Positioned above four aluminium-framed bikes in Merida’s extensive cyclocross range are four Mission CX carbon-framed models.
The Mission CX 8000 places second in both cost and specification terms, putting it in serious ’cross racing territory.
There are five sizes available, from XS to XL, and my medium test bike equates to just a little smaller than some other brands’ 56cm machines, but that’s okay for a CX bike.
Toe overlap from my size 45s was never an issue at slow speed, and with its conical headset top cap, plus a couple of spacers, the short 125mm head tube produced a position plenty racy enough for me, with scope to get down further if preferred.
Its race credentials are enhanced by its 7.76kg mass, which is very competitive.
For this price, the expected SRAM Force 1 is present, although unusually with a Shimano 105 cassette, and shifting is perfect, with bomb- and mud-proof reliability.
Merida provides a lightweight alloy bar and stem, carbon seatpost and the saddle, all of which I found to be comfortable and effective.
The components that can have the greatest bearing on ’cross performance are the wheels and tyres, and Merida has specced aluminium rims here.
Before you turn your nose up at the lack of carbon, the DT Swiss ER1400 Spline wheelset is the Swiss company’s top alloy option for anyone escaping tarmac. Its 21mm tall, 20mm internal rims spin around DT’s 240s hubs, and have a claimed weight of just 1,493g.
They are tubeless compatible, as all of DT’s modern wheels are, but here come with inner tubes within the Maxxis All-Terrane 33mm tyres.
Instead of a fixed or removable thru-axle lever, or flush hex key head, Merida supplies Fulchee thru-axles with internally stowed flat levers.
Pulling on its T-shaped protrusions slides the lever out, then fold it over and operate. It’s not the most comfortable thing to use, but does the job and looks neat – just keep the hollow end clear of mud.
The front mech mount is removable, and full mudguards can be fitted. Cable management is impressively dealt with by interchangeable port covers, which not only seal the holes, but grip the cables, holding them under tension to prevent rattling or pull through.
Merida Mission CX 8000 ride impressions
The Nano Matrix carbon frameset and carbon seatpost give the 8000 CX a composed ride over rutted grassland, taking the edge off of the worst bumps, and resolutely helping the bike hold its line.
Great lateral and torsional stiffness shows when accelerating out of slow corners, with the light wheelset eager to get up to speed.
More a heavy intermediate than serious mud tyre, the All Terranes are quite quick on firmer ground, excellent in mixed conditions, and perform well in wet, sticky mud, although they don’t clear thicker mud as fast as some.
Frame and fork clearance is very good, preventing much muck build up, and there looks to be room for 40mm tyres too.
Great handling, stability and control through highly technical sections with roots, rocks and ruts builds confidence and speed, and the flattened top tube is ideal when carrying or shouldering the bike.
The gear ratios are spot on for serious ’cross racing, but with its mudguard options and minor tweaks, the Mission 8000 CX could have another life beyond the course marking tape.
Unusually for Merida though, it’s not the best value: Canyon offers an Inflite CF SL with similar components and carbon Reynolds wheels for £900 less.
Merida Mission CX 8000 specifications
- Size (*tested): XS, S, M*, L, XL
- Weight: 7.76kg (M)
- Frame: Mission CX CF3
- Fork: Mission CX CF Shifters: SRAM Force 1
- Crank: SRAM, 40t chainring
- Cassette: Shimano 105 11-32t
- Derailleurs: SRAM Force 1
- Brakes: SRAM Force 1 hydraulic disc, 160mm Centreline rotors
- Wheels: DT Swiss ER1400 Spline DB21
- Tyres: Maxxis All Terrane 33mm
- Bar: Merida Expert SL alloy
- Stem: Merida Expert CC alloy
- Saddle: Merida Expert CC
- Seatpost: Merida Carbon Team Superlite
Merida Mission CX 8000 geometry
- Seat angle: 74 degrees
- Head angle: 71.75 degrees
- Chainstay: 42.3cm
- Seat tube: 53cm
- Top tube: 55cm
- Head tube: 12.5cm
- Bottom bracket drop: 6.8cm
- Wheelbase: 1,016mm
- Stack: 55.3cm
- Reach: 39.2cm
- Price: £3,600 / AU$4,999