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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:09 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:25 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Ontario, Canada
I'm close to buying a new bike. I've narrowed it down to two bikes, either a 2014 S-Works Tarmac SL4, or an Eddy Merckx EMX-525.

The Tarmac is a 58cm and pretty much stock, except I'll swap out the Roval wheels for some Zipp 303 tubulars at an extra cost. It comes with a DA 9000 mechanical drivetrain with the exception of the crank which is an S-Works FACT carbon. I was thinking of swapping out the S-Works crank for a DA 9000 crank, that way I could get a Stages power meter in the future; although I realize that a DA crank is likely heavier and needs adapters to fit the Tarmac bottom bracket. Not to mention the cost of replacing chain rings on the DA crank (not having the option of installing third party rings).

The Merckx 525 is 60cm. It comes with Di2 9070 derailleurs, DA 9000 crank and brakes, Deda 35 bars and stem (not sure what to make of these, I like the stiffness, but they look like something a gorilla would use). Wheels are Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate clinchers which I'll probably swap for either Dura-Ace C50 tubulars, Reynolds DV46 tubulars, or (at an extra cost) Zipp 303 tubulars.

The Tarmac is lighter than the Merckx. I'm guessing the Merckx is stiffer. The Merckx seems rather 'beefy', good for a large rider like me (I'm 6'2") who lives in an area with a lot of crappy roads. I took the Merckx for a test drive and it fits me well. I haven't taken the S-Works Tarmac for a test although I did test a Specialized Tarmac, which I assume is the same geometry as the S-Works. The 58cm Tarmac seems to fit me best.

Other issues, warranty. Both bikes have limited lifetime warranties. Specialized is a big company so if something goes wrong with the frame it should be easy to get a replacement/fix. Merckx is a smaller company. I'm not sure how much of a presence they have in North America (I'm in Canada). Would I have to send the frame to Belgium if I needed warranty work? That could get expensive.

Merckx is a brand that you don't see very often here in Canada, so I suppose there is the 'wow' factor. Although you don't see too many S-Works bikes on the road either.

Anyways, any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.


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Posted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:09 pm 


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:34 pm 
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What is the price you get for the bikes? If they are around the same, Merckx is superior IMHO. Having Di2 and (slightly) better wheels and all...
The reach and stack of the bikes is pretty much (+-5 mm) the same. So the same fit can be achieved on both bikes if you liked one. The Merckx's stack is a bit lower, so there's room for more drop.
The Tarmac's HTA and STA are steeper, so I think it will give a more aggressive/twitchy steering than the Merckx. Try both, but me thinks the Merckx will handle better.
So yeah, I'd say the Merckx. But try both, look at both bikes and choose what your heart tells you to.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:23 pm 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
efeballi wrote:
What is the price you get for the bikes? If they are around the same, Merckx is superior IMHO. Having Di2 and (slightly) better wheels and all...
The reach and stack of the bikes is pretty much (+-5 mm) the same. So the same fit can be achieved on both bikes if you liked one. The Merckx's stack is a bit lower, so there's room for more drop.
The Tarmac's HTA and STA are steeper, so I think it will give a more aggressive/twitchy steering than the Merckx. Try both, but me thinks the Merckx will handle better.
So yeah, I'd say the Merckx. But try both, look at both bikes and choose what your heart tells you to.


The shop selling the Merckx will sell it to me tax-free for $10000 CDN, with either the Mavics, Shimano C50s, Reynolds DV46s. If I want the Zipp 303s it will be $10800, no tax.

The shop selling the Tarmac will sell it to me for $9000 (tax included) with the stock Roval wheels. I'm still waiting to hear back from them about how much upgrading to the Zipp 303s will cost. I'm guessing it will be a little bit more, but still under $10000.

I'm not sure if I can try an actual S-Works Tarmac. None of the Specialized dealers in my area seem to have one in in my size. They just have Specialized Tarmacs in stock. The shop selling me the S-Works Tarmac would have to order it in, which would only take a couple of days or so.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:27 pm 
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I never tried the Merckx, but I have ridden a lot of the top carbon frames. It's pretty insane how well the S-Works Tarmac rides. It's actually got me quite stumped as to what I could ever get to beat it for an all around road racing bike. I have SL4 and SL3, and I am getting the SL3 painted just because I still love it, and can't find a better replacement. Nothing I have tried comes close to the snap you get from the S-works. Bikes I have ridden on demo - Parlee z5, new Scott Addict, Helium, '13 Dogma... I just don't think you can go wrong with the S-Works tarmac frame.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:35 am 
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tinozee wrote:
I never tried the Merckx, but I have ridden a lot of the top carbon frames. It's pretty insane how well the S-Works Tarmac rides. It's actually got me quite stumped as to what I could ever get to beat it for an all around road racing bike. I have SL4 and SL3, and I am getting the SL3 painted just because I still love it, and can't find a better replacement. Nothing I have tried comes close to the snap you get from the S-works. Bikes I have ridden on demo - Parlee z5, new Scott Addict, Helium, '13 Dogma... I just don't think you can go wrong with the S-Works tarmac frame.


