Sunday, March 20, 2011

Road Bikes: 1982 Mercian Olympic

"1983" Mercian Olympic

My Mercian is the oldest bike in my stable. I purchased the frame set new at La Mesa Cyclery back in 1983. The serial stamped to the bottom bracket revealed that this is an '82, not an '81 as I had originally believed.

The model is "Olympic", and it was a pretty modest frame for those days; a 531, lugged steel frame with fairly simple braze-ons. The one feature that really sets it apart was the lovely paint. A beautiful shade of metallic green with white lining along the lugs. Really pretty.

Set up for touring, note the Mafac "Racer" Brakes.

The one down side was that the frame was designed for 27 inch wheels, and it doesn't always work with what are now called "long reach" brakes, (57mm), and 700c wheels. Over the years I've experimented with various brakes and found that Mafac Racers worked quite well, except for the fact that they're Mafac Racers! I had a lot of squeal from those guys. I finally solved the problem by converting the bike to a fixed gear and eliminating the rear brake! (the front brake reach was never a problem).

Me and my Mercian on a ride from San Diego to Phoenix, 1982!

This bike has seen many different formats over the years. At first it was a touring bike with a triple crank (and a Campy Rally rear derailleur!) It became my only road bike,( with a double crank), when I left California for work through the mid 80s. It was somewhat neglected in the late 80s before becoming my commuting bike in Montana and then Sacramento in the late 80s to early 90s. I returned it to touring bike style for a couple of years and now, it is a fixed gear single speed.

The Mercian as a fixed gear road bike.

 The riding position on this bike is so comfortable, that the Mercian ergonomics have become the standard for all my other bikes. The fit of this bike is very nice for me, I feel comfortable on it instantly. I adjust all my other bikes to approximate my riding position on this one. Even then, there is something that sets this bike apart. It just feels right.

Here's a link to my latest rebuild of this bike: