Saturday, June 19, 2021
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Merckx Machines, Present and (Recent) Past

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As we said the other week, it’s always nice to get feedback from readers – even when we get slapped wrists.

One of our Scandinavian readers wasn’t happy that in our ‘Six Day Hardware‘ piece we missed out the frames of a certain Baron Merckx.

We hope the following rectifies things as we look at Merckx machines present and recent past.

Merckx Machines
London Six warm-up. Photo©Ed Hood

The Merckx vibe is pretty much in tune with the line of the times; matt black carbon, over-size decals, big section carbon, especially around the bracket and wide aero ‘dropped’ seat stays.

It’s the weapon of choice of the Topsport team and their growing band of quality track riders – De Ketele, De Pauw, Van Hoecke, Vergaerde all look mean on their black beauties.

Merckx Machines
Brent gets the polish applied. Photo©Ed Hood

And whilst lots of things have changed about the Six Days, the stars desire to have their machines gleaming isn’t one of them.

Here, mechanic Brent Van Ballenberghe makes doubly sure there’s nothing for his clients to moan about.

Merckx Machines
London Six solo warm up and concentration. Photo©Ed Hood

When you’re working at a Six Day you often miss good photo opportunities because you’re in the middle of some menial task – so you try to grab the interesting shots as and when you can – in this one, Kenny and Moreno can’t stand to look at each other…

Merckx Machines
Gijs Van Hoecke. Photo©Ed Hood

Van Hoecke looks good on a track bike – but was second in the World Junior Madison Champs in 2008 so has had plenty of time to get that perfect position.

Merckx Machines
Nico Eeckhout’s bike didn’t survive De Panne in 2007. Photo©Ed Hood

But once you’ve seen one matt black Merckx Six Day bike…

So we dug back into the archives for some interesting Merckx shots of the recent past.

This was Nico Eeckhout’s nicely sprayed Belgian Champ’s machine after a stack in the 2007 Three Days of De Panne – we don’t think that even Dave Yates could have fixed that one?

Merckx Machines
Iljo’s ride from Gent in 2009. Photo©Ed Hood

In age when carbon is king, there’s still much to be said for the lines of Iljo Keisse’s over-sized aluminium Merckx track machine – one of which still resides at his dad’s ‘Café De Karper’ bar just five minutes from the track.

And ‘Friend of VeloVeritas‘, Edinburgh’s Dave Martin (theBicycleWorks) put together a nice ‘Iljo replica’ just like this one.

Merckx Machines
Dave Martin’s beautiful Iljo tribute track machine. Photo©three pockets.blogspot.co.uk

Merckx Machines
Eddy Wally. Photo©Ed Hood

And whilst we’re on Memory Lane we couldn’t resist this shot of the late Eddy Wally the eccentric chanteur who used to blast out the tunes as he wandered round the track – file under; ‘only at the Kiupke.’

Merckx Machines
Big Bob and Iljo. Photo©Ed Hood

Maybe there are better riders to lead you out and sling you in for a one lap or 500 metre TT than Bob Bartko – we just can’t think of them.

Here Iljo prepares for another attempted arm dislocation as he shows that his Merckx doesn’t just look nice, it goes fast, too.

Merckx Machines
Iljo fans are dedicated. Photo©Ed Hood

We just had to include an ‘ILJO fan’ pic – it’s a love story…

Merckx Machines
Dirk Dekeyser. Photo©Ed Hood

Meanwhile, Dirk, Iljo’s faithful mechanic just wants to go home for the night.

Merckx Machines
Iljo’s Hasselt special. Photo©Ed Hood

A decade ago and only for a year two, a Six Day was held down in Hasselt – we were there and so was Iljo on another incarnation of his gold and white beauty.

This time he’s on Xentis four spokers which had a good name but ran better if you substituted the original bearings for Shimano ones.

Merckx Machines
Traditional bars and taping on Iljo’s Merckx. Photo©Ed Hood

Before the advent of the Cam Meyer ‘Sphinx’ ‘bars, Iljo always rode a shallow, ‘square’ bar as Six Day riders had done since I first watched those brilliant London chases back in the 70’s.

Merckx Machines
Jelle Vanendert. Photo©Ed Hood

The Chocolade Jacques team had their presentation at the Six that year; here’s Jelle Vanendert with his aluminium Merckx road machine – a handsome bike.

Merckx Machines
The late Dimitri De Fauw. Photo©Ed Hood

Whilst trawling the archive for Merckx Pix we came across this image of the late Dimitri De Fauw on his Merckx.

A talented track rider with multiple Belgian Championships and the overall in the UiV (U23 Six Day series) to his name he signed with QuickStep 2004/5 but didn’t have his contract renewed; he then rode for Chocolade Jacques 2006/7 and it was during his tenure with the team that he was involved in the accident at the 2006 Gent Six Day which saw Spanish track star, Isaac Galvez lose his life.

De Fauw always struck me as a troubled man with a chip on his shoulder even before the accident – but it was still a shock and a tragedy when he took his own life in 2009 at just 28 years of age.

Let’s hope he’s found the tranquility that life didn’t seem to be able to provide him with.

Merckx Machines
Iljo circulates on the Grenoble track. Photo©Ed Hood

Yet another incarnation of Iljo’s trusty track Merckx – this time on Zipp wheels on the boards of Grenoble – my favourite Six Day.

Merckx Machines
Live jazz music and bike racing – the Grenoble Six was a fantastic event. Photo©Ed Hood

The sun was shining outside the stadium, the bakers just across the car park was wonderful, Bar Le Clemenceau was just round the corner, the vibe in the cabin was good and the live jazz singer’s costumes became more revealing by the night…

Merckx Machines
Another lovely machine at the Merckx / Ickx exhibition. Photo©Ed Hood

Some pure Eddy gems from the early days…

His Faemino bikes from the late 60’s were built by Masi under the bankings of the Velodrome Vigorelli in Milan.

The last time Martin and I visited, the great man was working on a beautiful ’68 Merckx Giro winning replica.

Merckx Machines
Eddy’s Fiat / C&A machine. Photo©Ed Hood

Belgian Builder Kessels built many frames for the Baron from his ‘pumpkin’ Molteni days through to the silver Fiat and C&A team frames – and I have heard reports of Faemino liveried Kessels too.

Kessels built high-end team bikes as well as cheaper ‘replicas’, usually in good old Reynolds 531.

Merckx Machines
Eddy’s pumpkin machine. Photo©Ed Hood

Ernesto Colnago also built for the fastidious Belgian during this period – who was known to consume 27 bikes in a single season – but things ended badly when Colnago helped sign the gifted Baronchelli Brothers with SCiC, much to Ted’s chagrin.

Merckx Machines
Ernesto Colnago with Eddy’s Hour Record bike. Photo©Ed Hood

Ernesto did however produce what just may be the most famous bicycle of all time: his ‘Hour’ bike – a Renaissance craftsman couldn’t have realised a more perfect gem.

And to paraphrase soul singer Billy Paul; ‘Was that Merckx Enough For You?

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

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