Merida Scultura 9000 review

Super light climber flatters to deceive

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0
£7,500.00 RRP

Our review

Ultra light but also ultra noodly and way off the pace at this price – or half of it
Pros: Great wheels; good components; light
Cons: Disappointing lack of frame stiffness; weak rear brake
Skip to view product specifications

The Scultura is Merida’s super light climbing bike. At 6.14kg for this size L, it is indeed feathery, though this isn’t the lightest in the range. That would be the 9000 LTD, a five-figure-sum halo model equipped with freaky-light carbon parts from AX Lightness to tip the scales at 4.55kg and claim the title of world’s lightest production bike.

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This 9000 uses the same 680g frame, built with SRAM Red 22, DT Swiss RC28C wheels, an FSA cockpit and a carbon Selle Italia SLR saddle.

Long, low – and disappointingly flexy

The choice of a compact 50/34 crankset makes sense for a climbing-focused bike though the 11-28 cassette has some big and unpleasant jumps in the top half. It can be useful to have that winch-like bottom gear for extreme events but if this were my bike I’d get an 11-25 for the rest of the time.

Only three sizes are offered and the geometry is long and low, so it may be tricky for some riders to get comfortable.

The seatstays are freed from braking duties so their design can focus on comfort
The seatstays are freed from braking duties so their design can focus on comfort:
Jonathan Ashelford

We’ll cut to it – the Scultura 9000 is not that good. There is a very tangible lack of stiffness, especially in the fork, head tube and rear triangle. The steering lacks precision, wandering around slightly over imperfect surfaces at speed, and sprint efforts are not met with crisp responses. And it’s only averagely comfortable.

The DT Swiss Mon Chasseral RC28C wheels are very light for clinchers (1,271g on our scales). Their eager acceleration flatters the frame but I wondered if they’re too light and responsible for some of the flex. To find out, I swapped in a set of Mavic’s brilliant and super-stiff R-Sys SLRs.

Poor, next to the high-end competition

To the credit of the DTs, and the damnation of the Scultura, the ride felt just the same. These are sweet wheels, though the wet braking is poor. The terrible, Merida-badged underslung rear brake is partly to blame, as there was little power even on the alloy Mavics.

The DT Swiss Mon Chasseral RC28C wheelset is a highlight and goes some way to mitigating the frame
The DT Swiss Mon Chasseral RC28C wheelset is a highlight and goes some way to mitigating the frame:
Jonathan Ashelford

What’s more, this bike is expensive. For a little extra outlay you could have a sensational Bianchi Specialissima with Campagnolo Super Record. I rode one back-to-back with the Merida: it blew it away and feels so much more, well, special. Or, for half the cash, you could have a Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 with the same spec and a far superior frame. Each weighs the same as the Scultura.

I spoke to Jürgen Falke, product director at Merida R&D in Germany. He accepted our criticism but said the bike is for ‘weight weenies’ and that it’s impossible to make a frame this light without losing stiffness.

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Yet Bianchi and Canyon, plus others such as Cervélo and Scott, don’t have that problem. Their super-light bikes perform brilliantly. If a 700g frame had to be this flexy then there would be nothing to criticise. Merida simply didn’t get this right.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Scultura 9000
Brand Merida

Available Sizes 52cm 54cm 56cm
Saddle Selle Italia SLR kit carbon
Wheelbase (cm) 99.1
Top Tube (cm) 57.5
Standover Height (cm) 79.8
Seat Tube (cm) 56
Chainstays (cm) 40
Brake Levers Sram Red
Wheelset DT Swiss Mon Chasseral wheelset
Stem FSA 99 Oversize clamp - 6 degree
Shifters Sram Red
Seatpost Merida Carbon light - 15mm lay back
Seat Angle 73
Rear Tyre Continental Grand Prix 4000S 25 KV
Bottom Bracket Sram Red
Rear Derailleur Sram Red
Headset Type B44-4852-BCP carbon neck Pro
Head Angle 73.5
Handlebar FSA K-Force - oversize clamp - compact drop
Front Tyre Continental Grand Prix 4000S 25 KV
Frame Material SCULTURA CF5
Fork Full carbon fork with tapered steerer - Race with double chamber technology
Cranks Sram Red 50-34
Chain KMC X11SL DLC
Cassette Sram PG1190 11-28
Brakes Sram Red / Merida Road pro direct mount rear
Frame size tested 56cm