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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys -

Somewhat of a newbe, hope you guys can help me out with my decision. I am currently looking at two bike's.

Bike #1 - "Brand New" 2002 Merlin Extralight with the following setup -

Crank arms: FSA Carbon, 172.5mm, 53/39 teeth chainrings
Flight Deck: Dura Ace
Front Derailleur: Dura Ace
Rear Derailleur: Dura Ace
Brake Callipers: Ultegra
Stem: 3T Forgie XL, 110mm
Handlebar: 3T Forgie Bar XL, 42cm
Cassette: Dura Ace, 11-23
Wheelset: Velomax Circuit
Fork: Time Millenium Carbon
Tires: Panaracer Stardius Pro
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR
Seatpost: Easton EC70 Carbon

High to Very high 2K

or

Bike #2 - "Brand New" 2004 Merlin Cyrene

Full Dura Ace 10 Speed
ITM Millenium S.O. Handle Bar & Stem
Mavic SS Rims and hubs
Easton EC-70 Seatpost
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR

Mid 3K

Either bike is at my breaking point - but willing to go for it.

Any help from you guys will be greatly appreaciated

Thanks
Wild
 

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Wild said:
Hi guys -

Somewhat of a newbe,
Both those bikes are too nice for a newbie. Hope this helps. ;)

Seriously, once you're up in that category it comes down to personal fit and personal preferences. What exactly is it that you're trying to decide? Durability of the framesets? Ride quality? How big are you, and I mean that in a cycling way, as that may make a difference in which might be the better frame for your size/weight.

I'll let the techies take over from here as either of those bikes are currently way out of my price range. Either would be nice though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
treebound - thank you so much for your reply, here's the scoop

My dilemma is that I'm looking for a (Ti) frame with components that are condusive to my objectives which will give me the biggest bang for the buck - I'm really not in the position of spending the big bucks myself (but will extend myself a bit) - which brings me to my problem (were to cut corners) - and unfortunately I'm not as versed in bike setup's as you guys are. I'd also like to try to cut through some of the marketing hype vs real world differences between one setup from another. I guess what I'm asking is if you guys can get me going in the right direction i.e. would better components on a cheaper frame be better or vise versa - hence my vague original post.

My objective and bike expectations:

I'm 5'10' 180 lbs

Light weight - Plenty of hills and there long

Smooth Ride - Long aggresive distance riding (Approx. 350 miles per week) on city streets with bumps along the way - (why I took ALU. out of the equation)

Maintance - Low maintance on frame (Ti)

Longevity of Frame and components: I don't want to go through this process again for a long time - this is worse than buying a car :confused:

Racing: Maybe some recreational/club/and or friendly racing among friends down the road.

Warranty and service.

Now that I'm asking for the world :D - any tips would by greatly appreciated.

Once again thanks for listening
Wild

PS - treebound - loved your opening line humor :)
 

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Humor is good, it helps keep the world in perspective.

Wild said:
... I'm looking for a (Ti) frame ... which will give me the biggest bang for the buck ...

My objective and bike expectations:

I'm 5'10' 180 lbs

Light weight - Plenty of hills and there long

Smooth Ride - Long aggresive distance riding (Approx. 350 miles per week) on city streets with bumps along the way - (why I took ALU. out of the equation)

Maintance - Low maintance on frame (Ti)

Longevity of Frame and components: I don't want to go through this process again for a long time - this is worse than buying a car :confused:

Racing: Maybe some recreational/club/and or friendly racing among friends down the road.

Warranty and service.
I've found that it helps a lot to give some specifics, then those with broader experience have more data to respond to. With that in mind I'll ask a few more questions and give some comments along the way based on my own experiences.

First question is, both the frames/bikes you've selected are Merlins, why? There's nothing wrong with Merlins, but do you like them, or are they sold in a local bike shop, or "just because"? For me, personally, if/when I start looking to get a titanium frameset I'll start with Lightspeed and move out from there. The discussion here yesterday about the Moots frames is interesting reading. If there is a personal reason you've focused on Merlins then that will greatly narrow down your options, but if not then that opens up a whole realm of possibilities and probably adds way too much confusion to the decision. BUT, and this is a big "but", you mention warranty and service. I know nothing about Merlin's warranty record, Moots is reportedly good, Lightspeed is good from my understanding on their Ti frames, Colnago's is time consuming and nice but limited.

Second question is, wherever you are located, how is the local bike scene? Are there more than a few decent shops around? (This may seem like more than one question, but they are all really asking the same thing, sort of.) Are there any fairly well organized race teams in the area? Are there any regular pre-season and in-season group training rides that the local roadies participate in in fairly large numbers? What LBS's (Local Bike Shops) sponsor which teams, either partially or fully? You don't need actual factual answers to these questions, but you should try to get a fairly competant understanding of the local bike scene relative to these issues as it will help you to find a good competant LBS to help in your bike selection and setup of it and for support and service later on down the road.

