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!