The Mekk 3G Potenza 5.5 SL is a new-ish edition to a rapidly expanding market of well-specced carbon frames for well under £2,000.
Everyone has an opinion on increasingly affordable carbon frames from Asia. Not everyone is convinced, and perhaps with good reason, but our own view is that if the design is sound, and those commissioning the frames are properly involved in quality control, all will be well.
Evidence for Mekk’s approach could be found here in the vertical ovalisation of the down tube at its junction with the head tube to provide stiffness, the carefully shaped chainstays, the full carbon fork, and the gear cable stops, which are neatly moulded into the lower portion of the head tube to prevent unsightly cable rub on the frame’s pleasing finish.
The geometry is long and rangy. Our 56cm test model had a 1005mm wheelbase and a 200mm headtube, both hallmarks of a machine popular with riders tackling long distance sportive events.
We removed the spacers and dropped the stem onto the top race, allowing us to assume something approaching an aero position while remaining comfortably upright when riding on the hoods and tops; a legacy, no doubt, of the aforementioned head tube.
The short-ish chainstays (408mm) promised acceleration, but, while stiff, the Potenza SL 5.5 moved forward with gentle purpose, rather than pouncing in the manner of lighter machines.
The Ultegra drivetrain (chainset, STI levers, and front and rear derailleurs) is an impressive inclusion at this price, packaged with a KMC chain and Shimano 11-28 cassette. The 6700 iteration has a well-established reputation and the kit supplied performed to the high standard we’ve experienced on other test machines.
Similarly, a Richey Logic finishing kit, and Fizik Arione saddle, a favourite of our test pilot, were welcome inclusions.
Cost savings have been realised in the ICE brake calipers whose performance was adequate rather than excellent. Hubs from the same stable were laced by 28 spokes front and rear to Mavic’s budget CXP22 rims, and finished with elegant red, anodized nipples. We experienced no problems with the wheelset, which should deliver plenty of miles, but is unlikely ever to make you feel fast.
We’d like to have seen Ultegra calipers, but at £1699 for the bike, they could be your first upgrade and still leave a healthy chunk of change from £2000.
In motoring terms, the Mekk is a Grand Tourer: a comfortable way of covering a long distance. The ride left us cossetted without feeling isolated from the tarmac, and surprised at how little time was taken to cover miles that passed almost unnoticed.
If you’re seeking a first carbon frame, with geometry that prioritises comfort over speed, this offering from Mekk is worth investigation.