Second question, part B, are you planning on working on your own bike? Are you fairly well mechanically adept and do you have a decent selection of tools? This will help you to know if you should just get a bare frameset and build it up with components, or if getting a nicer frameset with a lower level (note I did not specifically say lower quality but lower level) of components and upgrading the components later on as you progress in your skills and needs. Your local bike community situation will tell you if you'll be doing a lot of mail/internet ordering, or if you'll be able to get parts over the counter with a little face-to-face guidance along the way. Trust me, it is real nice to have a competant shop owner offer to let you ride two or three of his personal bikes to note the difference in feel between various levels of components.

I'm just shy of 6' and 235-240Lbs, but people say I look about 5'10" and 190-200 or so. By the end of this season I plan to have my weight down to 200 or less and will hopefully maintain my height. ;) . At 180Lbs you're on the upper end of the general cyclist population, and there are a lot of us at this end of the scale. As far as climbing goes relative to bike weight, at my weight I'm more concerned with how full my water bottle is than I am with the ultimate weight of my bike. I'm a decent climber when I'm in shape, and have surprised a lot of people by cranking past them sitting down going up a hill while they've geared down and stood up and are cranking/bobbing hard. I'm not that fast, but I've learned what works for me, and a lightweight frame for climbing isn't it. I much prefer stability. Gearing and training will get you over more hills than a half-pound savings in a frameset. But light is nice - especially at the end of a long ride, but not at the expense of stability, and at 180Lbs you'll really need to ride the different bikes to see how they feel to you. I sat on one lightweight bike once and never bothered to even take it for a test ride because when I weighted one pedal the whole bottom end flexed all over the place, I couldn't imagine trying to ride that bike up any big hill where I'd have to stand and crank.

For city streets and bumpy roads you'll probably be happiest with 25mm tires, but read the tire diameter thread for some input. Frame geometry will help determine what type of ride the bike gives you, but tires are a large factor in relative road feel. A bike with a steeper fork angle or tighter geometry may feel more harsh, or may not. Longer chainstays can help smooth out rough roads, as can a more relaxed steering angle, but these are not condusive to racing needs where stability and quickness takes precedence over comfort, but an uncomfortable bike isn't fun to ride. Give and take process, but 25mm tires, or maybe 23's depending on the brand will probably be the way for you to go.

I have a Colnago MasterLight that I got from my former LBS. It was a dealer/trade show buildup bike that he got a killer deal on, then hung in his shop for a year or three, and then I got a killer deal on it from him. He built it up for me with some nice top-end Shimano components that one of his sponsored team mates was upgrading from t Campy gear. My previous road bike that I still have was a Centurion E-Lite from the late 80's early 90's. The Colnago steers tighter and corners better than the Centurion does, but if I were to take a ride from Milwaukee to Minneapolis I'd probably take the Centurion (maybe, or not) due to ride comfort. The point I'm making is that with your two Merlin choices you'd be well advised to try and ride them both before deciding.

Looking at the geometries between the two and using the 56cm frame for comparison:
Merlin Extralight vs Cyrene
Top tube is 56.1cm vs 56.1
Head tube angle 73.5degrees vs 73.5
Seat tube angle 73 degrees vs 73
Chainstay length 41cm vs 41
Wheelbase 98.1cm vs 98.1
Fork rake 40mm vs 40mm
Frame weight 2.8Lbs vs 3.2Lbs
Material 3/2.5 vs 3/2.5

Hmmm, uh, they appear to be the same bike, but the heavier Cyrene does not have decals and is instead engraved so maybe they use thicker tubes? And the merlinbikes website isn't very print-friendly with their popup windows (at least from the computer I'm using) so it's hard to compare.

But, for me, since it appears that you can get comparable component options on both framesets, I kind of like the no-decal engraved one better just because of the no-decal aspect of it. Nothing to get scrached off over the years, and a unique custom look to it. And the extra few ounces wouldn't be a concern for me personally.

And finally, shame on you, after looking at them I find that there is a fairly close dealer to me. My wife would kill me. Going to have to wander down there and look at one in person. I've been thinking of a Ti bike someday, wonder if they'll take a rusty pickup in trade? All my rambling was probably no help, but maybe it will drag a Merlin owner out of the woodwork for some firsthand knowledge of them. Either way I don't think you'd go wrong with either choice. But do try to ride each one first.

And now I'm off to compare geometries to my own bike to do my own comparison.
 

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sure about that price???

Someone must be offering you a great deal on the Cyrene. The frame is normally $1950 at Excel Sports. With a standard DA 10 build kit ($1900) and a decent fork ($330) the total is $4130.

You don't mention if the Extralight in 10-speed, but that is certainly the way to go. 9-speed is on the way out. You can also get a Campy 10-speed equipped bike for less, since they now offer 10-speed groups at four different price levels.

The most important thing is to get bike that fits. The biggest newbie mistake is buying the wrong size frame.
 
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