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Back in August, we teased it.
Now it’s time for the grand reveal of a project that started way back in 2016.
Say hello to Matt’s latest bike build!
With this build, Matt used a mid 90s Eddy Merckx MX Leader to create an homage to one of his favorite Merckx team bikes of the ‘80s and equipped it to be in regular rotation. This sleekly sculpted steel machine is not a Sunday Special. It’s to be ridden and ridden often.
The assembly was handled by the steady hands of Simon, the head mechanic at The Cub House. Along with being a favorite local shop, The Cub House is the home of Team Dream. When we get back to normal times, The Cub House is definitely worth making a field trip for a visit if you’re ever out in the LA area. It’s one of the most unique and charming shops you’ll ever experience and it’s packed with all kinds of historic bikes and memorabilia with so much fun stuff to look at and great people to chat with.
At the moment they’ve been making the best of the current situation, operating on an appointment-only basis, and doing their part to bring a lot of folks back into cycling during the current bike boom. Normally, if given the chance, Matt would have been there to savor the last step of the build process but instead, the Cub House treated him to a surprise on Instagram to let him know his bike was ready for pickup.
Q+A with Matt
So, how does it ride?
The ride is at once planted to the road on descents and plush over the rough stuff. The biggest surprise has been the steel fork. I forgot how lively they can be and how much feedback they can offer. I’m excited to log a lot of saddle time on this bike.
Here are the final specs with some notes from Matt.
Tell us about the details, bike nerd
What's the frame and fork?
Circa mid-90s Eddy Merckx MX Leader frameset, refinished by Wanta Frames out of Clearwater, Florida. It goes without saying that I’m a fan of metal bikes, particularly steel and titanium for their fantastic ride qualities. Both materials are low maintenance (with minimal proper care), have long shelf lives, and are incredibly durable. There is a lot of potential and long term value with an older metal road frame that’s been given a second life with modern components. The ride quality and performance can be right up there with a modern bike with the satisfaction of riding something that was built to last (unlike the suspense of riding vintage carbon). Plus, many older framesets were designed to accommodate larger tire sizes so all-road capability is already built-in.
Unlike MTB frames of the ‘90s and early 2000s that are now repurposed as townie bikes due to significant and rapid revisions in geometry and wheel sizes, the fundamental innovations on the roadside have been at a more glacial pace. The recent addition of disc brakes is a seismic change but it will still be a few years before new caliper brakes and quick release compatible wheels go extinct.
Why did you use this groupset?
Campagnolo Potenza with Chorus shifters. The Potenza group is at the intersection of value and performance in the Campy range and is a nice aesthetic match to the frameset. Stepping up to Chorus shifters allows for multiple upshifts with one press of the thumb lever, a vital-to-me feature that enhances the roller coaster fun of our local hills.
Tell us about the wheels
The Mavic Ksyrium wheelset will be swapped out for a pair of DT Swiss 350 hubs laced to DT Swiss 460 rims with Sapim spokes as soon as a Campy freehub body arrives. (Been checking the mail every day for that.) This wheelset should offer a more supple ride to offset the stiffness of the frame and will be in service for a long time thanks to the user-friendly reliability of DT Swiss hubs. While the 350s are technically a notch down from DT’s iconic flagship 240 hubs, you’re very arguably getting 95% of the performance at nearly half the price. As with all bicycle components, a marginal weight savings comes with an exponential price increase and that’s the biggest difference between the two models. I’ll spare you the obsessive details about the internals but if you’re looking to build a new set of wheels, the 350s would make a solid foundation that even the snobbiest of bike snobs would struggle to find any tangible faults when they peer over your bike outside your neighborhood coffee shop.
And the tres?
Currently, Zipp Tangents as they were already on the Ksyrium wheels. The new wheelset will run Maxxis Re-Fuse tires in a 28mm width. This is my go-to for daily rides around LA where there are a few dirt shortcuts to go along with the rough sections through Griffith Park.
What about that there seatpost?
The old Dean titanium post I’d planned to use was swapped out for a set back post from Lynskey to dial in the fit.
What headset did you go with?
Cane Creek 110 Threaded
And the bars?
3T with Lizard Skins tape (what I had handy)
That stem looks neat, what's that?
Custom from Sycip Designs because quill stems with 31.8mm handlebar clamps are a rarity in 2020.
And what will you be sitting on?
And what will you be pushing?
Thanks for your increasingly succinct answers, Matt. Looking forward to learning all about your next build!