Thursday, April 1, 2010

Another Season... Another Vintage Bike?

Posting this at the end of April Fool's Day might raise suspicion, but I promise it's true: I have another "new" bike. The Co-Habitant and I were returning home from some errands and minding our own business, not even remotely entertaining the possibility of new bike acquisitions...

...when we saw a striking, if slightly decrepit, cream and black Mercier mixte outside of a nearby bike store. This was not the typical mixte we tend to see in these parts, so we got curious. After trying the bicycle I was amazed at how wonderfully it rode - despite the slick 20mm tires the bike shop chose to fit it with! The poor, lonely Mercier was for sale at a very modest sum.

Half an hour later, I was pedaling it home (after paying for it of course), and now the Mercier is mine!

Mercier was a well-respected French bicycle manufacturer in the 1960s and 70s, competing with Peugeot, Motobecane and Gitane. Mysteriously, almost no information is now available on the original Mercier (even the wikipedia entry has been deleted). Though a new company now exists under the same brand name, it has no relation to the original manufacturer.

I don't know where to start describing why I like this bicycle and feel that I must have it. For one thing, there is the attractive lugging. Here is the seat cluster with pinstriping detail on the top of the stays.

Split headtube lug for the twin lateral stays - something my Motobecane mixte does not have.

Headtube lugs, fork crown, and pinstriping on the fork. Downtube shifters (which I do not find particularly attractive, but can easily replace). Overall, the lugwork and other aspects of the bicycle's "decor" are charmingly eccentric compared to other mixtes I have seen.

The components seem to be a mixed bag of lower and higher end. The stem, which I find beautiful, is an AVA stem, which Sheldon Brown described as follows:
"Many higher-quality French bicycles of the '70's came with AVA brand bars and stems. These have a reputation for failure, and should be replaced if the bike is to be ridden hard or fast."
Hmmm... "higher quality" and "failure" in the same sentence? Should I interpret this to mean that as long as I don't race on the bike, the AVA stem will be okay? That is how I would like to interpret it. Advice welcome.

The handlebars are a narrow version of North Roads (what I imagine Nitto's "Dove Bars" are like) and seem original. I prefer narrower bars and love how these feel when I ride the Mercier: they give me a great deal of control and my hands don't seem to grow tired.

The beautiful Lyotard pedals feel great.

Simplex front and rear derailleur, as well as Simplex dropouts. Classic 10-speed gearing.

From what I understand, this rear Simplex derailleur is not good. I am pretty sure it's plastic. The spoke protector ("pie plate") is also original and stamped "made in France".

Mafac "Racer" centerpull brakes, which I believe are pretty good. However, the bike has steel rims (bad for braking), so I need to think of a solution to this.

"Beacon" pleather sprung saddle. Feels comfortable so far, but I imagine that after a long ride it will not. I will probably replace it with one of my vintage B72s - but first I want to ride on this one down Beacon Street.

This Mercier is a 20" frame, whereas my Motobecane is a 21" frame. This is visible in the heights of their seat tubes, but oddly enough their head tubes and stems are about even - despite the fact that the Motobecane has a modern, extended Nitto stem. The Co-Habitant thinks that this is because the Mercier's virtual top tube is upward-sloping, allowing for the handlebars to be higher in their standard position. Whatever the reason, the Mercier does not feel like it is too small; it feels just perfect and is extremely comfortable to ride.

Here is another side by side comparison. Though they are both French mixtes from the 1970s, I find the Mercier to be a considerably more comfortable ride than the Motobecane. What elusive aspect of the bikes' geometries and/or components account for this I do not know, but it is so. The Mercier was a pleasure to ride from the first moment, whereas the Motobecane required "taming" and is still a bit too "racy" for me even with the many changes I've made in attempts to make it more comfortable for everyday cycling.

So, I am considering doing one of the following:

A. Cannibalizing the better components from the Motobecane (derailleur, shifters, and - is this possible? - wheels) and building up the Mercier as my perfect vintage mixte. Then sell off the Motobecane for cheap.

B. Converting the Mercier to a single speed, or possibly even fixed gear (you know, to practice for the velodrome). This should be relatively easy and unintrusive, given that it has clamp-on derailleur and shifters, and compatible drop-outs.

Any opinions and advice regarding these options would be much appreciated!

