The Eddy Merckx SanRemo76 follows the form of the EMX-525 launched on the eve of the 2012 Tour de France. That bike heralded a new direction for the brand, one that focused on ride and handling and not chasing the title of the lightest frame, a battle that is concerning more than a handful of manufacturers. It also had the input of Eddy Merckx himself, and it was upon his insistence that handling and performance were key goals with the bike.
I rode the EMX-525 following the launch and can attest to the fine handling, and it's delightful to discover that the newly launched SanRemo76 displays similar characteristics. It doesn't take more than a few miles to feel quite happy on the new bike, and there is sense some of the EMX-525 has found its way into the SanRemo76. That's a very good thing.
You learn a lot about a bike in the corners and the SanRemo76 is without doubt one of the nicest cornering bikes I've ridden in a while. Sure, all bikes will go round corners, but some display a bit more control, stability, and feedback, all factors that if in the right balance can give you the confidence to go that little bit faster. And who doesn't enjoy a spot of fast cornering? I know I do. You can sling this bike through any sort of corner at any speed, and it feels so well balanced and secure, that you can't help but grin every time. And go back for more. And more.
The SanRemo76 impresses everywhere else too. Everywhere that matters, like on the flat, down the hills even, rolling roads, even up the hills even though it isn't the lightest at a shade over 7.6kg. Perhaps the most appealing trait of this bike is the handling is really accessible. It's an easy bike to extract performance from, providing excellent form at any speed. It's equally happy at low speeds as it is at eye-watering, hold your breath speeds.
I was eager to find out how the SanRemo76 would perform with a number pinned to my jersey, so I duly swapped my regular Cannondale SuperSix Evo race bike and used the Merckx for the last race of my season. It proved to be a fine choice. It didn't help me to win the race (my lack of form is to blame there) but the SanRemo76 was a fast, comfortable, precise race bike that was docile in the high-speed bunch, but happy with the all-out efforts required to get in the breaks. I didn't feel at any disadvantage compared to my regular race bike, and I consider the Evo a benchmark.
It's a highly capable race bike then, but it's no one-trick pony. If you're seeking a high performance, high-speed road bike not for racing but just for blasting around the lanes of a weekend, maybe a sportive, maybe for riding with your club, the SanRemo76 is a great long distance bike. It's impressively comfortable for a bike displaying so much stiffness when you push hard on the pedals, despite the aero seatpost surely not providing as much deflection as a conventional round post. I knocked out four- and six-hour rides quite happily.
The SanRemo76 range extends to three bikes: this £2,699 Shimano Ultegra 11-speed mechanical build; a Ultegra Di2 model at £3,349; and a 105 model costing £2,249.
Shimano's Ultegra 11-speed mechanical groupset probably offers the best cost-to-performance ratio of any of the manufacturers' current groupsets. It's probably the best groupset they've ever made, and there have been some bloody good groupsets from Shimano over the years.
The shift action is deliciously light and full of feedback, the brakes are authoritative with plenty of modulation and just enough bite, and the new 52/36 semi-compact chainset is quickly becoming my favourite choice for all riding. It's good for racing, but gives you a bit more scope on the hills when you're not racing, something I appreciate on some of the steeper local climbs.
Fulcrum's Racing 5 wheels clearly help Merckx to keep the price down, and while they are a bit on the heavy side they're capable wheels with good stiffness and, if previous testing is anything to go by, excellent reliability.
The tyres are perhaps the only blemish on the overall build, and while there's nothing particularly wrong with the Vittoria Rubino Pro clincher tyres, they're not the lightest or most supple feeling tyres. Ride them till they wear out, then invest in some posher rubber is my advice.
The Lizard Skin bar tape is worth a mention. It's just lovely. I'd be happy if every test bike came fitted with the stuff. It's nicely cushioned, not too much though, and its grippy feel works great with or without gloves, providing good adhesion even when you're sweating buckets.
The contact points consist of a Prologo Zero saddle that is more comfortable than its svelte looks might suggest, and a Deda Zero100 handlebar which provides a very nice shape, a little deeper than some compact bars but not too much, and a nice curve when riding right in the drops. A matching 11cm stem clamps it to the steerer tube, around which there were generous spacers on this test bike for adjusting the front-end height.
