Since purchasing Merlin’s entry-level gravel bike in September, it has seen a fair spread of different riding locations. It’s also gone on a bit of a diet…
When I collected the Malt G we got to know each other on the green lanes and tracks in the Yorkshire Dales. I initially swapped the tyres and stem. The 38mm Schwalbe G Ones took the gravel in their stride whilst still leaving plenty of clearance room for the stuff that sticks. The zero rise 3T Arx stem got my riding position near that of my road bike and had my new entry-level gravel bike set up for fun. The bike rolled well enough and could take a decent level of nonsense, almost bordering into MTB territory, whilst still capable of a decent turn of speed along the valley lanes of the Dales.
From Grovel to Gravel
Back in Australia, and the Malt G got chucked into some intensive zwifting, whether it liked it or not. Attached to my Elite Muin trainer and plonked infront of a screen, it coped admirably with 2 months next to the big fan. However, an entry-level gravel bike should probably get used on gravel, and soon the lure of the wild was calling…
Following a delve through my garage, (and in an attempt to shed a little weight) I swapped the Tiagra gears and chainset for Ultegra 6800, and the bombproof Mavic wheels for some lighter 29er wheels. This dropped the 11kg standard weight down to 9.8 kg which shifted the bikes’ ride characteristics dial from ‘bombproof/workmanlike’ more towards ‘sprightly/fun’.
Dropping a little weight from the Malt G highlights the fact that the frame and fork are of a decent quality. The full carbon fork, once it has a lighter front wheel slotted in, makes the front end super-easy to lift over obstacles or unweight for rougher sections. The double butted 6061 aluminium frame feels solid when climbing and yet more than a match for the occasional hard knocks and flying trail debris which gravel riding can attract. While the mechanical Tektro Lyra brakes lack some of the feel of well set up hydraulic stoppers, they do the job well and are very easy to adjust.
The Malt G encouraged me to venture onto the local gravel tracks to test myself in the world of Strava. My local gravel circuit currently has me a little obsessed. This is a perfect gravel test for me; mix of gravel (rough, fine and even sand) no traffic or dogs allowed – a 5km loop with about 50 metres of loose gravel climbing each lap. The only slightly off-putting feature are the snake season warning signs. Anyway, I currently need to improve 48 seconds to wrestle the KOM from some young MTB racer. Now, how could I fit an electric motor on the Malt G… 😎