51 comments:

  1. The Mercier appears to have a longer wheelbase than the Motobecane. Thus it is more comfortable and stable for riding. Not as maneuverable as a shorter wheelbase frameset. I don't think this would be a good track bike conversion for that reason. It is a beautiful bike indeed. You should get a modern wheel set made for it and better derailleurs. An Ideal saddle would be the most appropriate replacement - Brooks are nice, but not french... ;-)

    Set it up for commuting and/or touring?

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  2. NIce bike!
    If it was me, I would go with plan A.
    It's better to have one nice bike rather than two so so bikes.

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  3. I vote for plan A too. It does, however, depend on how many parts you can move over. For example, are the fenders compatible? Also, I think you need a Brooks saddle. Like Mumbleboy suggested, I would want one perfect bike rather than two good bikes.

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  4. Velouria, we now have bike cousins! My Mercier mixte is blue and white/chrome, but shares the same tubing, shifters, handlebars, lugwork and all around gorgeousness. I'm thrilled about your acquisition and will be glued to the comments in hopes of learning more about Mercier history.

    Ride it in good health for many years to come and please keep me posted on decisions/developments. I'm going to post a few more recent photos in celebration of this happy event.

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  5. P.S. Here's a link to a more recent photo of mine! So happy for you (and me!)

    http://mikespokes.blogspot.com/2010/04/mercier-family-expands.html

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  6. What a pretty bike!

    Free advice, given badly:

    I'd give it a month or so of riding to figure out what is what, and watch the e-bay auctions for clues as to how you'd do if you were to sell those Simplex components. You might be able to fund some decent compatible components in trade, too

    For the brakes, go for some Kool-Stop pads in the appropriate format. See how they do on the steel rims. They're an upgrade that will work even if you change out the rims for alloy, and will buy you time to see if you want to keep the original steel rims (and allow you to save money for a month if you do not).

    Find an appropriate replacement stem. AVAs and Atax stems tend to crack more often than not. Steel usually takes a long time to come apart-
    old super-hard alloys can go "foom" suddenly under stress. I'd rather not read about your experiences with that.
    I'd bet you have a few good options, with the great shops nearby. The new alloys are much better. It just seems to be a 1970s French thing.

    Are the Hillborne and Royal H growling at La Mercier under their breath yet?

    Happy spring!

    CK

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  7. This bike looks amazing. I thought I'd managed to shelve my urge to buy a Mercian bike but this has just rekindled it. The pedals and handlebars are just beautiful. I have my eye on a new Miss Mercia mixte bike, which seems to be their standard mixte bike according to the website. Factors which put me off are the terrible patronising name and the fact that their website seems so impenetrable somehow. I am interested in any views anyone has on the quality of their modern bikes as I note from your comment Velouria that ownership has changed since the early days. I have no idea whether I would be getting anything like this beauty you have found. My dream is a Rivendell but it's just too expensive to import to the UK.

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  8. Oops, just realised I'm confusing Mercian and Mercier. Anyway, nice bike!

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  9. Fortunate you are to have found such a gorgeous, well-preserved mixte frame. It must've been in storage for decades awaiting your arrival. Plan A looks like a winner. Can't wait to see how it unfolds.

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  10. C'est Beau! Think about keeping those downtube shifters, Vel.. They've got a certain charm, once you get used to them.

    What are your thoughts for the new wheelset? Mavic? With Michelins? Mmmm... What a nice little bike. Athletic, without being a "racer". Quite classy.

    I cannot help but imagine this bike with tubulars, for some reason. The ride would be sublime.

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  11. Spacemodular - Yes, I think this is exactly it. The Motobecane is very "responsive", too much so for what I could handle last year. To be clear, I didn't mean that I'd be making the Mercier into a track bike - just into a "comfy" fixed gear to help me make the transition. But perhaps even that is a bad idea.

    Mike - Thanks so much. What size frame is yours? I am so curious whether these were made in larger sizes than 20".

    Re the suggestions to go with A and have one good bike: My main question is whether the Motobecane components are compatible. Will the 27" Motobecane wheels fit the Mercier - which also has 27" wheels? Is the derailleur from the 12-speed Motobecane compatible with the 10-speed Mercier, or would I need a different one? I cannot afford to buy yet another set of new components right now, so being able to get the parts off the Motobecane is crucial.

