We test the new Mekk Poggio 2.5 carbon road bike
Mekk Poggio 2.5
Total weight 8.64kg; frame 1.26kg; fork 0.45kg (56cm)
+ Impressive value for money
+ Great combination of speed and comfort
– Firmer ride than the competition
– Can’t match the best on test for weight and pace
Mekk is a new brand, with 2013 being its second year in business. The name comes from its founders – UK bike industry veterans Mark Edwards and Ken Knight, who between them have decades of design, racing and marketing experience. Mekk is up-front about making its frames in Taiwan, which is refreshingly honest.
Frame and fork
The Poggio is pitched as an all-rounder, able to turn its hand to racing, sportives or recreational riding. It scores early on with eyecatching looks, with distinctive black/white/blue graphics showing off the lines of the frame to great advantage. Mekk has kept things straightforward with the frame, with little in the way of gratuitous tube shaping. In profile, most of the tubes are straight, with just a slight curve to the flattened top tube. In cross-section, though, there’s a lot more going on.
Mekk has chosen a BB86 bottom bracket shell, which uses the same crankarms and bearings as a conventional threaded outboard-bearing arrangement but puts the bearings inside the shell. As a result, the shell is very wide (the eponymous 86mm). The Poggio’s frame takes full advantage of the width, pushing the down tube out as wide as it’ll go and anchoring tall chainstays to the shell. The high-volume approach extends to the front end too, with a tapered steerer tube and broad blades on the full-carbon fork.
Mekk has also paid attention to future-proofing. Many carbon frames boast internal cable routing now, but the Poggio also has an extra seat tube cable exit point for the front mech and bosses under the left-hand chainstay. These little extras will make any future upgrade to an electronic transmission easy and neat, with the front mech cable emerging from a dedicated port and the battery bolted securely to the stay.
Out of the box, the Poggio comes with an impressive component spec. Most of the competition relies on Shimano Tiagra (or equivalent) transmission parts but Mekk has managed to crowbar next-step-up 105 components into the budget. You don’t get the full group – the brakes and chainset are Mekk-branded – but the shifters and derailleurs are the important parts. Given how expensive STI levers are aftermarket, there’s a lot of sense in getting the best ones you can afford up front.
There’s not a great deal to choose between 105 and Tiagra in terms of pure function, but the 105 levers feel more solid, lack Tiagra’s rather ‘Marmite’ built-in gear indicators and have concealed cable runs for a cleaner cockpit. The Poggio’s short-cage 105 mech delivers slightly snappier shifting than the long-cage Tiagra unit commonly found on bikes at this price, too.
It shifts across an 11-28T cassette, which gives a relatively high top gear and usefully low bottom gear at the expense of two three-tooth jumps. Rolling stock comprises Shimano R500 wheels shod with Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres. The Rubinos roll well, although inevitably the 23mm casings aren’t quite as compliant as 25mm rubber.
While the Mekk’s frame angles are knocked back a touch from full-on race numbers, other aspects of the geometry are more aggressive than the sportive-orientated norm. The 16cm head tube gives more scope to get the bars down low, and the 41cm chainstays are shorter than average too. Mix in the stiff frame and you get a bike that’s very lively under power and handles confidently, with little in the way of wobble or shimmy.
All bike design is a compromise, and the flipside of the Mekk’s sprightly pedalling responses is a firmer ride than many other bikes at this pricepoint. It isn’t harsh or uncomfortable but you feel more of the road. There’s room for slightly larger tyres should you need a bit more cush, and even though the head tube is quite short, there’s nothing stopping you running a few spacers under the stem if you need a higher front end. It comes down to personal preference. Many riders will like the racier feel of the Poggio, and it’s certainly a fast, fun and great-value package.