Merckx Mondays


Merckx Mondays

Photo via Hennie Kuiper’s Flickr

Eddy Merckx had some of the top athletes riding his bikes in cycling’s heyday. I’ve referenced Andy Hampsten a few times for Merckx Mondays but today’s entry is special. I caught this email from Andy via a popular cycling email list. It discusses Andy’s love for Eddy’s mastery of matching riders to frames.

Check it out below! It’s worth the read!

“Hi (name removed),

Good eyes there. Eddy Merckx was and still is the master of matching riders to frames. He would start all of us on Columbus’s Max tubing for the earlier season races. They weighed more than other tube sets but it was a joy to get such responsiveness out of a frame. For my bikes Eddy would get me on lighter but very strong frames for the April Ardennes races and early stage races. By June and the important stage races I would be flying on his lighter bikes with the Tour ride being a very sweet Reynolds 753 based super light frame ready to rocket.

Of course a lot of riders, me included would moan about “yeah but that team gets to ride super light carbon or aluminum” or what ever else looked like greener grass to us. Eddy was good at pointing out to us that there was no sense shaving ounces off of a frame and fork that would save us seconds on the climbs but wouldn’t handle well. “Why gain 40 seconds on a climb and loose 2 minutes on a descent?” he would reason. Looking back to where those materials where in the early 90s I have to agree.

The riders where able to decide what they wanted to ride on. Of course it was limited and I hate to say it but it depended on how the rider’s political status was with the team. Eddy took care of all the riders but few were spoiled with a new frame every week or two like I was.

I really liked the 753 tube set, but Eddy knew it was not a long lasting material. He let me use them for the mountainous tours and a few big one day races, and then put them to rest.

In ’88 I had a fantastic frame made by John Slawta of Landshark that got me up and over the snowy Gavia pass. He used Tange Prestige tubing back then.

Enjoy your ride, whatever it is.

Andy Hampsten”

Great insight into Merckx’s choice in tubesets!