Merlin Malt 2 frame review£200.00

Bargain trail frame

BikeRadar score4/5

Lancashire mail-order specialists Merlin Cycles have always been one of our recommended sources of good, honest, high-value framesets.

The Malt 2 is the second sibling in a four-frame family that ranges from the superlight £399 Malt 4 to the What Mountain Bike Bike of the Year finalist Malt 1 (£140).

By spending an extra £60 on the Malt 2, though, you get a double-butted Kinesis frame, which not only gives a very reasonable, raceable weight chassis but also translates into a noticeably more cultured ride on the trail.

While it’s officially set up for a 100mm fork you can run a 120mm for a taller, slacker trail feel. Whether you’re climbing, descending or charging round the woods it’s obedient, enthusiastic and never feels like it’s overwhelmed, wherever you take it.

Neat machined dropouts include a replaceable hanger for easy crash repair, too. Incidentally, Malts 3 and 4 offer similarly balanced handling but in progressively lighter and stiffer race-style rigs.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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