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Difference between current Merlins and pre-litespeed ones(18 posts)

Difference between current Merlins and pre-litespeed onesgranda
Jan 31, 2003 11:54 AM
Are there any besides snob appeal? I always see this advertized on ebay as if it somehow enhances the value.
re: Difference between current Merlins and pre-litespeed onesBrokenSpoke
Jan 31, 2003 12:42 PM
From a structural standpoint, I don't think so. From an asthetic point of view, I think the older Merlins welds, and finish, were much better than waht has been produced by Litespeed. Couldn't afford a Merlin back then and now that I could, wouldn't buy a Litespeed wanna be
don't think I agreeColnagoFE
Jan 31, 2003 12:45 PM
I owned a pre-litespeed merlin and while it was a nice bike it was not the end all be all bike for me (note I said "owned" not "own"). If anything the new Merlins might be better bikes because they have Litespeed's tech at their disposal now.
don't think I agreeBrokenSpoke
Jan 31, 2003 2:20 PM
True, from a technology point, the Merlins have benefitted from the association with Litespeed. What I miss is, and the reason I would not buy one now, is the finish. They just don't seem to have that 'hands on' touch that they used to. Kind of like the feeling you get when checking out a high end Italian framset. I think the old Merlins had sort of a 'Labor of Love' feel to them. With the Litespeed Merlins, it seems like the mindset is build it, ship it.
havent really looked at many new ones butColnagoFE
Jan 31, 2003 2:34 PM
I agree the small boutique aspect was a big selling point. Kind of like joining a exclusive club to own one and now that Litespeed bought them they have lost some of that mystique.
You are RidiculousLazywriter
Jan 31, 2003 3:08 PM
Seriously!!! On what other than your own perceptions do you base the whole pre-post Litespeed-Merlin "difference"?
"Labor of Love feel to them"? I said it over and over, the new Merlins and all Litespeeds are no less handmade than the old Merlins and the new Serottas, Sevens, Moots etc. It is purely your perception of Litespeed being a "huge" frame maker (which they are not) and your hard-on for owning something that few people have, that sense of exclusivity. This gives you a "feeling" of better fit and finish when in reality it is all your own perception and not based upon objective evidence of more quality of the other frames.
I always use the analogy of when a person, usually an adolescent digs a new band and is proud he is one of the few that know of the band. He thinks he is cooler than the dorks listening to Pop music like N Stink and Back Door Boys because he likes this band that isn't played out. He will play that album over and over and try and turn all of his friends onto the songs. The songs are so meaningful to him and he cannot imagine ever growing tired of that album. Low and behold, the same band gets major air play by the radio stations and the masses pick up on it.
Now that same album and songs are met with contempt because "everyone is listening to them now". These are the same songs and lyrics that once inspired and had huge meaning and impact, but this kid feels they are played out and the intimacy of him being one of the few listening is lost. Same song, same lyrics but his perception of the song changed.
Litespeed put as much time into my Vortex as 7 would into the other guys Seven Axiom. Frames that are handmade are just that, handmade. Custom sizing is not indicative of more attention to detail or "labors of love" but rather just a longer tube.
How he hell do you know what is going through the individual welder's mind when he is building the frame??? If the Litespeed employee is a perfectionist with obsessive compulsive traits making my Vortex but the Seven welder is an alcholic who can't wait to get wasted that night, you would assume the Seven was "better made" just because it is a Seven. False thinking there. Actually, it is just plain silly. You act like the little boutique builders build the frame and in some sort of ceremony, worship each frame and have a big orgy with it before they pack it up.

