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Mercian Vincitore - 1957

Profile of a fine cycle No 9            

Mercian AVT 1

Machine: 1957 Mercian Vincitore 25” frame. No frame no. Built specially for D.J. Keeler and given to him by Mercian Cycles of Derby. On this cycle Dave Keeler broke the then 21 year old “end to end” record in 2 days,3 hours and 9 minutes, the date was Sunday 1st June 1958.

Mercian AVT 2

Owned by: Alexander Von Tutschek

How long owned: one year

How was it acquired: This is the quite remarkable thing about this cycle. During 1998 I was fingering though a stack of old “Sporting Cyclist” when I came across the August 1958 copy in which there is a ten page article on the then very recent breaking of the Land’s End to John o’Groat’s “end to end” record by Dave Keeler. It is a very detailed account with good photographs and ,very unusually for the era ,much is made of the cycle he used …and it was my size. I wondered where this cycle was now and this led me to quite remarkably locating it in 3 ½ hours from reading this article ! Surely a miracle! Dave Keeler had sold the machine in 1960 but couldn’t remember to whom, all he could remember was that he was a member of the North Road CC and that he lived in the village of Kimpton. A remarkable fluke, he was still a NRCC member…. and was still riding the machine! I then had an eight year wait until I was able to acquire the frame…but it was worth it!

Mercian AVT 3
Wrap-over seat stays indicate the second version of the Vincitore
Mercian AVT 4
Close-up of Paris/Roubaix gear which Dave used to have low friction in the gear drive

The features that make it special: What is most special is that as late as 1958 Dave Keeler chose to use a Campagnolo “Paris Roubaix” gear! Its second owner, the man who had bought it in 1960 had long ago removed “that gear” filed the teeth off the Paris- Roubaix drop-outs and had used it as his touring mount. Upon acquiring it the third owner went about a “no expense spared” restoration that included finding an un-used set of the original drop-outs and a gear and having them re-fitted. It is now back to the way it was on that fateful day in 1958, all except on thing. The original colour of the machine was a bright red and it was felt that a darker red was more appropriate.

The other equipment on this cycle are just ordinary period components.

Anything else:

Yes. Two things. First, a big thank you to the ex-chairman of the North Road CC who remembered that in all his years in the NRCC he could only remember one member living in the village of Kimpton…and that he was still a member forty years later ! This was the breakthrough that led to finding this historic machine in such a short time.

And second. It has been suggested that this feat of Dave Keeler’s was the longest single ride ever using a Campag Paris Roubaix gear. That is quite a claim, does anyone claim to dispute it?

Mercian AVT 5
Vincitore head lugs
Mercian AVT 6
Control lever on seatstay for Paris/Roubaix gear