Merckx EFX-1 women’s bike review

Female-specific speedster

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
GBP £1,899.00 RRP | USD $2,700.00

Our review

The EFX-1 suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. The frame and fork have some nice features that lend themselves to a fast ride, but the high front end, wide bar and triple chainset suggest a more laid-back style of riding
Skip to view product specifications


There will be very few cycling fans who haven’t heard of Eddy Merckx. Arguably the greatest cyclist of all time, Merckx dominated the sport in the late Sixties and early Seventies, racking up 525 victories, including five Tours de France.

Advertisement

A few years after retiring from racing, the Belgian set up his company to manufacture bicycles. Nearly 30 years on and his name is back in the pro peloton as the bike sponsor for the Belgian Quick Step team. As part of their ever-expanding range, Eddy Merckx have introduced a new series of women’s bikes.

There are four complete bikes in the range, and two available as framesets only. They’re made from a variety of materials – aluminium, scandium-aluminium and carbon fibre – with prices from £999 to £2,999. The carbon fibre EFX-1 we’ve tested sits in the middle of the range.

Ride & handling:  Relaxed riding position stifles racy frame’s ambitions

With Merckx having such a rich racing heritage, we were secretly hoping for a pure speed machine, something sadly rare in the female-specific bike market. Looking at the nicely contoured frameset the initial signs were good: a sculpted bladed fork, solid seatstays and chainstays, and a beefy bottom bracket area.

The stiff frame responded well when we stomped on the pedals, but not at the expense of vibration damping – the ride was still smooth. It handled confidently through corners, but the riding position – in particular the high front end and slack head-tube angle – meant we felt as if we were constantly fighting the bike to get the most out of the frame.

This isn’t helped by the width of the Eddy Merckx-branded handlebar (42cm c-c), and we’d have preferred the narrower 40cm bar that the smallest sized EFX-1 comes with. With our forearms angled outwards it was harder to pull on the bar when climbing and sprinting, plus it was difficult to curl small hands around the levers. When on the drops, the wide bar isn’t only detrimental to comfort, it’s also an aerodynamic disadvantage.

So here’s the conundrum: a racier position but the same beefed up frame would allow you to get low for blasting along the flat, whereas a lighter (at the expense of stiffness) frame with the more upright position would be perfect for long relaxed days in the saddle. However, as it stands, the Merckx EFX-1 suits neither application brilliantly.

Merckx efx-1:
www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk

Frame & equipment: Female-specific geometry and decent kit, but we’d prefer lighter wheels

It’s not just the pink decals (the bike’s also available in black) that set the EFX-1 apart from the men’s EMX-1 – the frame’s geometry has also been changed to better suit the needs of women. In line with many producers of female-specific road bikes, Eddy Merckx have increased the slope of the top tube, shortened the reach and decreased the angle of the head tube.

Combined with a significant increase in head tube length (15.5cm for the size 43cm tested), the EFX-1 has a more upright riding position. The angle of the seat tube has also been increased, putting the rider further forward – for a given saddle position – over the pedals. This increases the power efficiency of the pedal stroke, and our long-legged/short-torsoed female tester certainly found it comfy.

Our test bike came with a Shimano 105 triple groupset, Shimano RS20 wheelset, Prologo saddle and Eddy Merckx finishing kit. The triple chainset, like the geometry, points away from a racing setup. Slightly heavier than a standard double or compact setup, there were plenty of gears to choose from but we were using the front derailleur much more frequently.

Advertisement

The Shimano wheels felt solid, but we’d have preferred something lighter for climbing. If Shimano isn’t for you, the EFX-1 is also available with Campagnolo’s Veloce groupset and Khamsin wheels, or SRAM’s compact Rival kit paired with a Fulcrum Racing 7 wheelset. But whichever you go for, it would be worth making sure the handlebar suits your shoulder width when you’re buying the bike.

The efx-1’s carbon frame has female-specific geometry, with a steeper sloping top tube and longer head tube than the frame of the men’s equivalent emx-1:
www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk

Product Specifications

Product

Name EFX-1 (10)
Brand Eddy Merckx Bikes

Description Wheels: Shimano WH-RS20 pre-built, machined alloy aero rim, forged alloy hub, loose ball and cone w/contact seals, bladed S/S spokes, 16 radial front, 20 two cross rear with Continental Ultra Sport, 700 x 23C tyres
Rear Wheel Weight 1706
Top Tube (cm) 50.5
Standover Height (cm) 76
Seat Tube (cm) 43
Chainstays (cm) 41
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 26.5
Weight (lb) 18.5
Weight (kg) 8.39
Stem Eddy Merckx forged alloy, 10cm, twin bolt 11/8in steerer clamp, 4 bolt oversized bar clamp
Shifters 105 10-speed STI
Seatpost Eddy Merckx carbon, twin bolt forged
Seat Angle 74.5
Saddle Prologo padded vinyl, steel rails
Rear Derailleur 105 long cage
Available Sizes 40cm 40cm 43cm 46cm 40cm 40cm 43cm 43cm 43cm 46cm 46cm 46cm 46cm 46cm 46cm 46cm 46cm 46cm 46cm 46cm 46cm
Head Angle 70.5
Handlebar Eddy Merckx alloy shallow anatomic, 42cm c-c, oversized bar clamp
Front Wheel Weight 1200
Front Derailleur 105 Triple
Frame Weight 1179
Frame Material Carbon monocoque with alloy headset and bb inserts, replaceable gear hanger, capped carbon dropouts
Fork Weight 355
Fork All carbon, capped dropouts, 1 1/8in x1 1/4in steerer
Cranks 105 triple two piece, 172.5mm arms, forged alloy with alloy spindle, 110bcd with 50/39/30t alloy rings
Cassette Shimano 105, 12-25 10-speed, steel cogs
Brakes Shimano 105, forged alloy dual-pivot
Bottom Bracket Shimano 105 external alloy, sealed
Wheelbase (cm) 98