A solid new entry into the sportive bike market, slightly let down by the wheels
Weight: 8450g Contact: www.mekkbicycles.com
Mekk use the slogan 'Affordable Performance' to describe their bikes and that's a fair description. The Mekk 3G Potenza SL5.5 is a great looking carbon frame with a tall front end, and will suit those seeking a comfortable bike that is no slouch.
It's not perfect, but it's a great start from a new brand.
Never heard of Mekk? Don't worry, that's because they're the newest bike company on the block and are vying for your attention with seriously well designed and really well specced bikes.
The name is the neat coming together of the two cycling instustry veterans who founded the brand, Mark Edwards and Ken Knight. They offer bikes from £1,199 right up to £3,700, so most budgets are catered for. The 3G Potenza SL5.5 sits some way up the range, one of three carbon framesets they use through the line-up.
The first thing you notice on the Mekk 3G Potenza SL5.5 is its stealth black finish. It's a style of finish that seems to be really popular at the moment, and the Mekk carries it off excellently. It's a combination of matte and glossy panels with the downtube logos cut out of the glossy layer. The only standout decals are the model identifier on the top tube. This gives the bike a pricey look that from a distance you could easily mistake for costing twice as much.
Underneath the paint is a full 3K carbon fibre frame and fork designed in Italy, made using the popular monocoque method of construction. It's clear from looking at the frame that they spent some time getting the frame just right, keeping it simple and functional. No unnecessary profiling or mad shaping of the tubes just for the sake of it.
A simple slender top tube, an oversized head tube and a down tube that starts out large at the head tube and tapers elegantly down to the bottom bracket. The large chainstays are designed to resist bending and twisting out of alignment, while at the same time increasing comfort. The driveside stay has a small aluminium plate embedded to protect the carbon from dropped chains.
From the dropouts, with a replaceable hanger, extremely slender seat stays connect to the seat tube housing a 27.2mm seat post. Carbon fibre extends to the fork which is married to a tapered steerer tube, beefing up the front end and giving a solid and planted front end. It enhances handling particular at high speeds.
Cable routing is neat with the rear brake cable routed internally through the top tube while the gear cables run under the down tube after passing through head tube mounted cable stops.
And onto the frame is bolted an impressive box of components. £1,700 is a lot of money to spend on a bike and it's a price point that sees a lot of serious competition. There's a nearly full Shimano Ultegra groupset but at this price something has to give and here it's the calipers. ICE branded items (no I've never heard of them either) do a reasonable job of bringing the Mekk to a halt but they're not terribly confidence inspiring, with a noticeable degree of flex. The front dérailleur has been downgraded to a 105, but the chain is a high quality KMC item.
Rather than opt for complete wheelset they've built ICE branded hubs onto Mavic CXP 22 rims. Obviously spending money on the Ultegra groupset has meant the wheels have had to be compromised and while they function fine, they're far from the lightest at this money and don't contribute well to the overall ride experience. Tyres are Continental Ultra Sport 23mm which provided decent grip and rolling resistance and are reasonably light.
The handlebars, stem and seatpost wear Ritchey logos, and offered no cause for complaints. Ritchey is really good quality stuff and even the more affordable components work exceptionally well. It's no wonder it's specced on many bikes at this price, so no complaints here.
You might expect a light build but at 8.45kg, there's a a bit of heft hiding somewhere in the build. I suspect the wheels are one culprit as their heaviness is noticeable when riding. I swapped to a pair of lighter Mavic Ksyrium wheels and immediately the bike sprang to life on the hills and felt less hindered. The weight does compare fairly well with other bikes at this price like the Isaac Kaon and Cannondale Synapse recently tested on road.cc, so it's unfair to criticise the Mekk too harshly.
Riding the Mekk reveals a nicely composed bike with neutral handling that will suit those wanting a bike that is easy to exploit, whether it's short blasts or sportives.
From what I've said so far you might expect the Mekk's riding position to be aggresive and performance oriented - in fact it's very upright. That's down to it's exceptionally tall head tube at 20cm on our size 56. Although the description of the 3G Potenza on the Mekk website doesn't mention sportives it is clear from the geometry that the 3G Potenza is what we've come to describe as a 'sportive bike'. In fact it is possibly the sportiviest sportive bike we've ever tested - at 20cm its head tube is 1cm taller than the daddy of all sportive bikes - the Specialized Roubaix - for the equivalent sized frame, it's 2cm taller than BMC's GFO1, and 3cm taller than Trek's new Domane - and it comes with a generous 5cm stack of spacers as well.
Geometry factors aside, the carbon frame does manage that tricky job of providing a stiff frame for power surges and sprints, yet still taming some of the choppier road surfaces. It's not quite as refined as other bikes I've ridden at this price, but we're splitting hairs - the Mekk is impressively put together.
It's always good to see new entrants into the cycling market offering more choice, and the Mekk is a fantastic debut product from a new brand. It's tough standing out in a crowded market but the Mekk manages to stick its head above the rest with a well designed and specced bike. It's a very solid alternative to the mainstream choices.
While not labelled as a sportive bike, it is exceptionally good as one with the tall head tube placing the handlebars in a very comfortable position for those who don't want to emulate the professionals' long and low riding position.
Well designed, good value new sportive bike, slightly let down by the wheels
road.cc test report
Make and model: Mekk 3G Potenza SL5.5
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: Monocoque carbon frame - structured BB and chain stays - contoured tubing and integrated cable routing
Fork: Carbon aero blades and steerer
Continental 700X23C Ultra Sport Black
Mavic CXP 22
ICE Sealed Bearings Black lightweight narrow
ULTEGRA Comapct 50 / 34 or 53 / 39 - 172.5
Shimano 10-SPEED 11-12-13-14-15-17-19-21-23-25T
KMC Silver 10 speed
Ritchey LOGIC COMP
Ritchey LOGIC CURVE COMP
Ritchey LOGIC COMP
Nico aluminum / Steel intergated
ICE Dual Pivot Brakes
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?
"This bike will elevate you to a whole new level. Monocoque carbon frames and forks, full carbon with tapered carbon steering system and integral brake cables - slightly lighter than 2G."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Extremely well designed and nicely finished frame. The paint finish in particular is excellent.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
3K carbon fibre frame and fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
A 20cm head tube is the key feature of the geometry which will appeal to some.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It was very tall at the front.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It managed to provide a reasonably comfortable ride over rough roads.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, a good balance along the length of the frame and fork.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
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? Very neutral, ideal for beginners.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It's not quite as refined as other bikes I've ridden at this price, but we're splitting hairs, the Mekk is impressively composed.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
It's impressive to see a Shimano Ultegra groupset at this price but there's a few obvious drawbacks with downgraded brakes and cheap and heavy wheels.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels blighted the performance of the bike, prime area for an upgrade.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Mostly, yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Possibly.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,