Mercian Strada Speciale c.1989

I bought this beautiful Mercian frame on Ebay and wanted to make it into a go-anywhere road bike. I wanted it to look a bit ‘retro’, but not overly so, using carefully chosen nicely designed parts. I sourced the older Ultegra 6600 parts which are beautifully finished in polished alloy, since the new Ultegra is so hideous. With later designs for Ultegra and Dura Ace, Shimano seem to have gone down a road similar to that of car design, where macho, angular, aggressive looks are key – fine for teenage roadies but repellent to those with more sensitive taste. I decided on a triple chainset so the bike can be used for touring. The frame is in Reynolds 653 and was renovated by Mercian a few years back to their usual high standard of finish. Other parts include the very nicely shaped Nitto Noodle handlebars and Nitto Pearl stem, Hudz gum coloured brake hood, and Ambrosio Excellight wheels hand built by the very fine wheel-builder Harry Rowland. Handlebar tape is shellac finished with Gilles Berthoud leather end plugs. The bike rides great and has the potential to be a light tourer with rack mounts and mudguard clearance. All in all a classic looking build which performs. I did an edition of the Tour of Flanders sportive on it and it performed just as well, if not better than my Colnago C50, which I used the year before. Also managed to get up the Koppenberg, thanks to the triple chainset!

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