Eddy Merckx Cycles
|Eddy Merckx (founder), Kurt Moons (CEO)|
|Products||Bicycle and Related Components|
S.A. Cycles Eddy Merckx Rijwielen N.V., better known as Eddy Merckx, is a Belgian brand of high end road bikes, founded by former professional road cyclist Eddy Merckx in 1980. It is considered to be one of the most prestigious bicycle brands in the world.
Eddy Merckx, who is generally considered to be the greatest cyclist of all time, founded his eponymous bicycle company on March 28, 1980. Merckx had retired as a professional rider a little under two years earlier, and he made the manufacturing of high-end road bikes his new professional challenge.
Merckx got the idea to build bikes from Ugo De Rosa, who headed the Italian bike manufacturer De Rosa, and who had built bikes for Merckx throughout his career. Prior to starting his company, Merckx went to Italy, and got trained in the art of making bikes by De Rosa for several weeks. Conversely, Ugo De Rosa visited Eddy Merckx in Belgium to get to know his first employees.
Merckx built his factory in what were formerly farm stables in Meise, a small town in the outskirts of Brussels, and went to live in farm house nextdoors. Later, the company moved to the bordering municipality of Zellik, where it remains until today.
Among his first employees were some of his former Molteni teammates, the team with which he won three of his five Tour de France victories, three of his five Giro d’Italia victories, and two of his three World Championships. Among these employees were Jos Huysmans, Edouard Janssens, and his former team manager, Bob Lelangue. After Merckx’ teammates retired in the recent past, the company has continued the tradition to hire former professional riders to work for the company in the different roles.
At first, Merckx specialized in making steel frames, then the industry standard. Later on, he successfully switched over to aluminium and, briefly, titanium. Today, all but one of his bikes are made of carbon fiber, the lightest and stiffest material to make bikes. Eddy Merckx himself has resigned from company management and sold all his shares. The company was owned by Diepensteyn NV from 2014 until June 23, 2017, when Race Productions NV, the owner of Ridley, another Belgian cycle brand, announced the acquisition of Eddy Merckx Cycles.
Eddy Merckx’ name quickly became a synonym for one of the most prestigious brands in the cycling world, a reputation it keeps until today.
Merckx had always been obsessed with having the best possible bike for his rides. As a rider, he famously adjusted his saddle height during races, stopping over several times in crucial races such as Paris–Roubaix or the World Championships, to ensure he would be able to perform at his best. And even as manufacturers like Masi, Colnago and De Rosa built the bikes for him and his team, in the 1970s, they already carried Merckx' name due to his involvement in the design of the bikes. Ugo De Rosa said:
Eddy was so scrupulous that sometimes he might seem capricious. How many sleepless nights for Eddy...but how many satisfactions!
The bike's main appeal was that they were Merckx's own exacting standards and they soon found favour with professionals.
In 2008, after 28 years of leading the company, Merckx retired from his post as CEO, but continued to instruct his engineers and test the bikes that carried his name:
Merckx sold most of his shares [...] but remains heavily involved. Indeed, theres is something comforting about knowing that, even in a world of nano-tubes and computer-aided design, The Cannibal — the living representative of cycling's golden age-sometimes throws a leg over a frame in the factory he founded, just to check that the geometry is still absolutely perfect.
Nowadays, Eddy Merckx engineers are known for making bikes that are stable and reliable at speed. Following the advice from its founder, the company has decided to move away from a focus on only weight, focusing instead on stability of bike and rider:
Among [most] bike manufacturers, the exploration of bike stability has played second fiddle to the pursuit of lightness and rigidity. However, Eddy Merckx Cycles are hoping to change that. They [...] work with academics from Ghent University to explore what makes a bike stable at speed, the parameters that affect stability and [...] suggest design changes that could improve stability and safety for all types of rider.
Everything that bears the Eddy Merckx Cycles name is a tribute to the rich legacy of the greatest competition cyclist of all time.
Current line of bikes
The Eddy Merckx EMX-525 is the company's flagship road bike. It is marketed under the slogan ‘’the best balanced bike in the world’’. Specialists have reviewed it as one of the fastest and most responsive bikes in the world, praising it for its stability, power, and speed.
The bike has an asymmetrical design, which means the left hand side has a different design and weight distribution than the right hand side. This allows for a better stability of the bike, as the gear system is installed on only one side and needs to be counterbalanced in terms of weight and power.
The bike has a higher frame stiffness than other bikes on the market, and incorporates all parts of the bottom bracket inside the frame. This allows for a superior power transmission when the rider puts power in the pedals; all the power a rider puts into the bike goes into the forward movement.
Finally, the bike has an oversized and stiff head tube in which the front fork fits completely. This allows for easier turning in corners and on downhills, and is supposed to give the rider more confidence at speed.
