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  1. #1
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    My Merc arrived, photos and initial impressions

    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.











    Last edited by Wavshrdr; 04-04-06 at 08:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Señor Mambo
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    Nice ride, Wav. Looks good.

    For the hinge bolts, are they just regular bolts or is there some kind of modified retainer that would prevent the bolt from unscrewing (in the unlikely event, of course)?

    And did you say this was their trade show proto-type model?

  3. #3
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    This is a new model that they will be releasing in about 4-6 weeks. As near as I can figure, I have an early production one. The bike had the correct markings on the box for my model. The bolts are the same as the Brompton style but a little shorter. I never had an issue with the Brompton ones.

    When I heard about it I had an easier solution. I just put a slight burr on the last few threads. That kept it from coming unscrewed but not so severe as to preclude removal. I also made sure to tighten them as well if traveling just to be on the safe side. I don't have as much exposed threat on the Merc so I can't really do that. I will but a small piece of safety wire though to make sure it can't wander off.

    FYI- the front derailleur is a Shimano 105.

  4. #4
    Señor Mambo
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    Cool. Looking forward to the long-term review.

    Brake pads: some version (variation) of a dual compound Kool Stop thinline?

  5. #5
    Senior Member Tomaso's Avatar
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    Yes, looks like a cool bike, I don't know 'Merc', but it certainly looks like a decent folder. Keep us posted on this one Wav !

    PS: nice socks too

  6. #6
    Senior Member Fear&Trembling's Avatar
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    Looks nice. What is the gear range?
    Last edited by Fear&Trembling; 03-30-06 at 02:05 AM.

  7. #7
    Señor Mambo
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    Just an FYI: Hopefully that front carrier block has some reinforcement. I recall when Steve Parry put a B. block in the Al frame of a Birdy, there was either a warning by him or the editor of the article not to go gangbusters on the weight. Matter of fact, it could have been Chop who mentioned this.

    Stick to the rack, bad boy, and don't get rid of the kickstand.

  8. #8
    Life in Mono
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    Thanks Wav - great report, (gosh - you must be a fast keyboarder !! ... Kudos !).
    I'd love to know what the weight is once its nice and naked (no racks, dyno's etc etc. ...... I guess thats more my pref )

  9. #9
    Senior Member caotropheus's Avatar
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    Nice ride W. I would replace that seat for a sporty seat, like WTB shadow, preferable on the same day I would receive the bicycle.

  10. #10
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    @Fear&Trembling - I haven't calculated the gear range but it feels about mid 30's to mid 80's.

    @caotopheus -As for the seat at least it has normal rails where as the Brompton requires the old style seat that requires a clamp on seat. I can honestly say the seat wasn't crap much to my surprise. It is definitley lightweight so anything I put on will definitely weigh more.

    @Simple Simon - It may be a while until I get the naked weight but I would guess that without fenders, lights, rack, dyno, kickstand and any other bits such as pump I would guess it is about 23-24 pounds. The telescopic seatpost adds 100+grams on the Brompton so you could shave that off by going to a normal one. Yes I do type fast about 90-100wpm if I know what I want to say.

    @Spambait11 - The block seems pretty decent, no worse than the Brompton one. Maybe it was the Alu frame on the Birdy but the block mouting point is reinforced on the frame like the Brompton so hopefully that won't be an issue but I'll keep an eye on it. Thanks.

    As I get more seat time I'll post my thoughts. Fold is just like the B so that is sweet.

  11. #11
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    did somebody mentioned the nice socks ?


    thor

  12. #12
    Senior Member Tomaso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brakemeister
    did somebody mentioned the nice socks ?


    thor
    Yes, I did !!!!!

  13. #13
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    The price is in flux so check with the company.
    Last edited by Wavshrdr; 04-04-06 at 08:46 PM.

  14. #14
    Raleigh20 PugFixie, Merc LittlePixel's Avatar
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    Re: the tiddly wheels. A lot of people here seem to retrofit rubberised rollerblade wheels for a smoother roll along to the rear triangle

  15. #15
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    LP - thanks for the tip. I am trying to find a set that will work. I don't want them too big where my legs or feet might hit them. It would sure be nice to roll it sometimes.

  16. #16
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    Great! Simply great. Great review, great bike (so far).

    I'd say Brommies' days are numbered (unless they get in gear quick)... And to be honest i don't mind/they have themselves to blame. But hopefully both brands will exist side by side and provide healthy competition.
    http://www.rhizomes.nl/twenty.html
    My Tweaked and modded Raleigh Twenty. Lots of pictures and lots of general info on for example a different & Cheap Bottom Bracket solution as well as fork solution.

