Anchored by one of the greatest names in cycling, Merckx bikes has taken their frames to a new level of notoriety in the past few years. With a sponsorship deal with the Belgian Quick-Step ProTour team, the frames appeared under the likes of Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel during his brief yellow jersey run at this year’s Tour de France. Just one year into their three-year deal, Merckx is still working to deliver exactly what their riders want, taking input from their pro riders in designing their top end road bikes. See what the Quick Step pros will be on next year after the jump, with a full run down of the Eddie Merckx line up for 2011.
EMX – 7
A new model for 2011, the EMX-7 will serve as Merckx’s top tier racing machine, designed for pure speed to handle the demands of ProTour riders. Merckx prides itself on their ability to find choice raw material to build their all-carbon frames, something they say many manufacturers don’t take the time to do. A majority of the frames on the market today are constructed using what is called PAN based carbon, the traditional composite mixture to create carbon layups suitable for bicycle frames. This year, Merckx is trying out a new carbon mix, called Pitch Based carbon, which has an almost identical strength-to-weight ratio as PAN based carbon, but is noticeably stiffer and more rigid. The EMX-7 is the only frame in the line to use the technology, mostly because of the pr0hibitive high cost of the material. It may be cutting edge, but with a MSRP of $6200 for just the frame and fork, the technology is still out of reach for most amateur riders.
Aside from the new material, the EMX-7 has everything you would expect in a ProTour race bike, with touches like a tapering headtube (1 1/8″ – 1 1/2″) and an asymmetrical rear triangle with the non-drive side beefed up, to compensate for the uneven pull created on the drive-side of the bike. An integrated seat mast makes the bike a slight bit stiffer while in the saddle, improving power transfer but limiting adjustability, making the bike tough to fit for some riders.
The EMX-7 leaves no detail unaccounted for, with a beautiful high-gloss paint job and internal cable routing throughout to keep the bike looking clean. Cables for the rear derailleur run all the way along the inside of the chainstay, poking out just above the rear dropouts.
A press fit BB86 system fits into the massive molded bottom bracket, a new addition the the Merckx line this year.
The EMX-7 also uses its own front fork design, different from anything else offered by Merckx. A little bit thinner, the design was adjusted by engineers to take full advantage of the new carbon composite material.
The company says the ride isn’t drastically different, but the EMX-7 fork does stiffen the front end a bit, with similar geometry to the rest of their forks.
The EMX-7 will come in six sizes, in increments of 2cm from 50-60cm. Merckx will offer three colorways, including black (shown above), red, and a special blue and white Quick Step edition. If you’ve got an extra six grand laying around, this could be your next ride. If not, don’t panic. Merckx says that even only a select few riders, namely Boonen, will ride the EMX-7 next season. The rest of the team will be on the EMX-7’s little brother, the EMX-5.
Still a very raceworthy bike, the EMX-5 is Merckx’s more practical race machine, which a majority of their ProTour riders will use next season (the display bike we shot has the Quick Step paint job, which will also be available to the public.) Using Merckx’s traditional carbon composite, the EMX-5 looks similar to the EMX-7 (and rightly so – the EMX-5 was Merckx’s original race design, the the EMX-7 was an adaptation from the 5.) As mentioned above, the EMX-5 uses a different fork, and doesn’t have the integrated seatmast like the EMX-7, instead using a traditional seatpost design.
As you can see above, the EMX-5 also uses a slightly different rear triangle design, with a major difference being its symmetrical construction, as opposed to the EMX-7’s asymmetrical design. Most other features carry over here. Same tapered headtube, same BB86 bottom bracket, and same aerofoil tubing shapes.
The EMX 5 and 7 share almost the same geometry, with some tweaks being made in the seat tube to compensate for the different construction methods. Both incorporate the classic “Merckx” feel, overseen by Eddie himself, with a longer-than-normal trail and rake measurements, making these bikes legendary for their descending speed and handling.
With an MSRP of $3800 for the frame/fork combo, this will be the more affordable option for people who still want a ProTour worthy frame.
Moving on down the line, the EMX-3 offers a great bike at an even better price point. Fully equipped with Ultrega SL, this complete bike will run you just under $4k ($3900 MSRP.) A Sram Force complete bike is also available, but pricing wasn’t yet set.The EMX-3 breaks into a very tough price point, but offers a lot of value, and a gorgeous bike at that. Aesthetically, the frame is remarkably similar to its EMX brothers, the 5 and 7. It uses a slightly lower-grade 3k carbon weave as opposed to the 1k used on the 5 and 7, with a slightly more relaxed geometry designed for comfort. While the 5 or 7 would be a top notch racing bike, Merckx is billing the EMX-3 as more of a “Gran Fondo” ride, with a little more give, and geometry designed for hours of comfort in the saddle. While shooting for comfort though, Merckx didn’t sacrifice performance.
The EMX-3 keeps the massive bottom bracket junction seen on the reset of the Merckx line. While comfort was still a priority, the EMX-3 keeps good power transfer by adding stiffness where needed, like the bottom bracket and front end.
An oversized headtube give stiffness on the front end, but the carbon fork eases the ride a bit on rough roads. The front fork tapers from 1 1/4″ too 1 1/8″, and keeps some of the same design cues from the higher end models.
The lip at the top of the fork is a design cue taken from the EMX-5, with the same elongated curved offset. Tube shapes are also very similar, with features like a flattened top tube and aero shaped downtube.
Curved carbon rear stays make the ride that much softer, but their thin aero design won’t slow you down. A good fit for riders looking for comfort and performance, the EMX-3 fits perfectly into the Merckx as their intermediate level carbon road bike.
Merckx’s entry level carbon set up is the EMX-1. At $2600 equipped with Shimano 105 components, it will face stiff competition in the already crowded entry level carbon market, but the EMX-1 offers some nice perks to set itself apart from the others.
A full carbon fork softens the ride and keeps the whole package light, while retaining the racing inspired aero fork shaping. The EMX-1 also uses the increasingly popular tapering steertube, which goes from the standard 1 1/8″ up to 1 1/4″ to improve front end stiffness.
The beefy carbon seatstay should provide plenty of riding comfort. Merckx stressed the comfort and rideability of both the EMX-1 and the EMX-3, thanks to features like this.
It’s a very good looking bike, shown above in the red/white color scheme. There is also a third option, in white and grey. Again, MSRP is $2600 for the complete bike, making this a very attractive entry level carbon road bike.
The full EMX line should be delivered to shops soon – “within a month and a half” of Interbike, according to their rep on the show floor. There are more in depth pictures and specs on the Merckx website, but the parts spec’s listed on the site are different from the groups displayed at Interbike. Merckx does not have a dedicated site for North America, so there are probably separate factory build options for Canada, the US, and Mexico.