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Merlin vs. Litespeed(8 posts)

Merlin vs. Litespeeduwgrl
Apr 13, 2001 10:01 PM
I've noticed that Merlin and Litespeed bikes seem to be in the same price range. Does anyone know what the major differences are between the bikes? (frames especially?) Has anyone tried both? Strong feelings either way?
re: Merlin vs. LitespeedLarry Meade
Apr 14, 2001 3:48 AM
Let me start by saying that Merlin and Litespeed are both now owned by the same parent company and as such are bult in the same facility near Chatanooga, TN. I have heard that a new Merlin is still indistinguishable from the Cambridge built ones. I have owned 3 Merlin frames and 3 Litespeed frames. Currently, I have two Litespeed Ultimates. My opinions are that Merlin frames are fairly traditional frames whereas Litespeed tends to try new things and go to great lengths to make their bikes ride a desired way. I found that for a rider my size, the Merlins just were not stiff enough. I even had a custom Extralight and it was still not stiff enough. You will hear people talk about Merlin's superior welds. They use a two pass method of welding so that they can make a very pretty weld. Is it structually better? The experts can't seem to agree. Another thing is that the Merlins all ride pretty much the same. A fairly light rider would have a difficult time telling the difference between a Merlin Road and Extralight. With Litespeed, you can choose a frame that will be more tailored to your riding style. I am a big sprinter type so I ride the Ultimate. This is probably their stiffest most agressive frame. If a person likes to do a lot of climbing, they would probably go with the Vortex. If money is a consideration, the Tuscany is an excellent ride. If money is no object, the Palmares is fantastic. A friend of mine just built up a Palmares and says that it feels stiffer than his custom Serotta CSI. The Litespeeds don't use the two pass welding method so their welds aren't quite as pretty as the Merlins but I feel that Litespeed frames are better for me. When building up the bikes, the Litespeeds have always built up with less hassle than the Merlins I had.
You really can't go wrong with either Merlin or Litespeed. There is a mystique attached to Merlin frames. People talk about Merlin like they are the ultimate expression of titanium art. If that is what you are looking for, buy a Seven. The folks at Seven used to be at Merlin and left to start Seven. IT was this group that gave Merlin its reputation, not the current crop at Litespeed. You will hear that Litespeed is too common. This is true. They sell a lot of frames. There must be a reason for it. For me they make a bike that does exactly what I expect of it and does it well. Its up to you to decide what exactly you want the frame for and go with the one that fits your individual needs best.

avoid the ultrastiff models....dave
Apr 14, 2001 5:24 AM
If you're light (140 or under) don't waste money on the Ultimate or Palmares. Both are too stiff for comfort. I owned a 55cm Ultimate for one season and hated the ride.

Geometry is very similar. Merlin offers every centimeter sizing, which I think is very important. I want exactly the right size, not one cm too small or too large. Most Litespeed models only come in 2cm (odd) sizes. I like the new idea of the new intergrated headset on the Merlins, and the location of the cable stops on the head tube.

What I don't care for on either brand is no paint. Dull grey just doesn't do it for me. Litespeed's upcharge for (very plain) paint is outrageous. I've been spoiled by the paint and chrome on fine Italian bikes like Tommasini and Colnago.

If you're on a budget, consider the Douglas Ti at Colorado Cyclist (which is painted or polished) or the Macalu at Excel Sports. The Macalu is basically a Litespeed Arenberg, but priced $200 less.
avoid the ultrastiff models....AD14
Apr 14, 2001 7:14 AM
Check out They do a nice job and have added more frame options. This month they have a free fork with one of their ti frames and their build kit prices are excellent. They will even build the stays heavier if needed.
re: Merlin vs. Litespeedmaggie
Apr 14, 2001 7:04 AM
Check out Moots in quality superb - no hype. no wacky tube shapes. Propriatary tubes on each size frame. Custom available.
re: Merlin vs. LitespeedFastCajun
Apr 14, 2001 9:48 AM
As others have said. Litespeed is more performance-oriented. Merlin is more highbrow, into the frame as artistry thing. That is a GROSS oversimplification, but I believe it to be true.
re: Merlin vs. Litespeedcredit
Apr 14, 2001 12:24 PM
Litespeeds are just plain awful.....
Excuse me?Kerry Irons
Apr 15, 2001 4:24 PM
No offense, but what a stupid thing to say. $99 Huffy's are just plain awful. You may not like Litespeeds for some reason, but to claim they are "just plain awful" is incomprehensible.