A 1974 Kessels Molteni

A 1974 Kessels Molteni

Written by Contender Bicycles, on March 31, 2023

Foreword - Contender Bicycles

When folks come into the shop, a question often asked is “What is your most valuable bike in here?” Most would think it’s a Pinarello Dogma F or the latest Scott Spark RC SL, but what if we told you it was the vintage bike hanging above the cash register? This relic is a piece of cycling history stemming from the Molteni professional team, the squad that Eddy Merckx made cycling history with. While we do not know exactly who rode it or in what events it was ridden, we do know that this bike was on the front line of some of Eddy’s triumphs. 

Eddy is without a doubt considered the greatest cyclist of all time. His victories include an unequaled eleven Grand Tours wins (five in the Tour de France, five in the Giro d'Italia, and one in the Vuelta a España), and all five Monuments (Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Milan-San Remo, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy). Along with setting the hour record, three World Championships, every major one-day race other than the Paris–Tours, and extensive victories on the track.

This bike is not owned by the shop. Our good friend has placed this bike on loan to the shop to display over the years. Thank you Alex for sharing this bike with us and we are excited to share it with all of you. 

On the eve of the Tour of Flanders in Eddy’s homeland, sharing this bike as the ultimate Beautiful Bicycle is certainly apropos. Enjoy.

A 1974 Kessels Molteni

Eddy Merckx Molteni - Alex, Owner

Eddy Merckx, “The Cannibal”, was already a multiple Grand Tour winner on the Italian Faema squad when he moved to the Molteni Arcore Team in late 1971. During his 5 years at Molteni (1971-1976) Merckx proved himself as the best cyclist of the era, and possibly the best cyclist of all time. The bicycle on display at Contender, a 1974 Kessels Molteni, is most likely an original team bike. 

A 1974 Kessels Molteni

In 1973, a small made-to-order Belgian frame maker, Kessels, began supplying frames to the Molteni team. Before Kessels started manufacturing their frames, Colnago was their main frame manufacturer, and then after Kessels, De Rosa and Masi took over. During this time, Colnago, De Rosa and Merckx (Eddy’s own frame brand) manufactured Team Replicas that were available to the general public. Kessels, on the other hand, never offered the Molteni team bike to the public. 

On the team bikes that were available to the public, they were offered with the same Campagnolo, Cinelli and Regina components that are featured on their team bikes. One thing that the replicas never matched from the team’s bikes were the detailed drillings. On the team bikes, each rider would dremel out any part of their bike where they could drop grams to make their bikes faster. They added drilled holes, machined grooves, and even went so far as to add pantographing to any component they could. 

A 1974 Kessels Molteni

The “Molteni Orange” color of the frame, the blue decals prominently displaying “Merckx” on the downtube, and the picture decals on the headtube and seat tubes, became emblematic of Merckx’s triumphs and have been associated with him ever since. This machine was described as an original Molteni Arcore Team bicycle when acquired in 2009 from Stefan Schaefter of Speedbicycles, a reputable dealer and connoisseur of vintage bicycles, in Bern Switzerland.

Although we cannot guarantee that this is an actual team bicycle, the research and many of the details on the bike itself allow us to be 98% sure it is. One detail that leads us to believe that it is authentic, is the pair of double round cut-outs on the underside of the bottom bracket. These cut-outs are unique to the Kessels brand, so we can verify that the bike was indeed made by Kessels. 


1974 Kessels , Belgium, Reynolds 531, 56 cm (c-t) ; 9.9 Kg; Team Molteni Orange, Merckx decals


Campagnolo Record 52/47 T Drilled in “Merckx” pattern (the chainrings are original, the drilling done in 2009)


7 speed, Regina CX

Rear Derailleur

Campagnolo Nuovo Record, pattern 1973 (this dates the frame build) original drilled cages

Front Derailleur

Campagnolo Nuovo Record clamp-on


Campagnolo Record with custom drilled Campagnolo Record levers


Cinelli Campione del Mondo “Merckx” bend , 40cmm c-c; white cloth bartape, not original


Cinelli 1-A , 90mm, original machined grooves top and sides


Cinelli Unicanitor, black

Seat post

Campagnolo Record 27.2


Campagnolo Record 27.2


Not Original, Gold-anodized tubular; came with 32 Nisis


Campagnolo Record, original drilled




Campagnolo, Grey


Campagnolo Record


A 1974 Kessels Molteni
A 1974 Kessels Molteni
A 1974 Kessels Molteni


  • Bedankt voor je reactie Stef!
    We vinden het geweldig om deze historische fiets hier in de winkel te hebben, zodat mensen deze kunnen zien.

    Ed Kilbourn on

  • Mooie fietsje frame waren voor de betere amateur frame met oogjes voor de spatlappen , geen versterkte
    voorvork binnen , zeker en waarde volle historische racefiets .

    stef on

  • Wow!

    Tom J. on

  • Beautiful bike. How about a photo of the “two round cut-outs” in the bottom bracket. Kind of hard to picture that. Or maybe I’ll just look closely at it the next time I am in the shop.

    Walt Chudleigh on

  • Pretty sure the Regina freewheel was 6 speed, not 7. 7 speed didn’t happen until the 80’s.

    How did you guys come across this bike?


    Jeff Handwerk on

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