Boy, that escalated quickly - '91 Merlin Mountain

br0qn

Devout Dirtbag
I had planned to post a follow up to my just created '92 marin team issue thread with a just purchased (soon to arrive) '92 orange clockwork. If you read the marin thread you'll know that bike will be my first as an adult and the first I've owned since ~2000. It's a frameset sitting next to a box of parts that I will build up with the help of a friend in the next couple of weeks.

Well, having been thoroughly bit by this sick, sick, bug (thank you retrobike) I became interested in the early clockworks for several reasons but specifically the first three years, the decals are my favorite. I was scrolling (uk) ebay late one night (in bed, on my side, using one eye) and saw a good looking project, paint stripped but clean early clockwork with a nickel plated f7. I wrote the seller to inquire about general info and shipping stateside and found the bike was originally black. Immediately I had to have it as it would be a same year negative to the marin (nickel frame black fork.) The kind seller accepted the starting bid offer which made it worthwhile to me as courier fee was the same as the frameset.

This project is supposed to show up to my door tomorrow but in anticipation, as I was searching local craigslist for components an xtr search turned up an ad for a merlin titanium for not crazy money.

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That got my heart pumping enough and as I clicked trough the listing images -

Avid tri aligns. whoa, those are cool and usually a couple hundred bucks


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Very cool hub! mavic paris dakar


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There's the XTR that brought me here, rear hub on a mavic rim. Also I think those are ringle skewers, people seem to go ape for them.



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Clean condition on the XT mechs, that I'm into.



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Nice looking crankset / rings. These weren't on my shopping list, I was really wanting some xt m737 cranks or unobtanium syncros revolution. Odd pedal choice


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Things got a little weird here with the paul v brake levers (they do very little to stop the cantis) and the budget bars but I can figure that out easy enough


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At this point I'm trying to "buy it now" but I've got to write the seller...if you don't know, craigslist is full of flakes and I've little hope that someone didn't beat me to the punch.

Then my eyes about popped out of my head

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An Igleheart fork! and that headset aint bad either.

At some point after the marin purchase I started looking for a second project because I fell in love so many times over with other bikes and in trying to justify it I started looking for maybe something already together and serviceable for the mrs (I have a fantasy that we'll ride together, we'll see!) that wasn't going to run up like the marin project. In my search I kept finding a lot of front suspension stumpjumpers and not caring much for the look of them (purely cosmetic and subjective reasons, baseless really but a certain few have since come to grow on me) I started looking at forks. Somehow I became locked onto segmented forks (the aforementioned clockwork was also hastily bought in part for the segmented f7 attached) and in my quest I found a few makers that were supposed to be masters of such things. Igleheart was one of them and his mountain fork goes for $550+ though he's not taking any orders right now, I imagine he's slammed. From what I gather he is/was responsible for the Fat Chance forks too though someone please chime in with the facts.

Somewhere along the way another obsession formed for Syncros, everything they did was stunning. I have a wtb thread coming for some wish list parts for this and the orange.


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A meet was set and I paid the man asking price, no haggle.
 

br0qn

Devout Dirtbag
It's a '91 according to the serial which is what I guessed based on there being canti posts, eyelets on the dropouts and no s bend on the chainstay, and it's a size small according to my measurements compared to the '91 brochure in the archive here. At 5'7" I'm nearly worried about it being big but we'll see once the changes are made.


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I need to figure out the cockpit first, tires and pedals of course. I'm not sure on pedals but thinking either syncros cattlehead or if I can find a nice titanium stem. Syncros ti bars would be great. Avid levers to match the cantis maybe. Cutting the steerer down will be a measure 48 times and cut once affair.

Brake cable guide is so cool

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and I love the grease guard decal. I need to figure out how to service the press fit bb


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Really nice stem too but it doesn't fit the vision


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and like this shot a lot, shows a lot of great bits.


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pw_pw_la

Senior Retro Guru
That's a really unbelievable score.

I'm curious tho, what did you end up paying for it? Assuming you're based here in the US?

