The Eddy Merckx brand has revised its endurance bike, and named it after Merkcx's first Tour de France stage victory in 1969. Merckx won the stage by a staggering 16 minutes, so the choice of name suggests this bike is designed for performance and long escapes.
Frame and equipment: power under control
Eddy Merkcx himself gave the presentation on the new sportive range, and the phrase that he repeated was "power under control". It is the motto for all Merckx bikes.
So while the new Mourenx 69 may not be the lightest bike out there, it does offer practical features such as asymmetric chain stays for perfect balance, and longer seatstays for shock absorption, to ensure that all your power goes straight to the pedals.
We found this refreshing; many bike manufacturers become wrapped up in the lightweight arms race and sometimes neglect ride quality and handling.
The geometry of the Mourenx 69 has been well thought-out. Its slightly higher head tube and longer top tube help to create a relaxed, forgiving position on longer rides. The looks of the bike fall somewhere between classic straight lines and contemporary curves. There's plenty of carbon around the head tube and bottom bracket to keep things super stiff. The Mourenx 69 is kept well up-to-date with neat internal cable routing and electronic gearing compatibility. Finally, a tapered fork steerer will keep the front end rock solid in corners.
The Mourenx 69 we tested came specced with deep-section Fast Forward wheels, Rotor cranks and a Camagnolo Chorus groupset. The bar and stem were provided by Deda, and the saddle came from Prologo – its grippy CPC inserts were a welcome addition. Although we liked the deep-section wheels we didn't feel they were a great match for the Mourenx and thought a more user-friendly, shallow-depth rim would be a more suitable choice. All the finishing kit components are proven reliable performers and complemented the frame nicely.
The production Mourenx 69 will be available with a range of Shimano groupsets and Fulcrum wheels, which we believe are a far better match for the bike and for performance gran fondo riders.
Ride and handling: stable geometry and a demon descender
We had a chance to give the Mourenx 69 a serious test during the Grand Fondo Eddy Merckx, which covered 88mi and more than 11,500ft of climbing in the Italian Alps. These Grand Fondos start like full-blown road races so the Mourenx 69 was pushed to its limits on climbs, descents and groveling in the pack.
With its beefy bottom bracket, the bike's stiffness was immediately obvious. It had no problems with short sharp accelerations or trying to hold position at the front during the fight to the first climb. Once the climbing started, the upright position made for a comfortable and forgiving ride when we were grinding our way up the 12 percent gradients. Although we were passed by many a fast-looking Italian grimpeur in full fluro kit, it was definitely the rider and not the bike at fault. Those grippy CPC inserts on the Prologo Saddle that we mentioned prevented us from slipping in the saddle when putting down some watts.
We had a few scary moments with the deep section Fast Forward wheels during a cross-wind section; they caught the wind and caused some instability, but with a rider around 140lb, that's often to be expected. The supple Vittoria Evo Corsa CX tires made sure we stayed rubber-side down though.
There were some extremely fast descents during the Grand Fondo and it was on these that Mourenx 69 really stood out. Even with brakes on the opposite way to what we are used to, the bike's stiff head tube and forgiving angles enabled us to push the bike as far as we dared. Even when taking an incorrect line or braking too late into a corner, the bike never felt unstable, and should encourage a confident attacking style in any rider.
When looking back at the Strava profile of our ride, the icing on the cake was a new top speed of around 60mph. This may not be the fastest speed ever recorded on a bike, but the ease and control with which we achieved it was exceptional.
After five hours of riding in the baking sun, we felt relatively fresh, and although ride comfort can be hard to quantify without long-term testing, the Mourenx 69 kept our back, arms and backside happy while in Italy.
The following options are available:
- Frameset (grey/carbon/red): $2,995
- Complete bike with Shimano Ultegra and Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels (grey/carbon/red): $3,995
- Complete bike with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels (silver/red/white): $5,095
Spec as tested:
- Component group: Campagnolo Chorus, mechanical
- Wheels: Fast Forward deep-section clinchers
- Tires: Vittoria Evo Corsa CX 23mm
- Bar: Deda
- Stem: Deda
- Seatpost: Merckx
- Saddle: Prologo