With its direct front end and general firm character the Mendiz RS9.3 is brilliant at going really really fast for a relatively short time.
If you want a comfy all-day ride or a steady sportive plodder then you'll need to look elsewhere. That's not to say the Mendiz can't do those things, far from it, but its talents lie elsewhere.
The stiff, almost brutal at times front triangle, sharp steering and direct power transfer would make it a great race or crit machine, as long as there were no cobbles along the way.
Its 'Euro' looks promote discussion but at least with the full range of Mendiz branded kit it shows commitment and works well as a whole.
But what makes or breaks a bike is the ride, and this one is pretty unique.
The front end of the Mendiz is a stiff, direct, and somewhat harsh place to be. On the plus side this makes steering amusingly point and shoot, it took a few corners on the first ride to learn not to oversteer into the kerb, but on serpentine descents you just have to think where you're going and the bike does it for you.
The downside to this front end firmness is that the Mendiz is not especially comfortable on the wrists. It's bearable over the usual shoddy roads tending towards the firm rather than the plush and it won't necessarily beat you up until the time you hit a pot hole. Then it will let you know, the shock traveling through your hands, straight across your wrists, up your arms, and down your spine before finally shattering your pelvis. If your riding takes you over any cobbles or even those brick strips they put at the entrance to villages nowadays you'll want to consider a detour.
Thankfully the rear end doesn't follow suit, but that doesn't mean it's a sofa back there. The Mendez is quite a solid beast all round. It won't jackhammer your chamois over a long day but it can get pretty jittery over corrugations and rough roads at speed.
There's just a hint of give in that stiffness for comfort and to keep things in line under power too, but get out of synch with your pedaling or get a bit stampy then the back end can skip around like a 6 year old on too much Haribo.
Unless you're familiar with the Spanish cycling scene you've probably never heard of Mendiz, but based in the North of the country, Vitoria-Gasteiz to be precise, they started making bikes in 1984.
Prolific on Iberian turf, they are now looking to spread their sales across Europe and in the UK that means exclusively via Cycling Components. Mendiz is a family run business that say they have one key factor in mind for all of their bikes: Quality. They provide a lifetime warranty on all their frames.
The bike we have here is a bit of a mash up, a mix of the Mendiz RS9.3 and Mendiz RS9.4. The bike is at heart a Mendiz RS9.3 but the Mendiz Skelator brake calipers have been upgraded to Shimano Ultegra, and the Mendiz carbon chainset has 52/39 rings instead of the 50/34 chain rings that Mendiz usually spec for the RS9.3.
With those changes made, the price for the Mendiz RS9.3 sneaks from the standard price of £2,345 up to £2445.00. You can alter the specification of each bike in the Mendiz range to suit your own special requirements, swapping the stem length, handlebar width, chainrings, crank length, cassette ratios and wheels as you see fit. Cycling Components also offer a complete custom bike build option for an even wider range of choice.
You can also choose from several frameset colour options, which might be wise as the hand airbrushed paint scheme on the test bike was to put it politely a little bit 'Marmite'. Reactions to the graphics went from 'That's very, um, Euro' through 'Is that a Halfords bike?' and all the way to 'that's bloody disgusting' via a man openly laughing at it during a feed-stop at a sportive, which was a little harsh.
Others thought it was just plain lovely.
Suffice to say it's probably not a bike for the shy, although everyone agreed having 'Speed Machine' written on the down-tube is a little bit like putting a 'Max Power' sticker on your Corsa, and the 'Carbon Monocoque T & T' on the top-tube was misread as 'Carbon Monocoque TAT' by more than one person. Just sayin'.
There's a lot going on underneath all that colour though. Each frame is hand-made and Mendiz are proud to say the manufacturing process for the RS9 is the secret to its strength and performance.
