Sunday, October 19, 2008

Early 1980s Eddy Merckx Professional with 2008 SRAM Force Group at Renaissance Bicycles

Sold: Final price unknown; listed on eBay in September 2008 at $2,650 Buy-It-Now.

I'm new to blogging. One of my experiments has been the Google ads on the right side of the page. I was worried about what might pop up there, but it's been interesting to see appropriate ads from vendors I know, like Lickbike or Competitive Cyclist.

One of the advertisers that I hadn't seen before is Renaissance Bicycles. You can read their philosophy page here, but basically, they take classic steel frames, refinish them, and build them up with current component groups and wheelsets.

I like that Renaissance isn't trying to make these bikes something they are not. There are no carbon fork "upgrades" or modernized paint jobs, only the minimum modifications necessary to fit the new parts.

This Merckx is one of the nicer examples of their work. The frame is Columbus SL, and carries a flat fork crown and an unusual chrome treatment on the forks. It has been completed with a 2008 SRAM Force group and a set of Easton EA90 SLX wheels, and parts from Chris King, Thomson, Deda, Selle Italia and Continental (I would replace that rear skewer though; it's not meant for use with horizontal dropouts).

Merckx's steel frames have an uncanny mix of stability and quickness that makes them a joy to ride. With these parts, I'll bet the experience is even better.

The cost of the components adds up to close to the asking price for the bike. Factor in the cost of the refinish, and you're getting the frame for free.

Most people looking to spend $2,500 on a new bike will skip past a bike like this on their way to the local Trek or Specialized dealer, but that's their loss. Compared to what else is available in the market at this price point, the Merckx stands out as an elegant classic, modern and unapologetic.


Jeremy said...

I have to say, I'm not digging on this frame. I'm not a period-correct stickler - the components on there are a-ok with me. My issue is with the paint work.

It's not that I think its a bad job - it looks fine, though I hate the color - its the masking. The fork masking is totally inappropriate to a Merckx - they never came half-chrome from the factory. (AFAIK - there's no bike in my serial archive that does) And I'd venture to say that if they did, they'd be square masked, not biased.

Perhaps on a more practical front, the rear drops aren't chromed - maybe they're primer grey, but if thats bare steel, the clearcoat is going to crack and let rust get in there sooner or later.

Merckx frames have always struck me as being purpose built - no post-build lug thinning, no clearcoat, relatively tough paint...guess this one strikes me as just a little too pretty to look right.

velosniper said...

Clearly, I was wrong about them not modernizing the paint job, and if the dropouts really are primer or clear, that's a very unfortunate shortcut. I wish I had noticed that.

Still, I'm glad to see someone willing to break the usual dogma about what parts belong on a vintage race bike. I think we agree on that.

Do you really think the refinishers thinned the lugs, or was that a general comment vs. other brands' methods?

Jeremy said...

I don't think they thinned the lugs any - just a comment on how Merckx, and I guess most of the big "race" frame manufacturers of the 80's, didn't bother with pretification. The bikes were just workhorses - and there's beauty in that.

None of that means I don't get a little excited any time I see one of those Colnago Master's done up in a retinato paint scheme. Too cool!

RB said...

Thanks for the nice words about the Merckx.

I appreciate your attention to the dropouts, especially the grey primer on the rear dropouts. The story is this:

When we received the bike it was had already been refinished. Unfortunately, while the paint looked good from about 10 feet away, it was thick and somewhat sloppy. More unfortunately, the previous refinisher had removed the original chrome in their refinishing process. The best compromise was to repaint the frame properly and try to preserve the remaining chrome and use primer on the rear dropouts.

And yes, the bike had an unbelievable ride. Dare I say that it was just as fast and responsive as any modern bike. Like you wrote in the final paragraph, we are trying to provide an alternative to the "New for 2009" cycling mentality. I'd confidently put this bike up against any new bike in its price range.

Thanks for all the thoughts and comments. Keep up the good work, Velosniper.

Bryan of Renaissance Bicycles

Anonymous said...

Note that lug thinning is not just "prettification"; it has an structural function: the reduction of stress risers, or concentrations, which can lead to tube failures at the lug edge. Merckx frame tubes probably have such thick walls that it isn't a problem for them.