With the help of Eddy Merckx, the company's head engineer Dave Luyckx said he wanted to build the ultimate racing machine with the currently available technology. About the result, he wrote:
By establishing stability and ride characteristics as the main driving factor Eddy Merckx Cycles has achieved its goal in making the best bike possible at this given time.
Like the legend himself, the 525 craves speed; the faster you ride, the better the bike behaves.[...] The stiff front end is partially responsible for this impressive competence at speed. [...] At any speed, the bike responds quickly to steering input at the bar and saddle. [...] Few road bikes transmit power to the wheels with a feeling that’s as direct and solid as the 525. It ranks with Pinarello’s Dogma line, Wilier Triestina’s Zero.7, and Ridley’s Noah FB as the most responsive bikes. [...] But don’t expect the bike to cushion the cobbles. The uncompromising ride is designed solely to get you across the finish line first.
Electric groupset specific, the EMX-525 is unashamedly top-end and unreservedly aimed at racers. Even from a glance you can tell Merckx was a Belgian. This machine looks set to eat Kermess racers for breakfast.
Road CC of the UK said:
[We] came away from my short ride on the Merckx impressed. They've clearly raised the bar, it's one of the best handling bikes [we]'ve ridden in some time. [...] Could it be the ultimate race bike? It's certainly vying for that crown, make no mistake.
Other current models
The EMX-3 is Eddy Merckx' Gran Fondo style bike. It has a more relaxed geometry than the EMX-525 to allow for longer, more comfortable rides. It comes with either electronic or mechanical shifting, in Shimano or Campagnolo.
The ETT is Eddy Merckx' Time Trial and Triathlon bike. It is used by the professional Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise team in time trials.
The EMX-1 is Eddy Merckx' entry level bike.
The AMX-1 is Eddy Merckx' aluminium bike. It is custom-built in Belgium on demand.
As from its first year, Eddy Merckx bikes were used by professional riders, a tradition that continues to date. Some of the best professional cycling teams in the 1980s and 1990s rode them.
The Marc – V.R.D. team of manager Patrick Lefevere rode Eddy Merckx bikes a mere three months after the company was created, and immediately won two Tour de France stages. Later, teams like Panasonic, Kelme, 7 Eleven, Telekom, Motorola and Quickstep used Eddy Merckx bikes. Hundreds of professional riders, including former Tour de France winners like Jan Ullrich, green jersey winners like Erik Vanderaerden, Erik Zabel, Robbie McEwen and Tom Boonen and American professionals like Frankie Andreu, Lance Armstrong, Steve Bauer and George Hincapie rode an Eddy Merckx bike at some point in their career. Today, Eddy Merckx still sponsors three pro cycling teams, including Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, a Belgian team for promising young professional cyclists.
Part of the reason [Eddy Merckx] managed such a long stint at the very highest level of the sport was the company's adoption of materials and processes. Merckx may have been a traditionalist at heart when it came to bike — but the company has largely moved with the times, adopting new materials and designs as they emerge.
Assembly and distribution
Eddy Merckx bikes are assembled in Belgium, and sold through a dealer network in Europe and other export markets. In the US the bikes are also for sale via the company's website.
- Friebe, Daniel (2012). Eddy Merckx, The Cannibal. ISBN 978-0-09-194316-5. Ebury Press, United Kingdom. p.328
- Cycling Hall of Fame, All Time top 10 http://www.cyclinghalloffame.com/riders/alltime100.asp
- Fotheringham, William (2012). Half Man, Half Bike. ISBN 978-1-61374-726-1. Yellow Jersey Press, United Kingdom. p.286
- Friebe, Daniel (2012). Eddy Merckx, The Cannibal. ISBN 978-0-09-194316-5. Ebury Press, United Kingdom. p.327
- Friebe, Daniel (2012). Eddy Merckx, The Cannibal, ISBN 978-0-09-194316-5. Ebury Press, United Kingdom. p.328
- "Ownership Changes at Eddy Merckx Cycles". Archived from the original on 2014-10-03. Retrieved 2015-08-12.
- "Eddy Merckx stapt uit eigen fietsenbedrijf". Retrieved 2015-08-12.
- "Renowned Belgian brands Ridley, Merckx merge". Retrieved 2017-06-23.
- Moore, Richard; Benson, Daniel (2012) The Racing Bicycle: Design, Function, Speed ISBN 978-0-7893-2465-8. Universe, US. p.115
- Moore, Richard; Benson, Daniel (2012): The Racing Bicycle: Design, Function, Speed. ISBN 978-0-7893-2465-8. Universe, US. p.135
- Press Release, Eddy Merckx Cycles, July 1, 2013
- Luyckx, Dave (2013) ‘’Technical Brief 525’’
- Moore, Richard; Benson, Daniel (2012): The Racing Bicycle: Design, Function, Speed. ISBN 978-0-7893-2465-8. Universe, US. p.134
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