Featured Bike: Andrew Vince’s Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

About Merit Bikes

“We are a small garage brand located in the Czech Republic founded by one enthusiast and one ex-pro rider. We have no ambition to compete with top brands who produce all categories of bikes. We produce only what we use ourselves. We can respond quickly to new market requirements and offer an individual approach and effort.”

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

Merit entrust all of their frame production to a well-proven manufacturer based in Taiwan. Each frame is manufactured by hand and utilizes carbon fiber sourced from Japanese supplier, Toray.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

Stating the obvious, the Merit Plus is similar in appearance to certain carbon gravel bike whose best-known feature is its aerodynamic frame. Like that other bike, the Merit Plus features a distinctive dropped chainstay which provides clearance for a road crankset and 650b x 2.0″ tyres. The Merit Plus also accepts tyres sized up to 700c x 40mm. But there is one big difference between that other bike and the Merit Plus… the price…

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

This example of the Merit Plus is owned by Andrew Vince, a UK-based rider who enjoys riding all manner of road surfaces aboard this versatile rig. Pedal Power Cycles Limited of Ipswich, Suffolk, UK is Andrew’s go-to bike shop, and the party responsible for sourcing and building Andrew’s Merit Plus.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike
Above, another view of the Merit’s unique drive-side chainstay.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

If you checked out our recent video concerning 1x versus 2x drivetrains, you’ll know the 1x type is gaining momentum. Andrew’s SRAM Force crankset is fitted with a single 42 tooth chainring.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

Merit choose the BB86 press-fit standard for the Merit Plus and C-Bear supply the ceramic bearing bottom bracket. For more detail on C-Bear’s range of bottom brackets, check out our C-Bear review.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

It’s hard to go wrong with Shimano’s top-tier XTR model pedal. Light in weight and reliable, this pedal has a track record of solid performance in the most trying of conditions.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

Above, a SRAM Force 11-speed mechanical / hydraulic brake lever / shifter paired to a Ritchey Logic EVO Adventure handlebar.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

Pictured during the Merit’s build process, the SRAM Force 1 derailleur awaits a chain and fine-tuning. Andrew may have chosen mechanical shifting, but the Merit Plus also supports Di2 with the option for a front derailleur. Regardless of the shifting choice, all cables are internalized.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

SRAM’s 10-42 cassette provides a massive spread of gears, including 1 to 1 on the 42 tooth rear cog, perfect for scaling the steepest of climbs. Thru-axles feature at both ends of the Merit Plus.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

The Merit Plus features the flat-mount brake standard at front and rear of the bike. SRAM’s excellent Force hydraulic brake calipers provide plenty of stopping power.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

This photo angle shows the Merit Plus’ internalized hydraulic brake housings.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

The front end of the Merit Plus is clean and tidy. Continuing the internalized theme, the front hydraulic brake housing is routed internally through the fork.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

There’s plenty of clearance between those chainstays. In the photo above, Panaracer’s 700c x 38mm Gravelking SK tyres are installed.

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike:

  • Frame: Merit Plus (Medium) with rack mounts and thru-axle (12mm x 142mm).
  • Fork: Merit tapered 1 1/8″ to 1 1/2″ thru-axle (15mm) carbon fork with rack mounts.
  • Headset: FSA.
  • Stem: BBB aluminium (90mm).
  • Handlebar: Ritchey EVO adventure.
  • Bar Tape: Lizard Skin.
  • Brakes: SRAM Force hydraulic, flat-mount.
  • Brake Rotors: SRAM CenterLine X 160mm.
  • Brake / Shift Levers: SRAM Force hydraulic / mechanical 11-speed.
  • Front Derailleur: N/A.
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM Force 1 11-speed.
  • Cassette: SRAM XG-1150 11-speed 10-42.
  • Chain: SRAM X1 with 118 links.
  • Crankset: SRAM Force GXP with 42 tooth chainring.
  • Bottom Bracket: C-Bear BB 92/86.
  • Pedals: Shimano XTR.
  • Wheelset: 650b / 27.5″ – Crank Brothers Cobalt 3 with XD driver. 700c – Halo Vapour 700c with Megadrive 20 pawl XD driver.
  • Tires: 650b / 27.5″ – Vredstein Spotted Cat 27.5″ / 650b x 2.00″ TLR configured tubeless. 700c – Panracer GravelKing SK 700 x 38 tyres and Schwalbe inner tubes.
  • Saddle: Prologo Scratch 2 Tirox 143mm.
  • Seatpost: Merit carbon setback.
  • Bottle Cages: BBB.

Merit Bikes

If you own a unique gravel bike you’d like to see featured on Gravel Cyclist, please contact us.

12 comments on “Featured Bike: Andrew Vince’s Merit Plus Carbon Gravel Bike

  1. More and more brands based on the open mold Open UP/ 3T Exploro rip offs appear.
    Pretty funny that it has spot on UP geometry, but looks is perhaps more similar to Exploro.
    It seems Vroomen design is the Nr1 to copy?

      1. I would be very curious about the ride quality (compliance, stiffness, comfort, etc.) compared to the originals UP / Exploro. Did you had the chance to try it?

  2. To mimic one bike from one to the next, you’d need to copy the layup pattern with same type of fibres in and outside.
    That is what differentiate copies from originals. Well, if those that designed the copied frame did not find out the layup patterns.
    But Merit as many many others, are just buying bulk copies from Asia and paint them and mount them. They have nothing on the design. Part from this, you also have the more known brands which also borrow a great deal from UP.

  3. The paint job with the placement of the “+” is really what makes the similarities to the 3T jump the most.

    So, this is an open mold frame, correct? Nothing wrong with that, just checking. I might have to go look at some asia websites now 🙂

  4. Copying is a compliment. Sweet ride, regardless. Love the Force 1 drivetrain with the 10-42 out back. Awesome for gravel hills. Also bet the hydro brakes are useful for downhill runs. Thanks for great review.

    1. Thanks Mike! I was stoked to share this one. The bike’s owner was a pleasure to work with. I try to be very unbiased when I feature bikes and such – it isn’t always about the brand names.

  5. Why would you buy the frame via Merit for €1450 Euros when you can get it direct from the OEM for a third of the price?

    1. Hi Ben, we have no clue what the owner paid for this machine. Maybe he scored a deal?

      I would be more interested to see how the underlying structure of the Merit compares to the bike(s) we it resembles.

    2. it`s about quality control of recieved frames.

      The price look interesting, but it’s need to hear the opinion of people who can compare it with Open or 3T or maybe Rondo bikes.

  6. Hi guys,
    Just add my opinion, the frame was sourced from Merit direct after I decided that the Asian market although identical looking was going to be a pain if any problems came about.
    Pleased to say the build was smooth without any problems.
    Merit turned out to be very informative and helpful with the choices of components that would work with the bike.
    To date its had a good beasting and not shown any problems.
    The Sram set up is far superior to having 2x, less to clog up in the messy stuff.
    I run both 650b and 700c wheel sets with various tyres on either.
    It may look like a mimic of the 3T or Open but that left me a decent budget to opt for the Force 1 groupset and wheel choices.
    Tried to keep the finishing kit to a decent speck with Ritchey bars, 3t stem, Prologo saddle & Shimano xt pedals.things like the C-bear ceramic BB & FSA headset were experimental with the C-bear BB being swapped out for a wheels angular contact threaded BB for greater reliability.
    The whole bike complete with pedals came up just under 9kgs which totally stoked with.
    The bike is fast, agile and very comfortable and certainly turns heads.
    Thanks to JOM for the unbiased feature.

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