New lightweight Merida road bike spotted at Critérium du Dauphiné

Is this the new Merida Scultura 5?

Mark Padun riding an unreleased Merida road bike

Update (01/09/21): Merida has now officially launched the latest version of the Scultura. You can read our full story on the Merida V Team.

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Mark Padun and Jack Haig of Team Bahrain Victorious were spotted riding an unreleased Merida road bike at the Critérium du Dauphiné this past weekend.

With its slim, presumably lightweight, tube profiles, could this be a new Merida Scultura? A frameset called the Scultura 5 was added to the UCI’s list of approved frames and forks in September 2020, so it seems likely this is that bike.

Given Padun won both of the final two mountain stages at the prestigious French stage race, Merida can hardly have asked for a better debut for the new bike.

Jack Haig and Mark Padun riding an unreleased Merida road bike at the 2021 Critérium du Dauphiné
Both Jack Haig and Mark Padun were riding the new bike at the 2021 Critérium du Dauphiné.
Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images

On-trend

At a glance, the new bike ticks all of the boxes we’ve come to expect of a modern, all-round WorldTour bike.

Carbon frame and fork, check. Fully integrated cable routing, check. Lightweight kammtail aerofoil tube shapes, check. Dropped seatstays, check. Clearance for chunky tyres, check. Disc brakes, check.

Mark Padun riding an unreleased Merida road bike at the Critérium du Dauphiné
A front-on view shows a lack of any visible cables and generous tyre clearance.
Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images

It also has a slick, fully integrated handlebar and stem. Previously, Merida bikes have used integrated cockpits by Vision, but a lack of obvious branding suggests this could be something of Merida’s own making. If so, this would be a first for the Taiwanese brand.

For better or worse then, it follows many of the same trends the majority of other high-performance road bikes on the market do.

That said, it also looks very much like a slimmed-down Merida Reacto – the brand’s full-fat aero road bike. It seems likely that this was Merida’s main inspiration when creating this new bike.

While aero typically trumps weight in racing, many WorldTour professionals are notoriously weight conscious and will often choose a lightweight, non-aero optimised bike over a heavier aero road bike, even if the boffins behind the scenes say they shouldn’t.

Given this, many brands have been slimming down their aero bikes recently, in a bid to satisfy the weight weenies and still make a bike that cuts through the air efficiently.

Notable examples include the Specialized Tarmac SL7, the Factor Ostro, the Wilier Zero SLR, the Colnago V3Rs, the Scott Addict RC and the Cannondale SuperSix EVO.

Mark Padun winning Stage 08 of the 2021 Critérium du Dauphiné
Mark Padun gave the bike the best debut possible by winning the final two stages of the race.
Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

When will this new bike be released?

When contacted, Merida wasn’t able to give us any details on the name or tech behind this bike. It did, however, confirm that it is a new bike and that it’s likely to launch “later this summer”.

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It also seems highly likely that more members of the Bahrain Victorious team will be riding this bike during the upcoming 2021 Tour de France.