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Merlin Sandstone XLG gives Gravel Bikes the Extralight Treatment

merlin sandstone XLG titanium gravel allroad bike
7 Comments

Designed to cover any off-pavement surface, from sand to stone (get it?), the new Merlin Sandstone XLG gravel bike comes in two versions with tons of options.

The Sandstone 40 and 50 are for All-Road and Gravel with 40mm and 50mm max tire clearance, respectively. The 40’s geometry has tight 420mm chainstays and head angles from 71º to 72º. And the chainline is optimized for 2x road bike drivetrains.

headtube details on merlin sandstone XLG titanium gravel allroad bike

The 50 stretches the chainstays to 428mm to clear bigger 700×50 tires, with a chainline optimized for slightly wider 2x gravel chainring offsets…but you can definitely run it 1x, also. It fits wide-range gearing and is fully compatible with all 1x and 2x gravel drivetrains – Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo.

Geometry is a bit more relaxed for mellower, more stable handling. The 52cm frames and up are 71.5º to 72º, which seems counterintuitive. They say the bigger tires plus increased fork axle-to-crown height and different fork offsets give it more trail. That plus the longer chainstays combine for a longer wheelbase, and that gives a steadier ride.

The smallest two sizes (46 & 48cm) of the Sandstone 50 switch to 650b wheels and have a 70º head angle. Both models have eight stock sizes available, or go custom for an upcharge.

3D-Printed Parts & Shared Details

rear dropout on merlin sandstone XLG titanium gravel allroad bike

Both bikes have 3D-printed titanium driveside chainstay yoke and flat-mount disc brake mounts, the latter welded to hooded dropouts. The size-specific double-butted Reynolds 3/2.5 tubes are cold-worked and oversized for titanium’s signature ride quality and solid BB stiffness.

bottom bracket detail on merlin sandstone XLG titanium gravel allroad bike

It has a T47 bottom bracket, US-made 44mm headtube, and claimed frame weight ranges from 2.8 to 3.0 pounds (1,361g) for medium sized frame, down to 1240g for a 52. Frame weights are “pretty customer dependent as we select the tubes even on stock frames to the customer’s weight, size, and particular riding style,” says Merlin’s Pete Olivetti. “If they dump a ton of power we use bigger tubes, or if they are looking for comfort and cruising will tube accordingly.”

downtube anodized graphics on merlin sandstone XLG titanium gravel allroad bike
Finish it off with your choice of anodized color and retro classic or modern logo graphics.

Frames start at $4,700 with build kits available upon request, fork and headset sold separately. Upgrade options include custom geometry, internal Di2 and EPS routing, internal brake routing, travel couplers, and extra mounts for racks, bottles, cages, etc. Each one is made to order in Colorado, lead time is ~3 months. Complete bikes start at $8,000.

MerlinBikes.com

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Tim
Tim
3 months ago

Love the slacker geometry- twitchiness is the one thing that always turns me off from traditional road bikes. It would be great if more full-on road bikes had 71 or 72 HAs.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
3 months ago
Reply to  Tim

73 degrees isn’t twitchy. Stems also have a lot to do with the twitchiness of a bike. A big frame with a 73 degree headtube and typical rake with a 90mm stem will be twitchier than the size down with a 110 or 120…reach for your bars is a factor too

Johann
Johann
3 months ago
Reply to  Veganpotter

Not mentioning offset and resulting trail would be missing the main twitchiness factor. I am very happy with my Evil Chamois 66 degree HA and resulting long trail. Even with tiny road bike tires it’s super stable and gives a super solid feel. One day road bikes will finally evolve, the same way mtb geometry moved a lot in the last 5-10 years and now started stabilize. It’s crazy to me we’ve not been able to re-invent the geometry that was created some 60 years ago or so. But maybe it’s more due to customers who don’t like drastic changes and are only able to accept tiny ones.

Oliver
Oliver
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim

50 is the opposite of slack for its supposed intended use.

Oliver
Oliver
2 months ago

HTA is way too steep on the 50. WB and FC are also pretty low. Not gonna be fun on steep or rough stuff, or stable at speed.

Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict
2 months ago
Reply to  Oliver

If we follow the advice/complaints that road oriented bikes need to be longer and slacker, eventually all bike designs will converge to look like some DH/enduro mess. Those people need to get over the fact that not every bike will be capable of straight-lining a rock garden at 40mph.

I’m guessing this bike will plenty of fun if you ride within the capabilities of the equipment. And it will most likely be plenty stable at speed. And when you get to the rough and steep, just go little slower, it’ll be fine.

Merlin Metalworks
2 months ago
Reply to  Oliver

Hi Oliver. as Tyler notes this bike is not intended to be an Evil. It is however plenty trail capable. Our testing grounds for regular gravel riding is 100’s if not 1000’s of miles of country roads, our testing ground for the 50 (and the 40 for that matter) adds the fairly rocky trail systems we have around here. I can assure you the 50 is plenty capable of teh trails around here but as Tyler as implies, we are not trying to move our product into the mtb realm like some other brands. Certainly it can handle very very rough terrain, I have done it myself on the 40 and we have some beast riders doing it regularly. However at a certain point you create something that is jack of all master of none. Looking at the Evil for example again, while I appreciate what Evil has done to make a progressive and non traditional gravel bike, I personally (again my own opinion) would be reaching for my 100-120mm hardtail before I grab that bike. Id rather my experience be type 1 fun than type 2 or 3. In any case, I think what people don’t realize is that geo charts are also a formula not certain standout numbers. The average offset we put on the 50 is 52mm, when compared to a bike like the Enve Mog, our trail numbers are quite similar and our design overall is probably a hair more stable. Overall, I think there are quite a few things to look at when considering the numbers, feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions we are happy to chat bikes any time. Cheers, Merlin

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