Merlin Metalworks was originally an independant titanium
bicycle frame company started in Cambridge, Massachussetts
in the early 90's. While other bicycle frame companies had begun to manufacture frames using titanium alloys, Merlin devoted its time to exploiting the unique properties of titanium in its designs, which helped Merlin stand out from the other companies by the mid-to-late 90's. They also began a pursuit of hiring talented TIG welder
s who were able to annoint the company's frames with exquisitely uniform puddle bead
surface welds. These welds offered more aesthetic value to the frames than structural benefit. Due to this initiative, Merlin had become the veritable Lamborghini
of bicycle frame manufacturers within this time period, retailing flagship frames for upwards of $4000 USD.Saucony
Inc. (child company of HIND
Inc.) bought Merlin in February of 1998, by which point many employees had left to form Seven Cycles
, a move spearheaded by one of Merlin's original co-founders, Rob Vandermark
During the period of Saucony's ownership, Merlin's frame sales began to decline. This can partially be attributed to a lack of focus and direction within the corporate leadership, and a general lack of truly innovative designs.
While Saucony maintained a high volume of standard (non-custom-tailored) frame manufacture on Merlin's factory floor, fewer and fewer frames were leaving the premises, instead being boxed and stored. It was no surprise that in 2000 Saucony offloaded all of Merlin's assets to Litespeed
(a major lower-cost/quality Ti frame competitor) including the large cache of 'high quality' frames produced in Merlin's factory by their highly skilled welders.
Today Litespeed still sells frames under the Merlin name, although the low-end models are arguably nothing more than standard Litespeed's with the Merlin logo and fatter chainstay
s and seatstay