In it’s second life, Edouard Louis went white.

But in its first life, it was born a purple ‘Alu’. In 1996, it probably had a Mirage gruppo, or maybe a Shimano 600. Either way, I’ll never know, because I bought it as a frameset.

It’s a weird mix of technology, this frame. Columbus Altec alloy with a 1” headset, it sits awkwardly in between alloy frames that almost always were 1-1/8”, and steel frames that almost always were 1”.

It took me a few years to find a catalog that had this Alu model in it – back then I didn’t know much about the EM pantheon. From that catalog and a few emails came a conversation with a Merckx frame dating expert who confirmed that the ‘G’ serial range were produced from 1995 to 1998, and it’s likely that the serial 96-500-309-G probably indicates a 1996 build.

Did I mention that this was my first Merckx? Like most of us, Eddy remains the GOAT, and for some time I had been looking for a Merckx frame to build up. One day, there it was on eBay, for sale only 10 minutes from my house. I couldn’t pay for it fast enough, let me assure you.

The first build was as a 105 5700 2 x 10, with Ksyrium Elites (love those wheels, but i’m just too heavy for 20/24 spoke configs now). I must have done a couple of thousand kms on Eddy like this.

Unfortunately, the original alloy forks failed catastrophically – the crown separated from the steerer, an unrepairable problem. I searched for a replacement of the original fork unsuccessfully, and so they were replaced with a pair of Tifosi 1” carbon threadless forks.

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Fast forward to 2017. In need of a project, I decided to repaint the frame and give it a new life. I had done a few flat-bar roadie conversions, and wanted to build one for myself. This frameset was the perfect starting point, because the 300mm steerer on the forks make it easy to get the bar height up.

And so in it’s second life, Edouard Louis became a ‘flat white’.

What a makeover the old boy got! Totally new everything, I went nuts.

I started with a full Tiagra 4800 2 x 10 groupset.

You’re probably asking why I fitted a Tiagra gruppo to a bike that might ‘deserve better’. I sometimes get looks that convey that message.

The reason is because I dislike the marketing around gruppos. There’s bugger-all difference between Tiagra and Dura-Ace, except for weight and exotic (i.e. expensive) materials. This new 4800 set uses the new 11 speed geometry, it’s amazing to ride, it shifts seamlessly, it’s 10sp, and it’s sensibly priced!

And so this bike runs a full 4800 gruppo, with a custom painted crankset and a wide-ratio 11-34 cassette.

Those are a custom-built wheelset with Novatec hubs on 80s era red anodised Ambrosio rims…

…Italian Tifosi carbon forks with a threadless headset (and a custom EM graphic)…

…small details like custom painted bottle cages and red anodised fasteners…

…Carbon riser handlebars…

…and a new white & red paint job by Star Enamellers, with custom decals by Cyclomondo (of course).

The ‘Altec’ frame decal is a once-only custom decal in red for this bike…

…as is the Merckx headtube decal in red…

…and you have to agree it looks pretty good, right? And how does it ride? Well…it’s a bloody ripper of course!

Millfield Velo are bicycle customisers; we build one-offs like this bike for customers all over Australia. If you’re interested in owning this bike, or having us build one specifically for you, then contact us here to discuss your plans.

@millfieldvelo