It's a purposeful build: nothing flash. For the budding racer this is the perfect setup: there are no expensive parts (relatively speaking) to wear out or suffer damage in a crash, and the price is reasonably competitive with other choices on the market. There are better specced bikes for the money, but the handling and performance of the Merckx has to be factored in, because it's definitely a cut above the average.
It's a decent looking frame, a fine collection of angular lines flowing into nice curves and the paint job works well to both highlight key panels and play down its bulk in other areas. The frame is all brought together by a pair of hugely oversized chainstays and massive bottom bracket area, which provides that essential stiffness.
The frame has a hint of aerodynamics about it, but Merckx don't call it an aero bike and they certainly don't make any aero claims for it. It just happens to have aero shaped tube profiles, the curve of the down tube and the slender fork blades and that aero seat tube suggesting a bike capable of slicing through the air. All cables are internally routed as well which helps maintain some smooth airflow over the frame surfaces.
Eddy Merckx's many victories in the race this bike has been named after are listed on the spine of the down tube. (That's Milan-San Remo, and he won it seven times, first in 1966 and the last in 1976.) It's a nice touch, discrete enough to be reserved, but when friends get up close they notice and a discussion about Merckx invariably ensues. Which is nice. The bike is a conversation starter.
The fork has a kink at midway point and it's mirrored by the slim, kinked seat stays. The seat tube is an aero shaped affair and accommodates an aero seat post. That's all fine, but one serious problem with the Merckx comes when you want to adjust the seatpost height.
The seatpost is held in place by a novel mechanism with two Allen bolts on the back of the seatpost. Together they act to press an internal plate against the post. It's a system that works well, the seatpost didn't slip once during the test.
But accessing the two bolts is very fiddly. While the top bolt can be reached easily enough, I had to remove the rear wheel to get at the lower bolt. That makes measuring the saddle height from the bottom bracket tricky if you don't have a workstand. It means you can't easily make roadside adjustments to the saddle height, which if you're a fussy bugger with your saddle height like I am, will grind. I'm sure Merckx could have found a more user-friendly design.
Is it a deal breaker? Once it's set up it's not a problem, and once you've got your seat post height right setting it up after travelling shouldn't be a problem. If you're constantly adjusting your saddle height, as the great Eddy Merckx himself famously liked to do even during the races, then it might be enough to put you off.
There are the typical details that are now commonplace on top-end carbon race frames. So there's a 1 1/8in-1 1/2in tapered head tube and a BB86 press-fit bottom bracket, internal cable routing and Di2 compatibility. Six frame sizes are offered from 47 to 61cm.
Merckx claim a frame weight of 1,122g. That's high when compared to the competition. The whole bike as pictured weighs 7.6kg. But weight wasn't the main criteria for the company when designing this frame, as they said when they developed the EMX-525 which has inspired this new model.
Brilliant handling bike with superb performance and reliable build kit, let down by fiddly seatclamp
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Make and model: Eddy Merckx San Remo 76
Size tested: 56
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
As the name indicates, the SanRemo76 is meant as a tribute to Merckx's unbroken record of 7 victories in la Primavera. This high-performance race bike is designed and built for racers who focus on speed. Its longer top tube and lower head tube ensure a leaning forward aerodynamic position. Combined with the compact seatstays and oversized BB this accommodates a more aggressive riding style.
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?
The SanRemo76 road bike is billed as a high performance road bike 'ideal for cyclists who love to ride fast and want to compare themselves against other riders,' says Merckx. Sounds like it's the bike for the Strava generation. It's based on the EMX-525 but uses lower grade carbon fibre to make it more affordable.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Ideal for performance-minded types and racing, with a long top tube and short head tube.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Just about perfect really.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Hugely comfortable, despite that aero seat post.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes especially when sprinting or hard climbing.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
The SanRemo76 offers brilliant handling, speed and race-ready performance but with impressive comfort, all wrapped up in a really smart looking bike. This bike is pretty close to getting top scores, but that awkward seatclamp knocks the score back down, and will put some people right off I'm sure.
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
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,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.