My classic bike comes home again

Mercian Bike in North Portland

Mercian Bike in North Portland

On July 8, I posted a blog announcing my decision to sell the classic Mercian bicycle that has been one of my loves for 43 years. The blog went online at 6:00 am just before I left for my 7:00 o’clock Friday breakfast with the Friendly Old Fellows from my church.

At 8:15, as I was leaving the restaurant, my Indianapolis son was on the phone. He had just read the blog and hoped that there still was time to get the bike back. “Dad, I can fix a place for it in my garage. Even if you don’t ride it any more, it needs to stay in the family.” Later in the day, one of his Indianapolis sisters echoed his sentiment. “If I had room at my place, I would have made the same offer.”

Their entreaties were enough to persuade me. Even a casual reading of last week’s blog shows that my heart was not in the decision to put the bike on consignment. I called the bike shop and reported my change of mind. They’ll do the repairs that it needs and I’ll pick it up in a few days.

One more factor enters into this discussion. As my family and many of my friends know, I plan to reestablish my home in Indianapolis. With the Mercian at my son’s home, I will be able to join him more easily in rides around his part of the northeastern fringe of Indianapolis. His principal bike is the Orange Co-Motion bike I used for a decade after putting the Mercian into semi-retirement. We’ll make a fine pair as we cruise around a nice part of the world on these fine bikes.


Choosing tires at the point where performance, price, and reliability intersect

Fixing a Flat Under the Light Rail Tracks

Fixing a Flat Under the Light Rail Tracks

For several years I have subscribed to Seattle based Bicycle Quarterly and have benefitted greatly from much of the work that writers in this journal discuss. I consistently ride on wider tires at lower pressure than I used for most of my cycling history.

After a long delay, I finally decided to try a set of Compass tires that the people in Seattle have developed and sell. My hesitation was based on my uneasiness about the reliability of these high-performance, light weight tires. I mounted a pair in January in time to ride them for a month with many miles on Amelia Island, Florida, a week of PAC Tour’s Desert Training Camp in southern Arizona, and another week of occasional riding around Tucson.

The tires mounted easily, felt good on my rides, and showed no wear during these winter rides. After I returned home, however, my experience changed. Repeated flats have let me down. They have occurred on regular training routes near my home, on a pleasure excursion in the Coast Range outside of Seaside, Oregon, at the 65-mile mark on the annual Ride Around Clark County, 20 miles from nowhere on the slopes of Mt. St. Helens on the annual Tour de Blast, and finally at an awkward place three miles from home on my regular commuting route from downtown Portland.

Half way through this series of flats, my confidence began to waver, but the tires do give a good ride. They show few blemishes from road debris that might lead to flats. The last let-down, however, persuaded me that despite the confidence in these tires exuded by the Bicycle Quarterly folks they don’t work for me.

I’m at Seaside again for a few days. The first thing I did upon arrival was replace these tires with a set of tried-and-true Continentals. I may even dare the ride up into the high country again while I’m here. As it has been throughout the years, I choose my tires at the point where performance, price, and reliability intersect. For now, I’m making the choice based on reliability. Next year, maybe, I’ll try again for performance (but probably not with Compass).

3 Responses to My classic bike comes home again

  1. Rodney A. Reeves says:

    This is terrific news! I most definitely sensed some pain in your earlier decision. Glad “the classic Mercian bicycle that has been one of my loves for 43 years…..Comes Home Again”!

  2. jacbikes says:

    A fine pair you will make indeed! As for tires, after trying several brands, I really like Continentals, too. They give good performance, last well, & are not as expensive as Schwalbes, which a lot of cyclists like. Happy to know the Mercian has been returned to the fold!

  3. brickthomas says:

    Your relationship with the Mercian reminds me of my old Schwinn Paramount. And I had the same issues with the Compass tires on a ride from Portland to Flagstaff. My wife and I had so many flats that we changed back Schwalbe Marathons in Pendleton and didn’t have another flat the rest of the trip. Happy riding. Brick

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