  17. #17
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    I am always careful to be not overstate things about my experiences. So far it is looking pretty good. I let one of my kids ride it and I couldn't get him off of it. He started to do "stoppies" on it. That is where you brake so hard you lift the rear wheel up and do a "wheelie" but on the front wheel while braking. I'll do it on a motorcycle but I'll pass on bicycle. Their short wheelbases and high CG (center of gravity) mean I am like to do a nice face plant into the road.

    If I have no more issues with the chain I'll be VERY happy with the bike. I don't think it will be major anyway. I have some ideas on how to rectify it just in case. I have also requested parts from Merc to test with and they will be sending them shortly. So far great service! I expected some of this since I had the very first one they sold of the new model. Officially this model isn't released yet but it was what I was looking for. I realized of course that being an early model would have some risks but I know my way around a tool set. No Tig welder in my garage though but short of that I shouldn't have any issues.

  18. #18
    Señor Mambo
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    Yeah, actually your experience with the tensioner/derailleur unit sounds downright scary. As big as you are, you shouldn't be able to overstress a derailleur (in most cases); if you were on a fixed, I could see that.

    Is their tensioner the same as B.'s? You mention a screw, etc. which I don't recall. If you disassemble it again, would it be possible to put up those pics for posterity? I'm definitely curious about this part. Thanks, Wav.

  19. #19
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    It isn't a major problem as far as I can see. If you look closely you will see a little idler gear between the rear "derailleur" (tensioner) and the rear sprocket. If this is out of alignment it can derail the chain. What I experienced was a skip of 1 or 2 teeth on the rear sprocket. I was applying a lot of pressure. My son didn't have the issue.

    I will keep everyone posted but this is not a design flaw. The tolerances are very close which will help keep this from happening. It looks like the plastic was pushed while in transit long enough to slightly deform the mechanism. It could spring back, it may not. It easy to fix either way. I don't think this will be an issue for most as I had a LOT of other stuff packed in my box that I ordered such as spare parts, bags, tires, etc. The bike was very nicely packed especially compared to my DT and Dahons.

    I have a very good engineering background so I know I can resolve it very quickly if I have a few spare parts to work with. I made some initial changes to help out. I will check tonight and see if it has sprung out more. I can also use a spacer to move the entire assembly out. If needed I will make a little arm out of aluminum and make a custom solution. I don't think I will need to do that though at this point. You all can sit back and come along for the ride.

  20. #20
    New usename ThorUSA brakemeister's Avatar
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    just a silly qustion .... You added the specialized barends and handlebar ? ANd why is the handlebar backwards ? pointing forward at the ends ? or is that to give you a little extra room ?

    Thor

  21. #21
    Señor Mambo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
    If you look closely you will see a little idler gear between the rear "derailleur" (tensioner) and the rear sprocket. If this is out of alignment it can derail the chain.
    I know the one. Mine would slide back and forth to keep the chain aligned (esp. when it was a 6 speed), that's why when I read your description, I was thinking "What? You had to grind something? Skipping sprockets? Doesn't that thing slide horizontally to accommodate chainline?" But cool you've got it under control.

  22. #22
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Thor- those bars (and barends) are standard on the new model Mercbike. They are swept forward to extend the reach. You can rotate them any way you want though.

    spambait11- it can't really shift nor would I want it to in this instance. The lower one will float a little but the middle idler sprocket need to track closely to the rear sprocket's chainline. All I did was grind a little spacer that shims the sprocket over. In my case after shipping it appeared to be too much. So I took off about 0.7mm to move it just a bit.

  23. #23
    Señor Mambo
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    Hm. You may be right. Maybe it was only the lower idler which floated. My bad.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wavshrdr
    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!
    Wav! Looks great!.. I can see where that would really fill the bill as an urban commuter bike.. if the Merc is priced right, Brompton might have quite the difficult 'row to hoe' selling in the US.

    Bruce

  25. #25
    Folding bike junkie! Wavshrdr's Avatar
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    Don't know about final pricing yet but I can't complain for what I paid for it. The basic version is still pretty nice and about $600 but equipped like a higher end Brompton but non-Ti.

    As a follow up note of more inspection of the bike, the tires are not super high PSI (60) but at least Kevlar belted. This is higher than the crappy Raleigh Records that come on the C model Brommie but not as nice as the upper end ones. The tire does feel a lot better than the C model's tires and not that far off of my M models tires. I will run them down and then replace them with the Schwalbe Marathons with reflex line UNLESS I can get a Big Apple that will fit.

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