The day Litespeed and Merlin start using robots to weld the frames and churn out 20,000 frames + a year, then I will agree with you. But they are still relatively small and only sell about 5-7000 ti frames a year at best.
Don't get me wrong, the other frame builders are great, but this idea that Litespeed and now Merlin are of lesser quality is based on your perception and need to be the teenager who "listened to that band years ago before they got played out". Enough said.'s with it (nm)ColnagoFE
Jan 31, 2003 3:19 PM
I love this linefracisco
Jan 31, 2003 3:22 PM
"You act like the little boutique builders build the frame and in some sort of ceremony, worship each frame and have a big orgy with it before they pack it up."

me too! LOL Lazywriter! (nm)EpicX
Jan 31, 2003 4:23 PM
well said! (nm)steve-z
Jan 31, 2003 9:59 PM
Feb 1, 2003 8:42 AM
so tired of this topic which is purely based on peopl's own desire to want to own something exclusive rather than the "questionable" quality of a particular bicycle company. If you go on the Serotta site, those idiots talk about their bikes as if it were a religion and that they were somehow privy to something that others cannot comprehend if they are not willing to "see the light".
Seriously. They split hairs and have the balls to say retarded statments like, "I had a Seven but until I rode the Serotta, I didn't know what I was missing". Blah Blah Blah. Seven owners also make similar claims about the "best welds in the business". It is all in the owners collective minds that they want to believe they own something truly unique and of higher quality. "Oh, look at these dropouts, the welds look like a thing of beauty, you can feel the love in the way it was built.
ARE YOU PEOPLE DELUSIONAL????? The welder building your bike is just another $400 per week earning hard on
who cannot wait to go home at the end of the day. I am not saying that they don't take pride in their work, but you ascribe these qualities to the process of bike building that they market to you in their brochures.
As far as Litespeed/Merlin, they are
a high end ti bike builder. As far as form and function, quuality, strength and durability (all the important things), LS are on par with any of the other rides.
Believe what you want oto believe and buy what you want, but the claims made about the merits of x bike over y are ridiculous when you get to the high end bikes.
Feb 1, 2003 9:30 AM
Couldn't have put it better myself!
what do you ride, anyway? nmDougSloan
Feb 1, 2003 11:57 AM
what do you ride, anyway? nmRob Sal
Feb 1, 2003 2:17 PM
Best to stick someones name in your question Doug so the right person responds.

I know from previous dealings with Lazywriter that he has a 2002 LS Vortex with new hs cups. I ride a Colnago Ovaltitan. Its fine for me, not as good looking welds as a Merlin/Serotta/Seven but it carries me on my double centuries just as well.
re: Difference between current Merlins and pre-litespeed onesmerlint3
Jan 31, 2003 5:46 PM
If one really wants to own a "pre-litespeed" Merlin, then as noted above buy a Seven, which is run by former employees of Merlin including Rob Vandermark. I own a pre LS Extra-Light road frame and love it. It is an awesome and IMHO a great balance between stiffness, comfort and responsiveness.

FYI, it is my understanding that the American Bicycle Group is the parent company to both LS and Merlin, and not LS "owning" Merlin, although it could be a matter of semantics since Merlin made the trek down to TN.

I recently bought a 02 Merlin Extra light but have not put it together. Same: Geometry, tube set (same supplier I do believe). Differences: Instead of Rob Vandermarks name, this has Tom Kellogg's name on the chain stay. One of the big benefits to Merlin in the past is the wide range of sizes to get an almost comfort fit. This range is still available. The new frame has hour glass seat stays, ala Cannondale, instead of straight stays to theoretically give an even more compliant ride (love my old xlr ride btw). Like most other newer frames it has an integrated HS, with a tall headtube, so that less spacers should be needed for same stem height. Like LS it has HS cups pressed into the frame in case they ever need replacing and not the whole frame. So the newer frame should be stiffer in the front end and have a better ride vis-à-vis hourglass stays. The welds appear close in quality and since the lifetime warranty is the same, if there is a problem it should be covered.

All in all I expect this newer 02 Merlin to be even a better bike, albeit perhaps not earth shattering difference. BTW I think LS, Seven, heck put Serrota in this group too, all make very nice Ti frames and I wouldn't kick a Vortex, Tuscany, Axiom, or Legend out of my garage :)
Simple Answer.snwbdrhoon
Feb 1, 2003 1:29 PM
If you're interested in pre-Litespeed Merlins, just go to Seven! ( Rob and the crew basically transplanted some of the core of Merlin to there.

