Picking up from where we left off last year, we're back with a more mildly titled but by no means less rousing weekly showcase.
To kick off for 2017 we have something very special in the shape of this Eddy Merckx Professional with Columbus aero profile tubing.
A magnificent machine from the 1980s, one of the earlier Eddy Merckx cycles. This one features the same tube set used on it's younger sibling, the Merckx Chrono pursuit, seen here in the 1984 catalogue. The road version was never seen in any promotional material, in fact we've only ever seen 2 or 3 other examples, making this a very rare beast.
What's particularly interesting about this Merckx is the use of the later fork crown & seat stay caps, features not generally seen until the mid-80s, but the cable guides being routed above the BB and the bottom bracket shell itself suggest an earlier 80s build, most likely to allow the use of the top mount Campag shifters. However, the scattering of Campagnolo Super Record parts dated 1981 suggest otherwise.
The general assumption is that these aero models were not part of normal production, instead they were most likely custom ordered which explains the unconventional frame detail. The shop this beauty was originally bought from is still displayed on a sticker on the seat tube: Hendrickx of Mechelen, a Belgian shop that unfortunately no longer seems to exist At least we know it hailed from the nation of the great man himself. That means a lot.
Beyond the adornment of Campagnolo Super Record parts (the centrepiece of which being that beautiful Eddy Merckx chainring, although not overlooking those aero mounted Campag down-tube shifters), there are a couple of things that we need to point out to highlight even more reasons why this is such a special build. Let's start with one of the less celebrated parts of a bicycle; the headset. Made by FT Bologna, a highly regarded Italian parts manufacturer responsible for producing super lightweight parts in the 1980s, who went on to produce lightweight parts for Campagnolo such as the titanium axles for their Super Record bottom brackets. Weighing in at just 103 grams, the FT Bologna headsets were considered an upgrade from Super Record at the time, and they fetch a small fortune today. Everything FT Bologna made really was the cream of the crop, and as an added bonus this is the black anodised version. Neat.
The final feature we'd like to mention is the steering section. The cockpit if you will. You guessed it, rare. This time courtesy of Tecnologia del Tubo Torinese, or as they're more commonly know, 3ttt. What's so special? Well, the whole set up. In true early 80s aero fashion the handlebars are the flattened aero model from 3T, these are very rarely discovered, especially with such clean centre logos. Holding that in place is the beautiful 3ttt Record Olympic stem, an early example of a quill stem that allows the bars to be removed without un-taping, which is convenient because those babies are wrapped in classic Almarc leather. Nobody wants the job of taking that off. Add all this together and you have a very special front end. One that sets the tone for such a magnificent machine.
Well that's us for this week. We hope you enjoyed reading about this unique piece of Merckx history. We'll be back again next week with another instalment.
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