MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"  

MERCIER GENT - INTRO

FINDING THE GENT

RESTORED ELSEWHERE

 

BICYCLES OF FRANCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

A NEW HOME FOR THE MERCIER GENT

The actual finding of the Gentleman is hardly spectacular.  In the fall of the year, Bicycles for Humanity was conducting its annual bicycle drive.  Actually, the organization tries to hold two drives each year - one in the Spring and one in the Fall.  This particular year, there was a single drive and conducted in October.  Anyway...

The month before Bicycle Donation Days and for the month after, a few of us are busier than two flies on a pig's butt picking up donated bicycles.  On a busy Thursday morning, this lovely old Mercier presented itself, along with a brief history of how it was used.

Apparently, and this comes as a bit of a surprise when the vintage of the bicycle is taken into consideration, the bicycle was purchased new, by a young lady at the end of the 1960s or beginning of the seventies.  Most young women of the day would have opted for the step through model, or even one of Mercier' Mixtes.

At any rate, the young lady had purchased the bicycle, just before beginning university studies.  Her mother, the person who actually donated the bicycle to B4H, told me that her daughter had ridden the bicycle for many years until she could finally afford a car.  The bicycle had then been put away, and had remained in questionable storage for nearly forty years.

Close to half a century in hiding and the patina of age presented would suggest that storage conditions were less than perfect, if any kind of preservation was the goal.  The Mercier had experienced widespread surface oxidation, sporting a patina of vintage paint, art and surface rust.  The cosmetics were boarder line, with one exception.  The bottom bracket housing and chain stays had not weathered the weather well.  The pitting was not apparent, paint peeling and ugly blotches of oxidation were.  To paint or not to paint.  A question I asked myself, more than one time, as I considered restoring the bicycle.

Yes, even though the bike is, more or less, entry level, it did offer one redeeming feature - cantilever brakes.  This was the first Mercier, I had stumbled upon, that sported cantilever brakes.  It was the first Mercier that offered upright handlebars.  The first one to present a wonderful ornate chain guard.  And the first one to come fitted with generator, tail light and head light. 

Actually, that last statement is not exactly accurate.  Though the generator was present, only parts of the fender mounted headlight and taillight remained.  I had great confidence that I could find the correct electrical components, which, once again supported my interest in restoring this unusual old bicycle.  And I must clarify my definition of unusual.  I speak of this bicycle and my relationship to it only.  Apparently, these old touring style Mercier roadsters were not all that uncommon, in Europe.  But certainly few and far between on this side of the pond.

Adding to what was amounting to a heap of vintage charm, the original French alloy fenders were in great shape and suited the bicycle perfectly.  So too did the original luggage rack fitted over the rear fender.  The luggage rack, incidentally, was mounted to both drop and braze-on stay eyelets.  The brazed on stay mounts being just one more characteristic common to a vintage touring bicycle.  This old bike was just too cool.  I must admit that I really liked it and the thought of Street Restoring the bike.

To all of this vintage charm, add an understated but elegant color choice, some very vintage art and a wealth of pin striping.  This modest French road bicycle even came equipped with a period correct vintage hand pump.  What more could a vintage road bicycle enthusiast ask for.

And that is exactly what happened.  A fellow enthusiast asked, at just the right time, and the Gentleman Mercier was on its way once more.

NEXT - RESTORED ELSEWHERE

 

 

 

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