Monday, June 9, 2014

Real Steel.... Mercian of Derby

My last post featured some steel bikes that I had seen and started a bit of a reminiscence. About 45 years ago, just after I had left University, I started work at a Rolls-Royce plc plant in Raynesway and at lunch times, to get out of the office, I often used to walk down the road to Alvaston, buy some fish and chips and then wander back. There was, and still is, a bike shop in Avaston though I never paid it much attention, it was called Mercian Cycles . Little did I know then how much I would come to admire and revere their products. Time passed, my career progressed, I was moved to RR CHQ and I never thought about Mercians again; if I ever did before. I was too busy travelling the world, thinking about business opportunites and trying to do deals.

And then I retired.

Suddenly I would be home for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 52 weeks in a year. My wife was delighted and after about 2 days suggested that I bought a bike, she was obviously concerned about my health and thought I needed to get out more.
My first purchase was a very heavy, very old, very cheap  MTB and it lasted about 4 weeks before the rear wheel imploded with spokes shooting off like guided missiles.  It was then that I discovered Mercians.
A retired friend, who had been riding all his life and was a strict adherent to the N+1  principle regarding bike ownership showed me his collection and invited me to try them. One of these was a 1961 Mercian Audax

My love affair with Mercian had begun and Alan, seeing how smitten I was, offered to sell it to me. How could I resist?
The history of Mercians is well documented on their website but pure words cannot do justice to the feel and pleasure in owning and riding a hand built machine, using the tools, skills and crafstmanship which has been developed over decades and is still in use today.

The lug work on these bikes is exquisite, and as I heard more about about the beauty of hand built machines, made to fit perfectly the owner, a desire began to grow to have one made specifically for me.  I had learnt at work that projects needed an end date and so for me, the idea was to have a bike tailored just foe me in time for my 65th birthday, a Mercian Vincitore Special. The bike took 6 months to produce and a week before my birthday I received a call that it was ready.

I am told that the large manufacturers like Giant et al, have 6000+ bikes a year rolling off their production lines. I dont know how many Mercian produce but what I do know is that each one is invested with love and care that the big players could only dream of.

I now have 2 grandsons and I am giving their mothers strict nutritional guidelines to ensure that both grow to the exact dimensions needed so that they fit my bikes perfectly.

Mercians are forever

Do you have a Mercian story to tell?  If so, add it to the comments box and share it with others.


  1. That's lovely Peter! I'm looking at getting myself a custom built Audax from Mercian.

  2. Mercian are not the lightest of bikes but they give a beautiful ride. When I am out with friends, all on fancy steeds, it is still the Mercian Vincentore Special which draws the attention.

  3. On your travels if you come across a Mercian for sale I'd be interested in buying a used example. I'm just down the road a jct 23. I've not seen one locally but there should be more for sale in Derby. Thanks for the thread.

    1. Gary I know of a 1980 Mercian that is for sale ? 21 inch frame, white, compact groupset but now with flat bars