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Found an early Ti unique Merlin at an antique store...

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Found an early Ti unique Merlin at an antique store...

Old 02-19-13, 09:35 PM
  #1  
hikerinmaine
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Found an early Ti unique Merlin at an antique store...

I'm psyched about it. My dad sent me a message about a supposedly titanium road bike at a local antique store. I drive by it a few times a day, so I thought I'd check it out. Sure enough, it's a titanium Merlin and the tag on the bike said 1986 Le Mans edition. I Googled Merlin history and found they didn't start making the Ti bikes until '87/'88, but the bike was the right size and I was able to talk them down to something in my price range. It was complete with Mavic Gruppo and rideable.

I did some searching on here and contacted Tom Kellogg, whose name is on the rear chainstay. He answered back and said the bike is very early Merlin, like March of 1988 and it was the 29th road frame they ever made in titanium. But when he saw the pictures, he said it was a mystery, since Merlin's never came with a concave cutout on the seat tube or rear brake cable inside the top tube. The serial number is 170 and the first road frame started with #141, so it's VERY early, Tom said within months of the first frame. I have sent him more pictures for analysis. He suspects Merlin may have made the frame for Spectrum or another company but it was never shipped, so they just put their badges on it and sold it as one of theirs. Apparently they only sold frames back then and not complete bikes.

It's even the right size and in great shape. I love older bikes and always dreamed of having something like this, so it'll be well taken care of. It does have the GG BB and while all the decals are in very poor shape, they are still visible. Tom is getting the bike in early March to work his restoration magic and it'll be returned complete with new original decals baked onto the frame. I can't wait.

Until then, some pictures. I have uploaded a bunch, as I bought it, here. The thumbnails below are clickable.





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Old 02-19-13, 09:41 PM
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Holy crap I'm jealous.
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Old 02-19-13, 10:26 PM
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cool story (and bike) bro
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Old 02-19-13, 10:31 PM
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That's a fantastic score, congrats! It strikes me as slightly comical that an antique shop has merchandise from the late 80's, but maybe I'm just in denial that I'm getting old...
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Old 02-19-13, 11:14 PM
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Awesome score. That's something of a grail bike for me, and the Mavic parts just add some extra cool. You might also try contacting Mike Augspuger at One-Off Handcycles to see if he has anything to add. Mike's one of the Merlin co-founders and and probably built your frame. His contact info is on the site: https://www.oneoffhandcycle.com/
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Old 02-19-13, 11:37 PM
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That's pretty grail-ish alright.

Last edited by Lascauxcaveman; 02-19-13 at 11:42 PM. Reason: ..would that he excised a thousand.
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Old 02-20-13, 12:43 AM
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Very nice!!!!!!

Tom Kellogg seems to be a super-helpful guy when it comes to ID-ing C&V stuff that passed through his hands.
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Old 02-20-13, 02:14 AM
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Really nice story behind the grail.

Merlin ExtraLight was always my grail. And the engraved model with no decals was rather nice looking, but I never rode one.

I've met Tom K on a few brief occasions (trade shows) and I found him always to be the most polite type of person you could ever hope to know. He set up a Merlin for me one time during the first or second "Demo" days at Interbike, he was calm in the whirlwind and took extra care to make sure the bike was fit properly. Isn't that a trademark of his? - fanatical about fit.

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Old 02-20-13, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by frantik View Post
cool story (and bike) bro
This.

Totes jelly right now.
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Old 02-20-13, 05:59 AM
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Great find! Cool bike! Nice story!
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Old 02-20-13, 11:33 AM
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Man, that's a beauty.

What's the story with the fork? Sakae aluminum fork crown with titanium blades? Looks pretty cool.

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Old 02-20-13, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by mainstreetexile View Post
Man, that's a beauty.

What's the story with the fork? Sakae aluminum fork crown with titanium blades? Looks pretty cool.
No, I suspect it's an aluminum crown and blades, with a steel steer tube. At least that's what the example I have uses:

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Old 02-20-13, 12:02 PM
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I was curious about this as well. The tubes are certainly a different color than the ends, but I'm unsure as to their composition since they're different colors. Anodizing perhaps? I'd love to know.
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Old 02-20-13, 01:23 PM
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I think it's just anodizing.
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Old 02-20-13, 01:55 PM
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That's one excellent find. Congrats!
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Old 02-22-13, 11:01 PM
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Received this back from Tom Kellogg after he got the pictures:

"Yup, that's an old one. Those are the original style of decals that Bradley Gast designed way back. They only used them for just over two years and moved to outlined decals after that. The frame seems to have a couple of very unusual anomalies. First, the top of the seat tube has a concave cut out of it. Merlin never did that although we did something similar to that here. It also appears that the rear brake cable runs inside of the top tube. If that is the case, I'm stumped because only Spectrums had that feature. It is even possible that that frame was pulled out in the factory and it was never sent to us for some reason."

And many thanks to gaucho777 for recommending I contact Mike Augspurger, he had this to say:

"It is definitely a Merlin. The water jet dropouts, the BB, many things completely confirm that it was made at Merlin. The detail at the seat tube top doesn't look familiar but could easily have been (no doubt was) done at Merlin. The internal routed rear brake cable also confirms it as a Merlin. We normally only did those for Tom Kellogg, but not every time. I have a very early Merlin that has it that Tom never saw. My frame is too early to have a serial # It is build out of scrap tubing. It is a 57 cm frame built in 1987 and weighs (probably a record for the time) 2 3/4 pounds. Joe Murray did the mtn. bikes, Tom did the road bikes. Your frame is probably old enough to be welded by Gary Helfrich."

Here are some outside pictures of it. I can't wait to get it back from Tom and ride it.

Picture 1
Picture 2
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Old 02-23-13, 09:57 AM
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What are you having Tom do to it? I might ride over to Spectrum and check it out for myself. Nice looking bike!
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Old 02-23-13, 10:20 AM
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Wow!



Which stem and seatpost are on the bike?
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Old 02-23-13, 12:01 PM
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Anyone else find this a little confusing?

Originally Posted by hikerinmaine View Post
Mike Augspurger had this to say:
"The internal routed rear brake cable also confirms it as a Merlin. We normally only did those for Tom Kellogg, but not every time."

Received this back from Tom Kellogg after he got the pictures:
"It also appears that the rear brake cable runs inside of the top tube. If that is the case, I'm stumped because only Spectrums had that feature."
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Old 02-23-13, 12:39 PM
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Nice! Nice!
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Old 02-23-13, 01:16 PM
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They're agreeing with one another. Merlin welded the Ti frames for Spectrum...Spectrum was (is) Tom (and Jeff).
Originally Posted by shoota View Post
Anyone else find this a little confusing?
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Old 02-23-13, 01:23 PM
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Ah I see, thanks for the clarification.
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Old 02-23-13, 06:26 PM
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I find it so fascinating to hear the comments of the bike builders. Something very personal and authentic about it, them knowing or caring about frames as if they were a child.
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Old 02-23-13, 06:33 PM
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I would have SO had him sign it before he sent back to me, there can't be too many autographed Ti Merlins running around
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Old 02-23-13, 10:58 PM
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A stunningly beautiful machine. Congrats!
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