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Just when you thought you owned a forever bike...

Old 04-11-24, 08:44 PM
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Just when you thought you owned a forever bike...

My Merlin Extralight seemed indestructible to me. Well-used and hardly abused. Always kept in tiptop mechanical condition.
It felt squirrelly the last few rides, especially when out-of-the-saddle climbing or cornering.
A couple times, I hopped off to see if I punctured or my rim got tweaked. Very strange feeling.
Decided to swap tires today to see if that would right the ship.
And do my usual thorough cleaning at the same time. Through the years, that habit led to me noticing a few mechanical issues.
Low and behold, my frame cracked in the weirdest spot! Never thought this would occur, even after 60k miles.
Luckily, I held onto a nice 531 1994 Croll steel frameset. Swapped the components over and it rides nicely. Waiting for a 28.6 adapter for the front derailleur.
I took this photos in tight quarters under my back patio. Hopefully it conveys things.


When I first spotted the fracture!

After stripping components off.


After pulling the Croll from mothballs. Nearly perfect swap, except for my 34.9 DA front derailleur needing shims.

30c Vittoria Graphene 2.0's fit okay. Barely in the rear without the vertical dropouts.
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Old 04-11-24, 10:08 PM
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Interesting failure location. I remember those Croll frames!
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Old 04-11-24, 11:38 PM
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Ti failure remains rare, but when it happens, it seems to come out of nowhere for no obvious reason. I guess the installation of the cable stop introduced some very slow-moving stress riser. Are you going to get it repaired? I don't know what I'd do in your situation, given the age of the frame, the likely cost of decent Ti repair and that sweet looking Croll in the wings. I have what I consider to be a lifetime Ti frame, with 21 years and ~100k miles in, but if it failed like yours did...it might be time for something with wider tire capability and disk brakes.....
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Old 04-12-24, 01:05 AM
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Looks familiar.

From this page:

The myth of indestructibility collapses: Relatively early, considering the price and the high expectations, a crack spiraled around the down tube of the Merlin Team Road titanium frame. Point of origin: the small weld at the shift-lever boss.

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Old 04-12-24, 06:07 AM
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My daily rider is titanium and the ride is very good, much like a sweet steel frame, but a little nicer. The Croll is a nice visual, much nicer than the Merlin. The ride is likely a bit rougher than the Merlin, but I'm sure it is not objectionable.
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Old 04-12-24, 06:52 AM
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I feel your loss. I have an Airborne Zeppelin, 2004?, that I check for signs of failure, quite often. I have had it for 7 years and have maybe 15,000 miles on it. It looked to be low miles when I bought it. Research on the frame set showed that some certain models from specific production dates were subject to failure around the bb area, but I never found specific information on which or when. So far, all good. It is a fine ride.
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Old 04-12-24, 07:23 AM
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That Croll is pretty.
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Old 04-12-24, 07:58 AM
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Wait, what? I thought only carbon fiber frames assploded like this.
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Old 04-12-24, 08:13 AM
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The Croll is so awesome that I'd be afraid to ride it.
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Old 04-12-24, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by 13ollocks
Ti failure remains rare, but when it happens, it seems to come out of nowhere for no obvious reason. I guess the installation of the cable stop introduced some very slow-moving stress riser. Are you going to get it repaired? I don't know what I'd do in your situation, given the age of the frame, the likely cost of decent Ti repair and that sweet looking Croll in the wings. I have what I consider to be a lifetime Ti frame, with 21 years and ~100k miles in, but if it failed like yours did...it might be time for something with wider tire capability and disk brakes.....
My plan is to briefly look into a repair, but my instincts tell me it will be cost-prohibitive.
The 30's barely fit and really smooth out the ride. I rode it a few miles yesterday to buy some lotto tix. haha
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Old 04-12-24, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
Looks familiar.

From this page:

The myth of indestructibility collapses: Relatively early, considering the price and the high expectations, a crack spiraled around the down tube of the Merlin Team Road titanium frame. Point of origin: the small weld at the shift-lever boss.

