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One Belgian cycling company, two distinct racing brands – Eddy Merckx and Ridley were at Eurobike showing off new disc versions of their all-round road racing machines. Here we take a look at the new Eddy Merckx 525 and Ridley Helium SLX Disc.
Eddy Merckx 525 and 525 Disc
New for 2020 are the Eddy Merckx 525 and 525 Disc (not to be confused with the previous EM525), the brand’s new flagship and all-round race bikes, made with input from AG2R riders. Available in rim and disc brake versions, these bikes are somewhat similar to Pinarello’s F-series in that they aim to be aerodynamic, stiff, comfortable and relatively light – a do-it-all race bike.
The 525 Disc is apparently now the stiffest road bike in the company, surpassing the likes of the Ridley Noah Fast that was initially intended for Andre Greipel. The front end is was designed with aerodynamics and stiffness in mind, and sees the cables integrated through the one-piece bar and stem while retaining mechanical shift compatibility.
Weighting 1,265g for a small-sized 525 Disc frame and fork, it’s comparable to the latest aero bikes of other brands. The rim brake version is a little lighter, saving 75g from the figure. The rim brake version has clearance for up to 28mm tyres, while the disc version can handle a 32mm tyre. Add in the flex zones through the seat stays and it’s a bike that seems ready for the cobbled classics.
The 525 is available in five frame sizes, with the integrated handlebar and stem offered in widths of 38cm to 44cm, and with stems lengths of 90mm through to an oh-so-pro 140mm.
Like other Merckx models, there’s the option to get the 525 Disc through the MyMerckx customisation program that features some 48 frame colours and the option for wheel and groupset selections.
Romain Bardet said the new bike is a big improvement and something he really enjoys riding, and he expects the French outfit to make the move to discs, with this bike, for the 2020 season.
It wasn’t long ago that the Belgium Cycling Factory acquired the Eddy Merckx brand, but it has been a rough start with so much publicity surrounding AG2R’s mid-season switch from underperforming Eddy Merckx frames to what were effectively repainted Ridley Helium frames (named the Stockeu69). Truth is, The Belgium Cycling Factory sponsored the team before it had completed its own bike designs, and instead sent the pre-existing wares of Eddy Merckx bikes into the WorldTour. It’s expected that AG2R (and most likely Bardet) will continue to use the lighter weight Stockeu69 in certain events next year, in addition to the new 525 Disc.
All Eddy Merckx model names stem from Eddy Merckx’s riding career. In the case of the 525 number, it’s the number of wins Merckx collection in his professional cycling career.
Eddy Merckx steel
Eddy Merckx also had the custom steel bike that Oliver Naesen rode on the Champs-Élysées. Naesen rode it to launch the new Corsa range of bikes, which are welded in Belgium by a legendary frame builder Johan Vranckx who got his start as a sixteen-year-old under Merckx himself. Used only for the final day of the 2019 Tour de France, Naesen’s bike is built using stainless Columbus Xcr and Columbus Spirit HSS.
The MyCorsa custom range currently includes the Road Rim (as Naesen rode), Road Disc and Gravel Disc frames. The stock models, likely made off-shore, see the Strada and Criterium models return to the range, with the Hageland serving as a gravel option. Whether custom or stock, all models use tubing from the Columbus range.
Ridley Helium SLX Disc
Ridley’s lightweight race bike gets a disc brake option. The new Helium SLX Disc borrows some aero cues from the Noah Fast and introduces fully integrated cabling with the cables run down the front of a flattened fork steerer tube. However, the bike pictured is missing the new one-piece bar and stem to make the internal cabling happen.
A medium frame is quoted at 820gr, 60g heavier than the rim brake model. As is commonly claimed by many brands, adding thru-axles adds to frame stiffness, and Ridley claims as such for the new disc version. Tyre clearance is quoted at 30mm. Geometry is unchanged from the rim brake model.