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Future classic Merlin Extralight

Old 03-11-23, 12:22 AM
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seagrade 
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Future classic Merlin Extralight









Having thought the Merlin Extralight was the best of the best in the mid-90s I finally found one in my size, albeit a later c. 2002 vintage, last year and got it on the road today for an easy two hours ahead of an early-autumn Masters social race tomorrow. Far too soon to say the hype is real but looking forward to some good long rides before winter sets in.
Campagnolo Chorus was as much as if not more than I ever needed through all its iterations since introduction in the 80s, and I still prefer to put time and money into frame and wheels rather than groupset.
This bicycle is 11-speed mechanical rim brake, near the end of an era ahead of battery-assisted shifting, and aluminium-rimmed wheels albeit clincher.
While these frames were designed for carbon forks Iíve never been a True Believer in the carbon steerer/Aheadset stem/compression plug interface and repurposed a Rock Lobster steel fork originally built for a now-departed Ritchey Road Logic, although itís a little short and drops the top tube about 5mm along its length. Another steel fork is on its way across the water and should even things up in time.
Always enjoy reading the stories of othersí non-stock creations on these pages and hope this is of passing interest to someone.
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Old 03-11-23, 02:09 AM
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Originally Posted by seagrade View Post
While these frames were designed for carbon forks Iíve never been a True Believer in the carbon steerer/Aheadset stem/compression plug interface and repurposed a Rock Lobster steel fork originally built for a now-departed Ritchey Road Logic, although itís a little short and drops the top tube about 5mm along its length. Another steel fork is on its way across the water and should even things up in time.
Always enjoy reading the stories of othersí non-stock creations on these pages and hope this is of passing interest to someone.
I love my '96 EL. Weirdly energetic and smooth.

If you don't like carbon steerers, why not use a carbon fork with a metal steerer?
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Old 03-11-23, 02:21 AM
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Originally Posted by seagrade View Post







.
That landscape looks very familiar ! ?
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Old 03-11-23, 07:35 AM
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outstanding bike - congrats

I wouldn’t put a steel fork on it - but that’s just me
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Old 03-11-23, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by 1simplexnut View Post
That landscape looks very familiar ! ?
Makara Stream, at least I guess itís called Makara Stream, half a k back from the beach. Great country roads 20 minutes from the CBD.
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Old 03-11-23, 12:16 PM
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Very nice bike, enjoy it
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Old 03-11-23, 12:44 PM
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Very cool bike. I was on my Medici one day and an old Italian guy on an Extralight pulled up beside me, gave me the, “Nice Bike” and then told me I should next get one like his/yours and that it was the most expensive bike you could buy. (He owned the shop that likely originally built up my Medici was at the time selling Merlin.

Between you and Andy_K we are on a slippery slope over here.
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Old 03-11-23, 03:39 PM
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Very nice! I did something very similar last year. Back in the mid-90s, I fell in love with the idea of a Litespeed Ultimate. The last few years, I've looked for a frame in my size at a price I felt was fair, but it seemed like all the late-90s Ultimates were 57s, or 61s, but not 59, OR they were asking > $1500 for a 25 year old frame! FINALLY one came up on Ebay, a complete bike, but with all the components essentially worn out. The price was pretty good, and because it didn't present well nobody else grabbed it while I made up my mind.

I initially built it up with Dura Ace 7410 kit, to be the bike I wanted back then. That was really nice, and I loved that build, but I'm a little old and fat for 39x25 as my lowest gear! So I bit the bullet again, and built it up with R8000 Ultegra.

I confess I was a little afraid that I'd get the bike, and build it up, and find it to be nothing special. But the opposite is true! It turned out better than I'd hoped and now my other bikes are practically languishing, because I keep taking the Litespeed for every ride.

EDIT: It came with the original Time carbon fork with threaded alloy steerer, and since it's in good shape, I kept that.
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Old 03-11-23, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Very nice! I did something very similar last year. Back in the mid-90s, I fell in love with the idea of a Litespeed Ultimate. The last few years, I've looked for a frame in my size at a price I felt was fair, but it seemed like all the late-90s Ultimates were 57s, or 61s, but not 59, OR they were asking > $1500 for a 25 year old frame! FINALLY one came up on Ebay, a complete bike, but with all the components essentially worn out. The price was pretty good, and because it didn't present well nobody else grabbed it while I made up my mind.

I initially built it up with Dura Ace 7410 kit, to be the bike I wanted back then. That was really nice, and I loved that build, but I'm a little old and fat for 39x25 as my lowest gear! So I bit the bullet again, and built it up with R8000 Ultegra.

I confess I was a little afraid that I'd get the bike, and build it up, and find it to be nothing special. But the opposite is true! It turned out better than I'd hoped and now my other bikes are practically languishing, because I keep taking the Litespeed for every ride.

EDIT: It came with the original Time carbon fork with threaded alloy steerer, and since it's in good shape, I kept that.
geat Litespeedthanks for sharing
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Old 03-11-23, 08:49 PM
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My '94 mildly differs from your '02. Both Tom Kellogg versions, which includes the bowed chainstays.
Such a nice ride and virtually indestructible. Mine comes outfitted with a Kestrel EMS fork. I recommend carbon fiber there.
I bought mine off eBay in about '07, at the time thinking of putting period-correct Dura Ace on it.
I slapped on a well-used STI 8sp system on it and loved the way the bike handled. Threaded bottom bracket.
So then it became my main ride, first with 10sp DA and then with 11sp mechanical to this day.
40,000+ miles later, it rides like new. Fantastic bike.

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Old 03-11-23, 10:03 PM
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Mine. '96, I recall. I bought it with all DA 7410 and a Kestrel fork. I swapped out everything but the Kore seatpost. With the Kinlin wheels I built, pedals and alloy bars it weighs 16 lbs.

I apologize for the Step-In pedal adapters.
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Old 03-11-23, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr View Post
My '94 mildly differs from your '02. Both Tom Kellogg versions, which includes the bowed chainstays.
Such a nice ride and virtually indestructible. Mine comes outfitted with a Kestrel EMS fork. I recommend carbon fiber there.
I bought mine off eBay in about '07, at the time thinking of putting period-correct Dura Ace on it.
I slapped on a well-used STI 8sp system on it and loved the way the bike handled. Threaded bottom bracket.
So then it became my main ride, first with 10sp DA and then with 11sp mechanical to this day.
40,000+ miles later, it rides like new. Fantastic bike.
That’s the one I’d have liked as a youngish senior racer in the mid-90s but I settled for (well my bank balance settled for) a still-exceptional Merlin Road with Time Vectran carbon fork with threaded steerer. A great bicycle too and had I held on to it I wouldn't be in my current situation…

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Old 03-11-23, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
Mine. '96, I recall. I bought it with all DA 7410 and a Kestrel fork. I swapped out everything but the Kore seatpost. With the Kinlin wheels I built, pedals and alloy bars it weighs 16 lbs.

I apologize for the Step-In pedal adapters.
Sublime. Mineís a 60x58cm and at that size Iíd need to buy something Iíd later regret to get down to 16lbs. As shown mine is 18lbs 5oz with pedals, as if weighing a bicycle without pedals made any sense at allÖ!
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Old 03-11-23, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
I love my '96 EL. Weirdly energetic and smooth.

If you don't like carbon steerers, why not use a carbon fork with a metal steerer?
Fair question. I had a c. 1995 Merlin Road with a Time Vectran carbon fork with threaded steerer. Perfectly good, although I grew up with steel forks and just prefer the way they feel.

I do watch with passing interest the slow emergence of titanium forks with segmented crowns, made viable by the advent of larger diameter head tubes I expect, but near enough is good enough for me at this stage.

My frame was sold without a fork, which helped bring it into the realm of affordability at the time, so I was starting from scratch anyway.
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Old 03-12-23, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by seagrade View Post
Sublime. Mineís a 60x58cm and at that size Iíd need to buy something Iíd later regret to get down to 16lbs. As shown mine is 18lbs 5oz with pedals, as if weighing a bicycle without pedals made any sense at allÖ!
If you got a 58 down to 18 lbs with a steel fork, you're doing something right. My frame is small and my fork particularly light and all carbon.
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Old 03-12-23, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post


Mine. '96, I recall. I bought it with all DA 7410 and a Kestrel fork. I swapped out everything but the Kore seatpost. With the Kinlin wheels I built, pedals and alloy bars it weighs 16 lbs.

I apologize for the Step-In pedal adapters.
Love the Ritchey crank!
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Old 03-12-23, 10:55 AM
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I don't have any idea what my Litespeed weighs, in 59. A little more than my CF Canyon, and a bit less than my steel Ritchey. And that's good enough for me.
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Old 03-12-23, 10:59 AM
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Nice bike, I've been keeping an eye out for a reasonably priced Merlin (or litespeed) in my size. Curious about the difference between the Extralight and non-extralight versions and if it's worth it holding out for the EL? Seems like maximum tire size on most of these older titanium frames is 25mm.
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Old 03-12-23, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Love the Ritchey crank!
They are super cool. I have the silver Pro model on my Litespeed made Basso Gap Ti.
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Old 03-12-23, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by dukeofearl View Post
Nice bike, I've been keeping an eye out for a reasonably priced Merlin (or litespeed) in my size. Curious about the difference between the Extralight and non-extralight versions and if it's worth it holding out for the EL? Seems like maximum tire size on most of these older titanium frames is 25mm.
The 2002 Extralight at the top of this thread has an actual 28mm GP5000 at present and room for an actual 30mm. From memory I used actual 27mm Conti Competition tubulars in my c. 1995 Merlin Road with no issues.
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Old 03-12-23, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by dukeofearl View Post
Nice bike, I've been keeping an eye out for a reasonably priced Merlin (or litespeed) in my size. Curious about the difference between the Extralight and non-extralight versions and if it's worth it holding out for the EL? Seems like maximum tire size on most of these older titanium frames is 25mm.
My '96 has a fair amount of clearance above the 25c Continentals I have mounted. Wider rims can also give you more volume without making the tire as tall.

Merlin and Tom Kellogg say that the EL rides just like the standard, some riders say different and think the EL is too flexible. For my 150 lbs, and small frame size, the EL has an amazing ride, but I don't have a similar round tube Ti bike to compare it to (shaped Ti rides differently). Of the two, the EL is more likely to have a failure - but not particularly likely.

Unless weight is on your mind, I would opt for the standard Ti Merlin. The price should be a hair lower and the ride less of a guessing game. (Though I think the complainers don't realize how valuable that flex is.)
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Old 03-12-23, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by dukeofearl View Post
Nice bike, I've been keeping an eye out for a reasonably priced Merlin (or litespeed) in my size. Curious about the difference between the Extralight and non-extralight versions and if it's worth it holding out for the EL? Seems like maximum tire size on most of these older titanium frames is 25mm.
I run 28's, with ease. The rear looks like it will take up to 32, but I never tried. My EMS fork maxes out at 28.
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Old 03-12-23, 12:25 PM
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Seagrade - I like the steel fork. Got two ti bikes with steel forks. I rode a steel forked Merlin for a quick spin around 1990 and felt it was simply the whole package. Took me many years to be in a place to afford the needed custom version and I then I was living in Portland and the local ti builder had been making me stems for my ape arms so going to him, not Merlin across the country was a no brainer.

Edit: My 2nd TiCycles with its steel fork. 19 pounds with pedals. No attempts at weight savings. (Well, ti seatpost but on a clamp with 65 mm setback. And a not-so-light Cinelli 130 quill stem) Yes, fix gear. Photo taken while doing what she (Jessica J) was made for, climbing a 14% wall at Cycle Oregon.

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Old 03-12-23, 12:33 PM
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well that's all very encouraging about the tires sizes. i weight 140 so I'm guessing standard or EL would do just fine, depending on what i can find.
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Old 03-12-23, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Seagrade - I like the steel fork. Got two ti bikes with steel forks. I rode a steel forked Merlin for a quick spin around 1990 and felt it was simply the whole package. Took me many years to be in a place to afford the needed custom version and I then I was living in Portland and the local ti builder had been making me stems for my ape arms so going to him, not Merlin across the country was a no brainer.

Edit: My 2nd TiCycles with its steel fork. 19 pounds with pedals. No attempts at weight savings. (Well, ti seatpost but on a clamp with 65 mm setback. And a not-so-light Cinelli 130 quill stem) Yes, fix gear. Photo taken while doing what she (Jessica J) was made for, climbing a 14% wall at Cycle Oregon.
Arguably, eliminating derailleurs might be an "attempt at weight savings".


Personally, I don't care for steel forks in general. They seem unnecessarily stiff, if you have the option either way. But that is just preference, not performance. No one lost the TdF because their fork was too stiff or too flexy.
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