Damn, if that doesn't look horribly similar! And look at that larger failure above it. Hope the cyclist came out unscathed.
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Old 04-12-24, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero
My daily rider is titanium and the ride is very good, much like a sweet steel frame, but a little nicer. The Croll is a nice visual, much nicer than the Merlin. The ride is likely a bit rougher than the Merlin, but I'm sure it is not objectionable.
My Merlin rode perfectly. I will miss it. Slapping the 30's on gets it close. A long ride today will tell the whole story.
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Old 04-12-24, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Steel Charlie
The Croll is so awesome that I'd be afraid to ride it.
Some paint chipping in a couple spots. It came that way to me. Gorgeous color and paint job.
Hoping it withstands the many miles ahead on crappy California roads.
Yeah, my first thought springing to mind got me thinking of rebuilding an old beater Kestrel 200sci I retired years ago.
Then remembered the Croll in the garage rafters. Got very lucky hanging onto it. My procrastination paid off!
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Old 04-12-24, 09:38 AM
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Ouch, sorry for your loss.
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Old 04-12-24, 10:33 AM
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Terrible. Hope nothing like this happens to my Litespeed.
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Old 04-12-24, 10:55 AM
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I’ve heard of titanium cracking with repeated stress.

i think the Moots soft-tails occasionally had issues with this.

Someone once told me that’s the reason ice axes are carbon fiber or aluminum vs ti.
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Old 04-12-24, 11:04 AM
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This will, I hope, finally convince all those downtube shifter retrogrouches how wrong they are ....

(Why is there no "Stir the pot" emoji?)
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Old 04-12-24, 11:11 AM
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this seems to be a lose/win in different way situation. And point for keeping stuff you might need some day
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Old 04-12-24, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
This will, I hope, finally convince all those downtube shifter retrogrouches how wrong they are ....

(Why is there no "Stir the pot" emoji?)
correct, there was no need for brazeon bosses, banded shifter bosses for the win
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Old 04-12-24, 12:19 PM
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Sorry for your loss.Hope your new/old bike gives you miles of smiles.
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Old 04-12-24, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr
My plan is to briefly look into a repair, but my instincts tell me it will be cost-prohibitive.
The 30's barely fit and really smooth out the ride. I rode it a few miles yesterday to buy some lotto tix. haha
I’d talk to Bilenky Cycle Works. Bilenky.com. Looks like it should be $750 or so.

they did a great job retrofitting S&S couplers on my Merlin Extralight.
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Old 04-12-24, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
This will, I hope, finally convince all those downtube shifter retrogrouches how wrong they are ....

(Why is there no "Stir the pot" emoji?)
Thank goodness my MerlinExtralight is just new enough to not have DT shifter bosses
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Old 04-12-24, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
I’d talk to Bilenky Cycle Works. Bilenky.com. Looks like it should be $750 or so.

they did a great job retrofitting S&S couplers on my Merlin Extralight.
Thanks for the tip. Never thought of going with couplers. Good idea to "shrink" the bike for overseas travel.
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Old 04-12-24, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr
Damn, if that doesn't look horribly similar! And look at that larger failure above it. Hope the cyclist came out unscathed.
The photo is from the link I provided---a fatigue test of 13 high-end frames in various materials. So no cyclists were harmed.

It's a very interesting article, with non-intuitive results. (All the steel and titanium frames broke; two aluminum frames and one carbon frame survived.)
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Old 04-12-24, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero
My daily rider is titanium and the ride is very good, much like a sweet steel frame, but a little nicer. The Croll is a nice visual, much nicer than the Merlin. The ride is likely a bit rougher than the Merlin, but I'm sure it is not objectionable.
Rode forty-five miles over fairly level terrain today. Yep, you nailed it: rougher ride than my Extralight.
Oddly enough, the steel fork seems fine. The slight harshness occurs aft. The 30's smoothed it out some.
I can tell the saddle could use some tweaking. Center-to-center, both toptubes measure 53cm,
while seatube comes to 51 on the Merlin and 52 on the Croll. Very close dimensions made the parts swap a snap.
Ultimately, my body will adapt to the ride. For now, I already miss the Merlin.
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