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  12. i agree with the above posters about plan "A". this mercier would not make a good track bike. i would scrap the single-speed idea, and definitely consider upgrading the comps, but then on the other hand, removing the quintessential "crap" french plastic comps also removes some of the character that makes these bikes quirky and unique.

    my recommendation then would be plan "C": find higher end, period-correct simplex or huret comps on ebay (although, they fetch a small fortune). huret made some of the most beautiful and innovative comps back in the day. the huret jubilee is a work of industrial art, is lightweight and durable (it's also highly coveted among francophiles)

    okay, this would be my ultimate plan: get a single chainring TA crankset and ditch the front derailleur. replace the rear derailleur with a jubilee, and find a single huret downtube shifter (they're easy to find). then you'll have a classic 5-speed french bike with lovely and respectable comps.

    the wheels *should* transfer over just fine, provided the mercier has the clearance for wider tires and the rear dropout spacing is the same (should be, if both bikes have 5-speed freewheels).

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  13. Nice! Sounds like fate :)

    I don't have advice for what you should do with the Mercier, but whatever you choose, should be a fun project.

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  14. Lovely-
    I won't get into all the componentry - I'm not qualified, however-
    When I was at Harris last week, Elton was trying to interest me in a new Sturmey archer "3 speed fixed" hub - You can't coast, but you can pedal at three different speeds. Might be a good option for a "gateway fixie" It wasn't my kind of thing, and so I didn't inquire into pricing...

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  15. A real keeper! Lots of nice details you'll never see again. Congratulations on a smart buy. I like this bike a lot.

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  16. That Mercier is very akin to my own French bike that I bought back in 1972, right down to the white color and cottered crank. The derailleur equipment is identical. I think the pedals have been tweaked, because CPSC required reflectors at the same time they required wheel reflectors.

    Considering your space available, I recommend option A. Ride both a while and then decide. The Motobecane is also a good quality frame, and Motos have the best paint of anybody.

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  17. I'll vote for option B just to be contrary. But, I also have a rationale! Since option A involves removing a whole bunch of components from the Mercier anyway, dressing it up as a single sp or fixed is simple, and, if you don't like it, you just continue on your merry way to plan A. This leaves the Motobecane intact until you figure out whether you like riding the Mercier with one gear. And only you can decide that.

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  18. Are you planning on keeping the Motobecane? Why not sell it to help finance some upgrades to the Mercier?

    Do you have access to a shop with a good 'boneyard'?

    Here in Chicago we have Working Bikes and West Town Bikes. I have led a number of people to success in finding quality used replacement parts for a reasonable price or trade because of these establishments.

    From reading about your riding habits, I think you will want alloy rims for this bike.

    Ever thought about learning wheel building? It's not rocket science, but a very interesting, worthwhile skill to learn. If the hubs on the Mercier are decent you could relace them onto some Sun Ringle CR-18 rims in 27" for a very reasonable price.

    If you were to convert this (or any) bike to fixed, you are looking at a complete new rear wheel and complete new drivetrain (bottom bracket, crank, chain, cog, lockring)which as you see, will make it a pricey endeavor.

    I couldn't see if the rear dropouts were semi-horizontal (most mixte's are that I have seen)or vertical. If the drops are vertical, I wouldn't recommend switching to single speed - inappropriate design/wrong application.

    Setting up a cottered crank for fixed use is dangerous. They can't take the torque and can break when full pressure is applied - resulting in injury.

    Velo Orange is the place for any new parts upgrades - especially regarding your bottom bracket. I am assuming that it is French Threaded. They have the Grand Cru cartridge BB which is great! Finally a good replacement for a reasonable amount! The Phil Woods is a piece of art, but $250 is a lot to drop... $48 is much more affordable for such a key component. I have replaced a few cottered crank sets/French Threaded BB with the Gran Cru and either Sugino or Shimano cranks. Used Cranks (JIS) are fairly easy to come by. If you are planning on riding this bike a lot - you will want to think about getting a modern drive train. The old cottered setups are heavy and not anywhere as reliable as a JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard)square tapered spindle/Crank setup.

    Those down tube shifters are not so good (i.e. crap) - they get brittle and break. You might want to switch to either bar end shifters or thumb shifters. Falcon makes a really cheap and cheerful set of thumb shifters complete with cables. You will need to add dual cable stops on the downtube to accomplish this. V.O. has some that would go where the current shifters sit... Or replace with alloy downtube shifters (I like dia-compe).

    Anyway, I could see this bike being really nice with some upgrades...

    Or you could just keep it as and have a nostalgic ride.

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  19. This bike is so lovely. I can understand why you fell in love.

    May I ask, do you ever get new bike guilt? Like you get a feeling that you shouldn't get a new bike cause you already own several?

