Kessels Time Capsule

It´s not easy to find info on early Eddy Merckx labeled bikes, that is what many people who have written on the subject on the internet agree on. So it´s always nice to find a completely unmolested specimen, hardly used actually, to make more judgements from.

KdownttransfSome weeks ago a friend did just that: He saw this

Kfullbike on Ebay, and after a quick phone conference we decided to hit the “spontaneous buy” button, or whatever it´s called. Often of course this proves to have been a spontaneous self combustion of hard earned money, but this time I think the friend was perfectly right to have bought the bike. This

Kftdois the only place where any serious wear is recognizable.

Some research on the net reveals that the Merckx name was big business in the seventies, when this bike was made. There were numerous makers licensed by Merckx to use his name, some consecutively, some actually at the same time. One of them was Ets. Kessels S.A. in Oostende, Belgium. From what one reads on the net, they made a range of Merckx bikes when not selling under their own brand name Main d´Or.

I think this bike must have been second tier from the top, the upside being the full Record equipment (save the brakes, Universals)

Kcampaglevers

Kftder

Kreardo

Kblock6spthe good quality handlebars,

KCinnice rims,

Krim

and the full 531 tube set.

KReyn531Seatt

KforkReyn

On the other hand the frame does not look as if it had been made very caringly.

KseatclThis seatcluster for example doesn´t exactly ooze quality, and these lugs have not received much attention, either.

Ktopheadl

Ksteeringhead

Also I´m not too sure about the forkcrown design. It does happen that especially lesser bikes carry numerous instances of their makers´ names.

KforkcrIt is, however, a nice touch, and the crown seems to be cast. too.

There are no braze ons at all, save the derailleur cable ones, for example over the b/b.

KbbtopEverything else is band-on which of course might as well be a sign for the frame´s age rather than any lack in quality.

Kcampaglevers

KttCampagbandon

Here´s the typical Kessels b/b shell, though, with some hand painted letters and numbers. It seems to be clear now that the abbreviated name was the name of the shop which sold the bike, or the name of the first rider if the bike was bought direct. I found this info on the Flickr Group for Kessels, and it makes a lot of sense.

KbbShellSign

Hoever, here´s what Hugh Thornton of classiclightweights says about this:

There is not a lot of information available online on Kessels.  My own Kessels-built Merckx is, I think, top tier or close to it, and more in the ‘well-used’ category.

Hugh´s Kessels can be seen on his website (which is worth a visit anyway). Hugh continues:

I was advised that the names under the BB denote the frame builder, not the customer.
 
If the Pernod Trophy sticker on the blog bike is original, then it cannot be earlier than late 1974.  I also take that type of head tube decal to be a later style, whereas mine has a borderless picture, which would have had an Eddy above it to match the Merckx below it.  The seat tube decal though has a border.
 
The blog bike is exceptionally well preserved.  A very nice example with the same performance as the top tier models, just a slightly lower level of build and a small saving on components.

The colour of the Universal name goes well with the frame colour, but this is a coincidence.

KrearbkHere are some more pics of the really very well preserved foil stickers the frame abunds with.

KFotoseattube

KKesselsdownttransf

KseattubeTdFDid you note how the “Giro d´Italia” sticker near the front derailleur is pink, and this French language one is yellow? The jerseys, it seems, are responsible for this.

KtttransfLastly, here´s the Brooks Pro saddle, an item fitted by the current owner.

KBrooksCplate

Two issues: One, I forgot to snap the places in which the Campag components are date stamped. I hope to able to do this soon. Second, the hasn´t been ridden yet, but this also is on the agenda.

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8 Comments

  1. Posted January 25, 2014 at 12:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Is there a date stamp on the underside of the Brooks saddle?

  2. Posted January 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry, forgot to mention there isn´t one.

  3. Harrie Hofstede
    Posted January 28, 2014 at 9:19 am | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe contact Ferdi Keulen for info about Kessels

  4. Kessels77FiatMerckx
    Posted February 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very nice looking bike. Would date it about 1977 – 79 vintage. A lot of these Kessels/ Merckx frames originally came with japanese components and owners subsequently added Campagnolo components so you can end up with misleading Pat dates. A Campagnolo 76 – 78 pat date would be resonable for this frame. Not able shed any light on the significance of the 67 painted on the bottom bracket apart from it is certainly not the year that the frame was made.

    The Reynolds 531 Sticker on the seat tube is, most likely, misleading as the rear stays for these frames are made from a seamed tube which is clearly not a 531 tube. If you remove the bottom bracket you should be able to see the seam on the lower rearstays. Most of these frames just came with a Reynolds sticker that stated that the frame tubes were Reynolds 531 but every now and then they stuck on the sticker shown on yours. The true Reynolds rear tubes, fitted frames, had a flattened or inward curve where they attached to the seat tube and were typically an earlier version produced by Kessels. Having said all of the above would expect the blogged frame to ride very well.

    See it as a good “Buy it now” pickup and nice photo’s.

    • Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:45 am | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Stephen,
      thanks for your detailed comment. The 76 to 78 Pats are actually there, that´s OK then.

      The “flattened or inward curve” – would that be indented stays to accomodate wider tires?

      • Kessels77FiatMerckx
        Posted February 21, 2014 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Hi, I did not describe it very well but when i was referring to “flattened or inward curve” I was referring to where the rear seat stays connect to the seat lug. Will try and paste some links that show examples, hope they work.
        Would expect both these linked frames to be true buttted frame tube, forks and stays.

        Would regard the blogged bike to be a “second tier Kessels” but still a very desirable bike to own. My bike is also a “second tier Kessels frame”, with stickers claiming every tube is 531 butted, but in reality has the previously mentioned seamed lower rear stays.

        Wondering if the blogged bike has at the very least had an additional topcoat applied by an earlier owner as the frame tubing stickers are too shiny i.e. they are under a layer of topcoat. May also indicate a repaint but if so it is a very good one.
        My experience is that the Kessels labelled Merckx 531 frame stickers and various Merckx foil stickers are applied AFTER the bike has been topcoated. This explains why many Kessels frames in otherwise good condition have badly degraded or non existent reynolds 531 stickers. The foil labels seem to fare a bit better without a topcoat but are quite prone to scratching. Tempted to put an additional topcoat on my bike to protect the stickers as well but have not got around to it yet.

      • Posted February 21, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        I see, the seatstay tops. Yes, you´re right, these are not machined, brazed-in tops, but just flattened seat tube.

        I don´t think the blogged bike has a topcoat over the stickers; they may look that way on my snaps. Most old bikes had their Reynolds transfers over the topcoat, though. I think it was not done often in the sventies that any transfers went under a clear coat.

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