Merckx Mondays Nov 30, 2009

Last week’s Merckx Mondays documented the question “who has Eddy Merckx’s hour record bike?“. This week I’m taking a less controversial approach and showcasing my 1996 Dura Ace-equipped MX-Leader Eddy Merckx road bike.

I purchased this bike from a friend who acquired it in Belgium. Luckily for me, it was a tad too big for him. When I picked it up, it was looking really sad. The bike was in need of a new left STi shifter, some new wheels and a good overhaul. I picked up an almost-new Dura Ace 7403 STi from a friend for a 6-pack of beer and began to hunt down the remaining parts.

Most of the Eddy Merckx MXL’s of that era came equipped with Dura Ace 7400. This one was made in 1996, according to Jeremy’s serial number database. From the looks of the components, including the headset, these were the original parts. Note the number hanger, indicating it was a professional’s bike.

The bike was raced professionally on the ASLK\CGER team in Belgium by Jürgen de Backer. It’s made from Columbus’ legendary MXL tubeset. MXL was originally introduced as Columbus MAX tubing in the first year. Shortly after, the tubeset became MXL, standing for MAX Leader. Merckx began to use it on all their MX-Leader steel frames. MXL is often mistaken for alloy because of the over-sized tubes. The chainstays are almost twice as deep as Columbus’ other tubes. The unique downtube and fork blades are over-sized as well, resulting in a remarkably stiff ride.

Like all Eddy Merckx’s bikes, this one was handmade in Belgium, at the Merckx Factory. Again, note the sponsor stickers on the beefy-MXL fork blades. One of the sexiest sloping crown forks of the era. Even for a production bike.

The build is pretty dialed in, minus a few things. Check out the full collection of pictures I took this weekend here on my Flickr.

Build list below:

1996 62cm Eddy Merckx MX-Leader ASLK\CGER
Dura Ace 7403 derailleurs, STi, headset, brakes, bottom bracket, cassette and cranks
Dura Ace fluted seatpost hand polished
36h Dura Ace 7403 hubs laced 3x rear, radial with Wheelsmith bladed spokes to Wolber Ceramics
100mm Cinelli 1E stem with Campione Del Mondo bars 42cm
Bernard Hinault Turbo saddle
White Fizik bartape
Eddy Merckx bottle cage, bottle and bar ends
MKS GR-9 Pedals with Toshi Single Straps for the street
LOOK Delta pedals for weekend rides

I still need 7403 Dura Ace rings and it’s begging for my Look Delta pedals. Right now it’s set up to ride in the city and it’s one of the nicest bikes I’ve ever ridden. Many thanks to Jeremy from Tears for Gears, Sasha, Miguel at Affinity and Claus for the jerseys.

  • Devin

    This is one good looking bike. I need to build up a nice old school road bike for myself soon.

  • l

    whats one like that worth if you dont mind saying?

  • Ricci

    Here’s an old joke…like all old jokes, some can take it some can leave it.

    A cyclist dies and goes to Heaven.
    When he gets there St Peter, asks him what Catagory he’d like to race.
    “There’s bike racing in Heaven?” he asks.
    “Of course, ” say St. Peter, “it’s Heaven”.
    Just then a group group goes by at race pace.
    There’s Jaques Antqetil, Fausto, Bartoli, Bottechia, all the greats, and then in Molteni colors, what appears to be Merckx.
    “This is amazing.” says the recent arrival. “But didn’t think Eddy was dead…”
    “Oh, he’s not,” says St. Peter, “but God likes to pretend…”

    Not fresh, but maybe to some.

    Great posts.

    –Ricci in VT

  • tom

    What is the difference in ride quality between an MX leader and SLX Merckx

  • mike

    if you ever want to sell this bike or frame please contact me

  • prolly

    Ride quality is subjective. SLX is very light and stiff and MXL is heavier and stiffer. MXL feels like an alloy frame, minus the weight savings. The chainstays are really deep, causing a stiff rear end. The MXL is much more forgiving than alloy on the street. It accelerates like a demon.

    Mike, will do.

  • tom


    very pretty bike