Meral 650b Conversion, Part Two


My 1980 Meral 650b conversion is well underway.  I needed hardware for the aluminum fenders, which I ordered from Velo-Orange.  I wanted to use their Constructeur rear rack, as it mounts to the fenders, but this item is currently out of stock, so I decided to try out an Electra Ticino rear rack with a similar appearance.  It is more securely mounted to the seat stays (using P-clamps, since the frame lacks rack mounts) and will probably hold a lot more weight.  The stay mounts are NOT adjustable, however, and I just happened to be lucky enough to have the rack be reasonably level.


The Mafac Raid brakes look great, but I still haven’t made up my mind about the brake levers, which I might swap out for Mafac’s instead of Campy.  As with any frame-up build, there are many surprises and dead ends to be dealt with.   The TA crankset looks great – it has 160 mm crank arms which I chose to help reduce toe overlap that is common on smaller frames – however, the largest chainring is bent and needs to be adjusted back into plane.  I really like seeing the Shimano shifter pods on the old Huret clamp, specially modified to take these pods.  I used a Velocity 650b wheelset that I purchased from Rivendell.  The rear wheel is dishless, thanks to the placement of the drive side spokes on the same side of the rim as the non drive-side spokes, which should contribute to a long-lived wheel.



Because this is a smaller frame, there’s not much room at the seat stays for the brake hanger.  Plus, the seat lug on this bike did not match the seat post bolt used by Mafac.  I decided to “modify” a Mafac brake hanger by bending it slightly and installed it askew, but not too much, by adding a longer seatpost bolt (which I will replace later to clean up the look).  I wanted to use some French pedals, even though I had tapped out the TA crankset to English threads, so I cleaned up these beautiful old Lyotard pedals which have English threads.  Later I will install the toe clips and straps.  There’s lots more work to do including installing the “plum” front fender leather flap (a la Velo Orange), installing the leather bar tape, inserting the new Kool Stop Mafac brake pads into their holders, fine tuning the shifting and braking, and checking the ergonomics.  But, it looks good so far, I think.


7 thoughts on “Meral 650b Conversion, Part Two

  1. Hi, I’ve just acquired a Metal bike model golf (at least that’s what’s on the frame I think)! I’m having trouble with the downtube gears and have wondering if it’s worth going to the bother of upgrading or whether it’s even possible as it’s a 6 speed cassette and from what I can gather it’s quite hard to get compatible shifters for the handlebars. Wondered if you had any knowledge of this model and upgrades?

    • Hi Jess,

      I think you mean a Meral? I don’t know of any of the specific Meral models built so I don’t know what “golf” may mean in terms of the type of bicycle it is. As to shifters and cassettes, you can find 6 speed models still around especially on ebay. Depending on your spacing at the rear dropouts you may be able to upgrade to a newer wheelset which would give you more options. And, if you use your shifters in friction mode you won’t really need to worry about how many speeds are on the cassette. Here is a nice discussion from Sheldon Brown’s site:

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for that, I think I shall take it to the bike shop tomorrow and get someone to have a look at it for me. It’s such a nice frame be a shame not to keep it!!

    I did mean meral, auto correct doesn’t have a clue!!
    You’re bike looks awesome by the way

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