Merida pitches the Scultura Endurance as the mid-way point between the lightweight pro-tour proven Scultura and the rough-stuff ready Silex with its progressive geometry.
This special edition has SRAM’s wireless Rival AXS groupset and quality Fulcrum wheels for a highly competitive package on both value and performance.
Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition frame details
The Scultura Endurance frameset, much like Merida’s other road and gravel offerings, eschews the trend of dropped seatstays in favour of a more traditional diamond-shaped frame.
Merida claims it can gain the same amount of compliance through the shaping of the seatstays, seat tube and carbon seatpost without having to resort to dropping the stays.
That’s not to say the Endurance isn’t a modern design and the front end of the bike fully routes its brake hoses through the headset. It’s a worthy contender for our 2023 Endurance Bike of the Year title.
On this Rival Edition, the internal routing is paired with a standard bar and stem. The most expensive build (the 9000) gets Merida’s one-piece fully integrated SL 1P cockpit, while the Shimano Ultegra Di2-equipped 8000 uses FSA’s SMR ACR stem system.
In short, you have plenty of options to upgrade your cockpit down the line should you want to.
The generous 35mm tyre clearance is welcome on a bike of this type, and the addition of proper mudguard mounts and a removable bridge on the rear stays gives the bike year-round readiness.
If you run full-length mudguards, the tyre clearance is reduced to a still-generous 32mm (Cervélo’s Caledonia will only accept 31mm-wide tyres with mudguards).
Merida claims a weight of 1,124g for the Endurance frame (medium-sized, painted with all mounts and bosses in place) and a 411g fork (uncut steerer).
It’s not the lightest endurance bike platform around; in comparison, Giant’s Defy Advanced frame is 920g, and Cannondale’s latest Synapse is 1,015g, but it’s certainly no heavyweight either.
Flat-mount disc brakes are combined with Merida’s own ‘cooling fins’, a detail the brand introduced when it first started designing its road bikes with disc brakes.
Merida claims these CNC-machined alloy inserts can reduce the brakes’ operating temperatures by up to 35 per cent, theoretically reducing the chances of overheating with heavy use.
The neatly hidden seat clamp secures a standard round 27.2mm-diameter carbon seatpost, and the seat tube tapers into a cutaway to provide the 35mm tyre clearance.
In the centre of the boxy bottom bracket zone is a press-fit 86.5 shell.
Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition geometry
The Scultura Endurance’s geometry is all about all-day comfort, compared to the Scultura’s long and low racing setup.
My XL/58cm test bike came with a tall 629mm stack (36mm taller than the Scultura), while the 397mm reach is 11mm shy of the Scultura’s race geometry.
The long wheelbase (1,029mm) should bring handling stability into the equation too.
Thankfully, Merida hasn’t looked to slacken the head angle much to calm proceedings further – merely knocking it half a degree down to 73.5 compared to the equivalent race bike. In effect, this should keep front-end responses sharp.
A parallel 73.5-degree seat angle brings an efficient pedalling position too, pitching the rider over the bottom bracket somewhat.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74||74||73.5||73.5||73.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||71||72||73||73||73.5|
|Seat tube (mm)||470||490||510||530||560|
|Top tube (mm)||524||538||553||568||583|
|Head tube (mm)||152||161||177||197||222|
Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition build
SRAM’s Rival eTap AXS drivetrain brings wireless shifting technology down to a more affordable price, seeing as Rival uses the same motors and control systems as its pricier siblings (Force and Red AXS).
The 12-speed 40/35-tooth chainrings and 10-36t cassette combination is on paper a good spread for an endurance bike.
A 40/10t gear is more than enough for fast flats, rolling roads and wide-open descents, while at the other end of the spectrum a 35/36t gear provides less than a 1:1 ratio – spinning up climbs should be easy.
Rival hydraulic brakes paired with large 160mm rotors are solid performers too.
Merida provides the bulk of the finishing kit, with a simple squared alloy stem clamped to an alloy bar, wrapped in Merida-branded tape.
At the back, a carbon-shafted 27.2mm seatpost is fitted with Merida’s Expert SL saddle. It has a modern shape with a pressure-relief channel and cutout, and is on-trend short at 220mm. Merida even includes a port on the back of the saddle that contains a 12-piece multi-tool
The Scultura Endurance Rival Edition rolls on Fulcrum’s Racing 800 DB wheelset, weighing a claimed 1,960g. The 800 DB isn’t available as an aftermarket purchase, but is made available to brands as an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) component.
