Merida’s road line-up went from strength to strength with the introduction of the top-end Reacto 907 last year, and with the new electronic Ultegra version they have consolidated their position. While there’s no change in the frameset itself, the switch to electronic shifting, plus a few subtle spec changes, has upgraded its performance.
The original Reacto 907 contributed to a growing trend for aero road bikes – tubes shaped to help them carve their way through the air. But whereas bikes like the Specialized Venge and Scott Foil are easy on the eye, the same can’t necessarily be said of the Reacto.
With its bladed seat tube and TT-esque rear end, it could never be praised for its classical good looks, but if you are the sort who finds beauty is more than skin deep, you will be rewarded with a thoroughbred racing machine.
It’s a bike that responds to brutal pedalling with a punch of its own. It excels on the flat, where churning out a hard tempo from the saddle will see you paid back with interest. The shape of its rear is no red herring either – stick on a pair of tri bars and you’ve got a machine that’ll more than hold its own in a time trial. And despite its comparative heft, it’s no carthorse on the climbs either.
The key upgrade is the electronic gearing. Shimano’s near-faultless second-tier shifters make bad gear changes a thing of the past and would improve the performance of any bike. The electronic model keeps the compact Ultegra chainset but switches to a more forgiving 11-28 cassette (up from a 25T), meaning that you can conquer climbs that bit more easily.
Ultegra Di2 works beautifully, offering swift and consistently accurate shifting
The choice of Mavic Cosmic Elite wheels is a clever one, the stiff 30mm aero rims and bladed spokes giving the bike zip on the flat, even in crosswinds. The same can be said with the tyres; Vittoria’s Rubino Pro Slicks are that rare beast – slippery enough to race on but durable enough to consider as a training option. Ours went puncture-free through 700 miles of testing, but the lack of tread makes cornering in the wet a touch sketchy.
If we were going to replace one component it would be the Selle Italia SL XC saddle. To get it down to its 230g weight it’s had to sacrifice a lot in the comfort stakes, which makes it an unwise choice for anything other than racing.
But the real sticking point with the Reacto comes in the cost. At a £1,200 premium over the mechanical Ultegra-equipped model, with the rest of the spec largely unchanged, the inflated price tag is a tough pill to swallow.