2006 Litespeed Ultimat vs. Merlin Extralight?
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  1. #1
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    Smile 2006 Litespeed Ultimat vs. Merlin Extralight?

    Hi Ti-freaks,

    I'm new on the forum. I have a question about buying either a Litespeed Ultimate or a Merlin Extralight (both 2006 editions) as a new bike. The reason I'm considering this is that I have long planned to buy a good Ti bike since I rode a comfortable but crappy Russian one a decade ago before it broke...
    I have always liked the Merlins better in appearance than Litespeed, but right now I am considering buying a 2006 Ultimate or a Merlin Extralight because their both on sale for greatly reduced prices.
    Who I am and what will I be using the bike for?, I'm a large (6 ft 2, 180 lbs) 33 year old rider, doing mainly long rides in Europe, both flat here in Holland as well as hilly rides in Limburg, Ardennes and Alps.
    I also own a 78-degree Tri bike for doing triathlons. I think I will put an aerobar on my new bike as well, but the new bike should be mainly for riding cyclosportive events and long races, not for triahtlon use.
    I am not a sprinter, and looking for a nice comfortable ride. Is the Ultimate the bike for me, or is that really a criterium racer as some say? Is it stiffer? Or should I stick with the Merlin?
    Some advice please!

    Thanks,

    Bart
    Last edited by Bartali14; 02-13-2008 at 02:03 PM.

  2. #2
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    Come on guys, no one ever tried these bikes or has anything to say?...

  3. #3
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    Have never ridden either, but i have researched both. the Ultimate is the stiffer crit bike. The Extralight is the more well rounded stage race bike. They ride differently and are inteded for different uses.

    From what you wrote, I think the Extralight is the clear choice. Personally, I would also choose the Extralight. I like well rounded bikes. Plus, I have never read a scathing review of an Extralight. Let me know what you get and be sure to post pics.

    By the way, you must be built like a stick if you are over 6 feet and weigh only 10 pounds!!!

    PS...I would love to go riding in your part of teh world....so much beauty and history.

  4. #4
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    Haha, sorry, I meant 180 pounds, or I wouldn't need a bike to fly...;-) Edited that part of the message.
    I think you're right about the Extralight, I'll sure load up some pics when I have the bike!
    And do come around to Europe! I can recommend the Tour of Flanders (www.rvv.be) and Paris Roubaix (every even year) tourist rides. Especially the last is a true hell of a ride, but you can sure smell history there!
    Of course the alps are great too, but usually I just do flat rides here in Holland...

  5. #5
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    Ultimate frameset pretty stiff

    I don't know how the Ultimate compares to a Merlin, but I found the 2005 Ultimate, rear carbon seatstays not withstanding, to be so stiff as to be almost uncomfortable when compared to the 2000 Tuscany using the same wheelset. Of course the Ultimate was more racing-oriented I ended up putting a more comfortable wheelset and a Brooks saddle on the Ultimate.

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    I have an Extralight that I raced for 2 seasons. I still have it, but it's more of a secondary bike now that I race a Works CR. The Extralight isn't as stiff as the CR, but it's plenty stiff to race. If I were to do a longer road or ride, I'd likely grab the Extralight as it's a bit more comfortable. I can't compare it to the Litespeed though.

  7. #7

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    Merlin Vs Ultimate

    I think I can answer your question. I own both and I have a lot of miles on both. My ultimate doesn't have carbon stays. It's all Ti. The merlin extralight is, well it's an extralight. Except for the forks, the components are indentical right down to the wheels and spokes.
    The ultimate is fun. It's great for shorter faster rides. It seems to love the shorter steeper climbs. It's not a longer distance bike (80+ miles). It's very stiff, although it can be softened up by changing to a softer fork. I had an alpha fork on it. I softened it up by changing it to an easton. Now I swap the forks back and forth depending how I feel.
    The merlin is a great bike. Does everything well. It takes the long rides with ease and is still fun for short fast rides. It's great for long steady climbs with plenty of stiffness for the short climbing sprints.
    The merlin would be my first choice of all my bikes.

  8. #8
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    The bikes in question have a tad different design philosophies. The Extralight is traditional round tube Ti that provides a balance of comfort and performance. The bike would be aimed at someone that wants to still have a bike that can answer the call of performance on a spirited club ride but is also leaves your body in good condition when riding a cyclosportiv.

    The Ultimate on the other hand will forsake some comfort for performance. It is what Litespeed would call "technical titanium" meaning that they will use advanced tube shaping to achieve the desired ride characteristics. To shape more aggressively also means that they typically have to use more 6/4 Ti, which does have a slightly different ride quality.

    I'd say from your post you'd be better suited to the Merlin based on your comments. I have had a chance to spend time on almost all of Litespeed and Merlins current production models. Personally speaking it was in my top 3. In fact if I had to buy one to keep as a long-term bike I would pick the Extralight based on being well made, well rounded, and a great all around ride.

