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.


1980 Meral 650B Conversion

I acquired this frame and fork last year.  It’s a Reynolds 531 fully chromed frame with a Reynolds 531 chrome fork built by the Meral bicycle shop located in Paris, France.  The shop was a small one, employing about 15 workers at its height, located just off the Champs  Elysees.  It was designed to be a sport touring bicycle with 700c wheels, but I am going to convert it to 650B.  Here goes…


I decided to sand down a Nitto Stem because I couldn’t find a tall enough French stem (thank you, Sheldon Brown), and I am trying out a Cardiff saddle – similar to a Brooks…but different.  It has longer seat rails for more adjustment fore and aft and I like the looks.  I am using aluminum fenders and T.A. cranks, and I found a custom Meral rack that I will mount to Mafac Raid brakes (needed for the longer reach).  This is a preliminary look at how it will appear when built: