Great handling, stiff, comfortable race bike. I've always ridden nice road bikes. Most have been Italian steel, but I did have two Cannondales from the 90's and that is what I thought this frame would be like. I moved a full Campy Record group from a lugged steel EL Coppi. I could feel a big weight change (much lighter) and a comfort change (smoother). The Merckx SC has very neutral handling. I found that I could be much more relaxed when I was riding in the red zone, especially in the higher speeds. Sprinting in and out of the saddle was enhanced by the steady handling. At my cornering limit, the wheels would move in a very predictable manner, which made it easy for me to stay at the edge. I never expected the big tube frame to be comfortable, but it feels super smooth on chip-n-seal roads. I've used two sets of wheels with this build - Campy Eurus and Mavic CX30/Record hub combo. Both feel about the same weight. The Mavic ones are a bit more aero and roll faster, the Eurus are a bit more compliant, but it is like splitting hairs between the two. Riding this bike, I get the feeling that this bike is made to be ridden hard. Putting more pressure on the pedals bring the bike to life. No fork/ft end issues. I don't carry my bike on the roof and I ride a different bike in the rain. I got the red/white/blue Lotto version. I don't mean this in a bad way, but if you don't ride fast, I'm not sure you would like this one.
Similar Products Used: Coppi EL, Carerra Zeus, Moser AX, Bianchi EL, Cannondale x.x .....
Bike Setup: Campy Record Ergo, Eurus and Mavic wheels, 3TTT bars, Time RSX ti pedals, SLR saddle, White tape!
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: June 19, 2006
Strengths: Super stable on descents, super comfortable, light weight.
Weaknesses: Bring back the old head tube logo!
I've had the rare opportunity to ride the (now legendary) Merckx Super Corsa steel frame (Columbus TSX tubing), the original Domo/Farm-Frites Merckx Team SC and the later Lotto-Domo Team SC III. This review will focus on the Team SC III, but first a brief history for comparison.
Without a doubt the "steel is real" Super Corsa was an incredible bike, but after 8 years and at 24lbs fully dressed, it was time to let it go. My next frame was the original Team SC that took 1-2-3 at Paris-Rubaix. Mine must have been one of first in the country because it featured the rare, but really cool "devil" icons but no team logos. It was light, fast, and stable, but after a few years, the BB seemed to soften. I changed from an 11-23 to a 12-25 cassette but the angle of the seatstay got in the way and wouldn't allow it to shift out of 12 without rubbing. This was Eddy's first foray into Scandium and there was learning to do.
But, the bike had what I wanted in terms of ride quality. It soaked up the road noise and small bumps but still felt connected to the road. It was also super light for climbing and ultra stable on twisty decents (the 40-50 mph kind). So, I decided to see what Eddy had learned in the mean time and picked up the new Team SC III. Eddy was taking notes!
The Team SC III delivered all of the great ride quality and addressed previous shortcomings. The primary difference being a larger diameter seat tube (and matching seat post) which stiffened up the Bottom Bracket dramatically—and continues to do so several years on. Eddy also lengthened the head tube so instead of 30mm of spacers, I'm down to 10mm. Eddy also fixed the seat stays so I can run an 11, 12, or 13 small cog and the shifting is perfect. Bravo!
If you're craving a super-light carbon bling-mobile, consider saving a ton of samolians and find a used Lotto-Domo Team SC. You won't be sorry.
it's really sad to read the reviews that suggest Eddy goofed the headset or fork. I love this fork. It's a perfect match for the frame and I've had no problems whatsoever with it or the integrated headset. (I originally tried Ksyrium SSC wheels but they felt soft and it took a while to wind-up the rear. When I switched to Campy Eurus, problem solved. (I've yet to have to true them even after three years)
Now that carbon is "cool" again, everyone seems to think that an aluminum frame is either too stiff or too wimpy but clearly, in the right hands, it can deliver comfort without being sloppy. Eddy's Team SC is the best example I've found to date. By comparison, I also ride a Pinarello SL with identical build kit and while it's stiff, it's about a half pound heavier and on the same rides, larger bumps that I can take easily on the Merckx bounce me off the saddle on the Prince. (Lesson learned: Prince for racing, Merckx for climbing and comfort).
Similar Products Used: Schwinn Paramount, Merckx Super Corsa, Merckx Team SC (Domo Farm-Frites), Trek 5500, Pinarello Prince, Pinarello Prince SL, Colnago C40
Bike Setup: Size 57cm with 2003 Campy Record 10-spd, Campy Eurus clinchers, Conti GP3000 tires, Flite Ti saddle, Merckx carbon post, FSA Platinum Pro ISIS BB and Carbon Pro Elite Compact Carbon crankset, Keo pedals, Deda Newton OS bar and stem, Tack Tao cages. Bike weight 17 lbs. I'm 5'11", 220lbs
a Road Racer
Date Reviewed: May 19, 2006
Strengths: The paint job (Lotto Dommo job). The handling on descents is indeed superb. The frame is a good mix of comfort versus stiffness though neither very comfortable (by comparison to the steel Colnago) neither really stiff (by comparison to my Principia alu time trial bike)
Weaknesses: The whole front end
It`s amazing how prejudice will influence one`s opinion and this goes for both negative and positive opinions. For me, I can say that I was sold with all the hype about Eddy who I admire as a cyclist and all the talk about his meticulousness,attention to every detail, blah,blah..I was also misdirected in my purchase from a review in Bicycling magazine describing the Team Sc as the ultimate. Well, for a while that is what I thought but over time I have come to change my mind. The main reason is the damn Forks which sway from side to side. As time passes the more flexy the bike has gotten even though this may be attributed to the wheels. I will soon find out as I am about to purchase a good set of racing wheels so we`ll see. Did I mention how many times have I changed the headset. Why? a bike at this price should have been better designed at the fron end, so think again before you spend such a large chunk of your money. By comparison, I just bought an old beat up Colnago steel bike to ride during my vacations when I go to Greece (from Luxembourg where I work and live most of the year) and I realized what a truly comfortable and resilient bike really feels like. So think again before departing with a significant amount of cash for this bike. Tried a Colnago recently?
Strengths: Stiff, stable, smooth, and DURABLE. I crashed 3 times in races on this. One crash was an endo at 25 mph. I crossed wheels with a guy in front of me, which whipped my front end around 90 degrees in a milisecond. With the front end cross-wise to my momentum, you can imagine the pogo stick effect. I pulled shoulder muscles when the handlebars whipped around, but the bike was fine. Another time a crash in front of me in a crit forced me to hop a curb...only to run into a steel garbage can at 35mph. Again, the SC was unscathed.
Weaknesses: In Seattle, you race and ride a lot in the rain, and my headset has now been replaced ~6 times due to corrosion (both FSA and Campy models had identical issues). After every wet race, I would literally have to remove the fork and headset to drain the frame and dry everything out. I'm surprised that someone as finicky as Eddy would allow such an obvious (to me) flaw. Then again, no one else on this review site has had the same issues with their SC, so maybe they're solved now.
This is a review covering 4 years of racing and riding: Everything about this bike is perfect except the integrated headset. Maybe the newer SC's have fixed the problem, but mine leaks a lot of water into the frame.