Can I call it rose coloured? I think this bike is more of a purple rose, which is quite unusual and distinctive. I do really like this colour of frame that came from the Mercier workshop, this one being from 1981. It has a French threaded bottom bracket and headset, ( pre 1982 ), though quite a few of its parts are not original. The most noticeable is the triple Stronglight crankset. But it’s a real looker, and I’m glad to say the paintwork is is in very good condition, keeping that glossiness and shine that one craves for on a vintage bike. It’s also free from any of that damned oxidation that scars paint, and gladly its top tube isn’t corroded by years of trickling sweat. But that doesn’t mean to say was perfect, for this particular Mercier had a dark little secret and wasn’t as perfect as it seemed…
The Forecast of Doom
Some bikes I wouldn’t ride after just buying them. You can generally tell if the vintage bike you’ve bought is a possible death trap, or has come from a shady past. This one, well, look at it; it just wanted to be ridden, I was taken in by its good looks and hopped on it after buying it from the son of the owner. He barely said three words to me, but never mind, I was excited to own the thing. It was 4.27 in the afternoon, and there were large thunder clouds in the sky, but they seemed quite far away. I got the bike off the rack of the car, pumped the tyres up a little, did a brief safety check ( and I mean brief ), and began my first ride of this beautiful Mercier.
The First Thing to Go Wrong
Now, I’m not one for thinking the worst of people 🙂 but the owner could have mentioned something..! I had travelled approximately 40 yards before there was a major incident. I had pulled the front derailleur shifter to check the gears and to my dismay absolutely nothing happened. 180 degrees of shifter push, and…nothing. “Loose cable”, I thought. I looked down and there, to my disbelief, was the front derailleur, sitting below the chain rings. It hadn’t moved outwards to the next ring, it had actually slid down the seat tube, and was being knocked around in a undignified state by the chain. With a big sigh I got off to see what the hell was going on, and just then, a huge rip of thunder ran across the sky. “This is going well”, I thought.
Being wowed by the bike’s looks, I didn’t check the front derailleur’s condition when buying a bike. I mean, it’s a simple, modest piece of machinery, the front derailleur. Who would expect to see a huge crack running down its side? But yes, I see now, it’s a bloody Simplex Delrin, the greatest disaster of all derailleurs of all time. This derailleur had now reached its true potential: it had broken. The first shift I made on this new bike of mine, must have sheared off the bracket of the derailleur. This meant the thing was now hanging loosely off the frame, with no purpose but to ruin this ride. I was now 4.35 and the sky was turning very dark, but I still believed I could get a ride in before the storm hit.
4.52pm: Storm Arrives
The ride lasted about 8 minutes. The Mercier, now a 5 speed without its front derailleur, was a calm and rattle-free ride, even when the rain began to pour. It felt sure-footed and secure in the wet, even though I hadn’t really checked the tyres and tuned the brakes. The storm cracked thunder right above my head and the rain bucketed down, enough to force me to find shelter at a McDonald’s which appeared over the next hill. Such was the downpour that the restaurant lost all power a few minutes later, so it was back into the rain. I got a lift from the car park, and the rain lasted the rest of the day; a frustrating first ride of a lovely bike, and it hadn’t even given up its secret yet..more to follow..
- 1981? Mercier, 56.5cm frame C-C, 56.5cm TopTube C-C
- Mercier Stamped Fork Crowns
- Shimano 600 Arabesque Headset
- Stronglight Competition Bottom Bracket
- Columbus Frame
- Stronglight 100LX Triple Crankset ( not original )
- Weinmann 500 Brakes
- Simplex SX A23 Front Derailleur ( Broken )
- Simplex SX 410 Rear Derailleur
- Simplex Criterium Shifters
- Atom Hubs, Rigida 700c Rims
- Mercier 26.6mm Seatpost and Original Saddle
- Belleri Handlebars and Stem
- Lyotard 82 Pedals
- Weight: 22.5lbs