So we actually were turned on to the small bike brand Merit while out on the road & trail testing some much more expensive bikes. This bike above was the one that I did a bit of wheel sucking behind on the ride home, as I tried to figure out what it was. At first it looked like a one-off camouflaged prototype paint job, but it turns out to be an expertly crafted water transfer finish. This bike itself is actually the predecessor to Merit’s new adventure gravel bike the Merit Plus, which gets updated to 700c/650b Road Plus wheel sizing and even offers rack & fender mounts in a relatively affordable carbon frameset…
We don’t have photos of the new Plus bike yet with the optional full water transfer, so here are a couple more shots of the prior bike decked out in black on white skulls. You don’t see many frames with water transfer paint jobs, as it’s really is difficult to pull off well. Merit has a guy on their team who is an expert though, and with a lot of careful pattern optimization, precise masking, and patience they do some impressive work.
Merit is a small brand run out of a tiny Czech workshop and starts with what are essentially standard catalog bikes made in Taiwan. They are not shy about that, working with producers who also make some of the top-end bikes in the industry. Merit works with the factory to make modifications like carbon updates, axle options, braze-ons, etc. before shipping the framesets to the Czech Republic where they do their unique finish customizations. All with the goal of delivering something special to customers.
The Plus unabashedly follows the recent all-surface, multi-wheel size trend we’ve seen from brands like Open and 3T. Merit calls it One frame. More Bikes., the ability to set the bike up for road riding, cyclocross, or even proper mountain bike trail rides. At around 1110g the full carbon Plus pairs quick handling road geometry and clearance for road cranks with room to run up to either 700c x 40mm or 650b x 2.1″ tires.
The bike uses an asymmetric dropped chainstay design for the clearance to run those fat tires with the 42cm chainstays and a standard road double crankset. It gets a press fit BB86 bottom bracket, tapered 1.5″ steerer tube, hidden aero seatpost clamp, and flat mount disc brakes for either 140 or 160mm rotors.
The Plus gets thru-axles front & rear, with a nod to the mountain side it opts for 15×100 & 12×142 spacing. The bike can be set up with either 1x or double drivetrains with a removable bolt-on front derailleur hanger, and the modular internal routing can adapt to mechanical or electronic transmissions.
Fairly unique in this type of bike, the Plus has braze-ons for either racks or fenders on both frame and fork.
The Plus is Merit’s most expensive frameset and sells for 1450€ with frame, fork, aero seatpost, and QR axles. The bike is available in four stock geometries from the 50cm seattube of the S to a 59cm XL.
Merit sells framesets direct from their e-shop where you can also pick from almost 40 stock water transfer patterns – everything from skulls to Hello Kitty – for a 185€ up-charge. Or you can just get in touch with them direct to sort out a complete bike build.