  9. #9

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    I agree with all of the above. Picked up a 1988 Extralight last year and after a thorough update rode it in Limburg, Luxemburg, Alps and flat 'polderland'. Sooo plush and plucky! Light climbing and smooth descending, at 85 km/h. (see my short review on fiets.nl). Impeccable welding and little short of magic (classic) geometry by Merlin (magician) guru Tom Kellogg. Best allround bike I ever rode, on a par with a genuine Richard Sachs.
    You've got to hand it to the American artisan builders. Their Ti and lugged steel bikes simply outclass 99% of what is available from Europe. In 1988 the Merlin Extralight must have been lightyears ahead of the competition.
    This competition could indeed come from the 2007 Bianchi S9 Matta Ti C2C (Coast to Coast geometry; discontinued?) which used to be much more affordable than most new US Ti. The 2008 model has Carbon seatstays, B4P (Born For Performance) geometry and retails at almost double the price! What's that all about? I never rode Gazelle V8, Van Nicholas etc. which seem to be excellent value for money. Could be worthwhile to check these out as well.
    Also managed a few hundred metres on the Ultimate of the LBS owner. Different setup than Merlin. Amazing power transfer screaming RACE!

  10. #10
    Ria
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    Last edited by Ria; 12-14-2008 at 06:25 AM.

  11. #11

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    Hi ,

    This is my first post . I was alerted to this thread by the mention of the Ultimate 2006 which , upon archiving Litespeed's site , appears to be a wholly different frame to any other 'Ultimate' bearing that moniker of previous years . And now Litespeed don't seem to want to use that name anymore .

    Cannot comment upon the 'Extralight' but can extol the virtues of the Ultimate 2006 as I bought a new -- frame last year and use it as my best sunshine bike . Impeccable welding and great looking quirky tubing makes it a really interesting bike to look at when not riding . And it rides wonderfully , despite the fact it's the smallest frame I've ever had - 53 as opposed to my normal 56 . Aged , 6' 0" and overweight with it , notwithstanding the short wheelbase and corresponding toe-overlap it doesn't appear to want to flex and feels 'planted' .

    PS. Don't know if the pic will load when posting but , it doesn't matter , I'm a convert to Litespeed .



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    Hey guys,

    just came across this old post of mine, and saw that I forgot to tell what I bought.
    Here's what happened: after long reasoning I chose not to buy the Ultimate or the Extralight, but went for a Merlin Works CR instead. This because of its more race-like character and looks. Bougth the bike in may last year.
    The bike came with the standard Chris King headset, a Campy 10-speed compact Chorus group, DT Swiss RR 1.1 wheels with Record hubs, Deda steering set and Thomson seatpost, Selle Italia Flite Titanium saddle. Finally bought the bike I always wanted...
    Since, I've done numerous long rides with it and never regretted it once. It's a comfortable yet very sporty ride. I had to adjust to the sharp steering a bit, especially on decents after riding a Triathlon bike for some years. The bike is just capable of more things than you think at first.
    In 2008 and 2009 I did Alpe d'HuZes (our own event, the six-fold ascent of Alpe d'Huez in one day, a charity event for cancer research) with the Merlin. What a difference with the other editions I did on my other bike! Also did the Maratona des Dolomites on it, went very smooth. This year I also did the tour of Flanders (no sweat on the cobbles) and the 1/2 Ironman in Monaco on it, with much climbing and decents. Wonderful!
    Best ride this year was the Foufold ascent of Mont Ventoux on sept 9th: the Ven2-4Cancer, another charity ride by our Foundation Inspire2Live against cancer. The bike helped me climb this awful mountain four times with ease.
    Too bad Merlin has ended production of this great bike.
    Enclosed are some pics of Alpe d'HuZes 2009 on Alpe d'Huez (me on the left) and a pic of the bike on Mont Ventoux, early morning of september 9, 2009.
    dsc_8379kl.jpg
    foto.jpg

  13. #13
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    Posting a reply 3 years since last one! Wonder if anyone's still around...

    I just found a used Merlin Extralight 2006 frameset for about $1,500. Good price? Should I get it?

    My other option is to get a new Motobecane titanium frameset for $1,000.

    What do you guys think?
    Last edited by timjeong; 11-23-2012 at 05:07 AM.

  14. #14
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by timjeong View Post
    Posting a reply 3 years since last one! Wonder if anyone's still around...

    I just found a used Merlin Extralight 2006 frameset for about $1,500. Good price? Should I get it?

    My other option is to get a new Motobecane titanium frameset for $1,000.

    What do you guys think?
    Are you kidding? Get the Merlin.

  15. #15
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    Yeah, I thought so. I'm just a little scared that the Merlin has no safety of a warranty.

  16. #16
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by timjeong View Post
    Yeah, I thought so. I'm just a little scared that the Merlin has no safety of a warranty.
    What will a warranty get you? It's a warranty against manufacturer defects. Not normal wear and tear. Not crash damage. I doubt anyone collects on a bike warranty. Its a bike frame, not an automobile. Its welded titanium tubes done by an outfit with a lot of experience. There's not going to be any manufacturer defects. If it hasn't exploded by now, its not going to.

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