Mercier Le Vélo

Mercier Le Vélo

Any long-term fan of the Tour de France will undoubtedly recognize the jerseys of the Mercier teams and their partners — Gan, Hutchinson, BP et al — a garish clash of purple and yellow, before evolving to light and dark blues with a splash of pink. The Mercier team was active, with numerous affiliations, from 1935 to 1983 — the halcyon days of professional cycling. The constant that bound the different teams together were their elegant, proud and pink steel Mercier steeds.

Mercier Le Vélo

Neil Schlecht was kind enough to share with me some pictures of his recently restored Mercier Le Vélo, a loving resurrection of his first road bike. “I can’t take much credit for the restoration, outside of aesthetic decisions and signing the check, but Doug Gold of Assabat River Bicycles in Hudson, MA, did a great job on it and I’d like for him to get some love”.

Mercier Le Vélo

“As he told me, “I have been doing this type of thing as a hobby for about 40 years and each bicycle has its own unique personality. Returning them to their original condition as a work of mechanical art is its own reward.” Doug can wax poetic about Brooks saddles and vintage cycles for hours, and he’s also got a phenomenal handlebar mustache”.

Mercier Le Vélo

“This Mercier “Le Vélo” was my first real road bike, purchased in 1986 while in grad school in Austin, TX. It had been very gently used, if at all. I bought it from a UT undergrad who I don’t think ever threw a leg over the saddle. At the time I didn’t know anything about the Mercier brand, other than that it was French. But I was psyched that it had a Campagnolo gruppo (which sounded exotic to my then-neophyte ears) and was hot pink. Over the years I added clip-less pedals and had the brake cables wired under the bar tape, but that was about it”.

Mercier Le Vélo

“I took it with me when I moved to Barcelona, Spain, where I lived for most of the 1990s, and rode it there and in the Pyrenees (including some past Tour mountain passes in Andorra) and northern Spain (in Navarra I once had the incredible fortune to ride it a few kilometers alongside Miguel Indurain, who had just returned home after winning his 5th Tour de France and was out on a solo training ride, with no teammates, bodyguards or hangers-on. Just Indurain in a Banesto kit)”.

Mercier Le Vélo

“When I returned to the States and moved on first to aluminum and then carbon, the Mercier was relegated to the barn for nearly 15 years. A couple years ago, I started to see some good vintage bikes around and pay attention to steel again, so I was happy I’d held on to the Mercier, even if it had been a little neglected”.

Mercier Le Vélo

“It’s mostly all original, a mix of Campy Record, Chorus, Victory and Corsa (according to Doug, it wasn’t uncommon for the assembling shop to put a variety of part families together). The bike now has a complete, original Campagnolo BB and new (vintage) brake levers and headset. The Mavic wheelset is original. Nothing else was done beyond the basic cleaning and polishing after complete disassembly and inspection of all parts”.

Mercier Le Vélo

“The painting (by Frank Patterson of Stow, MA) included walnut shell blasting, 3 base coats of primer, 3 color coats, application of decals (which had to be fabricated, as they were much deteriorated), and final 2 layers of clear coat. The pinstriping was not original to the bike, but something I thought would add to the aesthetic appeal, like the adapted head badge decal. The resulting pink is just slightly different from the original, Pepto-Bismol hot pink. It’s more of a rich guava color, but I think looks even better with the new Brooks Swallow saddle and Prologo leather bar tape”.

Mercier Le Vélo

“I’ve always believed the bike was a 1984, based on the date I bought it and what I seem to remember the seller telling me, but Doug says “based on the wheels, headset, and the derailleurs it’s most likely closer to a 1980-82 machine.” I’ve looked online and almost every Mercier one can find is from the 1970s, with very different graphics. Perhaps someone with specific knowledge of period Merciers could help “carbon date” this bike!”

Mercier Le Vélo

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  • ininbita

    ummm…
    Very good work and nice histoty. Restoration is excellent, paint, components are super, a great bike, but…excuse me, I have to say this: handlebar and brake levers are looking at sky! saddle have a little down-look and rear skewer is closed in dangerous position.
    Maybe the stem is so long.
    More… I’m sure: a white classic saddle (Turbo, Regal, Rolls…) and a white 80’s bar tape should be a better combination. Brooks is great brand, but sometimes obscure the rest of the bike…and that great job in paint and restoring components is first, and before, that Brooks name.

    That said, congratulations for having your bike taken care of and loved so many years.I hope you continue enjoying good roads and landscapes with this beautiful Mercier. You have a jewel! Best regards.

    • fpavao

      Why do you think the rear skewer is dangerous like that?

      • ininbita

         well, in this position something external could open the skewer, involuntarily, for example a fall in the peloton, when the bikes are hooked together.
        If you observe any bike rider never see the skewer in this position, but quick release is looking towards the seat, or looking up.Riding solo is not a problem but isn’t a very good bike image.

        • fpavao

          Never thought about that since I don’t ride in the peloton. I actually use my front skewer facing forward. Quicker for me to open and close it. And I kinda like the look. (:

          • ininbita

            Front skewer is diferent, and if don’t ride in peloton is not a problem the position.
            But the curved shape of the skewer has a practical function.Many things of the bike leave the aesthetics as last term.
            Regards.

    • neil

      ininbita, I’ve still got the bike’s original saddle, and you’re right, it’s a white Turbo. Classic 80s, no doubt. The bike originally had white bar tape, too. But I’ve always loved Brooks saddles (concept, history, aesthetics) and to me it adds rather than detracts or distracts. But to each his own!

      • ininbita

        Hi Neil, you’re right, it isn’t so important.
        I just wanted to explain something that the bicycle can not by itself.If someday you returns to Barcelona or Andorra, we can ride a little tour.Best regards

        • neil

          Un placer, encantado! Eres español? Catalan?

          • ininbita

            Igualment, i moltes gràcies.
            I’m catalan.

  • Semilog

    Sweetness & light. 

  • Pierjeff

    Where can I get one of those flask bottle holders. Sweet!

  • Jono Davis

    Gorgeous bike.

    One thing though, it looks like the brake pads in the front brake are installed facing the wrong direction. Those brake shoes are designed so that the rubber can be removed from the shoe by pulling it out in one direction, and as they are set up right now the rim will be pulling the rubber out of the shoe when the brake is applied. Just a heads up!

  • MSD

    Congrats to the owner for having the nuts to say that he didn’t do the restoration but just signed the cheques.  The number of people I speak to who say “Oh I restored X” when in fact all they did is pay the bill.  Bravo.

  • Mike

    I was wondering about the brake lines… was it originally ran in the top tube?

  • Eric Channing

    I was helping a friend shop for a used road bike in Philly over the weekend and we came across this model in a 58 cm. It was perfect for her tall frame and she loved the original hot pink paint job. Came with what looked like the original campy record 6 speed for $650. My web search for the name came up with this post. Nice to see a restored version of it.