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IB14: Merlin Empire Carbon Fiber Road Bike Spotted

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At NAHBS 2012, Competitive Cyclist relaunched the Merlin brand as Backcountry’s latest acquisition. Last year, they were wheeling around a titanium 29er at Outdoor Demo. Now, they’ve gone and introduced a new carbon fiber road bike called Empire.

Hiding in plain sight aboard Thule’s roof rack display, the bike is a handmade-in-Italy tube-to-tube constructed beaut. Yes, it’s a carbon bike from a brand steeped in titanium tradition, but it carries over the classic aesthetic -round tubes, not swoopy composite shapes- so it looks the part.

The name comes from Empire Pass in Park City, UT, where they tested the bike on one very steep, very difficult climb. And from the looks of it, the bike was right at home. The frame is just 940g for a 54, with oversized downtube, PF86 BB, full tapered headtube and boxy chainstays to lay down the watts. But the seatstays are very thin and meet up at a 27.2 seatpost, offering a little comfort for the long haul up the pass.

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The frame is mechanical and electronic ready, but you’ll have to run a seatpost battery if you opt for Di2.

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The head badge is metal and still made in Pennsylvania.

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A PF86 bottom bracket spreads the bearings wide but keeps it lightweight. Did we mention the downtube is rather large?

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The thin seatstays actually have an oval shape.

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It’s sold as a frameset with ENVE 2.0 fork and Cane Creek 40 headset for $4,199 to $4,399. Complete bike with Dura-Ace Di2, ENVE cockpit and Smart 3.4 clincher wheels, Fizik saddle and Michelin Pro4 tires comes in at $8,999. Claimed weight for the complete bike in size 54 is 6.52kg (14.37lb).

MerlinBike.com is the website, but it’s pretty much going to redirect you to Competitive Cyclist for model info, so here’s the shortcut.

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21 Comments
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Mario
Mario
8 years ago

Why is it important where the head badge is produced?

Sascha
Sascha
8 years ago

Because it’s the only piece made in the US…?

anonymous
anonymous
8 years ago

That’s a lot of cash for a carbon frame whose selling points are it is branded by a Ti company, painted to look Ti, and has tube shapes like Ti.

Antipodean_G
8 years ago

Merlin + carbon? Good grief, what’s the world coming to?

flx
flx
8 years ago

Merlin-branded Sarto?

Jdog
Jdog
8 years ago

Sorry BC.com guys.. Nice try. Merlins should only be ti.

You would be better off calling them Backcountry Road bikes.

The Conductor
The Conductor
8 years ago

Merlin is Merlin no more.

The closest thing to a “Merlin” is a Seven.

BubbRubb
BubbRubb
8 years ago

@flx I hopethe guys at CompCyclist aren’t using Sarto, I’ve built a bunch of them and some were dodgy with questionable craftsmanship.

1Pro
1Pro
8 years ago

sarto indeed.

Ajax
Ajax
8 years ago

Merlin should only be ti? Says who?

Should Colnago’s only be steel?
What about Pinarello?

Should Cannondale only be aluminium?
Should Litespeed only be ti?

I guarantee you that none of those Freds who said above that Merlin should only be it can even answer any of these questions.

Zach
8 years ago

I own a 57.5cm Empire and the frame weight is only 830g.

Adam
Adam
8 years ago

BubbRubb, Dodgy? A good number of the pros in the grand tours are on Sartos. Ever wonder what the rider is actually on when the geometry is completely different than company molds? A Sarto.

Probably more grand tour podiums than most brands on the market. This is one of the few carbon bikes still made where they don’t paint the frame to hide the defects- especially at the joints/lugs. This is probably one of the most beautiful frames I’ve seen and glad to see it still isn’t made in Asia like everyone else.

Bottom Line: Beautiful bike from a brand known for making the very best- Titanium or otherwise. Nice work guys!

RD
RD
8 years ago

Boutique, Hand Built bikes will be more expensive than a lot chop shop built bikes from Asia. I had the chance to ride one in Utah alongside several other comparably priced and comparably equipped bikes and the Merlin beat the others out in nearly every category (except maybe long-range comfort). Build it up at competitivecyclist.com for less than a comparable specialized, trek, etc and you’ll have a much better bike from people who are interested in their customers more than those other guys are.

Dog
Dog
8 years ago

Ajax-
Colnago’s should be steel. Pinarello’s should be steel or aluminum. Cannondale’s should be aluminum. Litespeed shouldn’t be made anymore. The same for Merlin. There are a ton of better options out there if you want carbon or titanium.

Psi Squared
Psi Squared
8 years ago

How does one know there are better options for CF when one hasn’t pedaled the bike in question? Why is the Merlin being rated and not the frame. It is the frame that the rider sits astride.

Amar
Amar
8 years ago

Hi Dog-
Your post is listing the wrong date. I corrected it for you:

Dog – 09/16/95 – 4:05pm

Eric
Eric
8 years ago

@Adam – who in the pro peloton is riding a Sarto?

Ajax
Ajax
8 years ago

Amar for the win!

myke
myke
8 years ago

looks impressive. would i buy it… maybe… but more importantly i understand why it is there. those who say Merlin should stick to TI are fouls. This was Merlin doing two things. staying competitive in a high pace unforgiving market and listening to its costumers.

Charles
Charles
8 years ago

I’m really amazed at how people get suckered out of their hard earned money based on the dazzling hype written by the marketing people. Add the names Italian or Swiss and the fools drop the big bucks. I’ve owned a Merlin RSR Ti bike, steel bikes, aluminum bikes, and now my second carbon bike. I have to say the Merlin was the worse bike for ride qualities. So should I trust what the marketeers say about the new Merlins ? I don’t think I could spend that kind of money again to find out. By the way, the poster who called the Chinese factories chop shops is dead wrong. I am riding a no name carbon frame from China currently and it’s probably the best handling and comfortable bike I’ve been on for the last two years. I’m not trying to bust on the Merlin name I’m just pointing out facts that their not a good value.

Chip
Chip
8 years ago

Looks like a winner. I’m tired of the over-stylized bikes out there (I should know I ride a Dogma). I owned a Merlin Proteus years ago and loved it. Hopefully this Sarto (http://www.sartocycles.com/en_US/) produced Merlin frame will be a even better.

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