A name that needs no introduction, Eddy Merckx is the most successful cyclist of all time. With 525 palmarès to his name, ‘The Cannibal’ shot to fame in the late 1960s, winning the 1966 Milan-Sanremo and becoming the first Belgian to win the Giro d’Italia in 1968; he would go on to win it another four times. Alongside his success in Grand Tours – including five Tour De France victories – Merckx took 3 World Championships, 30 Spring Classic titles and the World Hour Record in 1972 with a distance of 49,431m which hold until the year 2000!
Founder: Eddy Merckx
Founding Year: 1980
Here is the great man himself, Eddy Merckx, being photographed by teammate and friend Vittorio Adorni in 1968. (Buy this print here)
After leading the Molteni team between 1971 and 1976 to countless successes, Merckx retired from competition in 1978 and founded his own eponymous bicycle company in 1980. The aim was to design and build the greatest racing bikes in the world. Ugo De Rosa, who had a close relationship with Merckx after building his legendary hour record bike, led the frame-building of the new brand. Ugo De Rosa taught Merckx’s employees how to build frames – an area in which Merckx showed a keen interest whilst racing on De Rosa’s specially built bicycles.
The very first Eddy Merckx Professional models used to have Eddy Merckx signature on the lugs of the chainstays and have a very similar design and look of the 1980s De Rosa Professional models. Like this one that was ridden by Eddy Merckx himself:
The brand soon became revered by enthusiasts around the world. Merckx bicycles were highly regarded, and synonymous with prestige and high quality. 'The Cannibal' applied the same dedication that brought him numerous victories in running his own business, and many professional cycling teams used Merckx frames in the 1980s and 1990s – 7 Eleven, Motorola and Quickstep to name a few.
Despite the dominance of Asia in contemporary bicycle production, Eddy Merckx’s brand continue to operate in Brussels, Belgium, taking inspiration from the nearby sectors of pavé and the passionate following of cycling in Merck’s homeland.
Some of the greatest vintage Eddy Merckx bicycles are:
The Eddy Merckx Professional quickly became very popular among professional cyclists and featured Eddy Merckx engraved signature on lugs of the seatstays. It looked very similar to the bicycles ridden by Eddy Merckx himself that were made by De Rosa.
An example of an Eddy Merckx Professional equipped with a Campagnolo 50th Anniversary Groupset
The Eddy Merckx Corsa was a model featuring Columbus SL steel tubing, these are identifiable by the C that appears on the frames.
An example of an Eddy Merckx Corsa from 1985
The Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra was a development on this- featuring the letter X on the frame - in essence, the same bike with the same construction method but was made with Columbus SLX tubing for professional use. The majority of professional cycling teams were using Corsa Extra and the frameset was available in many team colors.
An example of an Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra in the notorious Team 7-Eleven paint scheme
The last steel Eddy Merckx model was the MX-Leader in the 1990s. The frameset was built with oversized and specially formed Columbus Max tubes. It is famous for its power transfer, its comfort and safe handling. Merckx MX-Leader was also often used by professional cycling team - e.g. Team Telekom.
An example of an Eddy Merckx MX Leader that belonged to Udo Bölts of Team Telekom
The Eddy Merckx 10th Anniversary bicycle was produced in 1990 and has special paintwork on the Columbus SLX steel tubes and is equipped with Campagnolo C Record groupset.
An example of an Eddy Merckx Corsa 10th Anniversary equipped with a Campagnolo Record Groupset and Delta Brakes