Merckx Mondays Feb 8, 2010

Ever since I was cleaning my Corsa Extra and found not one, but two cracks in the head-tube lugs, I’ve been on the hunt for a new frame. Initially, my plan was to just find a frameset and swap all the parts over. A few weeks ago, I bought a Molteni Corsa Extra off eBay. I unpacked the box to find a rather large bulge in the underside of the top tube. A quick straight edge test proved that the bike had been wrecked. Bummed out, I shipped it back to the seller. At this point, I hadn’t ridden my Corsa Extra because of the cracks and was still looking.

Then, last week I found something online.

The photos were horrible in the ad. But sure enough, it was a 7-Eleven Merckx with a flat-crown, chromed fork. Indicating that it was an early 7-Eleven and not a re-issued replica.

I called the seller and he confirmed that there was a number hanger.

… and that it was Columbus SLX.

He then told me that the paint was in great condition, minus some scratches in the top tube that he painted over.

Sure enough, the bike was, as he said, all original.

Well, minus the Ultegra calipers. Still though, a full Shimano “tricolor” 600 STi groupo! A real pro build. The hubs look brand new, laced to Mavic MA2’s.

It didn’t come with a seat post, saddle or pedals, so I swapped them off my Corsa Extra for the time being.

I also had some Elite Ciussi water bottle cages that I got while in Milwaukee from Ben’s Cycle and put in one of my EM water bottles.

Fork blade race decals, a number hanger and a serial number (S 2519 B) that denotes a special build from 1989. Surely this had to be a professional team bike? With so many questions, I emailed Jeremy from Tears for Gears. He’s still uncertain, but believes based on the measurements of the frame, the serial number and the number hanger that it is most likely a custom professional 7-Eleven team bike.

This weekend I’m going to break it all down, framesaver it, give it an overhaul and fingerbang the bottom bracket shell to feel for rifling inside the seat tube. If there is rifling, then it is indeed SLX. The seatpost that is in the frame now is a 26.8, which is atypical of a SLX tubeset. My Merckx Pista takes a 27.0 and is most definitely SLX. Maybe this has some proprietary butting? Who knows.

The bike rides great, but is in need of an overhaul. There is minimal pitting on the brake bridge and small amounts of surface rust here and there. Overall, it’s a great find. Especially for the price I paid. Next step is to email the Eddy Merckx factory and find out the origins of the frame. I’ll then decide whether or not to swap out the Shimano 600 group for a Dura Ace 7402 or 7403 group, which was the catalog spec anyway.

I’m pretty excited about this new project. The bike as photographed is how I got it, minus the post, saddle and pedals. The tire labels don’t align with the valve stem, the stem seems to be seized and the computer is misaligned, but not bad for a 20 year old bike!

  • Koen

    Wow.. Beautifull bike!!!

  • Jeremy

    Nice pink spoke nipples.

  • prolly

    yeah, with a matching skewer… hah. No idea what that’s all about.

  • mattie d

    philly CL? i saw that, if it was a 55 or 56, it wouldve been mine. great price too. the replicas usually had pump pegs and team bikes number hangers, looks like the real deal.

  • i love bicycles

    whats framesaving and rifling?

  • prolly

    JP Wiegle’s creation:

    Rifling is this:

    Columbis SLX, SL and TSX all have rifling, just in different areas. Makes the tubes “stiffer, stronger”.

  • bike-punx

    sure- 27,2mm seatpost where most common for slx tubes, or?

    my corsa extra (rip- crack in seattube) had a 27,2seatpost..

    NIce bike..

  • jdub

    sick catch.

  • t-bone

    you welcome faggit!

  • Chris

    My 1989 Marinoni is SLX and uses a 27.2 seat post. Also, technically the SLX tubes are not rifled. Rifling is material removed in a helix pattern. The SLX tubes had a raised helix pattern that added stiffness. A little heavier than the SL tube sets of the day but racers preferred the stiffness of the SLX. Enjoy that 7-11, it is a special one.


  • Morgan Taylor

    Nice find, John. I just picked up a ’97 Lemond Zurich, TIG welded 853. It’s not nearly the holy grail this is to you, but still a nice vintage steel machine that fits. It’s got 8-speed 105 STI. While period-correctness is one thing, new shift levers feel better in both functionally and ergonomically – so mine will likely be getting a 10-speed upgrade. Also, the stock Cinelli stem was a sonofabitch to get out. I think it’s bent.

  • Kevin

    Sweet score! Liking the photos you are taking with your new camera too! always look forward to your Merckx Mondays!

  • mike

    nice bike! shit man that is juts too fucking sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!!! def would be sick w/a da group. love it.

  • biggie xl



    This blog is about bikes and this post is about one sick bike.
    Awesome pics.

  • Russ Starke

    Nice bike. I have this bike myself, bought new, about 20 years ago. The actual bike ridden by the 7-11 team had a red painted fork. The special addition was identical to the actual team bike in all ways except the chrome versus painted fork.

  • prolly

    Russ, that’s not entirely accurate.

    These are all 7-Eleven team bikes and none have a painted-red fork:

    I also heard back from the Eddy Merckx factory a few weeks ago. My bike (the one above)was a custom build and it was raced by Norm Alvis on 7-Eleven:

    The serial number in their database confirmed that.

    Very few 7-Elevens actually had a re-painted fork (you can see the one Norm is posing with above) – for the most part, they all had flat-crown chromed forks.

  • Pursuit

    Ummm…I know that it’s been ages since this forum finished but I just picked up a locally made steel frame, Columbus genius, with full dura ace 7403. Just wanted to share and point out that the forks above are painted red.