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Eddy 70 : Rolling back the years

Eddy Merckx 70
James Spender
22 Feb 2016

What do you get Eddy Merckx for his 70th birthday? A limited-edition bicycle of course, with his name on it.

In most cases another bike is probably the last thing a man like Eddy Merckx needs, but then again the Eddy70 isn’t like most other bikes. Not only is it a shining steel flagship in a sea of carbon, it also happens to cost €14,000, or well over 10,000 of your English pounds. Plus, there will only ever be 70 made, and one of them has already been given to Eddy. This very one, in fact.

‘This is the first, number one for Eddy, and it’s very special,’ says Peter Speltens, marketing manager for Eddy Merckx Cycles. ‘We’ve sold nearly 60, and most of the owners are intending to ride them. Still, I’m afraid that for some they see it as an investment or an interior design object, which is a pity as it’s a very competitive race bike.’

There’s no doubt that the Eddy70 is a joy to behold, and surely keeping one box-fresh for long enough will only see it climb in value, but you’d have to have an unflappable level of self-control to resist the temptation to ride it. In a classically-modern sense, it truly is the best of the best.

‘We first came to Eddy with a retro-replica bike project, but he didn’t agree. He said, “I don’t want to get stuck in the past. As a rider I rode the newest materials available, so if you want to produce a steel bike now it has to be high-performance.” So it had to be a top-level race bike. Only then could we get his approval,’ says Speltens. ‘We’ve therefore used the best stainless steel XCr tube, custom drawn by Columbus, where the top tube and down tube are slightly ovalised to improve stiffness. Eddy decided we must use Campagnolo, as he has always been a Campagnolo man, and Campagnolo were so excited that they produced a customised Super Record groupset for the first time in their history that bears the Eddy70 logo. The cockpit is customised Cinelli Neos and the wheels are also customised Campagnolo Bora Ultras. In total a medium weighs just 7.7kg.’

Eddy Merckx 70 number place

Each frame is handmade in Belgium by Merckx Cycles’ original framebuilder, Johan Vranckx, who has been with the company since it began in 1980. (Read more about him here: Eddy Merckx factory visit)

‘I am very happy with the project,’ says Vranckx. ‘In steel every mistake you make is punished – everyone sees it, so it must be perfect. The perfect frame is the greatest reward for me. But just in case, I start with the big sizes first, so if I make a mistake with a 58cm it can become a 56cm. That hasn’t happened yet though. I think the frames have been perfect!’

Each takes two days to fabricate in the Merckx Cycles workshop and then a further two days to paint up in the Faema team livery, in whose colours Merckx took his first Grand Tour victory at the Giro in 1968, followed by his first Tour de France in 1969.

‘Eddy helped design the geometry – there are seven sizes available – and oversaw the paint,’ says Speltens. ‘He has an incredible memory and spotted details in the paint and logos that even our archivists had missed.’ One detail that wasn’t on those original bikes though was The Cannibal’s signature.

‘Each bike is signed by Eddy,’ says Speltens. ‘He comes in every two weeks to sign the frames and write a personal message in the photo book that comes with the bike. It was funny, the other day he was here and the customer had requested that Eddy write “Jenny, I will love you forever” as the message. He got really agitated and said, “I can’t write that, I don’t love Jenny!”’ 

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