Merlin Extralight - build complete & ride report
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  1. #1
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    Merlin Extralight - build complete & ride report

    After spending a few months buying the parts for my build, the bike came to life this past Saturday night. I found this '94 Merlin Extralight on eBay for $700 (frame/fork) with scarcely any mileage. The seller did a poor job with his auction, with an incomplete writeup and lousy photos. I took a chance and really lucked out.

    My friend was kind enough to provide me with the rare period-correct dry transfer decals. We removed the originals with lacquer thinner. After applying the new ones, we applied a superior quality clearcoat using a tiny paintbrush.

    Components:
    Dura Ace 7900 group with 11-28 cassette
    Dura Ace 7850 scandium wheelset
    Kestrel fork attached with a Dura Ace 7410 headset
    7800 pedals
    Cinelli Titanium Grammo quill stem (yeah, I like quills)
    Kestrel EMS carbon fiber bars
    Campy Record carbon fiber post
    Fizik Arione titanium rail saddle
    Michelin Pro Race 3 tires
    Stella Azzura bar tape

    Rode it 44 miles the next morning with nary a hiccup. Tiniest adjustments to the front derailleur, mostly alignment. And tightened the gear cables, too.

    It rides like a dream. I love this bike already. It's the beginning of a long relationship.



    I cannot seem to get a photo from my gallery to post here. Sigh...I give up.
    Last edited by fast ferd; 03-30-2009 at 07:57 PM.

  2. #2
    AFS
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    Here's one of the pics from your gallery, looks great. Did you decide to go with the 7900 after seeing the frame's pristine condition?

  3. #3
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    Hey, thanks for uploading that, buddy! I wish I knew how to upload pics properly.

    I originally planned to go with 7800, but decided to spring the extra $600 and take the 7900 plunge. IMHO, 7800 looks more pleasing aesthetically/overall, but 7900 seemed to match the whole package better. Ah...what do I know...I'm a guy.

    She tips the scales under 17 lbs as you see it here and including bottle cages. How anybody manages sub-15 weights is beyond me. This is built to take some punishment with my 170 lb weight and occasional rough roads, so it's made with comfort and durability in mind.

  4. #4
    AFS
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    The 7900 looks sharp on that polished frame. You really put together a top-notch hot rod.
    Last edited by AFS; 04-01-2009 at 09:48 PM.

  5. #5
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    Great looking bike! Congratulations on the build. I only recently purchased my own Extralight, and I'm finally enjoying the bike (winter came too soon after the purchase) . I'm confident you will too. Add it to the Merlin photo album thread.

  6. #6
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    Beautiful bike, looks brand new! Nothing else looks like nude ti. Love the build, Enjoy!

  7. #7
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    And my final $ tally

    Thanks for the kind words, all. I forgot to mention the dollar damage of about $4,000. Sometimes buying things piecemeal ends up costing more, but I think I snagged most all of the components for a low price. One good thing by doing this: it's sort of like a layaway plan, where my eagle eye wife barely notices the expenditures.

    You should know that the 7900 drivetrain is extremely quiet. Combine that with the whisper from the 7850 cassette body and you've got one stealthy ride.

  8. #8
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    Great looking bike. I particularly like the extra heft of the stem.
    As long as you have the sex and drugs, you don't really need the rock and roll.

  9. #9
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    Dang ferd! nice ride! What size is it? And how's it compare to the Kestrel that you have?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rook
    Dang ferd! nice ride! What size is it? And how's it compare to the Kestrel that you have?
    Thanks. 52 ctc with a 53.5 top tube. The frame tips the scales at a pound lighter than my 200sci Kestrel. Smooth ride and not as stiff in the bottom bracket. I love it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fast ferd
    Thanks for the kind words, all. I forgot to mention the dollar damage of about $4,000. Sometimes buying things piecemeal ends up costing more, but I think I snagged most all of the components for a low price. One good thing by doing this: it's sort of like a layaway plan, where my eagle eye wife barely notices the expenditures.

    You should know that the 7900 drivetrain is extremely quiet. Combine that with the whisper from the 7850 cassette body and you've got one stealthy ride.
    It can be a bit hard to slip that past the wife, I think you've made a good choice congratulations on the ride.

  12. #12
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    A girl I train with picked up a 2001 Extralight off Craigslist a while back. All new 7800 grouppo. Carbon seatpost and bars, high end Easton wheels, no cheap shortcuts anywhere. Bike was mint,looked new she stole for $2,000. Oh yea and it tipped the scales at 17.1 lbs in a 55cm. I can't figure how they get these things down to 15lbs either. Cripes! the wheelset on this bike came in at 1473 grams. Even if you lopped another 200 grams with an uberlight wheelset she'd still come in at 16.5.
    Humbug!!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by spastook
    I can't figure how they get these things down to 15lbs either. Cripes! the wheelset on this bike came in at 1473 grams. Even if you lopped another 200 grams with an uberlight wheelset she'd still come in at 16.5.


    You can only get down to 15lbs with a material other than titanium. Only carbon bikes are in the 15lb range.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rook
    You can only get down to 15lbs with a material other than titanium. Only carbon bikes are in the 15lb range.
    Weight Weenies lists the 55cm Extralight at 1235grams. Which is in the ballpark of some carbon frames.
    Humbug!!

