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The pink “Service Des Courses” is the iconic Mercier racing bike of the 70’s and 80’s, as ridden by the famous Tour de France rider Raymond Poulidor.   I restored this particular one from a faded, battered frame and rusty fork to like-new condition.  Read on to learn more…Raymond Poulidor on a pink Mercier
I found the frame on eBay France two years ago.  It was hand-made in France from Reynolds 531 steel and features Simplex dropouts.  The lugs are long-point and have nice windows carved in them. It carried the famous “fait main” (hand-made) sticker on it, but I suspect it might not have been the top model at the time due to the lack of engraved seatstay caps:

mercier_SDC_07I completely restored the frame set: the original paint was in bad condition, so I stripped it to the steel and then had it repainted in a shade of pink as close to the original that I could find.

Reproduction decals were then added, again matching the original decals exactly, with several coats of automotive clear coat over the decals to protect them.  I actually went through two sticker kits, having put the first set on crooked.  After that, I was very nervous about applying the decals.  They cost 20 GBP a set and I can only get them from a seller in the UK.

Luckily my girlfriend is a master at the application and removal of stickers (crucial life skill I obviously lack) and she put the second set on perfectly. The only change was that I could not find a reproduction Reynolds 531 sticker.

mercier_SDC_16The chrome fork had some rust, which I removed and polished out.  All components received a thorough cleaning in an ultrasonic bath, followed by servicing and tune-up.

I used bright white cable housing and matching bar tape to complement the lettering on the bike.  The drivetrain is all Simplex, from the LJ derailleurs, to the famous retrofriction shifters, to the original Simplex cable clips and guides.

When I think “Mercier”, Simplex seems to be the natural choice for components, although their top-end bikes were sometimes outfitted with Campagnolo as well.  Conversely, when I think “Motobecane” (a competitor of Mercier) I think Huret.  Both would have been fine for this bike, but the Simplex dropouts only work with Simplex derailleurs.  Leave it to the French to make their bikes even more difficult to work on!


The Stronglight 93 crank still has its bright shiny chrome.  In my opinion it’s one of the prettiest cranksets ever made, even if it hasn’t developed the same cult following as the famous 49D model.   It has French pedal threads and has French-threaded Ofmega road pedals installed.

mercier_SDC_12I installed a modern sealed bottom bracket from Velo-Orange with sealed bearings and a chromed spindle.  I could have gone with a period-correct bottom bracket, but I got the V-O one cheap at a swap meet and was very impressed with the quality.

I always build and restore bikes with the hope that they will be ridden often, a little modern technology, especially when hidden away like a bottom bracket, can go a long way to improving the ride.

The saddle is the original Mercier edition Selle San Marco.  However, the bike is not truly “tout Francais” as the brakes are a matched set of Modolo Course calipers and levers.  The wheelset, which I took from a JP Routens bike I restored last summer, features Italian Grimeca hubs with French threading for the freewheel, which is a 6-speed Sachs-Maillard.  The rims are Vuelta and the classic skinwall tires are Michelin.

This bike was sold on eBay a few months ago for $850 plus shipping.  I didn’t make much profit, and it’s probably one of the last restorations I will do for a while; I enjoy the end product but the amount of work involved is substantial.  Enjoy the full gallery of hi-res pictures below:

2 Responses to “Mercier Service des Courses Road Bike Restoration”

  1. Ashok Captain says:

    Beautiful restoration! Thanks for sharing. I remember seeing pics of Raymond Poulidor on pink Mercier bikes.


  2. Rudi Nass says:


    Beautiful bike and restoration. I am the proud owner of a pink Mercier bike of the late 70’s and restoring it also. Could you tell me how and where you find those decols for a fair price.

    Rudi Nass

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