The Merlin Malt G Gravel bike generated a lot of interest when it was launched a few weeks ago. It offers great value for money and is based on solid, reliable components. It is probably the most fun you can have on a new bike costing £649.
We reckoned it was time to get it out into some northern filth and see how it rides.
Before hitting the trails, i fitted some Schwalbe G One 38’s to help bounce me over the rocks. Widget‘s ace sticky Silicone bartape (over the original cork tape for extra cushioning) and my prefered 3T stem to get a similar ride position to my road bike.
The mix of road, tracks and grassy/muddy bridleways, which i had planned would give a decent range of conditions for a test of the Malt G. First impressions on the road were how comfy it was, got me thinking i should ride 38c tyres all the time… The riding position was relaxed and comfy – ideal for long, steady winter road or off-road rides.
The Shimano 4700 Tiagra 10 speed groupset was well up to the job. The shifting was accurate and easy, the levers worked well with the Tektro Lyra cable discs which also did a great job at controlling the speed. The Tiagra finish also goes well with the grey paintjob, giving a ‘well thought out’ appearance to the bike. The gearing was also bang on the money, with the 32 sprocket on the Tiagra cassette seeing some action as the tracks got loose and started pointing upward.
No Shame in that Frame
The frame (Double Butted 6061 aluminium), is stiff and responsive for those hard efforts and still feels comfy and well-balanced. The steering is sharp and accurate, the full carbon fork keeps the front end light – easy to hoist up when you need to clear obstacles (mainly fresh sheep and cow poo on this ride). The Mavic X119 rims offer a good mix of strength, reliability and not too much weight.
26er / 29er / ‘Cross / Gravel
I initially had my doubts that Gravel bikes were basically just ‘cross bikes. The jokes bandied around the office were along the lines of, ‘Whats the difference between a Gravel bike and a Cross bike? About 200 quid!’ The Malt G has me fully converted. There are parts of the loop which were way faster than on my old mountain bikes, the Malt G was also much more stable and comfortable than my old cyclocross bike. The road sections didn’t make me feel like I was driving a tractor – like my old MTB. The Malt G definitely feels more ‘Range Rover Sport’ than tractor.
The Malt G offered a lot in terms of comfort and speed, the fat schwalbe tyres soaked up the majority of the rougher surfaces and only ran out of grip on the really soft muddy stuff. The great thing about gravel bikes is that you can tweak your ride into something completely different: So if you head out on a road ride, and get pi**ed off with the traffic, you are free to jump on a canal tow path, bridleway, park or track to relax, and forget about those nasty drivers.
So, why buy a Malt G?
The Malt G should prove popular for a broad spectrum of riders, it’s;
- A bike to get off-road but still cover a lot of ground.
- A bike with quality components throughout (Shimano, Mavic, Jagwire, Full carbon Fork).
- A bike which can be ridden over virtually all types of terrain.
- A bike to get through the ‘grimness’ of winter and still have the ability to make you smile whilst pushing the off-road envelope.
Great value at only £649. See full, detailed spec’ here.