T-700 Carbon, High Modulus M30J Carbon Pre-Preg and High Strength 60T Carbon Pre-Preg make up the frame in their 'Tube-to-Tube' process. This means that the tube has been prepared by compressing the carbon and adjusting the resin, allowing it to be worked on both the inside and outside at the same time, accurately shaping the carbon and evenly distributing the resins eliminating air bubbles and resin pockets to make a stronger frame. Despite the 'Tube-to-Tube' moniker the Mendiz actually has a monocoque construction, confusingly.
The top tube slopes slightly and while the top of the tube is almost straight with only just the slightest bend to it, the underside is dramatically curved with both ends bulging out to be almost twice as thick as the centre section. Its whole length is manipulated, fluted and all very 'flowy', and the rear brake cable runs internally through the top tube via organically cowled ports.
The head tube bulges out top to bottom with what's now the industry norm of a frame stiffening tapered head tube, with Mendiz going for the 1 1/8in bearing at the top and 1 1/2in at the bottom option with a full carbon Mendiz RSD fork slotted in. The tines are also heavily formed with a 60mm deep fin swelling out the back.
The down tube is also sculpted into swoops, flares and bulges. An aggressive ridge forms the top half of the tube as it hits the head-tube whilst at the other end it's almost 70mm deep at the bottom-bracket, where it also swells out sideways to almost the full width. Gear cables enter via cowls at the top of the down tube to run internally and exit just ahead of the bottom-bracket.
The seat tube is the only unadulterated tube on the Mendiz, the chain stays however curve gracefully away from it, 40mm deep at their fattest point by the bottom-bracket the whole chunky BB area makes the chainstay bridge seem somewhat superfluous. The bottom-bracket itself is external, surprisingly. Nothing wrong with that but it does look a little incongruous sticking out of that vast expanse of carbon.
Mendez KSR carbon-wrapped alloy components make up the seatpost, stem, bars and cranks, and the saddle is dual-branded as a Mendiz KSR Terra/Selle Italia.
The component list is nothing to get overly passionate about. It's dependable stuff though; the Ultegra works fine, and the finishing kit does its job without any fanfare or bluster, which is just what you want really.
Shimano Ultegra takes care of the 10 speed STIs, front and rear mechs and as mentioned, the upgraded calipers while wheels are Mavic Cosmic Elites with Michelin Pro Race 3 rubber.
And it all works fine; the Shimano Ultegra components do as Ultegra does, smooth shifting front and back, and reliable braking, although it felt a little underpowered on the Mendiz. This might have been because it was set up wrong-handed Euro style.
Mavic Cosmic Elite wheels are a tough and reliable workhorse wheelset, although their mid-section rims and bladed spokes didn't help towards the Mendiz's harsher characteristics. They are dressed with Michelin Pro3 Race tyres which are a sticky and predictable favourite here.
The RS9.3 is a bit of a accessorized carbonfest; stem, bars, cranks, seatpost, seat clamp and front mech clamp while not being made of the magic plastic are at least wrapped in it for a consistent look.
The Ultralight bars have a comfortable large wide flat-top with twin tunnels underneath for a tidy cable run and a shallow enough constant radius drop to allow any stiff back to get in the drops. The swap on this bike to 52/39 rings mated to a 12-25 cassette might not be to everyone's taste or legs but the hard and fast gearing seemed to suit the Mendiz's temperament pretty well. It's not a bike for clacking into a spinny gear and looking at the flowers.
Even the saddle was okay to this sensitive behind, well padded, but with all those spangly printed graphics it gets slippy and embarrassingly squeaky when wet.
The sizing is a little odd but play about with stems and whatnot and you can cancel that out.
This is the XL sized bike on test here. Are the Basques really that small? In reality it's a 56cm centre to the top of the seat tube with a 55.9cm effective top tube, with a 16cm head tube and 73/73.5° frame angles all steering the Mendiz towards the racy end of things.
This XL has a cramped feel to someone normally quite happy on a nominal 56 bike, not helped by the 100mm stem and the narrow bars. Those would need to be changed via Mendiz parts tailoring. The next size up, XXL, is a rangy 15mm longer so some care and fiddling about with stems and suchlike might be needed to ensure a good fit if you're floating somewhere between sizes.
