Reasonably Lightweight, Reasonably Aero, Affordable – Merlin Inferno?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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Konsi
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by Konsi

Dear WW-Community,

It looks like I might be doing my first Triathlon this summer (Half-Ironman-Distance), and as of now, I have no suitable bike. Renting here turns out to be quite expensive, and the used bike market is quite confusing, so I was thinking of trying to buy a frame and build it with used parts and things from sales. The goal would not be an exclusively TT/Tria-bike, but something I could also use for training rides and maybe something like the Alpenbrevet.

Now I have come across the Merlin Inferno frameset, which seems to tick a lot of boxes (I still have a lot of disk stuff lying around), and would cost me less than 600 Euros ( https://www.merlincycles.com/merlin-inf ... 23122.html ). I tend towards a size L (height 180/ inseam 88). Has anyone here any good or bad experiences with Merlin frames in general or this particular one? Or is there a good alternative in the same price range? I looked through the whole Chinese Frame thread (took me some days), but the frames seem to be around the same price and often with much slacker seat tube angles, which would not work so well for the Triathlon.

I am looking forward to your suggestions :)

Best regards

Konstantin

by Weenie


whyamihere
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by whyamihere

I actually bought one of these 2 days ago... I took a punt on it because it looked good for the price, but I'm yet to ride it as I need longer caliper bolts.

First impressions:
It's a bit heavier than claimed. My large frame was around 1250g. The fork was about the claimed weight.
The seatpost 'ears' are only suitable for round saddle rails, and their customer support could not suggest any way to make it work with oval rails. Not a huge problem for me, but I will be trying to find a solution for this at some point.
The internal routing is nicely done. I run Etap, so only had to route the brake hoses, but it has full internal runs so you can just push the hose through and it will come through the other end. Not sure if the same is true for gear cables. It does come with liners for gear cables, but they're in a bag, not through the frame, and I didn't bother trying to find out if they require guiding.
The frame and fork can take rim brakes. This was a surprise, but there's direct mount on the frame and standard mount on the fork. However, they can only take through axles, so if you wanted to use this you'd need to find (or build) a through axle wheelset which has a braking surface.
I'm around your height and went for a large. I was debating between the medium and large, but having built it up I think the large was the right way to go. Obviously I need to actually ride it to know for sure.

Any questions let me know, or if you want my first impressions after riding it (though I'll need a dry day for this, which may be some time).

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Konsi
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by Konsi

Thank you so much for the quick reply! I have two questions relating to the seatpost, the first is how long is it? Considering I would have get to a seat height of 77.5cm, I am wondering if it might be too short. The second question is whether the frame would take a standard round seat post or if I would have to stick with the Merlin-one?

whyamihere
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by whyamihere

It's a 400mm post. You won't have problems getting the saddle high enough. With it slammed and uncut, the bb centre to the top of the saddle (a Specialized Power) is about 72cm. That's as far down as it will go before it hits the bottle cage boss.

Unfortunately it is an oval post, so you can't just swap it out for a round one.

robeambro
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by robeambro

I don't think many people will be able to comment on that frameset (the only fact that they're selling it at 700 EUR with an MSRP of 2100 EUR (67% discount) is a clear indication that it didn't really sell too well. And I bet - the original pricing is pretty much in line with Canyon, so not sure why would anyone ever buy a Merlin frameset over Canyon.

That said, I guess the Merlin would be fine if it's just one Tri that you want to do. But if you plan on possibly racing more Tri's, maybe you'd need to change a few things. Mostly because with a 73deg seat tube angle I don't know how much of a good TT position you could get (I'm a bit smaller so I can't say for sure.. Partly this could be fixed via a more aggressive & smaller frame size (you'd get a steeper angle). But I think 73deg STA would at least command for a zero offset seatpost to be in a somewhat decent TT position. Being the seatpost D-shaped I assume it won't be reversible, so I'd ask Merlin whether there's an option for a zero-offset one?

But yeah, other than Merlin, if that is your price point, China is your friend. I'm sure you could ask here : viewtopic.php?f=3&t=113717&start=3330 .

AJS914
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by AJS914

The link says:
The seatpost on the Merlin Inferno can be rotated 180 degrees to allow you to dramatically adjust your fore and aft position on the bike making it ideal for time trialists and triathletes
Looks like a good deal for a frame and it's probably easier than ordering direct from China. How is Merlin's warranty?

robeambro
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by robeambro

AJS914 wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:49 pm
The link says:
The seatpost on the Merlin Inferno can be rotated 180 degrees to allow you to dramatically adjust your fore and aft position on the bike making it ideal for time trialists and triathletes
Looks like a good deal for a frame and it's probably easier than ordering direct from China. How is Merlin's warranty?
Good catch - I assumed wrong. Well, this changes things, and makes it a very good allrounder.

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Konsi
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by Konsi

robeambro wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:41 pm
I don't think many people will be able to comment on that frameset (the only fact that they're selling it at 700 EUR with an MSRP of 2100 EUR (67% discount) is a clear indication that it didn't really sell too well. And I bet - the original pricing is pretty much in line with Canyon, so not sure why would anyone ever buy a Merlin frameset over Canyon.

