Merlin Extralight Featured Road Bike $8,499.00
With composite frames having solidified their place at the top of the racing realm — dressed in the lightest, most efficient, and aerodynamic componentry — we have no shortage of options when seeking that ultimate machine. But when the search involves finding the one bicycle that will last a lifetime, with a sense of class unmoved by cyclical trends, the humble, beautiful, and durable qualities that define titanium tubes are never wrong. That's where the Merlin Extralight Featured Road Bike resides, as it's been built up with a carefully selected group of today's best race-worthy components, mated to Merlin's finest example of a timeless titanium road frame.
The Extralight features the same double-butted 3Al-2.5V titanium (3-2.5) tubing of yesteryear. But, to refresh your memory, we'll shed some light on this designation. Simply put, it refers to the percentages of the material composition, with the "three" being 3% aluminum, the "2.5" being 2.5% vanadium, and the remaining 94.5% being that of titanium. In its original application, 3-2.5 was used throughout the aerospace industry for its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio and high resistance to corrosion. Today, however, you'll find its primary application in the high pressure hydraulic lines of airplanes, and of course, in the Merlin Extralight.
Still, strength and low weight considered, the question begs to be asked, why 3-2.5 titanium? Well, it all comes down to its ride quality. In comparison to other alloys, you'll find that 3-2.5 features a higher strength-to-weight ratio, lower sidewall density, and a higher elastic modulus, all in exponential figures. But, in layman's terms, this means that the Extralight is lighter, stiffer, and stronger than other alloys — even the exotics like scandium and magnesium. However, we feel that these terms are simply thrown around far too often, so let us explain how these actually translate to ride quality.
3-2.5 expresses less deformity under stress than aluminum, but more so than carbon fiber. This characteristic translates to a highly responsive and direct feel under load. However, unlike carbon fiber, which strategically redirects shock energy throughout the frame, 3-2.5's elastic modulus creates a natural dampening of vibration and shock. The Extralight benefits from less abrasive handling without diminishing any of its natural stiffness.
And this brings us onto the subject of engineered-in rigidity. Merlin brought the Extralight into the modern age by increasing the diameter of the tubing to 1.375in at the top and seat tubes and 0.875in at the seatstays. You'll also find that this generation features a 44mm oversized head tube that's been mated with a full carbon Enve Composites fork. Additionally, Merlin designed the bike around a PressFit 30 bottom bracket. This allows for the use of a contemporary drivetrain, which will guarantee efficient power transfer along the S-bend chainstays to the rear wheel. Merlin also took the liberty of varying the downtube's diameter to correspond with frame size. As a result, the smaller frames feature a 1.5in diameter down tube, while you'll find 1.75in tubes on the larger frames. The head and seat tube angles are likewise size-specific. Essentially, this tunes the characteristics to each frame size, creating a seemingly custom feel. And just as importantly, the aforementioned updates make the Extralight stiffer, increasingly responsive, and more compliant than any iteration before.
But, of course, we can't discuss the topic of Merlin without mentioning its uncompromising level of craftsmanship. Every Extralight features U.S.-sourced titanium tubing and is hand-built in the USA. Each frame includes a Chris King Inset 7 headset and a Thomson seatpost collar. Of course, the Extralight's welds are seamless, and due to 3-2.5's natural resistance to corrosion, its beautiful, brushed finish will never rust — even for those living seaside.
Adding to the bird-of-prey ferocity of the Extralight, a full complement of SRAM comprises the drivetrain. We spec'd the Merlin Extralight with SRAM's Red 22 11-speed groupset. The crankset is the SRAM Red 50/34t compact, which has been paired with a SRAM XG-1190 11-25t cassette out back. For the cockpit, the build features ENVE's Road Bar and stem. Topping the ENVE post is a Fi'zi:k Arione Braided Carbon Saddle. The bike rolls on a pair of ENVE Smart System 3.4 Carbon Road Wheels that have been cased in Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II tires.
The Merlin Extralight Featured Road Bike is available in the color Brushed Titanium and in the sizes 50, 51, 52, 54, 55, 57, and 58cm. Please note that the sizing numeral references the top tube length of the frame. To be certain on fit, please reference our size chart.
Effective Top Tube
Head Tube Angle
Seat Tube Angle
Bottom Bracket Drop
|35.8cm||74.4cm||11.2cm||70.0 deg||74.5 deg||7.45cm||40.8cm|
|36.9cm||75.4cm||11.7cm||70.5 deg||74.5 deg||7.45cm||40.8cm|
|52||52.5cm||52.5cm||52.7cm||37.2cm||76.3cm||12.5cm||71.5 deg||74.0 deg||7.45cm||40.8cm|
|54||55.0cm||54.5cm||54.5cm||38.3cm||78.1cm||14.0cm||72.5 deg||73.5 deg||7.45cm||41.0cm|
|55||57.5cm||55.7cm||56.5cm||38.9cm||80.5cm||16.0cm||72.75 deg||73.5 deg||7.45cm||41.0cm|
|58||62.5cm||58.7cm||60.6cm||39.7cm||84.1cm||18.8cm||73.5 deg||72.5 deg||7.45cm||41.4cm|
Reviews & Community
My new favorite brand
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
There's a reason why you see a lot of old dudes riding Ti frames. Ti reminds them of the sweet steel bike they rode 30 years ago. But Ti goes a step further. That smoothness is combine with incredible light weight and with modern tubing a wonderfully responsive feel on the road.
I've now ridden the new carbon Merlin Empire and most recently the Extralight. I am so enamored with both that Merlin is now my favorite brand.
For the Extralight, the first thing I noticed was just how sexy the Ti coloring and fatter tubes really are. This bike looks hot! Second, I noticed the beautiful welds. The Extrlight is handmade in the USA and the attention to detail is impeccable.
The ride is out of this world. I've been on the Pinarello Dogma and the Dogma was damp, too damp for me. It absorbed bumps but felt dead. The Extralight on the other hand was damp and smooth, but keeps a lively feel. It doesn't have the snap of the carbon Empire, but the bikes have different purposes. The Empire is more a pure racer. The Extralight would be my choice for and "everything" bike. Race it, climb with it, do some centuries. This would be my bike for the 206 mile LOTOJA Classic.
The Extralight complete build also has my favorite bar/stem/seat post combo. The Enve cockpit is the perfect balance of stiffness and comfort. I also know the Enve people personally. Their products are worth the extra expense.
Merlin has it down. The Extralight should be on the top of anyone's list if they're looking for an excellent all around bike.