Merckx San Remo 76 ReviewNovember 30, 2016
- Excellent BB stiffness/power transfer
- Incredibly stable on turns and descents
- Outstanding braking and drivetrain
- High value for DA-spec’d bike
- Very heavy
- Low compliance in rear
Named after the most audacious cyclist ever, Eddie Merckx and one of the all-time great races, Milan-San Remo, the Merckx San Remo 76 is a pure Road Race bike designed to handle its notoriously long and brutal course. It can sprint and handle long solo breakaways equally well, and while it’s too heavy for longer climbs, its stiffness and momentum keep it strong through short power climbs. It features some aero design, a sprinting geo—short chainstays, and a huge downtube/bottom bracket area, and uber-stiff head tube junction—and it’s the only disc model we included in this group. This is an excellent choice for road racers who live to attack but don’t frequent major climbs, especially if price is a major consideration.
The Merckx San Remo 76 is definitely designed for speed, not maximum comfort, with short, thick chainstays and massive carbon tubing all around, but its ride is relatively smooth for this type of bike. Its weight is actually a benefit here—it rolls over rougher roads and bumps without tossing the rider around. And the wider stays are shaped for some vertical compliance, softening up some of the road chatter. This would be even better if it featured carbon wheels, which absorb chatter better than aluminum. That said, it is definitely a rougher ride than most of the others in this group, and the rider position is aggressive, with a very short head tube, which riders will feel on longer rides.
This is a confusing topic with the Merckx San Remo 76: With its massive BB area and short, stiff head tube area, the power transfer is as good as any in this test, especially under huge loads during long breakaway efforts and out-of-the-saddle sprints. But the bike’s considerable weight brings down that ratio a lot. In the flats and short power climbs, this bike excels, but on longer hills the weight will hold riders back.
Again, the Merckx San Remo 76 is a bit of an anomaly here. Overall efficiency on the bike is quite good because of its excellent ability to accelerate and hold speed, but the longer you ride, the less efficient it will be since it carries a lot of extra weight and that will wear on the rider. And of course climbing is not a strong suit. The bike is heavy overall, but especially in the wheels, which puts extra weight on the perimeter of the wheels, which exponentially lowers roll-up speeds and momentum. This is not a huge problem on shorter climbs where its pure power will overcome the weight, but it will get much worse the longer and steeper the hill is.
Once you’ve managed to summit a climb, the Merckx San Remo 76 will pay you back for the extra effort with outstanding stability at high speeds, especially through long arcing turns. This bike is extremely smooth and solid no matter how fast you push it, and it holds a turn with precision and ease. Because of its love of going straight and fast, very sharp turns can be a bit trickier to engage, so beware the switchbacks, but flowy turns are a pure joy. This is also true in the flats, where this bike holds its line as well as any we’ve ridden, even over bumps or rough surfaces.
Components, Drivetrain, Shifting and Brakes
The Merckx San Remo 76 features what has become the industry standard: Shimano Dura Ace 11-speed, and in this case also their excellent disc brakes. While drivetrains have become a personal preference for many, our testing has consistently shown DA, and its little brother Ultegra, to be the smoothest shifting and most reliable of the majors, while also remaining easy to work on. Shifting is simply amazing—smooth, fast and quiet—and there are plenty of gears for all but the nastiest mountains or heaviest sprinting on the 11-28t cassette with 52/36T front rings. Braking is also exemplary, with subtle modulation and huge power when needed. We especially appreciate the IceTech rotors and discs which dissipate heat, a serious issue when you ride under a heavy load. Our only complaint about DA is the considerably higher cost, which we don’t feel is worth the minor weight savings over Ultegra, unless money is simply not an object. Also there are no micro-adjusters on the system other than at the rear derailleur—inline barrel adjusters would be much appreciated.
The bike also features an aero, integrated carbon seatpost which while it may add a tiny aero benefit, is a problem if you ever need to replace it since you can’t use a third-party post. It also has almost no flex which takes away compliance but adds some efficiency. The alloy bars have a solid feel and comfy ergonomic top and drops.
The Merckx San Remo 76 features the DT Swiss R 32 Spline alloy wheelset, which is their do-it-all, semi-aero budget package. While it’s a bit heavy for this level of bike, at over 1700g, DT hubs are among the best in the business, known for very smooth rolling and long life. The rims are very stiff which is beneficial for performance under heavy load, but can feel a bit noncompliant especially on rougher roads. Riders who want to upgrade this machine should start here, as a lighter carbon wheelset would improve overall performance considerably, especially climbing.
Scott Boulbol- Faculty
Boulbol wrote the book on trail running in Colorado.Scott Boulbol is a freelance writer who has been working in the outdoor and cycling industries for about 15 years. He lives near Boston.