It’s a Merckx! On a Monday! … and it’s been a while.
During a period of frustration with parts shortages as I was trying to build up a forthcoming review bike, I began browsing eBay looking into building up a classic timepiece. I figured if modern parts are in short supply, vintage parts have to still be available. I wanted a bike that would be a centerpiece in my office that I wasn’t afraid to ride. Something that I could do easy road rides on, not pushing myself or the bike to the limit at all, but rather just a simple machine with downtube shifters, a steel fork, and 7 speeds. Kind of like driving an older, vintage vehicle; stripped-down elegance and damn sexier than anything “new” on the market. With my longtime love of Merckx frames, I knew where to begin, but I wasn’t expecting to find one of my favorite liveries, in such great condition. Check out an in-depth look below…
So what’s so special about Eddy Merckx bikes? When compared to brands like Somec, for example, Merckx frames lack that 1980s flair that the Italians did so well. Flashy paint, proprietary lugs, and special tubing is an earmark for many Italian bikes in that era.
Merckx did experiment with tubing, take the almighty MX-L for example, but this bike doesn’t hold in comparison to a steel-lugged bike made by a modern framebuilder. They were production bikes, made in batches, with OK paint. Yet that paint represents something special in cycling’s long legacy.
The Molteni, 7-Eleven and Motorola team bikes are by far the most famous but I always loved the Telekom (T-Mobile) paint jobs for their bright vibrance. Purple, pink, and grey? Sure! Why the hell not.
This year, the new Dura-Ace was announced, and with it the realization that the pandemic has created supply issue roadblocks and log jams. When will it be available? I don’t know but the day it was announced, I was feverishly searching for a new pair of 7402 hoods for this bike. It’s all I could think about.
I really wanted to shoot it before I got even more road grime on it and the electrical tape fix I had on the hood didn’t last a single ride. After some eBay sniping, I managed to score a set of NOS hoods for the 7402 levers. What’s going to take some time is getting used to a 44cm Criterium bar and those teeny aero hoods.
Other parts I needed were a new cockpit (I splurged for a pantograph stem), pedals, toe straps, and tires. It took some time, some patience, a few emails to vintage collectors I know but all in the build came out steller. With a 58cm c-t-c TT and a 60cm c-t-t ST, I melted right into that old familiar Merckx ride quality as soon as I threw my leg over it. Eddy must have used a fit model with my exact dimensions because his bikes fit like a glove.
Last night, I took the bike out to my favorite easy road loop and shot it as the sun set behind the Jemez mountains.
It’s funny how this whole process is so nostalgic for me, as I’m sure it is for a few readers as well. I look forward to riding this beaut and bathing in its vintage aesthetic and mechanics. There’s something very smooth and precise about 7401 shifters mated with a 7402 rear derailleur.
Oh and rim brakes feel so much better than discs…