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Merlin Nitro Review

We defy you to find better value for a carbon fiber road spec super bike than the Merlin Nitro SL. At least you’ll be able to ride alongside someone who has invested over 10,000 pounds on similar kit and make them feel like a complete idiot. And I’ve had a whole day with the Merlin to find out just how much of this bike can perform a more expensive model.

If you glance at the side profile at the Merlin and think it looks familiar, that’s because it is. The Merlin Nitro SL uses the same frame as the Helium SL by Ridley. But Ridley has moved on since then and you would think that Merlin is making do with leftovers… No, they’re not. I couldn’t really fault the ride quality. The carbon frame and tubing make the SL exceptionally light and stiff and it dealt easily it all but yawned at all the punishment I put it through.

And it is very light; just 7.7 kilograms, one of the lightest I have ever tested. And the benefits are immense. The Nitro SL feels agile and sharp and highly responsive to the slightest inputs by the rider. There’s an element of control about it that is intoxicating. It climbs well and accelerates rapidly thanks again to the stiff, lightweight design.

The handling is not too direct which makes the SL a great long distance companion. While the standard Nitro SL is a bonkers ride, you can also have it spec’d with a Shimano Ultegra 6800 group set. Not that that’s really necessary though since the standard model is magnificent as it is and for far lower price than you would expect.

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+Pros:

  • Very light
  • Highly responsive
  • Good acceleration
  • Stiff build
  • Good value

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-Cons:

  • None at all

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The Verdict

The Merlin Nitro is great fun to ride and exceptionally engineered. For such a low a price tag you can’t expect it to get much better than this.

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