The Mekk Pinerolo AL is a performance-minded road bike that's built around a very good aluminium frame. If you're after something for weekday blasts and longer weekend rideouts, this is a reasonably priced choice.
The Mekk Pinerolo AL 2.0 has the character of a race bike, albeit not a particularly light one. Our review model weighed in at 9.4kg (20.9lb), but it still felt racy.
How come? Well, that's largely down to the riding position, the Mekk putting you into 'attack' mode from the off. The seat tube on our review model is only 54cm but that's partly because the top tube slopes down along its length. That top tube is a lengthy 575mm and the head tube is a stocky 140mm. The upshot of all that is a riding position that has you poised for speed. Four centimetres of headset spacers mean you don't have to ride in a full-on Tour de France mode the whole time, but you can see the angle this bike is coming from.
The Mekk might not fly off the mark but it doesn't hang about either, particularly for a bike at this price point, and good front end stiffness means it feels sharp when you chuck it about when sprinting or climbing out of the saddle.
Speaking of climbing, the Mekk – like most bikes with similar price tags these days – comes with a compact chainset (50/34-tooth chainrings), which helps take the strain out of the hills. Along with the 12-28t cassette, it'll keep you in the mix and out of a fix when the terrain gets lumpy. This isn't a bike that's going to set Strava KOMs while you just relax in the saddle whistling a happy tune, but it's a competent climber and certainly not out of line with most rivals in this respect.
It's also an able descender, feeling stable on the straights and holding its line well though the turns. Rough surfaces don't knock the Mekk off its stride either. Rather than skittering around, it stays firmly planted so you maintain maximum control.
Some people would have you believe that aluminium bikes feel harsh by their very nature, but that really isn't the case. I found this to be quite a smooth-riding bike, despite supersized seatstays that look like they're going to reward you with a kick in the arse every time you stray off the most glassy of road surfaces.
Tyres wider than the 23mm Continental Ultra Sports fitted here would add a bit more forgiveness, but you could say that of any bike with 23s.
As usual, whether or not you get along with the saddle comes down to the individual. The San Marco Era Power gets a resounding 'meh' from me. I like the shape but there's too much foamy padding for my taste. You might love it. That's the way with saddles.
Although most of my rides on the Mekk have been somewhere between an hour and a half and two hours, I still felt pretty comfortable when pushing the duration up to four hours, five hours and beyond. If anything about this bike is going to make you uncomfortable, it's more likely to be that you're not into that fairly aggressive riding position rather than anything to do with the frame material or components.
The frame is made from what Mekk calls 'Super Lite Aluminum Triple Butted Seamless Tubing T4/T6 Heat Treated'. That means the wall at one end of the tube is a different thickness to the wall at the other end, and different again from the wall in the central section of the tube.
Why go to all that trouble? The idea is to provide the strength where it's needed while keeping the weight down. Heat treatment hardens and increases the strength of the metal.
The Mekk philosophy is to prioritise the frame when putting its bikes together on the basis that components wear out and are upgradeable over time, but the frame is the heart of the bike and it's likely to remain constant. The company uses this frame for four bikes in the Pinerolo range, starting with the £799.99 AL 1.5 and going right through to the £1,459.99 Pinerolo AL 3.0.
The head tube is bang on trend in that it's tapered (with a 1 1/2in lower headset bearing), the larger size adding front end stiffness, with a carbon-legged/alloy-steerer fork slotting in there. Internal cable routing keeps everything looking tidy. I did wonder whether water thrown up from the front wheel would get into the entry ports on the underside of the down tube because they don't look particularly well sealed, but that hasn't happened. Water would find it difficult to get at the cables anyway because they have outers along their full length.
All of the tube joints are super-tidy as well, the welds being hidden to the extent that you'd hardly know that most of them are there. You actually have to take a pretty close look to be sure this frame is made from aluminium rather than carbon fibre (though the AL in the model name is a bit of a giveaway).