Gita pushed Merckx to stop going it alone. The frames are now made in the same factories that produce Pinarellos which is why they are sometimes so similar. Seems the strategy was a failure and last year Merckx took back marketing their frames in the U.S. Specialized seems to be a stronger organization and less of a purchase risk. The frames may be fine, but who knows if Merckx will have a U.S. presence in the future. With specialized this is not really a worry. That said, the frame needs to be a good fit for you.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:18 am 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
From what the guy at the shop told me Merckx didn't have a Canadian distributor until recently. This shop seems to be the only one in the area (possibly in all of Ontario) to carry Merckx. They also have an EMX-5 in stock, and a 52cm EMX-525 frame hanging on the wall.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:37 am 
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Tarmac, no question.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:46 am 
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I've never heard anyone say anything bad about how the Tarmac rides. But I'd never give up Di2 and I think that's as big factor as the frame.

Can you get a Di2 Tarmac?

(Also, regarding swapping the crankset: save the money and instead spend it on the new Garmin Vectors that now fit the S-Works crankset)


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:30 am 
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Location: the Netherlands
From these two the Tarmac would be my choice ( i have a 2014 SL4). Although it rides superb I don't agree with the fact that it can't be beaten by anything in the market I found out the Bianchi Oltre is just as good and the Giant advanced SL Isp pehaps an overall better package (ride is equal but it has way less potential creak and di2 installs soo much easier).

Where the ride of the S-works is very good there is definitely room for improvement on the OSBB (delrin bearing cups are a dead end), most mechanical groups undergo way too much cable drag and shift less than perfect (SL3 was much better) and seatpost design is not good and the saddleclamp prone to clicking noises. Due to the cable drag i went for di2 and have to say that other brands are way more suited for a fast install (especially the bracket area makes cable routing very time consuming).
I guess all will be solved with the Sl5 but at a price tag that is this steep and a less than capable distibutor (at least over here) that think clicking noises in the bb area are ok'ish I would think twice before investing that kind of money in a frameset.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 10:32 am 
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No bikes from Mike's.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:07 pm 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
nickl wrote:
I've never heard anyone say anything bad about how the Tarmac rides. But I'd never give up Di2 and I think that's as big factor as the frame.

Can you get a Di2 Tarmac?

(Also, regarding swapping the crankset: save the money and instead spend it on the new Garmin Vectors that now fit the S-Works crankset)


I can get a Di2 Tarmac for $11300 CDN, tax included. But that would be at the top end of my budget and I would have to forego the Zipp wheel upgrade.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:26 pm 
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I have never rode either bikes before, but I'd say Di2 is a must. Just simply due to the lack of need for maintenance down the line and perfect shifting(or near perfect?) all the time is well worth it. If cost is a concern, maybe Ultegra Di2? Heard that there's really no difference in performance between the two and only about 120-150g weight difference from Dura Ace for a lot less in cost.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:31 pm 
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Location: the Netherlands
Ultegra is fine but it's heavier and if you're willing to go that route a Tarmac SL4 pro would be the more obious choice (which also is a very good frame).


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:59 pm 
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Location: Ontario, Canada
MNX1024 wrote:
I have never rode either bikes before, but I'd say Di2 is a must. Just simply due to the lack of need for maintenance down the line and perfect shifting(or near perfect?) all the time is well worth it. If cost is a concern, maybe Ultegra Di2? Heard that there's really no difference in performance between the two and only about 120-150g weight difference from Dura Ace for a lot less in cost.


I would prefer electronic shifting because of those reasons. You can pretty much set it and forget it. But I read some positive reviews of the DA mechanical derailleurs and I won't rule those out.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:12 pm 
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FYI: looks like there's a new Tarmac coming.

http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/ ... ege_325609

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Posted: Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:12 pm 


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