They offer you all of that fun, small, cult boutique stuff, but I can't promise the orgies.

You're all idiots! : )dave_w
Feb 1, 2003 1:38 PM
Just had to say that because that is the tenor of this thread.
I own a 97 LS Catalyst and a 98 Merlin Mountain MTB, looking at the two, the Merlin does look "better", the welds look tighter and more uniform. No Idea what this means metallurgically, but if one was to look at old LS bikes vs Merlins you COULD come to the conclusion that if the new Merlin = LS then Merlins are not as nice as before. Of course I have not looked at LS bikes closely in a couple years so they may have exceeded their own and even Merlin's standards from a few years ago.
My actual experience trying to buy a "new" MerlinPsyDoc
Feb 2, 2003 12:44 PM
I rode a 1992 Merlin Extralight, that I bought new, until September 2001. I had wanted to buy an Extralight with the updated 1 1/8th headtube, but I ran into problems with quality. I suspect Merlin has since corrected these issues as I sent a letter to Merlin on 9/26/01 that vendors I have talked to stated caused a lot of changes. Here are some excerpts of that letter.

I have had nothing but problems with the quality of what many road cyclists refer to as the "new Merlin" or "Tennessee Merlin." The first frame I ordered from Excel, back in June of this year, was returned for two reasons. First, the frame measurements were a number of millimeters off on the frame specifications listed on the website and in the brochure. This was problematic as I based the size frame I would need on these measurements. Merlin informed me that those figures were wrong and sent me the correct frame specifications for the 56cm and 57cm frames. Second, the frame had sloppy welds at the dropouts, in that, there was an excess of weldament that made the dropouts looked like they were "crying."

I then ordered another Merlin Extralight frame. This one was in much better shape and I was excited to build it up. My first order of business was to install the Ultegra bottom bracket (BB). The BB threads in smooth as butter, but I noticed that there was a gap at the top of the BB shell of the frame and the flange of the Ultegra BB. I thought that gap was a bit strange, so I went to look at my other Merlin, which had no gaps whatsoever. Because my other Merlin was built in 1992, I thought maybe perhaps this was a design change, but as a check I decided to fold a piece of paper in half and tried to run it around the gap to check for uniformity, but there was none. I then flipped the frame over to the non-drive side and, sure enough, the Ultegra BB spline was off-center. I backed out the Ultegra BB and the threads were fine; in other words, I did not cross thread the Ultegra BB. I also checked to make sure that the screw that holds the plastic cable guide on the bottom of the BB shell was not hitting the Ultegra BB. As an additional check, I installed the BB in my older Merlin Extralight and it fit like a glove.

As I looked inside the BB shell of the 2001 frame, I noticed that on one side there was about a 2" section where the threads continued into the BB shell another inch or so around the 7-8 o'clock area. So, I phoned Excel and spoke with one of the mechanics that confirmed what I had concluded, that the BB shell was not tapped correctly. So, the frame was shipped back to Excel. I called Merlin and was informed that this is not the first time since the move from Massachusetts they have had BB shells mistapped, but they thought the problem had been fixed.

Out of shear loyalty to Merlin and the performance my 1992 Merlin has given me, I decided to give Merlin a third try to the chagrin of those around me. Unfortunately, Merlin had stopped making 2001 frames as it began to gear up for the 2002 run. The 2002's in my size did not begin shipping until early September. So, I anxiously await the availability of the new frames. I called Merlin to make sure they were available and then called Excel Sports and placed my order once again.

Unbelievably, Excel notified me several days later that there were problems with this frame as well, which failed their inspection. First, the finish was noticeably uneven. Second, the brushed finish on the seat tube was so deep that you could feel the grooves with your fingernail. Third, at the seat stay/seat tube junction, one of the seat stays was a good 4mm below the other stay. Although 4mm may not sound like much, the difference was very noticeable according to Excel. Fourth, the frame was out of alignment.