As I said, Mekk is firmly of the belief that the frame takes precedence, but the AL 2.0's components aren't too shabby either. The shifters and mechs are from Shimano's fourth tier Tiagra groupset. It's a 10-speed system that works as crisply and efficiently as Shimano's more expensive options, and displays at the front of the levers tell you which gear you're in (although I have never once remembered to use them; old habits die hard). You don't get a full Tiagra groupset, though – the chainset is non-series R565 and the brakes are from the Sora range.
Those Sora brakes are dual pivot and they work okay, although the all-in-one pads (no separate cartridge shoe holder) lack bite. Still, they're exactly the same as those you'd get with Tiagra. To be honest, the biggest gripe you might have with the chainset and brakes is that they're black whereas the Tiagra components are silver/grey. That doesn't bother me a whole lot, but I know some people struggle with that kind of thing.
The wheels are from Shimano too: R500s. They're a no-frills option that we see on a lot of test bikes (along with the R501, which is a minor update) and I can't remember having any problems with them. They're not exactly light so maybe you'll want to upgrade to a lighter, faster wheelset over time.
Most of the other components are from Saturae, Mekk's in-house brand. The handlebar, stem and seatpost are all alloy with a black satin finish, the bar having a long rearward sweep that provides a comfortable handhold when you want to get down on the drops and turn up the power.
A racy road bike with a very good aluminium frame and well-proven components
road.cc test report
Make and model: Mekk Pinerolo AL 2.0
Size tested: 56cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame Super Lite Aluminum Triple Butted Seamless Tubing T4/T6 Heat Treated
Fork MU carbon fork (aluminum steerer)
Sizes 48XXS, 50XS, 52S, 54M, 56L, 58XL 60XXLcm
Tyres Continental Ultra Sport II 700x23C. 180TPI
Wheelset Shimano R500
Shifters Tiagra 20 speed
Front derailleur Tiagra 2 speed
Rear derailleur Tiagra 10 speed
Crank Tiagra compact 50 / 34 - 172.5
Cassette Shimano 10-speed 12-28T
Chain Shimano Silver 10-speed
Saddle San Marco Era Power
Seatpost Saturae Black Satin Look
Handlebar Saturae Compact Black Satin Look
Stem Saturae Black Satin Look
Headset Nico Steel / Aluminum
Brakeset Shimano Sora
Tape Saturae White Tape
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Mekk says, "Entry into the Mekk world comes in the form of the lightweight aluminium Pinerolo. We believe that just because a bike has a budget price tag it shouldn't have a budget ride. So whether you're starting out with your first road bike or looking for a lightweight hi-spec race machine the Pinerolo range has what you need."
It's a race/performance road bike.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The finish on the frame and fork is very good. This bike looks much more expensive than it actually is.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is made from triple-butted aluminium while the fork has carbon legs and an alloy steerer.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's an aggressive geometry – long and low.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The reach was pretty long, putting you into an aggressive riding position, especially if you remove the spacers and position the stem right on top of the headset.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, it was reasonably smooth and comfortable. It's certainly not a harsh ride. Despite what some people would have you believe, aluminium doesn't necessarily mean a sacrifice in comfort. If you do want more, you can easily swap from 23mm tyres to 25s.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, notably stiff at the front end.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, no worries on that score.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Pretty standard for a road bike of this kind.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It feels planted, coping with bumpy descents very well.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The saddle was inoffensive enough but too deep and squishy for me to live with longterm.
Wider tyres are a no-brainer.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
I don't think there's much to worry about there.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels are a decent option on a bike of this price but I'd upgrade them when they wear out for something lighter and quicker.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
As I said above, the wheels are a decent option on a bike of this price but I'd upgrade them when they wear out for something lighter and quicker. And swap the 23mm tyres for 25s.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? If I was after something at this price.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
This is a solid bike for the money. The frame is very good, with a very good finish, and the components are well proven.
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.