Merida Road 903-27 review

Good value entry-level roadie

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £649.00 RRP

Our review

Light wheels and stiff frame make this a racing favourite
Skip to view product specifications

If you value stiffness above all else, and your budget is limited, Merida is here for you with the 603-27. As an added bonus they’ve thrown in a triple chainset to get you up the hills, auxiliary levers for cruising and lots of nice detail that make this a great value entry-level road bike.

Advertisement

Ride & handling: stiff & quick

The Merida 903-27 satisfies those after stiffness at all costs and the light wheels make it quick to get up to speed.

While it’s not as ‘pure race’ in its handling as, say, the Cube Peloton, the 603-27 is still tight and accurate, thanks to the sheer rigidity of its frame. Of course, that means you do feel every quirk of the road surface.

If you have plans to take on the longer rides that the auxiliary levers and triple chainset encourage suggest the 903-27 is ready for, you might want to swap out the otherwise fine Maxxis Xenith 23mm tyres for slightly comfier 25mm rubber

Frame/Chassis: lots of well-thought-out details

The 903’s frame doesn’t attempt to set new standards for low weight but it’s top of the pile for attention to detail.

This is the same frame as Merida’s top aluminium road bike, the 905 and it shares that bikes same sloping frame geometry, carbon/aluminium fork and weight-saving butted down tube. The remaining tubes are plain gauge and it’s all very tidily welded and finished to a high standard.

The seatstays and top-tube form a continuous arc, which strengthens the area and improves the appearance of the joint.

There are four sizes available, S, M, L and XL, and though the range is commendably lacking any gaps, riders requiring a frame with a shorter than 53cm top tube should look elsewhere.

While it’s at least £50 cheaper than many similarly-equipped machines, Merida hasn’t compromised with the detailing. There’s a stylish and chunky looking gear cable stop attached to the head-tube. Mounting them here, and in a separate component that carries both stops, means Merida eliminates a possible weak point where the stops are usually welded to the down tube. That’s a spot where bike often crack in a frontal impact. The omission of cable adjusters is an annoyance, thogh. 

The CNC-machined alloy seat-tube clamp is far neater than expected on a bike of this price and the seatpost is a nice firm fit in the seat-tube, which is always good to see.

Equipment: not the lightest, but lots of gears & intriguing auxiliary levers

The total component spec is a shade on the heavy side, but you get a triple chainset instead of a weight-saving compact double, and it’s £100 than the equipped-with-light-stuff Raleigh Airlite U6 Comp. A lighter seatpost would be on our list of upgrades though.

Opinion was divided on the auxiliary brake levers. These were first seen on cyclocross bikes where they enabled the rider to keep their hands on the handlebar tops over rough ground. The benefits are harder to see on a road bike unless you’re one of those many riders who rarely if ever move their hands from the top of the handlebars.

Wheels: impressively light

The 903-27’s wheels are the relatively new and fresh Shimano R500s that are highlighted by attractive black spokes and red anodised nipples. They look expensive and their performance exceeds expectations on a bike at this price point.

Advertisement

They’re a highlight of the 903-27 and help to make it one of our favourite bikes in its class.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Road 903-27
Brand Merida

Brakes Shimano Tiagra dual pivot normal Tektro secondary touring brake levers
Seatpost X Mission Speed, alloy with single bolt clamp, 27.2 dia, 350mm long
Year 2008
Rear Tyre Size 700x23C
Front Tyre Size 700x23C
Available Sizes L M S XL
Wheelbase (cm) 99.5
Top Tube (cm) 55
Standover Height (cm) 75
Seat Tube (cm) 44
Chainstays (cm) 41
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 27.5
Weight (kg) 9.39
Stem X mission Comp forged alloy, 10cm 4 bolt oversized bar clamp with twin bolt 1 1/8 steerer clamp
Shifters Tiagra STI 9spd
Seat Angle 73.5
Cassette Shimano HG 50, 9spd
Saddle Merida Race padded vinyl, cro-mo rails
Rims Shimano R500 pre-built alloy aero rims,
Rear Wheel Weight 1695
Rear Derailleur Tiagra long cage rear, 31.8 clamp-on Tiagra triple
Head Angle 71.5
Handlebar X mission comp alloy anatomic, 42cm c-c
Front Wheel Weight 1200
Front Derailleur 31.8 clamp-on Tiagra triple
Frame Weight 1590
Frame Material Tig welded double butted 6066 aluminium, replaceable gear hanger.
Fork Weight 598
Fork Bonded carbon blades with alloy 1 1/8 steerer, dropouts and crown
Cranks Tiagra 2-piece alloy, 175mm arms, 50/39/30 alloy chainrings
Chainring Size (No of Teeth) 30 39 50