This bike is named after Eddy Merckx’s victory on Stage 17 of the 1969 Tour de France. Going into the day, the Belgian had already won four stages in the race and held what looked like an insurmountable lead of over eight minutes. But true to his insatiable reputation, The Cannibal attacked on the Col du Tourmalet, rode solo for nearly 90 miles, and eventually won the stage, nearly doubling his overall lead.
The Mourenx, then, is a bike built for distance and long, solo efforts—an endurance machine, in today’s parlance.
I hate marketing like this because too often the story bears little resemblance to the reality. But like last year’s excellent EMX-525, which proved true to its heritage and claims, the Mourenx looks to be a winner.
Built of muscly, angular carbon fiber that recalls both the EMX-525 as well as the Cannibal himself, the Mourenx has a sloping top tube, tall head tube, and long chain stays, all for added comfort. The position is forgiving for long days in the saddle but not so upright as to neglect its speed and agility. And the massive head tube and oversize bottom bracket area, built around a chunky BB86 platform, ensure maximum steering stiffness and power transfer in spite of the more easygoing geometry.
Of all the bikes we rode that year that claimed to be both fast and comfort oriented, the Merckx delivered the most. Even after bashing around on it for five and six hours at a time, testers found their backs feeling fresher and their energy higher than on any other similar ride. Yet the steering was still quick and deft enough to be plenty comfortable in big groups, and the stability was second to none. We threw this bike down steep, treacherous, winding descents at warp speeds and never managed to scare ourselves, no matter how hard we pushed through corners.
At $5,095, our tester was the top range, built with a complete Shimano Ultegra Di2 package and carbon fiber seat post and bars. The Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels aren’t especially light or sexy, but they rolled smooth and were stiff enough for all but our biggest (190-plus pound) riders. As for the weight, the Mourenx is somewhat portly for the cost at 17.1 pounds (size 48), though given how smooth and confident the bike rode not a single tester ever complained that it was too heavy. And the bike is available in several less expensive options, including a bare frameset for $2,995.
If we had one critique of this bike, it was that it’s lack of disc brakes, which are basically requisite for your average fondo rider. (We’d also prefer bigger tires than the 25cc spec, though at least the frame is equipped for it.) If the Mourenx came with discs, it might well have garnered our Gear of the Year—that’s how well it rides.
It’s tempting to conclude that the Mourenx will make you fast and aggressive on long rides like Eddy himself. That, of course, isn’t true—there’s only one Cannibal. But thankfully for the rest of us, he’s built a bike that will, at the very least, make you more comfortable while preserving your speed. Believe it or not, that’s not marketing hype.