I have to say, I read through the whole thing hoping I'd get to the part where you said it was one of the larger sizes and too big for you, so I could swoop in with an offer to swap it for my 17"ish 89/90 frame, which I'm soon to start building, and is certainly a little too small for me!

Looks like you've got an amazing bike on your hands tho, and I'll be following along with interest to see what you do with it.

Also: It might not be your cup of tea, or even mine, but I actually kind of love how the original owner was running it!
 

br0qn

Devout Dirtbag
That's a really unbelievable score.

I'm curious tho, what did you end up paying for it? Assuming you're based here in the US?

I have to say, I read through the whole thing hoping I'd get to the part where you said it was one of the larger sizes and too big for you, so I could swoop in with an offer to swap it for my 17"ish 89/90 frame, which I'm soon to start building, and is certainly a little too small for me!

Looks like you've got an amazing bike on your hands tho, and I'll be following along with interest to see what you do with it.

Also: It might not be your cup of tea, or even mine, but I actually kind of love how the original owner was running it!

Ya I'm in LA (you too?) I paid $1100 for it which seemed more than fair.

Did you read the part where I thought maybe it is too big ? I actually have nothing to compare it to so I'm at a loss. I believe it to be a small based on measuring and comparing to the '91 catalog but I'm not sure I'm measuring as they did. I wonder if yours is smaller or the same size? We should chat ;D

Funny, the PO was a really nice guy. He only had the bike for ~3 years and said he only added the stem cap. He rode it sparingly I'd guess, out to get coffee, as he has 100 bikes in his collection though I saw his other listings and they were road bikes. I think this was a weird one for him as much as he liked it. He told me he bought it for the fork. I think he spent time in Portland (where igleheart works) and gotten into them somehow when he came upon this bike with the fork he was after. Makes me curious about who put the bike together before him with that mega steerer.

I have been cruising around on it already and it's not at all what I was after set up this way but it works fine. I have a goal to ready this or the orange that just landed for a couple nights of cycling / camping on catalina island before summers over!

Lots of possibilities there. Love the fork as well.
Good luck with the build.
Thank you. Couldn't believe I found a bike with that fork on it.
 
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pw_pw_la

Senior Retro Guru
Ya I'm in LA (you too?) I paid $1100 for it which seemed more than fair.

Did you read the part where I thought maybe it is too big ? I actually have nothing to compare it to so I'm at a loss. I believe it to be a small based on measuring and comparing to the '91 catalog but I'm not sure I'm measuring as they did. I wonder if yours is smaller or the same size? We should chat ;D

Funny, the PO was a really nice guy. He only had the bike for ~3 years and said he only added the stem cap. He rode it sparingly I'd guess, out to get coffee, as he has 100 bikes in his collection though I saw his other listings and they were road bikes. I think this was a weird one for him as much as he liked it.

I have been cruising around on it already and it's not at all what I was after set up this way but it works fine. I have a goal to ready this or the orange that just landed for a couple nights of cycling / camping on catalina island before summers over!


Thank you. Couldn't believe I found a bike with that fork on it.

Yeah, I did! But it's still too small for me if it's the small!

I'm 6ft, so really need a 19-21" one. I just couldn't resist the 17" when I found it!

You did great with that price, I reckon.

Frame and forks alone would normally go for about that. Well, these days, anyway. And this one is loaded with goodies.

As you're in LA we should deffo chat. I'm sure you'll be hunting for parts, so I'll keep an eye out for anything you might want/need.

And I reckon this Merlin will be easier than the Clockwork to have ready in time for your Catalina Island trip!

I just got back last night from a big group ride/campout over in Cystal Cove with the Golden Saddle crew. You should bring this along next year!

Maybe I'll have mine ready by then, too. We can be twinsies!
 

greencat

Senior Retro Guru
Looks like a beaut. And if you're going to have those mavic hubs, you are definitely better off having the front only. I had the rear, and the axle was always snapping. 😂
 
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