At the 2014 Sydney Classic Bicycle Show one bike stood saddle and handlebars above the rest, even though it wasn’t part of the concourse d’elegance. I already own and enjoy a Baum and a Gaulzetti, but like some of us, the attraction of the classic era of steel was irresistible.
This example is a 25th-anniversary re-issue of the much-lauded Merckx MX Leader. The story (true or otherwise) goes that Eddy Merckx only had enough tubing to make 100 complete frames. All of them were painted in the colors of the old Motorola team bikes.
This is number 77, and in its not-quite-ten-year lifespan, it had covered less than five hundred miles. A handful of ‘normal use’ nicks aside, it was utterly immaculate. Eventually, I cracked. As I began to gather the parts some extravagant accidents occurred and I consequently ended up with a fairly expensive NOS Campag Chorus Titanium seatpost.
I settled on the current Athena for the groupset to maintain wheel compatibility. The stem is a titanium Cinelli Grammo and the bars are Cinelli “Giro d’Italia” 64s. The saddle is a NOS Selle Italia Flite Evolution 2 that I picked up a few months back and was waiting for the right bike to mount on (and is genuinely incredibly comfortable).
The wheels deserve their own plaudits – NOS Mavic Reflex Ceramic rims (sourced from Eric of Ergott Wheels in the US), laced to White Industries T11 hubs by Josh of XLR8 wheels in Lennox Heads, NSW. Shod with FMB CX Competition 25c tubulars, they’re an absolute dream to ride.
At 10kg, and for a ten-year-old frame, it rides bloody well. At the time of this first shakedown ride, my only other built bike was a modern steel custom frame – the Merckx rides very much like that bike, although the weight is unquestionably noticeable.
That said, I was pretty close to some of my best times on some of the local climbs so that extra weight (circa 2kg) wasn’t actually much of a burden.” Maybe not, but I’m sure weight isn’t a consideration for those who consider the Team Motorola Eddy Merckx MX Leader one of the most desirable bicycles in the world.