After my Cervelo S1 started to display signs of corrosion due to paint cracks, I was on the hunt for a new bike or frame. I wanted a bike that could be used preferably for more than 5 years and with all the new technologies so that I could resist upgrading it. Since I was riding an aero bike previously, my next bike also had to be an aero bike! My list of requirements included:
- Pure Aerodynamic Frame with internal cable routing,aerodynamic tubing with bladed fork
- Preferably a bike with some wind tunnel testing done and compared to various bicycle from different manufacturers.
- Preferably one that has brakes shielded from the wind
- Integrated cockpit consisting of a one piece stem/handlebar
The Merida was not even considered for some reasons, since my final list down to 3 bikes were the Cervelo S2, Canyon Aeroad CF and the Giant Propel. But after looking around at some bike shops in Singapore, I was offered a irresistible deal for a 2014 Merida Reacto 905 which was how I got it.
Initially when I got it, I was rather suprised at its weight, at
8.2kg7.8Kg(just reweighed it) with everything including bottle cages and pedals, i thought it was rather heavy for a carbon bike especially after coming from a somewhat upgraded Cervelo S1, the stock Prologo saddle went out on its way and in came the Fizik Antares that I have been using all along although in a somewhat not matching red and black color as opposed to the fuchsia colors of the bike. I did not want to strap any lights onto the frame and instead depended on the Fizik rear light. On the short ride from the bike shop back home, I thought the bike was rather stiff and it feels much faster than my previous bike. there was a grin on my face all the way back home as I rode thru traffic! Here are some pictures
Current Specification Build
Note= the crank is a 24mm spindle(not w a 300mm spindle). and frame is fitted with an adapter
Weight roughly 8.1kg
After having done roughly 200km in the past 2 week or so, here is my thoughts on the specific components on the bike.
The heart of the bike, the frame was ranked 2nd fastest in the wind tunnel conducted by tour magazine (first was the Cervelo S5 VWD) The frame is really stiff which is characterized by its small rear triangle, huge bearings upfront on the headset and BB30 crank. I could not feel any flex at all on the bike which makes the ride very harsh.
The seatpost provided is a peculiarity because it has what Merida calls “S flex” which is a piece of rubber inserted into the seatpost in an attempt to dampen any vibrations. Similar to the one on the Look 695. On 50km rides, my butt does not feel like it has any discomfort so I think the technology is working well.
The frame itself is does not have any aerofoil-styled shaped tubes, instead, the tubes are rounded at the edges facing the wind. The cut-out on the rear is not very aggressive either, leaving a slight gap between the tires and the seat tube. However, the bikes feel faster especially on commutes to school where I find my timings been cut by 1 minute or so.
Cables are routed thru the top tube similar in style to the S5 and some time trial bikes, and it looks like a PITA to deal with it, however once properly set up, I do not find any problems though.
Online forums seems to indicate that the frame is the same frame used by the Lampre Pro Tour team and if that is so, it is really good value for a top level world-tour frame!
First time using direct mount brakes. They dont seem to stop as well as the normal dual pivot caliper brakes. Not as powerful but cooler than dual pivot. Rear mounted brakes cant be adjusted on the fly so Merida has provided a quick release for the cable upfront should the rear brake malfunction while riding.
The Ultegra 11 speed shifted perfectly, with the precision and fluidity as expected from Shimano. The crankset provided also worked perfectly with no problem whatsoever from shifting up and down the chainrings. It also transferred power down efficiently with no flex even at high speeds. I really like the fact that the KMC chain provided came with a quick link for quick removal of chain for washing.
I am a big fan of Fulcrum products as they are bombproof and have good bearings. The Racing Quattro provided is Fulcrum answer to the alloy mid-aero (>40mm) wheelset.Once you get them up to speed, the wheels hold the speed well due to its weight. I really like the fact that the decals provided is Fuchsia which is the inline with the color scheme of the bike. The tires have so far been good with no punctures despite having ridden thru pothole-ridden roads.
I swapped over to a new cockpit after finding the bar and stem too short. I managed to get a 3T Egronova carbon handlebar at a good price and am now using it. It is light (190g) and does not exhibit any flex even when I was sprinting.
The bike is currently being build at for the serious amateur racers with a stiff and fast frame, along with training wheels and tires. However, after spending some good cash and adding some carbon wheels and carbon crankset, it can be turned into a lightweight, word-class and fast bikes that will be among the world fastest, but at a value for money price.
disclaimer: this review is not paid/sponsored by Merida or any other brands, and bike shops mentioned in the review