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Merida Scultura Endurance 7000-E review

8 Feb 2021
Verdict:

A good deal of potential, just needs a few tweaks to get the best out of it. Photography: Mike Massaro

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Competitive on price • Great looks
Against 
A touch heavy • Less comfort than expected (as supplied) • Disappointing wheels/tyres

Here’s a little cycling trivia to tell your friends down the pub (if your Tier permits, of course): Merida is the second-largest bicycle manufacturer in the world, behind only Giant.

Here’s another little nugget: the name is derived from the Chinese syllables ‘Me’ meaning beautiful, ‘Ri’ meaning comfortable, and ‘Da’ meaning fluid and mobile.

Roughly translated, Me-Ri-Da stands for bicycles built to perform with style and an amenable ride quality.

This mantra is epitomised in the Scultura Endurance range. The Scultura is Merida’s WorldTour race weapon, as used by Team Bahrain-McLaren, but the Endurance versions have had those racier traits tempered slightly to suit those longer days in the saddle.

A little extra comfort has been dialled in through a combination of a slightly more relaxed riding position and additional compliance, plus the geometry offers additional stability at speed.

On top of that there’s clearance for up to 35mm slick tyres. That’s not to suggest these bikes are tardy and incapable of going fast, just that the stack and reach (584mm and 380mm respectively) are tailored to the more discerning end of the market than the ‘I only care about my power numbers’ types.

 

The model on test is the top-of-the-shop 7000-E and it’s undeniably striking in bright blue, specced accordingly with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 and DT Swiss P1850 Spline DB23 wheels.

The finishing kit consists of Merida’s own in-house parts, which are no frills but deliver more than adequate performance.

Buy the Merida Cultura Endurance 7000-E from Tredz now

Other nice touches include the direct-mount rear derailleur hanger, which is a surprisingly rare feature given this style of mounting (as pioneered by Shimano) stiffens up the junction with the frame to ensure precise, crisp shifting.

Cabling is internalised and dealt with tidily up front, and there’s also a neat multitool hidden under the saddle.

 

On the road the Scultura Endurance 7000 is a highly capable mile-muncher. As promised, it delivers a relaxed fit, stability and handling that allows you to cruise down hills at speed with the sureness of a bowling ball rather than an out-of-control shopping trolley.

The CF3 carbon frame and fork weigh a respectable 1,124g and 411g, but overall the bike does feel a touch portly at 8.52kg. Some of that resultant sluggish feel uphill is attributable to the wheels and tyres but I feel features such as the aluminium disc brake ‘cooling fins’ are superfluous.

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They are there to help dissipate heat build-up through braking but I’d argue that disc brake manufacturers are already doing enough to ensure safe and effective braking.

As for those wheels and tyres, I feel like Merida has missed a trick here. Wider rubber can potentially offer several benefits – improved grip, comfort and even puncture resistance – but this potential can only be fully realised as a system including the wheels, and most optimally as a tubeless setup.

The DT Swiss P1850 wheels are tubeless-compatible but the bike comes supplied with inner tubes. The 18mm internal rim dimensions are also narrow by modern standards so the 32mm tyres bulge like lightbulbs beyond the rim bead, which increases rolling resistance and aero drag.

 

The situation is further hampered by the Continental GP 4-Season tyres, which are the hobnail boots of the tyre world and make the whole system feel wooden and sluggish.

The combination certainly detracts from the ride quality. I made a quick switch to a carbon Zipp 303S wheelset with 28mm tubeless tyres and immediately felt improvements in weight, agility, feedback from the road and comfort.

Switching to tubeless helped to overcome some of the stiffness of the frame and did boost comfort back to a level more like I’d expect of a bike aimed at ‘endurance’.

Fortunately the Merida stacks up well against its rivals on price, so the savings could be spent on upgrades, although it’s frustrating that little tweaks like this aren’t already considered by the brands to make the best of their bikes straight out of the box.

Buy the Merida Cultura Endurance 7000-E from Tredz now

Pick of the kit

Fizik Infinito R1 Knit shoes, £350, extrauk.co.uk

Fizik was the first to market with knit technology, now used widely in top-level race shoes. It offers increased breathability, enhanced comfort, reduced weight and yet remains durable and supportive.

Add in a top-of-the-line UD carbon sole and the result is a race-level shoe that leaves you wanting for nothing (aside from maybe some extra warmth in winter).

I found the Infinito R1 Knits to be some of the most comfortable cycling shoes I’ve ever tested, with zero pressure points or hotspots even when brand new.

Buy the Fizik Infinito R1 Knit shoes from Wiggle now

Alternatively…


Ditch the Di2

The Scultura Endurance 6000 (£2,500) uses the same frame and fork and a near-identical spec, but swaps Ultegra Di2 for its mechanical equivalent to offer a decent saving for a minimal loss of performance.

Buy the Merida Scultura Endurance 6000 from Tredz


Cheaper still

If you drop down to the Shimano 105-specced Scultura Endurance 4000 (£2,000) – again with the same carbon frame/fork as the top model – the saving would pay for a decent wheel upgrade.

Buy the Merida Scultura Endurance 4000 from Tredz

Spec

Frame Merida Scultura Endurance 7000-E
Groupset Shimano Ultegra Di2
Brakes Shimano Ultegra Di2
Chainset Shimano Ultegra Di2
Cassette Shimano Ultegra Di2
Bars Merida Expert SL
Stem Merida Expert CW
Seatpost Merida Expert CC
Saddle Merida Expert CC
Wheels DT Swiss P1850 Spline DB23, Continental Grand Prix 4-Seasons 32mm tyres 
Weight 8.52kg (size medium
Contact merida-bikes.com

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£3,500

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