Sister site londoncyclesport.com has embarked on a cyclo-cross bike test, and has recruited several readers/racers to help testing. Well, what better way to get a bike tested than a frequent ‘cross racer. The first to report back is Ian Cleverly (Mosquito Bikes) who was given the task of putting the Eddy Merckx Alu Cross through its paces.
Ian gives the Merckx an outing at a London Cross League
We all remember our first decent bike. Mine was an Eddy Merckx, with a bright orange
frame, 26" wheels, five gears and, most importantly, a little picture of the
Great Man on the headtube. So, given the chance to relive past glories on the new
Merkcx ‘cross bike was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Sitting outside a cafe drinking coffee having just taken delivery, several passing
workmates commented on what a fine and expensive looking steed the Merckx looked,
always a good start. The black paintwork is offset nicely with some classy decals, the 7020db aluminium
frame and carbon forks providing a suitable platform for an array of fine equipment.
Mud friendly frame
There’s ample mud clearance front and rear, an absolute must for the
gloopier race courses one encounters. The chain stays have a pleasing curve,
keeping them well clear of the riders heels, and all brazings are neatly done. Unusually for such a high-end ‘cross racer, bottle fittings are included. The
low profile bolts used for the bottle cages ensure they do not interfere when
shouldering the bike though, an important consideration and making the Merckx the perfect
machine for all-day rough-stuff rides.
The Merckx does not have a detachable gear hanger, so we mentioned this to Graeme
(the importer) and he told us that Eddy thinks that having one weakens the
area around the rear mech making for messy changes. He assures is that if you
did break this toughened area the bike can be back to the factory and repaired
within a week.
It looks fast
Plenty of mud clearance
The Ambrosio wheels looked great, with a semi-deep rim and plenty of spokes
for strength, although I would have been happier to see cross-pattern spoking
on the front rather than radial. Ever-reliable Conti Twister
tyres topped of the package.
The Campag Centaur 10 speed groupset is an interesting choice. A huge majority of ‘cross riders use Shimano for reasons of economics and ease
of replacement parts, and this is perhaps too good a gruppo to be getting caked
in mud every week, but it works just fine. The gear changes have that reassuring
Campag clunk, and, if the old maxim ‘Campag wears in, Shimano wears out’ still
applies, then the Centaur groupset should last severa seasons of abuse. Deda
Magic stem and bars are upfront, a Merckx-branded seatpost holding the Selle
Italia TurboMatic saddle.
The brakes are the hugely popular Frog Legs, although they are not badged as
such are very good at stopping you. Not so easy to set up without making an horrendous
racket every time the rubber hits the rim though.
Last Eastway Cross
The last ever ‘cross race at Eastway before the bulldozers move in seemed a
good test, so I lined up with a huge field and blasted away from the line in
a desperate bid to escape the chasing pack. I immediately felt right at home
on the Merckx. The handling was great with the carbon forks soaking up the rough
terrain and once I had remembered which way to press the gear levers (being
of Shimano persuasion), the transmission coped admirably with the constant
There is always the worry when buying a fully assembled bike off the shelf that
certain items will need replacing or upgrading within a very short time. Apart
from the saddle (and that’s just a personal issue) there is nothing about
the Merckx that needs changing. They haven’t cut corners in a bid to bring
it in at a certain price, instead have used the best components for the job. An admirable
philosophy and one which has paid of with this bike.
A donkey or a thoroughbred?
There are plenty of cheaper ‘cross bikes out there, but this one will still
be going strong when others have been resigned to the cycling equivalent of the
Donkey Sanctuary. So what do you want? A donkey or a thoroughbred?