Throwback Thursday: 1990 Eddy Merckx Corsa

A perfect pairing: Molteni orange and a 50th-anniversary Campagnolo group

Normally when you buy a brand new – and highly sought-after – component group, your first instinct is to install it right away and then start riding it as much as possible. That wasn't quite the case for Peter Chisholm and his 50th anniversary Campagnolo group. No, this ensemble needed a backdrop more than a chassis, and he had just the thing in mind.

Up until very recently, Chisholm was the co-owner of Vecchio's Bicicletteria, a small shop he founded in downtown Boulder, Colorado, that prides itself on top-notch service, frames hand-built from metal, and Campagnolo. Naturally, Chisholm had to have a 50th anniversary Campagnolo group for himself – the former Navy pilot has a Campagnolo tattoo on his forearm – and a Molteni orange Eddy Merckx only seemed appropriate.

For the record, this bike's owner isn't 100 percent certain about when the frame was made but is fairly sure it's a 1990 model based on a few key details. the frame was also repainted by waterford cycles in molteni orange: for the record, this bike's owner isn't 100 percent certain about when the frame was made but is fairly sure it's a 1990 model based on a few key details. the frame was also repainted by waterford cycles in molteni orange
For the record, this bike's owner isn't 100 percent certain about when the frame was made but is fairly sure it's a 1990 model based on a few key details. the frame was also repainted by waterford cycles in molteni orange: for the record, this bike's owner isn't 100 percent certain about when the frame was made but is fairly sure it's a 1990 model based on a few key details. the frame was also repainted by waterford cycles in molteni orange

Waterford Cycles did the superb restoration work on this 1990 Eddy Merckx Corsa

"I received the group as a bonus while running service at Pro Peloton, around 1997 or 1998," he said. "Ian Birlem owned the place then and asked what I wanted. I did some research and found it at Euro-Asia. I think he paid about US$2,200 for it."

Chisholm originally hung the group on a custom Eddy Merckx MX Leader frame but its shaped tubed didn't seem quite right for the 50th anniversary group's more classic aesthetic. So he ended up buying a used Merckx over the Internet for just US$660, complete with a Shimano 600 group that he promptly discarded.

"I didn't give it away," he told BikeRadar proudly. "I threw it all away!"

Campagnolo hadn't yet adopted the more modern slant parallogram geometry when this derailleur was released: campagnolo hadn't yet adopted the more modern slant parallogram geometry when this derailleur was released
Campagnolo hadn't yet adopted the more modern slant parallogram geometry when this derailleur was released: campagnolo hadn't yet adopted the more modern slant parallogram geometry when this derailleur was released

Not that we have anything against Shimano's old 600 group but there's little arguing that this is far more desirable

In its original guise, the frame wore the red, white, and blue of Team Motorola and while it was advertised as a Century model built with Columbus TSX tubing, it ultimately proved to be a Corsa built from more basic Columbux SL pipes.

Nevertheless, Chisholm sent it off to Waterford Cycles for a full restoration anyway and then transferred his cherished Campagnolo group there after it came back (that MX Leader now wears a Campagnolo EPS electronic group and is Chisholm's 'daily driver').

The matching crankset was given similar treatment, with specially etched chainrings and crankarms plus dedicated dust caps adorned with a gold winged logo: the matching crankset was given similar treatment, with specially etched chainrings and crankarms plus dedicated dust caps adorned with a gold winged logo
The matching crankset was given similar treatment, with specially etched chainrings and crankarms plus dedicated dust caps adorned with a gold winged logo: the matching crankset was given similar treatment, with specially etched chainrings and crankarms plus dedicated dust caps adorned with a gold winged logo

Each piece of the 50th-anniversary Campagnolo group wears special etching and logos

Chisholm fully realises that merely breaking the seal on the original packaging's zippered case instantly decreased the group's value, let alone installing it on not one, but two frames, and then riding it. The crusty (but oddly likable) now ex-shop owner wasn't deterred in the least, however, and while the parts have been ridden just a bit, the bike is now a semi-permanent fixture hanging on the wall at the shop he started in 2000 – right next to the gorgeous custom Moots that he received as a retirement gift when he stepped away from the business last year.

These friction shifters may not set any benchmarks in terms of technology but they're undeniably pretty: these friction shifters may not set any benchmarks in terms of technology but they're undeniably pretty
These friction shifters may not set any benchmarks in terms of technology but they're undeniably pretty: these friction shifters may not set any benchmarks in terms of technology but they're undeniably pretty

Simple and elegant

"The value goes down by two-thirds when you build it but so what. [That group is] the epitome of road componentry of the day: titanium, gold highlights, with Tullio's signature. It is just exquisite."

Complete bike specifications

  • Frameset: 1990 Eddy Merckx Corsa
  • Headset: Campagnolo 50th anniversary
  • Stem: Cinelli 1A
  • Handlebars: Cinelli Top 64
  • Tape/grips: Benotto Cello
  • Front brake: Campagnolo 50th anniversary
  • Rear brake: Campagnolo 50th anniversary
  • Brake levers: Campagnolo 50th anniversary
  • Front derailleur: Campagnolo 50th anniversary
  • Rear derailleur: Campagnolo 50th anniversary
  • Shift levers: Campagnolo 50th anniversary
  • Freewheel: Campagnolo 50th anniversary
  • Chain: Sedisport
  • Crankset: Campagnolo 50th anniversary
  • Bottom bracket: Campagnolo 50th anniversary
  • Pedals: Campagnolo 50th anniversary
  • Rims: Nisi Countach tubular, 32h
  • Front hub: Campagnolo 50th anniversary, 32h
  • Rear hub: Campagnolo 50th anniversary, 32h
  • Spokes: DT Competition w/ brass nipples
  • Front tire: Clement Futura tubular
  • Rear tire: Clement Futura tubular
  • Saddle: Selle San Marco Rolls
  • Seatpost: Campagnolo 50th anniversary

Special thanks go to current Vecchio's owner, Jim Potter, for pulling this bike down from the ceiling for this photo shoot – and to Peter Chisholm for stepping away from his grandkids long enough to answer my inane questions.

James Huang

Former Technical Editor, US
James was BikeRadar's US tech editor from 2007-2015.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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