Photos by Marty Wood
It’s not everyday that I get a Merckx Mondays submission featuring a practically NOS Faema Merckx, shot in a studio nonetheless. Todd Schmidt is the owner of this bike and Marty Wood shot the photos. Both of which work at Q in Minneapolis. I met Marty during Frostbike and he said he had a Merckx to share…
Todd picked this up while he was working for Wares’ Cycle in Milwaukee. He was 16 when he started at Wares’ and instantly became overwhelmed with all things cycling. Back then, the heroes had frame companies. Names like DeRosa, Lemond, Colnago, Motta, Moser and of course, Merckx.
Fast forward to modern day. Todd, like many people, still want to relive the days of yore (i.e. the steel age). A random friend sent a note to him about a customer selling this very bike: a 1985 Eddy Merckx Professional made from Columbus SL and it wasn’t some ordinary factory paint, it was in the Faema Team livery.
Below is a rather lengthy description of what Todd did to restore this bike, which I won’t even begin to paraphrase. If you’re looking for a good read and photos, check out more below!
The bike needed a complete restoration to bring it back its full glory. After all this was the bike I had wanted nearly 30 years ago that I saw in Wandering Wheels and was supposed to be my dream project bike to collect over the next 20 years. I wanted it to be perfect. I went about the nut and bolt restoration with the meticulousness of an archeological dig of a complete t-rex. I burned through more Dremel tool brushes and polishing bits, semi-chrome and Q-tips than one would think possible cleaning every nook and cranny.
I think in some cases the parts are cleaner than when they left Vicenza in ’85. The parts that were too far gone from rust were replaced with NOS of the exact part taken off. To say the least my eBay and PayPal account were lit up red hot buying hardware, toe clips, the brake cardboards, rims and more. Lucky I have some great connections locally who still have the Campagnolo small parts chest filled with all this useless stuff that only nerds like me walk in every 3-4y ask to see. We then buy a single bolt that you are holding like is 40 karat diamond. They can cost as must as well, but hey, where else are you going to get it right.
Flander’s Bros is the place for that rare part. They, unlike Wares’ did not throw all that stuff in the garbage thinking who would ever want this crap. We had a rule back then; if we did not sell it in the last 10 years then we’re probably not going to sell it in the next 10. That was correct. Too bad we did not think that those parts could pay a current college tuition if we added “but in 30 years we’ll be rich”. For the parts I could not source locally or on the ‘Bay I had to dig deep in the favor cave.
My good friends at Campagnolo NA were a great resource as were the crew at Contender Bicycles in SLC, UT. We were able to source NOS Benotto tape, Regina SL hollow pin chain, and the matching Silca pump body, not part of the bike originally but is incomplete without it. The Super Record chain rings show virtually now wear. These cranks were never revolved in anger. The chain never jumped the rail to impress its jagged edge on the jewel like finish of these strada crank arms. The paint is original. To respray this beauty would be repainting a masterpiece from Belgian artist René Magritte. The frame only needed to be well cleaned to show it the respect it deserves. The small paint chips and rust spots are part of this Cannibal’s history. The bike today is as it left the store other than the current gen Conti Sprinters that replaced the original but dry rotted Sprinters.
Here’s the final piece. People have asked why go to so much trouble to find the original white Campagnolo pump head rubber tips. Or why would you spend $50 on the blue cardboards on the brake barrels that were there only to hold them on and should have been removed upon brake installation. Or why the bearings had to be Campagnolo and the grease Campagnolo and the tools Campagnolo.
It’s because the devil is in the details and it’s the little things that matter in perfection. I’ll never have to look at this masterpiece and say I wish I’d done that. It’s already done. Going back to the Daytona barn find, you’d never put a generic oil filter on that, you get the same one it left the floor with that was approved by Enzo himself. The Enzo in this story is “fat Don”. Turns out the seller of this fine bicycle purchased the bike new from Wandering Wheels in ’86, maybe even on one of those days I was in the shop. Don may not have had time for a punk kid but he did do nice work and had a reputation for doing it right. He’d have used only the proper tools and grease.
The store that I’d gone into as kid to salivate over the euro machines and components, which I could never afford then, are now mine. The desire to own an Eddy Merck has finally become a reality. The journey has come full circle for this Milwaukee Merckx. It’s taken nearly 30 years for its wish to be exercised again in its full glory. It has been worth the wait and I can’t wait to ride it.
By Todd Schmidt