Mekk says its 2016 Primo race bike has a newly engineered frameset that sheds grams while gaining bottom bracket shell and chainstay stiffness, but also manages to be as comfortable as the previous model. Our test model is hardly in need of a diet, but the final production framesets will be lighter still.
Svelte carbon lines
The high-modulus Toray T800 carbon frame has a very narrow profile throughout, from the slim head tube to Kamm tail-profiled down tube and seat tube; deep, symmetrical chainstays and dropped aero seatstays. The rear wheel sits behind a generous seat tube cutout, with room for 25mm rubber. The front brake occupies its usual position, with the rear direct mount unit hidden beneath the chainstays.
Shimano’s electronic Dura-Ace Di2 was its usual faultless self
Cable routing for the brake runs internally from behind the headset to the bottom bracket, and the Di2 wires are barely noticeable. Our 56cm-equivalent frame has a 52cm seat-tube, and short 13cm head-tube, meaning that our usual race position required 30mm of spacers. If you like it fast and low, you’ll be in your element on a Primo.
The aero seatpost has an adjustable sliding clamp, allowing you to alter the seat-tube angle, ideal if you fancy bolting on tri-bars, in which case the short head-tube will also come in very handy.
The Ritchey cockpit proved to be stiff and ergonomic
On a damp and blustery day, the 50mm-deep Saturae wheelset didn’t cause any handling problems, its 24mm external width aiding aerodynamic stability, although grip and comfort would be improved by fitting wider rubber. We did encounter brake rub from the rear calliper when standing up, but whether this was caused by wheel or frame deflection it’s hard to say.
Surprisingly comfy speed merchant
One thing’s for sure: when it was time to go, the C50s looked lively, quickly whipping up to speed and sustaining it. Braking in the dry is good – if not quite at the level of class-leading carbon clinchers – and in the wet… well, it’s typical carbon, requiring more forethought and a little tip-toeing around corners.
The Primo’s frameset is typical of what you’d expect from a 2016-spec aero bike. Its slim tubes minimise frontal area, and are designed to improve performance and comfort. With Dura-Ace Di2 and carbon rims, Mekk has given this a handful of aces and it plays them well to deliver very satisfying performance that’s engaging, predictable and only let down by that brake rub, which may just require some pad adjustment.
If it looks fast, and it rides fast, it probably is fast…
The ride quality is better than average. It’s not floaty but it’s far from harsh, occupying a middle ground where the worst surfaces will definitely make themselves known but over most roads it’ll be reasonably comfortable.
For all-round riding, the supplied gearing range would be our choice too: 52/36 rings with an 11-28t cassette will cope with just about everything, and Di2 is as slick as always. The Ritchey cockpit is stiff and ergonomic, and despite those spacers, front-end rigidity was never an issue. San Marco’s ERA saddle looks basic, but rides well, and aside from the exposed front brake and round bar, the Primo scores well on perceived aerodynamics.
Without a wind tunnel, we’d have to say that there’s some truth in the view that if it looks fast, and it rides fast, it probably is fast, and at this price with Shimano’s finest fitted, that’s hard to argue with.