This French Mercier bicycle has captured my attention. It is made from “duralumin“ – the same stuff blimps were made with – by Meca Dural using a unique procedure to join the tubes with aluminum lugs and wedged steel internal expanders. The Meca Dural company produced aluminum frames from the 1930’s through the 1950’s on behalf of a number of cycling manufacturers, Mercier being one of them. A Mercier Meca Dural is included in the Embacher collection (which was sold in its entirety at auction, earlier this year). The blackbirdsf site also has photos of a variety of duralumin frames of various manufacturers, including Aviac and Barra, as well as Meca Dural.
This Mercier Meca Dural is a “ladies” bike with a step through frame, although it is not a mixte frame as it lacks the set of extra chain stays typically used to stiffen the frame. Depending on many factors, this may or may not be a good thing.
The bike features a Stronglight crankset with 46 teeth, CLB 700 brakes with useful and ingenious quick release mechanism, Atom hubs, Samir Saminox 700c rims, Huret plunger/pushrod derailleur, a 4 speed freewheel, and a serial number on the left side rear drop out – 16822. Here are some photos of the components:
The bike has a number of issues which will affect the restoration process. The steel fork was horrifically spray painted gray – so the paint will need to be removed. Upon closer examination, I have concluded that the wheels are not original to the frame. There is a 1975 date code on the Atom hub, and not only that, their diameter suggests that this bike was built for 650b wheels and not 700c – the fork crown and rear brake bridge daruma bolts foul the 700c tires. Clearly the bike was built for 650b wheels, which I confirmed after measuring the CLB 700 brake reach. And, some features are missing – the fenders show that the bike originally had a rear and front rack, and the fork mount dynamo is absent, as well as the original chain guard.
Even so, I am looking forward to restoring this machine and to its first test ride, as I want to experience the feel of the aluminum frame and steel lugs, and to judge the frame stiffness for myself. Stay tuned!