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Anybody own a modern Merican?(3 posts)

Anybody own a modern Merican?desmo
Oct 18, 2002 5:57 PM
Never seen one in person and am just going by what's on their website. They appear to be really nice bikes, built right, out of good materials, and very cool paint work. Almost hate to ask, but why are they so affordable? Where are (if) corners being cut? I've been looking for the right vintage frame to build up with a Nuovo Record gruppo I have without much luck. I'm almost tempted to just go with a Merican. It definitely has the look I want and seems like it would have the ride I want. Even at their low prices it's a little more than I wanted to spend but at least I'll know it's straight and rust free. Any comments from owners would be appreciated.
re: Anybody own a modern Merican?Heron Todd
Oct 18, 2002 7:25 PM
Mercians are good frames. They aren't the same as a $2000+ custom, but they are nice. Why are they so inexpensive? They work closely with Reynolds and get prices on tubing. They don't have the same environmental regulations as the US for applying paint. However, probably the biggest reason is that they sell direct rather than through dealers. That saves a bunch, and it's not a bad deal if you feel comfortable buying that way.

Todd Kuzma
Heron Bicycles
LaSalle, IL 815-223-1776
re: Anybody own a modern Merican?Trent in WA
Oct 18, 2002 8:36 PM

I own a King of Mercia that I ordered in January and received, on schedule, at the end of February. They're terrifically nice bikes. They're not made with the same artistic flair as American custom bikes, and you'll probably have to do a bit more preparatory work to one (such as cleaning out the BB and derailleur hanger threads) than you would with, say, a Davidson or a Rivendell. But they have gorgeous paint jobs and are well crafted. From what we could tell when we assembled mine, it had thorough the braze penetration on the bottom bracket shell, and the frame alignment was fine.

As far as how they manage to make them at such affordable prices, I'd say that, along with the points Todd K. makes, they do a much higher volume than American custom makers do and have better economies of scale. I suspect that it's much more common in the UK for cyclists to ride custom bikes, judging by the number of affordable custom shops there (such as Donohue, Dave Yates, and Thorn). The attitude towards custom bikes seems different there as well: here, a custom bike is regarded as a work of art and the folks who produc them artists, whereas there it seems to be more of the nature of a craft. So American custom bikes are exquisite and expensive, whereas the Brits are just lovely and cheap. Or at least cheaper.

A word of warning: I get the sense that, unless you ask for something unworkably strange, the folks at Mercian will build pretty much what you ask them to build, so be sure that you have a good idea of what you need, fit- and geometry-wise, before you order. I ordered a slightly smaller bike than I should've, and while mine fits me fine, I'm running a taller and longer stem and showing more seatpost than I would've liked. But it's still an amazing bike, especially for the price.

Hope this helps,