Merlin describes the Roc Disc Ultegra as a ‘versatile all-weather, mixed-terrain road bike’ and, with an aluminium frame, disc brakes, generous tyre clearance and mudguard/rack mounts, it’s a great year-round commuter or training bike.
It’s also comfortable and efficient enough for long days out, light touring and weekends away, while the added versatility of wide tyres means it’s more than capable of dabbling in gravel with the right rubber.
Currently the Roc Disc Ultegra can be yours for £1,299 from Merlin, which looks tremendous value for a bike with Shimano’s R8000 series Ultegra groupset and hydraulic disc brakes.
The rest of the kit isn’t too shabby, either. Mavic rims, Shimano hubs – with quick releases, not thru-axles – Schwalbe tyres, Kalloy cockpit components and a Selle Italia saddle.
Internally routed cabling on the Merlin Roc Disc Ultegra. David Caudery/Immediate Media
At the heart of the Roc is a triple-butted 6061-series aluminium frame. There’s no radical oversizing of any tubes to speak of and even an old-school, mechanic-friendly BSA threaded bottom bracket.
The carbon fork has internal disc brake hose routing (all cable routing is internal, too) and an alloy steerer. Somewhat unusually for 2019, the seatpost is 31.6mm in diameter.
This might suggest a ride that’s a little firm. Not a bit of it.
The tyres are quite modestly proportioned compared with some similar bikes, but the frameset and Schwalbe’s 28mm Durano rubber do enough to take the harshness off any road surfaces.
The frame is also designed to accommodate wider tyres up to 38mm, so you could turn the Roc Disc Ultegra into a de facto gravel bike, or add a little extra cushioning for the commute and winter road riding.
Shimano Ultegra provides excellent hydraulic braking, even without thru-axles. David Caudery/Immediate Media
Indeed, this isn’t a bike built for pure speed or shattering Strava times or PBs. This is a mile eater, and a very good one.
The ride is unfussy but will still let you hit a decent pace – there’s no lack of efficiency through the frame, the 15cm head tube (on a size 56cm bike) isn’t that tall and the 73-degree head tube delivers sharp handling. I hit very good times on my 16.5-mile commute, and on longer rides it really excelled.
The Roc doesn’t exactly fly up hills, but the advantage of modern gearing is the 34 x 32 combination. Just sit in a low gear and you’ll be able to spin up double-digit inclines, which is what I did on my local steep hills.
It descends very well, too, with balanced yet sharp steering, good stability and excellent braking from Shimano’s hydaulics.
A great commuter or training bike, helped by mudguard fittings, clearance and rear rack mounts. Robert Smith
Unlike other disc-braked bikes, the Roc doesn’t have thru-axles but sticks with quick-release levers. In spite of that, I couldn’t discern any noticeable flex-induced brake rub, and noise was minimal.
Schwalbe’s 28mm tyres even coped with local tracks and towpaths. You don’t get the same grip as you do from dedicated 38mm or 43mm gravel tyres but you’re not slipping and sliding around either.
Meanwhile, there’s not much more to say about Shimano Ultegra that we haven’t said a million times before. It’s a great groupset and fantastic on a bike at this price.
The Kalloy kit is fine, if not that exciting, and I got on well with the Selle Italia X1 saddle, though the red-and-white is bit of a clash with the blue-and-grey frameset.
All things considered, this is yet another quality, well-priced bike from Merlin with great credentials. The 31.6mm seatpost and quick-release levers are a little out of place these days, but Merlin says there’s a new version on the way and we’re guessing these will get a makeover then.
Merlin Roc Disc Ultegra geometry (size 56cm)
Seat angle: 74.5 degrees
Head angle: 72 degrees
Seat tube: 51.7cm
Top tube: 55.6cm
Head tube: 15cm
Fork offset: 4.9cm
Bottom bracket height: 27.7cm