Raleigh Pro which itself was eventually replaced by an MB Dronfield in 531Professional tubing made to measure by Vernon Barker. It is a beautiful frame, it handles superbly and it is light and responsive, it is however purely designed as a racing frame and I'm no longer a racer. Much as I love my MB it was designed purely as a racing bike and these days I want a somewhat more relaxed ride, something I could roll along on all day, but one I know I can trust completely should I want to briefly relive those 50mph plus descents of my racing days.

There was only one solution and here it is, my replacement Mercian Olympic after just 36 years; courtesy of my great friend Pat Carr and the Brassworks Cycle Company:
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After removing the bubble wrap:

So today the MB Dronfield frame has been stripped of components and it will appear for sale shortly.

The exciting part of the project now is the build of the Mercian, most components will come from the MB but there are a few which the older frame will require to be different. The challenge will be having the Mercian ready for Eroica Britannia at Bakewell in a few short weeks (

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