Monday, July 21, 2014

Eddy Merckx's '69 TdF Bike

After putting an incomparable stamp of authority on his first Tour de France in 1969, Eddy Merckx would become a legend. During that Tour debut, a French rider named Christian Raymond, dubbed Merckx "The Cannibal" and the name stuck. Eddy's bicycles, too, would become the model on which most racers and racer want-to-be's would aspire. Soon after the Tour was finished, renowned bicycle illustrator Daniel Rebour would complete a detailed study of the bike Merckx rode to victory.

My French is terrible, but what I do know from the description on this picture, as well as from other sources, is that Merckx's bike for the '69 Tour was built from Reynolds tubing by Kessels in Belgium. The components are primarily Campagnolo and Cinelli. I also recognize T.A. for the clamp-on bottle cage (and the bottle, presumably) and Sedis for the chain. The bike was painted in Faema team colors of white with red contrasts. Note the "Eddy Merckx" name on the down tube, with the photo of Eddy in a diamond surrounded by World Champion colors on the head tube and seat tube.
For a lot of riders, this was the inspiration for the drillium craze. Note that Merckx used the "full Campy" along with Cinelli bars and stem (I'm certain the saddle was Cinelli, too). The derailleurs are standard Nuovo Record pieces, and the bars are Cinelli Campione del Mondo. Note that the chainrings on the crank have been modified -- the reinforcing rings/webs have been removed, and the large ring drilled out. The brakes have been lightened with partial holes, and the wheel guides have been removed from the brake pad holders. The brake levers also have been drilled -- 5 holes each. Lastly, the Campagnolo seat post (lower left) has been fluted. The fluted areas were painted red to coordinate with the Faema colors, and I've also read that the seat tube was plugged to keep water from getting inside through the flutes in the post. Some of the Campy lore (hype?) of the time said that the pedal cages were made from a special lightweight "black alloy," which in reality was simply normal black-anodized aluminum.
The Cannibal and his bike, in full-color glory.

3 comments:

  1. A Rebour drawing of Mercx's bike: talk about one master channeling another!

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  2. In Denmark where I live, we had a bikeshop called "Banani", a small family business which sadly closed last year, the spirit lives on though.
    The link is to a poster with Eddy Merckx's bike it hang on the wall in the workshop were a lot of beautiful frames were produced over the years.
    http://banani.dk/banani-vaerkstedsplakat-20132014/
    Unfortunately the website is in Danish, but the pdf file is pretty good ;o)
    regards
    Soren

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