1953 Mercury Cyclemaster Bicycle
The previous owner made a lovely job of restoring this Mercury Cyclemaster.
Of course, we all prefer our bikes in first class unrestored, original condition. Preferably with the manufacturer’s name shining through its transfer. And we don’t complain if there’s also a badge attached by the original dealer who sold the bike.
But sometimes the bike we like is in a derelict state and total restoration is the only option, as you can see in the ‘before’ picture below
So a Cyclemaster engine in a Mercury frame is an interesting original pairing.
Essentially it means that the bike was made to be stronger, to cope with the extra few mph.
And front forks were uprated (below).
Remember this was still a couple years before ‘mo-peds’ made cyclemotors like this obsolete.
Its companion is a Cyclemaster ‘Roundsman’ Delivery Bike.
Mercury Industries (Birmingham) Ltd. started in 1946. They were based in Stratford Road, Birmingham and manufactured large numbers of bicycles. They subsequently moved to Dudley.
With the start of the 1950s cyclemotor boom, they were commissioned by Cyclemaster Ltd to adapt some of their frames to suit Cyclemaster engines. They also adapted their delivery bicycle, and this was sold as the Cyclemaster Roundsman.
The Mid-Fifties Scooter Bug
The tie-up with Cyclemaster proved lucrative and, as a result, Mercury appear to have got the ‘moped/scooter’ bug. It’s quite understandable, as just about every manufacturer wanted to cash in on these two new crazes that were revolutionizing transport. However, their next foray into motorized vehicles was not so successful.
…Because, unfortunately, the Mercury Hermes Scooter was a total disaster. Although Mercury tried introducing several more models over the next 3 years in a desperate attempt to recoup losses, by 1958 the company went into liquidation. With such limited production, examples of the Mercury motorcycle, moped or scooters are now very hard to find.
Above is my unrestored Mercury Hermes scooter; it came from the Combe Martin Motorcycle Museum in North Devon, which closed down some years ago.
Below is my restored Mercury Dolphin (photo on my stand at the Vintage Motor Scooter Show in Coventry, Spring 2008)
You can read more about Mercury’s ill-fated forays into motorized 2-wheelers on this page at the Online Cyclemaster Museum – PLEASE CLICK HERE
OTHER MERCURY CYCLES
The name Mercury was associated with cycling early in its history. Stephen Muir of Wolverhampton made one:
Muir & Co. Mercury, Wolverhampton
Ariel also produced a Mercury model, which was cheaper than the Ariel or the Fleet. It was made at the Bournbrook factory, and the one pictured here is from the 1909 Ariel catalogue (many thanks to Jerry Mortimore for emailing the scans to me)
J.W. Murray, Murray Ohio Mfg. Co. USA – Mercury
Murray was the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer. Designed by Viktor Schreckengost, Murray’s chief designer, the streamlined Mercury (below) was exhibited at the 1939 Worlds Fair. Viktor was one of America’s most prolific designers, and he died in 2007, aged 101.
Here’s a 1941 Murray Mercury (photo from the internet).
Somewhat off-subject as it has four wheels not two, but the 1949 to 1951 Mercury Coupe was one of the most iconic postwar American cars – James Dean died in a Porsche, but lived in a Merc. The model became the ultimate ‘ledsled’ custom car. I hope this image of a Mercury sedan from my vintage photo collection is not too inappropriate to round off this page.