It's not a heavy bike but it needs to lose some weight to be a contender and you can feel it's a little bit chunky on the climbs. At times it feels a bit wooden and isn't very enthusiastic when seated. Standing up on the pedals and making the most of the firm frame is a better bet.
The RS9.3 is a very mood and fitness specific machine; feel good and the Mendiz chirps forward with your every breath and it rides like a missile while you hum Top Gun tunes, but feel a bit off or get tired and the bike becomes a solid, harsh, unforgiving mistress.
A Marmite paint job, but underneath there's a bike that really wants to go fast.
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Make and model: Mendiz RS9.3
Size tested: XL
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Mendiz RS9 Monocoque Carbon Frame constructed from T-700 Carbon, High Modulus M30J Carbon Pre-Preg and High Strength 60T Carbon Pre-Preg in what Mendiz call their 'Tube-to-Tube' process. Mendiz full carbon tapered 1-1/8' - 1-1/5' fork.
Shimano Ultegra 6700 STi Levers.
Shimano Ultegra 6700 Rear Derailleur.
Shimano Ultegra 6700 Front Derailleur.
Shimano Ultegra 6700 10spd Cassette, 12-25.
Mendiz KS-R Carbon Chainset, 52/39.
Shimano Ultegra Front/Rear Brakes.
Mavic Cosmic Elite Wheels.
Michelin Pro Race 3 700x23c Tyres.
Mendiz KS-R Alloy Handlebar with Carbon Wrap.
Mendiz KS-R Alloy Seatpost with Carbon Wrap
Mendiz KS-R Alloy Stem with Carbon Wrap.
Mendiz Terra Saddle.
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?
Mendiz say the RS9 has been designed with the serious road rider in mind. While strength and speed is of the essence for the RS9, it remains comfortable. Due to the design of the frame, it absorbs a great deal of vibration and so reduces fatigue for the rider. Therefore, two clear goals have been achieved; pure speed and comfort. The RS9 is a sensational frameset for those that demand the best from today's carbon frames.
(Spanish Inquisition voice)...Speed and comfort...comfort and speed.... Our two clear goals are speed and comfort.... Ahem. It's definitely a bike with the serious rider in mind, if by serious they mean racy as it's not particularly a bike for nodding along on. So a big tick for speed, but lower mark for comfort, the rear end isn't the plushest of platforms but it's not going to rattle your kidneys to soup, the front end however is really rather direct.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Peer underneath the shouty graphics and the Mendiz looks well made with all the swoopy ridged tubes flowing seemlessly together.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
T-700 Carbon, High Modulus M30J Carbon Pre-Preg and High Strength 60T Carbon Pre-Preg.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
We have the XL sized bike here although bear in mind that's Spanish sizing: it's a 56cm frame (centre – top) sporting a 55.9cm top tube, with a 16cm head tube and 73/73.5° head and seat tube angles the RS9.3 is angled towards the racy.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
For a XL it was quite small, and for a 56 it was still a little bit short in the top-tube.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
I wouldn't say it was comfortable, but it wasn't uncomfortable either. Let's say race-bred. That front end could rattle you about.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The front end was especially stiff, which is in the right place if you want a bike that reacts instinctively to cut and thrust riding, less so if you want to cruise from tea-rooms to coffee-shop.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
The Mendiz was pretty stiff when it came to thwapping about on the pedals which could make it skippety at times.
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? Well lively.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Fast and nippy the RS9.3 was at its best when eyes started bleeding.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
All those carbon-wrapped alloy components do a good enough job of keeping everything comfy.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Mavic Cosmic Elite wheels certainly enhanced the Mendiz's rigid qualities.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Nothing much, swapping the wheels for something lighter would chivvy things along nicely.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
You can't go wrong with Ultegra, it does it's job.
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?
The wheels are a good starter workhorse set, and they can easily be upgraded at the Cycling Components checkout if you want.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The Mendiz branded finishing kit isn't going to have you drooling at its quality or weight, but it does the job unnoticed.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? If I did more racing, yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand.
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.