Kessels Molteni Merckx bike (1971)
By Jan Vandevelde
I found my 1971 Molteni bike three years ago, in a hedge(!) here in Bruges. When I asked the neighbours for the owner, they told me that it was a student’s bike. A couple of weeks later I managed to buy the bike for 50 Euros. It had been converted to a fixie by the student, and on top of that, nature (the hedge) had also taken its toll.
The student told me that he had been given the bike six years before, from an old lady that he had met in a bicycle repair shop. The lady noticed his race bike and asked him if he was interested in her late husband’s Merckx bicycle. She had bought this Kessels new in 1971, as a birthday present, but her husband suddenly deceased only a couple of days after his birthday… So when the student got it, this was still a “brand new” bike (except for the flat tyres).
Due to use and abuse, when I got the bike three years ago I had to take it apart completely. I replaced the non original rear wheel (with a single speed freewheel) by a hi-flange wheel with a Weinman rim, to match the hi-flange front. Also added a period Hurret Svelto derailleur to match the original Hurret shifters with original white rubber caps and the original Hurret front derailleur. I replaced the flat handlebars by a period Cinelli, and I dumped the mudguards, the side stand and the dynamo. Gave the Brooks saddle a good clean and some Conolly Hide Food, cleaned and polished all the aluminium parts and the paint, and I fitted new bearing balls where necessary.
Unfortunately I lost the Kessels decal on the seat tube during this clean-up. It had become so brittle that it almost completely disappeared. Only the edge is still visible now.
On the bottom bracket there’s a name: K. De Boot . Kessels in Ostend assembled the bikes, but the frames were built by Vaneenooghe in Ruislede. Painting was also done there. Vaneenooghe wrote the customer’s name on the bracket, so that Kessels knew which frame was for which customer.
The Eddy Merckx decal on the downtube had also become very brittle, but I was able to replace this decal with an identical sticker. All the other stickers are still the originals from 1971.
You could order any bike in Molteni colours from Kessels. Hi-end or base models, with Campagnolo or with Weinman components, with Renolds tubes or with "central heating tubes", with forged drop outs or with pressed steel ones. This bike is definitely a base model. But although I have some bikes with a much better specification, this one is my all time favorite. So I bought a woolen Molteni jersey, just to be in style. Have done thousands of kilometers with this bike…
During one of my trips I rode to Ruislede, to the Vaneenooghe workshop. The man in the picture below is the son of the man who built my bike back in 1971.
Kessels - Molteni decals - 1st gen.
Your restored bike looks very great !
I'm restoring the exactly same bike - Kessels Molteni from 1971 (it was in the same configuration) :)
I just need the correct period decals (1st generation - 1969-71) to fulfill the restoration. I don't want to make a posterior Molteni Replica.
Could you tell me, where did you found the front tube (Eddy Merckx in shiny silver) and seat tube decals ? There are unfortunatly uncommon on the web.
I can send, of course, some pics of mine :)
Many thanks in advance,
Kessels - Molteni decals - 1st gen.
Yes, please, show us some pictures of your project!
I only had to replace the the blue "Eddy Merckx" text decal on the downtube, all the other decals on my bike are still the original ones from 1971. But this is the set that I bought: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/232294117522?hash=item3615cef092:g:ku0AAOSw3…
Hope this helps!
Add new comment