Merckx Sallanches 64 review£1,799.00

More polite dinner party guest than cannibal

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Eddy Merckx is widely considered to be the greatest cyclist of all time. His bike brand caters to all your road bike needs, with the Sallanches fulfilling the role of a big-mile endurance machine. The name comes from the town in France that hosted the 1964 UCI Road World Championships, where Merckx took the amateur title at just 19. His winning time (185.5km in four hours, 39 minutes, 10 seconds) is emblazoned on the down-tube.

The Sallanche 64’s frame is a gorgeous thing that melds organic curves with butch, industrial design cues. A slim round seatpost excepted, the main tubes are big and angular, promising stiffness, but the endurance bike clues are there – the seatpost is skinny, the fork blades comparatively dainty, and the seatstays have a pronounced flat section around the brake calliper that should add vertical flex to the rear.

If ever a bike looked European, this is it; the funky proprietary seat clamp sits flush with the top-tube in a way that’s reminiscent of the last generation Orbea Orca, while the visual kink in the top-tube is Look-esque. Tying it all together Merckx has applied some eye-catching fluorescent orange highlights — it’s a good-looking machine.

The bike weighs in at 8.6kg, but the Sallanches is built on a frame that’s claimed to come in at a reasonable 990g, with a feathery 360g fork.

The seat clamp sitting flush with the top-tube has an air of the old Orbea Orca
The seat clamp sitting flush with the top-tube has an air of the old Orbea Orca

While the Sallanches could be called a race bike, its persona on the road is less that of ‘the cannibal’ Eddy Merckx (a nickname used by the media in his glory days) and more that of a dinner party guest far too polite to feast on human flesh. It’s a smooth and composed ride that’s best suited to big miles at a steady pace, but that’s not to say it isn’t a fun bike to ride — it’s fairly stiff and its unruffled nature on speedy downhill sections inspires daring behaviour.

It just doesn’t have the edginess of some of the competition out there, partly because it’s that bit heavier, and also because the comparatively upright position favours a more relaxed outlook. (Our medium bike has a reach [horizontal distance between the centre of the frame’s bottom bracket and head-tube] and stack [vertical distance from the bottom bracket to the middle of the head-tube] of 376mm and 562mm respectively, numbers that are very much in the ‘sportive’ ballpark.) Tyre clearances are decent — it’s only meant to take 25s, but we’re confident you could squeeze 28mm rubber in for an even plusher ride.

The Sallanches wouldn’t be our first choice for bagging KOMs, but it’s a lovely place to spend the day. There are no real misses on the spec front, which includes a Shimano 105 groupset and RS010 wheels, with the minor exception of the curious Deda headset top cap which conceals the preload bolt — on our test bike it managed to weld itself in place.

Finishing kit is basic but attractive and while you could sharpen the ride up with a change of wheels, the bike is entirely competent out of the box, if not exceptional value for money.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Matthew Allen

Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Also a really, really terrible racer who's been dropped more times than you've shaved your legs.
  • Age: 26
  • Height: 174cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 55kg / 121lb
  • Waist: 71cm / 28in
  • Chest: 84cm / 33in
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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