Established in Oxford, Mississippi just over a year ago, Mercury Bikes already has an expanded line of carbon road bikes ready for the upcoming 2010 season. Mercury’s line-up includes three carbon road frames and one time trial frame. VeloNation was lucky enough to get it’s hands on one of Mercury’s frames, The Titan, to test for a few weeks. I must say, I was very surprised with the ride quality and the bikes unique combination of frame features.
Our Titan 52cm bike came complete with SRAM Red components, including the Red BB30 crank-set, Red 10-speed shifters, brakes, and derailleurs. The stem, seat, and handlebars were from Edge. Edge is Mercury Bike’s supplier’s house brand, but I am told Mercury will be looking to produce it’s own brand sometime soon. The wheels were Mercury’s own 38mm FCC (Full Carbon Clincher) Wheelset, equipped with Continental GP Force and Attack tires.
The Titan is a 950gram Monocoque frame and includes a BB30 compatible bottom bracket and Mercury’s SOLID bottom bracket concept. This concept combines an oversize triangular shaped down-tube that forms seamlessly into a huge down-tube/BB junction, making this one of the stiffest rides I’ve ever had.
Mercury has also taken into account the junction between the top-tube/seat-tube/and seat stays with an innovative, oversized approach, which delivers a noticeable amount of lateral stiffness when pedaling in the saddle. The transition of the seat stays from the junction looks like a beefed-up wishbone and also adds to the solid feel of the frame.
An oversized head tube tapers from 1 1/8” to 1 1/2” to allow for the forks cone-shaped steerer tube. Many companies use a similar taper and it seems to be the industry standard with high-end carbon frames adding another element of stiffness and strength.
The oversized integrated seat post is topped off with an all carbon seat collar with the best seat clamping system I’ve used. Most seat clamps have bolts on the bottom or top. You have to loosen the bolt almost completely before you can take the seat off, but with Mercury’s clamping system, the bolt is on the side and only requires minimal loosening before you can adjust seat length, pitch, or take the seat completely off.
The integrated seat post was cut fine for the average rider of a 51.5cm frame. I like my frames small, then grow them with the components. I needed to raise the seat higher than intended. The end of the mast was in between the two tightening bolts on the front of the seat collar. I may have been a little scared to test out it’s complete tightening ability, but managed to ride on it with no problems. Mercury even offered to send a completely new frame with a higher cut seat mast. I declined, but if Mercury was willing to send me a second Titan just to test ride, I can only imagine what they would do for their customers.
The rear brake cable is internally routed, leaving a clean, un-crowded looking top-tube that makes you wish the shifting cables, mounted underneath the down-tube, were internally routed as well. A beautiful paint job fades clear coated woven carbon, from the rear triangle, into a deep red, culminating at the head-tube. The same fade starts and ends at the bottom and top the front fork.
I test rode the Titan for just over a week. From the first few pedal strokes, I could feel the difference between my “race” bike and the Mercury. It felt stiffer, lighter, and much more capable of delivering every watt of power straight to the road. At under 15 pounds, the Titan made every hill feel like a flat and every flat feel like a downhill. It also handles very well in the corners. At speed, only the slightest amount of lean and counter-steering was needed to send you into the corner and back out with little effort. Smooth riding style and skill are needed with such a responsive bike. Just think about changing lines and the Titan will do it like a rabbit running through the woods.
Mercury sells both Titan frames as well as complete bikes (Shimano and SRAM components) through it’s website, www.mercurybikes.com. Frame sizes are 48cm, 50cm, 51.5cm, 53cm, 54cm, 55cm, 57cm, and 59cm ensuring a great fit for most riders. The frame weighs in at a scant 1040 grams and is priced at an affordable $1899 for the frameset (includes frame, fork, seat post collar, and headset). The 2010 Titan will be available at the end of December.
I contacted Chris, Mercury Bikes owner, several times via email and over the phone during my test. I could feel his commitment to the bikes he is building, and it was refreshing to hear his excitement and passion when talking about his bikes.
With all of its unique features in one frame, the Titan ranks very high on my list of my most enjoyable rides. My only regret is having to send it back!