Shaped stays, both seat and chain, define the ride and form of modern hardtails. It all started over a quarter century ago, when Merlin set out to build a frame for the defending '85 NORBA champion and proudly lives on in this XLM 29 Titanium Mountain Bike Frame. That Merlin resulted in two mountain bike firsts curvy, manipulated stays and titanium as a frame medium. It also launched them into the lime light almost immediately, Merlin cutouts from period 'zines joined the airbrushed model shots and super car collages decorating shop work benches. Fast forward to today, and those manipulated stays now allow large, 2. 4 inch twenty niner rubber to comfortably reside in the XLM's stubby 17. 5 inch chainstays. No easy feat, considering the requirements of current one by and narrow Q factor cranks populating the bottom brackets of high end, race worthy 29ers. Just as important as tirecrank clearance, the XLM's mix of 3 2. 5 titanium and appealing curves reward riders with an experience well out of reach of the omnipresent black weave no matter how much marketing magic is wished into carbon, its inherent dampening is going to feel dead and dull next to the XLM. This is due to the double butted 3Al 2. 5V titanium's modulus and ability to express less deformity under stress than aluminum, but more so than carbon fiber. This translates to a responsive and direct feeling under load think of a spring that, unlike carbon fiber which redirects shock energy throughout the frame, creates a natural dampening of vibration with a lively ride. Like all Merlins, the XLM possess oversized down, top, and seat tubes that are connected to a 44mm head tube and PressFit 30 bottom bracket. This produces a triangle that's extremely light and stiff for excellent steering response. In fact, Merlin was a pioneer of oversized tubing, dating back to its very first mountain bike designed for Joe Murray and later, designed with him. Also, just like those originals, every XLM feat...