Bicycling (South Africa)



Certain bikes speak to you. The Eddy Merckx Liege 75 screamed at me. Even though Merckx’s feats were way before my time – I was only three in 1975, when he won his fifth Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the race this bike was named after – I know enough about history that the Molteni orange paint stirred something inside me. Throw in the Campagnolo Potenza drivetrain and Deda Zero components, and you have a pretty unique bike.

I’ve ridden a number of finely tuned custom and semi-custom steel frames from boutique builders, so my bar is high. I worried that what seemed so exciting on paper wouldn’t live up to my expectatio­ns on the road. That definitely wasn’t the case.

The Liege impressed me with its combinatio­n of smoothness and sporty, agile handling that made it comfortabl­e on longer rides and quick during spirited shorter ones, as well as easy to throw around corners. It’s a bit stiffer, particular­ly in the front triangle, and a little less lively compared with the best steel bikes (whose frames cost as much or more than this whole bike), but the Liege’s TIGwelded Columbus Zona frame still rides exceptiona­lly well. Straight-line stability is good too, although the 35mm-deep Campagnolo Scirocco wheels seemed to be affected by crosswind more than similardep­th carbon wheels I’ve used recently.

While I’m in awe of the Cannibal’s racing feats, I’m not a hardcore fan. I know that superheroe­s put on their spandex – or in Eddy’s case, wool – one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. I’m not a Campy devotee either, but on this bike the Potenza just looks and feels right. The Liege 75 packs a little nostalgia and a lot of distinct style into a funto-ride package that few if any bikes in this price range pull off.

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