Just in: Mekk AL Pinerolo 1.0

Mekk's entry-level £700 aluminium road bike offers good build for the money

by David Arthur   March 7, 2013  

Is 2013 the year of the aluminium road bike? We tested a few last year, culminating in one winning our Bike of the Year award, and judging by the latest crop of bikes arriving in the office, this year looks no different. The very latest is this Mekk AL Pinerolo 1.0, a £700 entry-level aluminium racer with a 9-speed Shimano groupset and a bright red paint job.

The story behind Mekk is a simple one, it being a relative newcomer to the road bicycle market. Two men with years of experience between them in the bike trade, Mark Edwards and Ken Knight, put their heads together and created a complete range of bikes, from aluminium to carbon fibre. We tested one such carbon model, the 3G Potenza SL5.5, last summer and came away highly impressed with such a capable and very well-specced bike for the money.

http://road.cc/sites/default/files/imagecache/lightbox-large/images/Mekk%20A1%20Pinerolo%20AL%201.0/Mekk%20A1%20Pinerolo%20AL%201.0%20-%20cable%20routing.jpg

The £699.99 AL Pinerolo 1.0 is an interesting bike. It’s where the Mekk range starts, and is the first of four aluminium models which top out at £1,199. Beyond that carbon fibre takes over and Mekk split their offering into three separate ranges, priced from £1,199 right up to £4,999.99, so there really is something for everyone.

£700 is still a reasonable chunk of cash, but it’s a very good point to get onto the road bike carousel, and the Mekk offering has a lot going for it with a very good build kit and smart finish making it one for your shortlist, if you’re in the market for a £700 bike.

http://road.cc/sites/default/files/imagecache/lightbox-large/images/Mekk%20A1%20Pinerolo%20AL%201.0/Mekk%20A1%20Pinerolo%20AL%201.0%20-%20chainstay.jpg

What exactly do you get for your money? Well, the frame is triple-butted aluminium which means it’s a bit lighter and should hopefully ride better than a plain gauge (non butted) tubeset. The welds are smooth and it’s all very neatly finished. It has a chunky down tube that is ovalised at either end to present a larger weld area with the head tube and bottom bracket shell. The top tube has the merest hint of a slope, giving it a traditional look that just seems right to my eyes.

A 1 1/8in head tube carries a carbon fibre fork with an aluminium steerer tube. The rear brake cable is routed internally through the top tube. It’s not often you see internal cable routing at this price. The gear cables are routed externally along the underside of the down tube.

Mekk opt for Shimano on most of their bikes and this model gets a mostly Sora 9-speed groupset with a non-series Octalink compact 50/34 chainset. It’s the older style Sora with the thumb shifter paddle, rather than the newer Dual Control lever shifters, which is a shame. A KMC Silver 9-speed completes the drivetrain.

http://road.cc/sites/default/files/imagecache/lightbox-large/images/Mekk%20A1%20Pinerolo%20AL%201.0/Mekk%20A1%20Pinerolo%20AL%201.0%20-%20fork.jpg

Wheels are a combination of ICE hubs with sealed bearings and Mavic's CXP 22 rims, shod with Kenda Black Sport 23mm tyres. The handlebars, stem, seatpost, saddle and brake callipers are all branded with the ICE logo too. On first impressions it all appears to be good, sturdy equipment, but it will be interesting to see how the brakes perform during the test period, as they’re an obvious downgrade from Shimano branded brakes. They’re fitted with non-cartridge brake pads. Weight for the bike pictured (a 54cm) is 9.22kg (20.32lbs).

http://road.cc/sites/default/files/imagecache/lightbox-large/images/Mekk%20A1%20Pinerolo%20AL%201.0/Mekk%20A1%20Pinerolo%20AL%201.0%20-%20lever.jpg

Now we’ve cast our eye over the build kit, let’s take a look at the geometry. The 54cm bike we have comes with an effective top tube of 55.5cm while the seat tube is 54cm. The head and seat tube angles are both 73.5°. The head tube length is on the short side at 15cm, which places it at the racier end of the scale. Even going up a size to the 56cm gets you only a 15.6cm head tube. That’s interesting because the more expensive Mekk 3G had a whopping 20cm head tube for a size 56cm.

It would have been reasonable to assume Mekk might have opted for a similar sportive-friendly geometry across their range of bikes, so the fact the entry-level aluminium bikes are far more racy than their more upright carbon models higher up the price slider has us rubbing our chins. Do newer cyclists, that we expect might be interested in this Al Pinerolo, not also want a higher, more comfortable front end like on the expensive carbon models? Personally, I’m not a fan of the really tall head tubes, so it will be interesting to see our our tester for this bike, Stu, gets on with it.

There’s some hot competition at this price point. To pick a few similarly priced contenders, there’s the Verenti Belief from wiggle.co.uk at £750 which manages a Shimano Tiagra 10-speed groupset. Another British brand, Genesis, offers the Volant 10 at £799 which combines a double-butted alloy frame and Sora 3500 9-speed groupset. And there’s Pinnacle Dolomite 4 for £750, an alloy frame wearing a Shimano Tiagra groupset from Evans Cycles.

Oh, and the name Pinerolo - it’s a town in Italy southwest of Turin. Any similarity to to the name of any high-profile brand is, we're sure, completely coincidental!

www.mekkbicycles.com

6 user comments

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I like the look of this, although the very first thing I'd be doing is removing the 'AL1.0' stickers.

Christ, who thought that was a good idea? A Frenchman answering the phone?

posted by farrell [1345 posts]
7th March 2013 - 13:00

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Is it worth £400 more than a BTwin Triban 3 though?

posted by pwake [281 posts]
7th March 2013 - 14:47

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Pinerolo. Sounds nothing like Pinarello. And this is a shame, because it sounds a decent bike that doesn't need to hijack another company's identity.

posted by j1mmy76 [63 posts]
7th March 2013 - 19:25

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They're sailing a bit close to the wind there with the name. I bet Halford's lawyers are getting excited. Cool

If you are going to play with similar sounding names this is the best one I've seen:

http://i42.tinypic.com/211uq2g.jpg

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

badback's picture

posted by badback [264 posts]
7th March 2013 - 23:32

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j1mmy76 wrote:
Pinerolo. Sounds nothing like Pinarello. And this is a shame, because it sounds a decent bike that doesn't need to hijack another company's identity.

Pinarello is the name of a man, *Pinerolo is the name of a town and a climb in Northern Italy.

It's mentioned in the article for pete's sake.

posted by Zee [69 posts]
8th March 2013 - 10:55

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I got this bike the other month as an upgrade on a steel frame raleigh I had. I must say I've thoroughly enjoyed the bike, it feels and looks nice and so far the build quality seems to shine. I managed to pick it up from Wiggle at £560 so it was definitely a bargain.

Only downside I've found at the moment is the sora thumbshifters do often have a habit of sticking every so often. Not sure if this is something that could be fixed through a service but it is a tad annoying when battling a tough hill!

Overall though I am loving it, only problem is keeping it looking as shiny as the day I got it Wink

posted by awalker91 [6 posts]
12th March 2013 - 12:58

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