    As someone who owns 2 bikes and is thinking about getting another one, people tend to make me feel like I'm acting a little over the top (or in their words "crazy") with this bike thing. I know I shouldn't listen to what others think, but at the same time, it does contribute a little to my bike guilt.

    Thanks for being an multi-bike owner inspiration!

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  20. Wow! That bike looks like it just came off le bateau. I especially like the lug work and the black "panel" on the front forks. Those are the sorts of things one finds only on French bikes of that era.

    I think that plan A is a good idea. Your Motobecane has, if I'm not mistaken, Sun Tour derailleurs and shifters, which I've always preferred to the Simplexes. You can probably swap those and the wheels, too. If both bikes have either 700 C or 27 inch wheels, you should be able to swap them; if one bike has 27's and the other has 700's, you may be able to interchange them as long as you re-adjust the brake pad height.

    Here's a plan: If the Mercier feels more comfortable to you, move the better parts from the Motobecane onto it. Then, you can follow the rest of plan A. Or you can convert the Motobecane to a fixie or single speed. Then you can sell the Simplex derailleurs or other parts you don't use on eBay to someone who's trying to do a "period" restoration.

    Whatever you do, you'll end up with at least one nice bike. So you're in a no-lose situation!

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  21. thats a great deal you did, a wonderful bike!
    i love the crank set and chainrings, the steeringbar windings.....

    would recommend to check both bikes how they feel and like Steve A said, than decide.

    but a "Fixi" would be nice too, to practice, that we can go in the Velodrome and make a race like we did in the Prater Alley / Vienna :-)

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  22. If you must have a pieplate, it should at least say, "Made in France."

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  23. Did you know that in the very first race Lance Armstrong entered (and won), he was riding a Mercier?

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  24. That bike is beautiful, I love it. One thing I love about European bike, and especially ones pre-1980, is that all the components really fit the aesthetic of the bike overall. That just doesn't happen on modern American bikes - they often look like Frankenstein-ish collaborations of pieced together parts.

    It'll be great to see what you do with it!

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  25. Some centerpull brakes are mounted by a single bolt on the fork crown and a single bolt on the brake bridge. Some others have two separate posts on each fork leg and two post on the seat stays (like cantilever brakes) yours look like the 'two separate post' type, I can't tell by the picture. If so, I wouldn't make it a fixie. Those beautiful brazon brake posts would be naked and unloved. Also, I can't tell from the picture, if there are brazeon shifter adapters as opposed to the shifters that come with a band so the whole thing is fully removable, making it a single speed would leave those beautiful brazeons naked and unloved. So:

    If brake posts - no fixie, single or multi gear
    If shifter brazeon - keep with multigears.

    brake post/no shifter brazeons - single
    no brake post/no shifter brazeons - fixie

    IMHO
    :)
    My favorite bike is $20 Swiss bike from the sixties (Jean Brun) - it rides like a dream.

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  26. lovely to se you guys today. Nice new bike. :-)

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  27. chris collins, the mafac racer centerpulls mount to a single centered brake bolt. the two brake bosses you see are part of the brake assembly. removing the brakes would not leave any studs, just the center bolt hole.

    the racer brakes are actually quite good, and provide not only decent leverage, but lots of adjustment range as well. even the original racer pads work well compared with modern koolstops.

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  28. somervillain - the Mercier definitely has clearance for 32mm tires. I like your Ultimate Plan, but it is probably too ambitious for me given my work and travel schedule over the next few months. In general, I'd love your help on this though, as I'll probably be making the changes myself.

    Anon 12:06 - That was exactly my rationale for considering Plan B. Making it fixed gear would also eliminate the need to replace the steel rims, as it would be fine with just a flimsy front brake.

    spacemodular - It has semi-horizontal dropouts. But I didn't fully appreciate all the other things you mentioned would have to be done. Looks like it would not be so simple after all - though at least I would not need to file off the derailleur hanger. I am interested in wheelbuilding and other aspects of working on bicycles and tried to get involved in it over the winter - but it proved to be impossible with the other things going on in my life. So I think I will leave these things to those who specialise in them, at least for now. Thanks for all your other advice re parts, etc.!

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  29. Filigree, if you want to trade one of your Brooks saddles I have a very nice late 70s french Ideale #6 shortnose double wire "semi sprung" saddle in a honey sort of color(ask Somervilian, he proll'y knows what it is). It has about 10 miles total on it and looks old/unused.

