Merlin Nitro SL review

The Merlin Nitro SL comes with WorldTour credentials and a UCI sticker. We've tested its lightweight and climbing capabilities

Merlin Nitro SL 2017 road bike

Merlin Nitro SL 2017 road bike

(Image credit: chris catchpole)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

Merlin has pulled off something of a coup by sourcing a frame ridden at WorldTour level in 2016 and offering it as a great value package. You can feel the frame’s racing heritage in its ride performance, but it delivers without sacrificing comfort. Indeed the Nitro SL is a bike which can happily be ridden for long periods, rewarding and encouraging extra effort. The bike is nicely specced for its price too. A complete Ultegra groupset is a bonus: too often there are swap-outs for cheaper components – particularly brakes and chainset – but these have been avoided by Merlin. The choice of Fulcrum’s Racing Quattro LG wheelset should give plenty of trouble-free miles too. So we’re impressed by the Nitro SL. With its low weight and quality spec it’s a bike which would serve an enthusiastic rider well. A wheel upgrade would add even more to its appeal. With its WorldTour pedigree it’s a bike that wouldn’t look out of place on the start line of a hillier race either. And currently discounted to £1,750 it’s something of a bargain.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Impressive frame

  • +

    Well specced

  • +


  • +

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Quite high geared for UK all-round use

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

Lancashire based Merlin Cycles has grown steadily since its inception as a mail order business in 1993. It’s also got a retail shop attached to its warehouse in Chorley.

Alongside selling bikes and kit from the well known brands, it also distributes Dutch brand Sensa’s bikes in the UK. And it has a well regarded own-brand offering of bikes and kit. Although Merlin is coy about it, some of its bikes are sourced from Belgian bike manufacturer Ridley, among them the Nitro SL, the top of its road bike range.

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