  15. #15
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    It is possible to get a Ti bike into the 15 pound range.

    The 54cm Ghisallo has certified weights below 900 grams
    The 56cm Archon weighs 1115 for a 56cm frame. (claimed)

    My 56cm 2007 Vortex weighs in at 1140 grams (confirmed on my digital scale)
    It weights 16.2 pounds with no "stupid light" components and heavy 1766 gram carbon clinchers. If I got a set of light tubulars and a lighter saddle, it could be right at 15 pounds.

  16. #16
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    FWIW, I think my '94 frame featured in my thread here weighed 1,270 grams on my own accurate digital scale. I did not use the lightest fork or wheelset, so likely gave away a lot of grams there. Evidently, the newer titanium frames weigh quite a bit less than the old ones.

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    That is a beautiful bike Fast Ferd. I'm certain that it must weigh under 18lbs from the components I see. Glad your not an obsessive weight weenie that thinks there is something not quite right with the universe if his frigging bike doesn't come under the UCI limit of 15lbs.
    Humbug!!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by spastook
    That is a beautiful bike Fast Ferd. I'm certain that it must weigh under 18lbs from the components I see. Glad your not an obsessive weight weenie that thinks there is something not quite right with the universe if his frigging bike doesn't come under the UCI limit of 15lbs.
    Thank you. It comes to 16.9 lbs as pictured. I estimated I could shave another pound and a half by:
    1. Go to a lighter fork, using a threadless headset in the process. 4 ounces.
    2. Use a clamp-on stem. 3 ounces
    3. Uber light wheelset running tubulars. 10 ounces
    4. Straight block cassette instead of the 11-28. 3 ounces.
    5. Lighter saddle...ouch. 4 ounces.

    That'd cost me well over a grand to get below 15.5. So, nah, I'll just suck in my gut when passing the girls.

  19. #19

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    Really is beautiful.

    Your write-up really hit close to home as I had a similar e-bay experience in obtaining this frame. As soon as the guy put it up I e-mailed him and asked if he had a buy-it-now price, he did. $750 for an 02 extralight with a reynolds ouzo fork. The thing was in PRISTINE condition except for the decals which were starting to peel on the top tube and seat tube. I built it up using components I had from a previous bike and it's quite possibly the best riding bike i've ever been on. Mine tips in at just under 19 lb. I'd like to upgrade the wheels mainly, as the rest of the bike is pretty much ok, i was thinking of the Easton EC90 SLX wheelset (non aero profile). And upgrading the ultegra components to dura ace 7800, (calipers, shifters/levers, front derailleur) As well as going with the polished Deda bars/stem/seatpost. I am extremely disappointed with Selle Italia SLR Gel FLow saddle as it's wayyyy uncomfortable for any ride over 25 miles. I was thinking of biting the bullet and just getting a brooks (regardless of weight) swallow saddle. I hear nothing but glowing remarks of it and am sick and tired of crappy saddles (however light they may be).


  20. #20
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    Smile

    I purchased a Merlin Extralight in Febuary 09. Total weight inc pedals and 1 bottle cage 15.6 lbs The build as follows
    Extralight Frame
    Reynolds Ozzo pro fork Chris King headset
    Easton EC90SLX3 bars
    Easton EA90 stem 110
    Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels
    Campag Record 11 speed Carbon groupset
    Look Keo Carbon Ti Pedals
    Fizik Arione Carbon Ti saddle
    Easton EC90 carbon seat post
    Conti GP400 tyres.
    Truly stunning ride, will sadly be putting it away as the awful British winter weather is soon to arrive, and have to slum it on something Alu. Another point all those light carbon bikes won't be around when our Merlins are still going strong.
    Last edited by nigel64; 09-22-2009 at 02:09 PM.

  21. #21
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    Congrats on the purchase.
    I'm kicking myself for not jumping on a opportunity a couple months ago.
    Some guy on craigslist sold his for 1500 and it was loaded with Chorus groupo.

    now Im jealous of your ride.

  22. #22
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    Here is picture from my gallery
    Attached Images Attached Images

  23. #23
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    There is a Litespeed Ghisallo floatin around weighing like 9- 10 pounds...

  24. #24
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    Nice find!

    I purchased my early *exact year unknown* Merlin Extralight from a local guy 7 or 8 years ago for 900. The stickers were in bad shape and I'm not one to pay 52 bucks for replacements so it is now nude. I replaced the wheels, seat, fork and bars over time but the original DuraAce derailleurs and cranks remain. The bike sees 100/wk most of the year as a commuter and is by far my favorite.



    In fact the LiteSpeed Tuscany is rarely ridden these days.



    But my pride and joy and the first nice bike I ever purchased way back in 1992 is my Merlin "basket bike". XTR all around with a 98 Judy retrofitted with an England Air kit in the front.


  25. #25
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    Merlin manufacturing years by serial number

    I purchased my early *exact year unknown* Merlin Extralight from a local guy 7 or 8 years ago for 900.
    You can figure out the year your Extralight was made (if it was made before 2001) by referring to the chart at http://www.merlinbike.com/2006/class...spx?ac=vw&id=1 . The serial number is etched into one of the rear dropouts.

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