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  30. Kara - I do feel bike guilt, but evidently that has not stopped me from acquiring them : ) In my defense, I do envision a dedicated purpose for each bike I get, and in the past I have readily sold bikes that had become redundant. We are getting a new studio with a large storage area and the Mercier was meant as a dedicated "studio bike" that I plan to keep there - as the studio is quite far from my house and I will probably get there by subway.

    Justine - I did not know about Lance Armstrong and Mercier, thanks for encouraging my racing fantasies!

    Vee - was a nice surprise to see you as well! I was mildly hallucinating from having just cycled from Somerville to W Newton under direct sun, but good to have confirmation that you are real!

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  31. spindizzy - If you're local, I'd like to have a look. The only saddles I have to trade are 2 well-used B72s (black, from the 1970s) and a new (in packaging) B67S in honey. But if you are local and I can look at it, maybe we can agree on a price where I could buy it.

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  32. I also think you might want to change the stem,the old french ones do seem to turn up cracked or broken more often than others. When I was an unemployed 12 year old building bikes from junkyard parts we sawed many an old cracked AVA in two and used the clamp part for a seatpost clamp on a BMX bike or old Schwinn cruiser. Lightwieght seatpostclamp for no money(well, no money and an hour with a hacksaw and a file). I just did this again recently to make an antique looking seatpost clamp for a replica "pathracer" I built out of an old 50s Schwinn Traveller 3sp. frame a Sturmey 3sp coaster brake hub and a bunch of parts from my bonepile.$25 total and it makes me giggle.

    Asfar as what to do with the Mercier, you could do worse than ride the noble old thing with the parts that are on it and replace the stuff that doesn't want to co-operate as it starts to cause trouble. The plastic stuff usually cracks progressivly and doesn't leave you stranded...
    I find that the old argument about steel rims being bad in the rain is sort of cancelled out by most peoples desire to slow down in the rain anyway. My experience has been that skinny tires in the rain lose thier grip to a greater degree than good brakes and steel rims so that my drama is usually slidey tires and not insufficient stoppers.Of course I'm still crashing, just due to a different reason. I don't recommend regular crashing but I seem to derive some value from the occsional "re-calibration" it provides...

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  33. I'm from Virginia, If you want to risk the return postage, I'll pay the postage to get it there regardless of which you send back. I need a saddle for a mid 70s womens Raleigh tourist I'm restroying, so a black B-72 in good shape would be neat.If your B-72s are too scruffy I would be happy to pay a little extra for the B-67S.

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  34. I love seeing your new bikes. (Vicarious bike-collecting being quite a bit easier on the wallet . . . and your eye so much more discriminating.)

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  35. I wouldn't worry too much about the stem. Do you plan to pedal out of the saddle, aggressively pulling the bars ? If you don't, it should be good.
    Re brakes and dérailleur : If it ain't broke... What's wrong with a functional Simplex ? I've rocked a couple of them in my youth and they were ok. And steel wheels were good then, why not now ? Do you brake so hard ?
    What I would do is to take care of the frame (rust and paint) first, a new set of tires, brake pads, cables, clean rims and transmission... A good, thorough, tune up.
    And an Idéale saddle would be great.

    That's a nice bike, do not even think about Plan A : No one was riding fixies, or even SS, when it was built.

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  36. Re The mercier brand. It was huge until the 80's in France, when the got bankrupt. It was founded in St Etienne (home of many mechanical industries like Manufrance, maker of Hirondelle bikes) pre WW2.
    It has been bouth over by the employees and is now part of the Accell Group (Batavus / Sparta, Koga, Lapierre...) under the name Cycles France Loire. They still make bikes, mostly, AFAIK, for special uses (rental fleet, bike share programs - they designed the Vélib' bike), and also under the brand Poulidor in deprtment stores (Raymond Poulidor was a beloved french racer from the late 60's early 70's, famous for consistently finishing on second place).

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  37. This bike screams "650b". Hard to tell if you could find brakes with a long enough reach. But you could do a multi speed hub with coaster brake.

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  38. spindizzy - get in touch re the saddles at "filigreevelo-at-yahoo-dot-com", you do not provide any contact info. The B67S trade would be the best for me.

    Philippe - Thank you for the Mercier info.

    Re the steel rims - the bike does not brake well, or at least not sufficiently for me. I attribute it to the rims, because other French bikes I've tried from that period, with the same rims, behaved similarly. There is even a specific noise they make. I am sure with new brake pads this will improve, but I don't know whether the improvement will be enough for me.

    Jim - Oh, I actually really like 27" wheels and am happy this bike has them. There is a nice selection of tires now in that size, so it's really no problem.

