I received my Merc tonight. DHL had it waiting for me when I arrived. I was expecting to see some shipping damage after my experience with my Downtubes but nothing that was obvious and for traveling across the great pond the box was in remarkable shape. Kudos to DHL!
I inspected to bike for damage but nothing was obviously wrong. I then started snapping the photos below as I unfolded it. It unfolds just like the Brompton but I like the little wheels better than what the B(rompton) has them (sort of like a 2 bladed propeller). With these I can run my hand down them more quickly to spin them. The bike was ready to roll out of the box.
I had to fight my kids for the first ride on it though. A new folder in our house is met with great anticipation no matter what model it is. It was like through fresh meat to piranhas. I heard so many “Let me ride it daddies” that I lost track in the first 2 seconds. I noticed right off that it has a nice telescopic seatpost that is $70 extra on any B. All the cabling was pretty tidy. Wells spun pretty easily and brakes seemed well adjusted. I went over quickly and checked the tightness of the critical fasteners. I had to adjust the derailleur bracket up a bit but other than that nothing else was obvious. Overall impression is this is a nice bike for the money. Paint looked much better than my B’s.
Picking up the bike it felt heavier than my “C” type B. Considering the Merc has dynamo, lights, rack, fenders, telescopic seatpost, kick stand, dual chainring and derailleur, bar ends, tire pump, front carrier block, a shock absorbing handlebar stem and UPGRADED BRAKES I wasn’t surprised. The shock was when I put it on the scale and it was 10 pounds heavier. Nah, just joking. It was only 3.3 pounds more than the C type B. On my scale it was 29.7 pounds. Not a lightweight but this bike has everything.
The ergonomics are quite good too. Seat is better than a B stock seat and hallelujah it takes a normal railed seat so you can easily swap it out if you don’t like it without buying a pentaclip that B wants about $30 for. It has a nice little clip that keeps the rear swingarm from dropping down when you pick the bike up. I also feel a little more stretched out than on the B which is good for me. I felt a little cramped at times on it.
Now for the part you are all waiting for, the test ride. I was concerned about the shock absorbing handlebar stem. I thought it might sacrifice control a little. Much to my surprise it worked as intended. No wobbliness but time will tell if it stays that way. Gear shifting was very positive but the Sturmey Archer was a little stiff at first. I do love the twistgrip shifter on both sides. Much easier than the little funky lever of the B. Went up and down the gears a few times. It was getting dark so I flipped the dynamo down. Lights weren’t bad once I was above about 8-9 mph. Headlight was usable to see. Nothing special up front but the tail light was decent. I may go to a battery tail light and let full power of the dyno go to the front light.
Finally I decided to test out the brakes. Whoaaaaa! I used what would be normal pressure to stop my B and I darn near went over the bars. Absolutely amazing difference. With a little more caution I applied them again and nice, progressive action. They are STRONG! They are definitely up there in the same class as on my Swift if not possible better in some ways. I need to find out what pads they are using because I like them a lot.
Now that I knew I could stop and nothing had fallen off and broken yet I decided to push it a bit and wind it out to closer to top speed. Cruising along about 20 mph I was still impressed with how stable the bike was. This is true of the normal B and no different here but the ride was definitely better. Actually it rode better or about the same as my Swift with the Thudbuster and Big Apples. The handlebar shock actually works.
Decided to try a hill. Got up out of the saddle to see it would flex and the chain sounded like it was slipping a tooth or two. Then I saw the tensioner was in its rearward position, straight down. Put the chain back through the idler pulleys and all was fine. Tried another big hill, same deal. Put it back on and on the level no issues. If I wasn’t put a lot of pressure on it, no issues. I am a big guy, with big strong legs so I can stress things that a lot of people never will but it still annoyed me. I took it into the house to give it a closer examination. I noticed that the middle idler sprocket was not in the same vertical plane ass the second one and the rear sprocket thus causing it to derail when there was a lot of force on it. Upon closer inspection I noticed the screw was backed out a bit. I noticed upon tightening it that it still wouldn’t be in alignment. I took it apart, ground the bushing down and put it back together.
Now I had the alignment pretty close to where I thought it should be. I took it for another test ride and all seems fine. I think part of the issue is that packed in the box for so long it puts pressure on that bracket and deforms it. I can grind a lot more off to get the alignment correct. Once I know it is operating properly I will use a little low-grade Loctite on it to secure it semi-permanently.
So how would I rate it overall at this point. Too early to tell. At the moment I like it far better than any Brompton I’ve ridden. I may upgrade the tires when they wear out but they are Kevlar belted and not too knobby of a design. My early impressions are this bike accomplishes so much of what I want to use it for and it is more fun to ride. The brakes make a world of difference and the gears are more useful for the hills in my area. At this point I don’t know if I want to cannibalize it for a Merc/Ti Brompton hybrid. The weight is still higher than I want but the thing is truly loaded with stuff. I could ditch the rack, air pump and kickstand and knock off a lot of weight. The little wheels (on the rack) are cheesier than the B’s (hard to believe) so I may upgrade them with the B Eazy Wheels or whatever they call them. I’ll find some skateboard wheels and try them out.
The real test will be how it withstands the test of time. So far nothing shouts CHEAP except for the little roller wheels. The dynamo isn’t an expensive one but I didn’t expect it to be either. I might keep it and add a Lightspin one. Now I just need to put some miles on it and really get a better feel for it.