Just Landed - We have just got out hands on the £7000 Merida Reacto Team E. We will be doing a full review once we have had a chance to ride it, but for now, let's take a look at this rapid looking machine
If you watched any road cycling coverage last year, there is a good chance you saw this bike in a very prolific advert featuring a comedically dubbed Rui Costa riding in Majorca describing it as “MORE BIKE.” For those who missed the wall to wall coverage, here is a link to the advert.
You may not realise, but Merida are actually Taiwan’s second largest bicycle manufacturer. This is the bike that has been used by the Lampre Merida Pro team since 2014. Although, they will use lighter, tubular wheels than the alloy/carbon clinchers supplied on this version. The stats do point to this being ‘more bike.’ In 2012 the Lampre team did not score any victories, but with the Reacto in 2014 they scored 14 victories! Is this in part down to using a superior bike? We will try and find out.
We recently reviewed and tested the Merida Reacto DA Ltd. At £3500 the DA Ltd is half the price the Merida Reacto Team E. The obvious question arises: is it twice the bike? Appearances can be deceptive, with the Team E frame looking almost identical to that of the DA Ltd. Merida claim that the two frames are vastly different and we will have the luxury of riding the two of them side by side to see just how different they are.
Being a top end machine the Team E comes kitted with Dura Ace Di2, which we envisage will provide flawless shifting. Something we really like is the Shimano Dura Ace direct mount brakes. We have had the pleasure of testing these on other bikes, such as the Canyon Aeroad CF SLX. With two mounting points, they offer a much more stable brake, with greater power and modulation. The difference here though, is that the rear break is mounted on the bottom bracket, in an effort to reduce drag.
Riders often complain of maintenance issues with bottom bracket mounted brakes, so we will pay close attention to this during the test. Aerodynamics aside, not having the rear brake mounted on the stays results in a very tidy and striking rear end that looks incredibly stiff.
The wheels are Fulcrum Red Wind C50s. We are not sure about the look of these wheels, on a bike that is already strewn with logos everywhere you look, but they will no doubt provide some aero benefit. They are however heavy, weighing a reported 1755g a pair.
Adorn the weighty wheels are the ever reliable and top performing Continental GP4000s. Whilst being a favourite amongst the Cycling Weekly tech team, we would have preferred to see 25mm tyres rather than the 23mm supplied, bucking the current trend to go wider.
The chainset is a Rotor Flow with NoQ, meaning that the rings are round and not ovalised. However, there is the option to add Q-rings to the Rotor cranks if you want to. The Rotor Flow cranks suggest that no stone has been left unturned in the hope for aero gains. Rotor claim that the Flow cranks can give a 26.4 second advantage when averaging 200W over 180km. For those amongst you who are not regular players of Countdown, that is 0.14 seconds per kilometre. Marginal gains!
S-FLEX seat post and Bio Fibre Dampening
According to Merida, the Reacto is marginally less aerodynamic than the Cervelo S5 at 45kph, 0.94% to be precise. However they claim that the Reacto is a superior package owing to its much greater comfort and flex. The S5 has been critised in the past for having a harsh ride and this is a common flaw in aero road bikes.
The added comfort is claimed to come from a number of technologies. Firstly there is the S-Flex seat post. The rubber insert is designed to compress and flex, taking the buzz out of the road. The idea is that by allowing flex here, it does not compromise bottom bracket stiffness. The carbon layup also features natural flax fibres. Merida have found that inclusion of flax fibres in the carbon structure of the seat, chain stays and fork blades reduces high-frequency vibrations. We look forward to seeing how the Reacto Team-E performs in this regard.
The seat clamp is also neatly integrated into the top tube, to further add to the aero credentials of this frame. All the cables are integrated and the strange silver object under the handle bars is the quick release for the rear brake. Incase you were wondering the Di2 battery is neatly hidden inside the seat post.
The geometry of this bike is aggressive. The top tube is long and will encourage the rider to adopt a low and aero position. Our size 54cm test bike comes up large and is similar to a 56cm frame in many other bikes. The stack is 559mm and the reach is 400mm. By comparison, the reach in a 54cm Specialized Venge is 386mm. The geometry suggests this is an out and out race machine and at the time of writing, there are only limited sizes available – 52cm, 54cm, 56cm.
Our size 54cm tips the Cycling Weekly scales at 7.54 kg without pedals. Considering the UCI weight limit is 6.8kg, we will investigate to see if this is achievable with a lighter pair of tubular wheels and with a carbon railed saddle. The wheels certainly add quite a lot of weight, with the bike weighing an impressive 4.76kg without the Fulcrum wheels. We think this is very respectable for an aero bike.
We were not too sure about the Lampre colour scheme when we first saw photos of this bike, but having seen it in the flesh we can testify that it definitely looks better in real life. In a world dominated by matte black, the flashes of exotic colour are refreshing. We really look forward to putting the Reacto Evo Team E through its paces and seeing what this machine is capable of. One of the big questions we hope to answer is are you better off purchasing the £3500 Reacto and having £3500 to spend on upgrades, or just purchasing this one at £7000?
Stay tuned for a full review coming soon…
For more information head over to Merida.