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  39. PS - To clarify about the brake pads above: The bike actually does have new brake pads and still brakes poorly. We'd replace them with Kool-Stops, and this would probably improve braking.

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  40. Hi again Velouria,

    A nice bike for the studio indeed!

    Just wanted to say that I have refurbished/overhauled and converted a few French Mixtes - so my previous comments were based on that.

    It sounds like you want your brakes to work the most, so try switching the wheels out. They seem to be the same width and the rear wheels should have the same number of gears. If not - you may need to switch derailleurs.

    The Moto's are alloy right?

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  41. Thanks spacemodular. The bikes do not have the same gearing - the Motobecane is a 12-speed; the Mercier is a 10-speed. I would not mind changing the derailleur and shifters on the Mercier. Do you know whether it is possible to fit it with stem shifters, or is that not advised for the AVA stem? The Mercier's native DT shifters are bolted on, so removing them would not be a big deal.

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  42. Wow, I envy you and all your lovely bikes! You'll have to ride a lot to keep them all happy :-).

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  43. Sweet find!

    I suspect the ride difference is due to a slight difference in frame geometry and possibly the type of tubing used.

    Aaron

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  44. Hi Velouria,

    What a spectcular looking bicycle. It's almost identical to my 1969 Peugeot UO18 mixte that I acquired last year. Both bikes share the same French compponents;derailleurs,cranks,pedals and even the Mafac brakes. I hope to restore mine this summer. Good luck with yours, which ever way you decide to go.

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  45. Stem shifters should work. You can go with used or new, but used may yield a nicer quality component. Most of the new ones are in the $10-20 range. The new stem shifters usually come complete with cables but no housing.

    Stem shifters shouldn't stress your stem at all. Standing on your pedals at full torque power while leaning on your bars, will stress the stem.

    You will need to put cable housing stops where the old down-tube shifters go. Velo Orange has these.

    Sounds like you might be keeping both the Motobecane and Mercier. Good for you!

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  46. spacemodular - Yes, especially after riding 36 miles on the Motobecane today, I think I will keep it. I think I finally *get* how to ride that bike! Raising the saddle some more and having suddenly learned how to balance properly on the bike (I can steer with the hips, I can do it now!) has changed my relationship with it for the better. I will most likely change the handlebars (once again) to something more suitable for longer rides (maybe upside-down Nitto Dove bars?) and it will be my "steep geometry bike"...

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  47. They both sound like fine bikes if you have space to keep both of them. Otherwise, I don't think you should have much trouble moving parts from the Motobecane to the Mercier.

    If both wheels are 27", you'll be fine with brakes; braking may improve with aluminum rims or better brake pads. The derailleurs and shifters should be easily interchangeable.

    The only issue I see changing wheels is the width of the frame opening for the rear axle. Sometimes, the earlier 6 speeds had wider frame spacing than the 5 speeds, but frequently there are narrow 6 speeds that fit the same space as the 5 speeds. This is easy to check by moving the wheels from one bike to the other.

    Depending on how much work you want to do yourself, typically the French bikes have 9mm cotter pins, while your English bikes have 9.5mm cotters.

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  48. I had a Motobecane Mirage (from about 1975) that I used as a commuter bike. I put on all-rounder bars (almost straight), fenders, and a rack. It may have had the same geometry as your Moto except that mine was a diamond frame. It handled well but also required taming. Oddly, I found that adding weight to the front improved handling. This is the case with some French bikes. And it could explain why you don't like it as much as the Mercier.

    The steel wheels may or may not provide adequate braking. Wait and see. Mafac brakes are excellent, some of all-time favorites, and I've worked on thousands of bikes. Proper setup is difficult, but they work great thereafter.

    I would replace the stem. The probability of you breaking it is low, but the costs are very high. It would be a very ugly crash.

    Lyotard pedals are very reliable and durable, as well as pretty.

    Plastic Simplex derailleurs work well at first. Then they wear out and work badly. The shifters are possibly even worse.

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  49. I just wanted to leave a comment and say thanks for this post. I just finished restoring a Mercier Mixte and your post was incredibly helpful. Here's a link in case you're interested in how she turned out.

    http://modernandmaterialthings.tumblr.com/post/722475483/mercier-mixte-frames

    Cheers,
    Christina

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  50. hey, just doing up and converting my Mercier now - really lovely site and the black / white combo of the mixte just got me thinking - keep on keeping on ;)

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  51. I bought one new in 1970. Loved it.

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