But yeah, other than Merlin, if that is your price point, China is your friend. I'm sure you could ask here : viewtopic.php?f=3&t=113717&start=3330 .
If I had the money, I would buy a Canyon Aeroad or a Cannondale (a friend of mine is a dealer for them), but unfortunately, I am on a tiny scholarship and have to do odd jobs to even afford this (driving a moving van and translating books at the moment ...). Fortunately, the frameset would cost me closer to 550 Euros, as I only have to pay the lower Swiss VAT.

Is it ok to crosspost on WW (meaning linking this thread in the China-discussion)?

Best regards

Konstantin

robeambro
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Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2018 6:21 pm

by robeambro

Konsi wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:23 pm
robeambro wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:41 pm
I don't think many people will be able to comment on that frameset (the only fact that they're selling it at 700 EUR with an MSRP of 2100 EUR (67% discount) is a clear indication that it didn't really sell too well. And I bet - the original pricing is pretty much in line with Canyon, so not sure why would anyone ever buy a Merlin frameset over Canyon.

But yeah, other than Merlin, if that is your price point, China is your friend. I'm sure you could ask here : viewtopic.php?f=3&t=113717&start=3330 .
If I had the money, I would buy a Canyon Aeroad or a Cannondale (a friend of mine is a dealer for them), but unfortunately, I am on a tiny scholarship and have to do odd jobs to even afford this (driving a moving van and translating books at the moment ...). Fortunately, the frameset would cost me closer to 550 Euros, as I only have to pay the lower Swiss VAT.

Is it ok to crosspost on WW (meaning linking this thread in the China-discussion)?

Best regards

Konstantin
As for cross-posting I don't know, but surely you can ask for frameset suggestions over there, specifying your requirements.
But if that Merlin is good for you, I'd bag it. Not sure there's anything you're missing with that one.

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Konsi
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by Konsi

whyamihere wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:57 pm
It's a 400mm post. You won't have problems getting the saddle high enough. With it slammed and uncut, the bb centre to the top of the saddle (a Specialized Power) is about 72cm. That's as far down as it will go before it hits the bottle cage boss.

Unfortunately it is an oval post, so you can't just swap it out for a round one.
Thank you for all the information again! Please let me (us) know how it rides when you get a chance. I would have two more small questions: Is there a size for the disc rotors mentioned somewhere? And did it have a Ridley-sticker on it as well ( https://www.cyclist.co.uk/reviews/504/m ... ite-review )?

alcatraz
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by alcatraz

You have quite long legs for your size. Take care picking the frame as you might get reach issues and issues with the headtube or wheelbase being too short.

I'd get a bike with a low bb drop and a shorter reach.

A tt/tri bike fit has been very troublesome for me. I don't suggest to get a tt/tri frame now if your events are around the corner.

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Konsi
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by Konsi

Thank you for the concern. I luckily have also too long arms (189 armspan on 180 height), so a little more reach doesn't hurt too much. The Merlin is a few milimeters longer, but also has a little bit higher stack than a comparable Canyon.

kzy090
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by kzy090

I think it's a pretty good bargain.
I purchased a frame from a OEM Taiwan maker, but was charged about double this price.
Probably Merlin puchases a lot more frames at once, so it makes the price cheaper, even for the same frame set.
You might find something cheaper on Alibaba, but from my opinion it is pretty risky.
At least Merlin cycles chose this frame from the maker's catalog, so I think that opinion matters.
I think people in the industry can make better decisions than I.
My frame had poor tolerances(95mm wide fork, hard to work internal routing, etc), but once built, it rides OK.

robeambro
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by robeambro

Konsi wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:46 pm
Thank you for the concern. I luckily have also too long arms (189 armspan on 180 height), so a little more reach doesn't hurt too much. The Merlin is a few milimeters longer, but also has a little bit higher stack than a comparable Canyon.
Being very similar to you (178mm height, ~86 inseam, ~188 armspan) I can tell you that longer arms require more drop rather than more reach.

That being said, usually a shorter stem can compensate for excessive frame reach, but in your case a smaller frame size may be also a very valid option.

by Weenie


whyamihere
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Joined: Tue Aug 05, 2008 7:18 pm

by whyamihere

Konsi wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 11:35 pm
whyamihere wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:57 pm
It's a 400mm post. You won't have problems getting the saddle high enough. With it slammed and uncut, the bb centre to the top of the saddle (a Specialized Power) is about 72cm. That's as far down as it will go before it hits the bottle cage boss.

Unfortunately it is an oval post, so you can't just swap it out for a round one.
Thank you for all the information again! Please let me (us) know how it rides when you get a chance. I would have two more small questions: Is there a size for the disc rotors mentioned somewhere? And did it have a Ridley-sticker on it as well ( https://www.cyclist.co.uk/reviews/504/m ... ite-review )?
There's no recommendations on the rotor size that I know of, but it is flat mount, which basically means you can either use 140mm or 160mm rotors. I've actually got mine set up with 160mm front, 140mm rear, both with flat mount to post mount adaptors because my previous frame, and so my calipers, are post mount and I don't want to change them yet.

There's no Ridley stickers on it that I've found. That doesn't necessarily mean it isn't made by Ridley, especially as Merlin appear to have had a manufacturing relationship with them, but I can't confirm it either way.

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