Despite that, the attractive 33.7mm-deep alloy rims are tubeless-compatible and have a road-tyre ready 19mm internal width – on a par with the current trend for alloy rims.
The build quality appears high and built to last, using 28 stainless steel spokes per wheel and hardy cartridge-bearing hubs. Fulcrum’s latest freehub internals for this wheelset feature sharp 10-degree pick-up, which makes for fast engagement.
The wheels are fitted with Continental’s excellent Grand Prix 5000 clincher tyres, in 700 x 32c size.
Where many endurance bikes still come fitted with 28c rubber, it’s refreshing to see 32c tyres from the get-go – a plus point on a bike designed to deliver all-day riding comfort.
Overall, the Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition weighs 9.14kg.
Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition ride impressions
The Scultura Endurance hits the fine balance between comfort and speed well.
The ride position is quite upright, but not so much as to feel overly sedate.
The steep head angle helps keep the steering lively, and it feels almost race-bike responsive to hard-pedalling inputs, surging ahead with relish when you put the effort in.
The Rival AXS drivetrain shifts swiftly and smoothly, while the slimmed-down hood shape (compared to the original Force and Red AXS) feels good and better for smaller hands too.
The braking brings plenty of power, and good feel and progression at the levers. That said, braking from the hoods requires a little more effort than Shimano’s ServoWave-equipped 105 Di2.
The Scultura Endurance is a great climbing companion. The gearing, the ride position and the superb combination of smooth feel and stiff responses saw me actively seeking out climbs on my test rides (something I’m usually loath to do).
The wheelset belies its near-2kg weight, rolling and picking up efficiently. This is a prime candidate for an upgrade overall, but there’s still some solid performance to be had.
Another factor is just how well it descends. The frame and fork are compliant, and the steering is quick without being nervy – the combination of which enables you to really get stuck into cornering.
Merida’s choice of one of the best clincher tyres around, in the GP5000, lends huge levels of confidence with plentiful grip and (therefore) control.
The other smart choice is the tyre width. A few years ago, 32c would have been regarded as something of a commuter or urban rider’s choice.
I’m used to riding 28c tyres most of the time, and expected a little drop off in pace with the increased volume. However, any shortfall isn’t detectable – the 32c GP5000s zip along while offering increased comfort from the extra volume (and lower optimal tyre pressures) too.
These tyres have sold me on going wider for the road, especially with the poor condition of my local roads.
Overall, while the comfort levels impress, the alloy bar wrapped in skinny tape leaves a little to be desired.
The compact drop shape is great and because of the taller stack, I found I spent a lot of time making use of the drops. That’s no bad thing, but up on the hoods and especially on the tops, a bit of chatter gets through when riding on rougher surfaces.
A bar with a more flattened or wing-shaped top section would help hugely, as well as running thicker bar tape. If I owned the Merida Endurance Rival Edition, it’d be the first thing I’d look to change.
Price-wise, Merida has hit the value mark, compared to a similarly specified bike such as Cervélo’s Caledonia Rival, it’s £1,400 cheaper.
Trek’s 105 Di2 equipped Domane SL6 is also £1,400 more than the Scultura Endurance and Specialized’s Roubaix Comp Rival AXS comes in at £5,500, a huge £2,100 premium.
Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition bottom line
At first glance, the traditional-looking Scultura Endurance could be dismissed for not conforming to the latest design trends.
The stealthy understated black carbon with black graphics couldn’t really be any less ‘shouty’, while the ‘undropped’ seatstays are arguably a design of yesteryear.
Underneath the conservative sheen, however, lies a brilliant mile-eating machine.
The 9.14kg overall weight isn’t especially light (and the mass isn’t helped by middleweight wheels), but it doesn’t ride like a bike that heavy.
It climbs very well, and some smart spec choices impress, although you could upgrade some key areas and bring the overall weight down. The 32c GP5000 tyres are a revelation.
Overall, Merida has quietly produced one of the very best endurance bikes of 2023.
Endurance Bike of the Year 2023 | How we tested
Each of the bikes selected for our Bike of the Year 2023 endurance category was first given a high-tempo two-and-a-half-hour ride to see if any adjustments needed to be made.
The meat of the testing took place over an 82-mile/132km route.
It was then a case of riding the bikes back-to-back and eliminating them one by one until I was left with the best of the bunch.
My decision reflects each bike’s balance, how well it handles, how it’s equipped and, most importantly, how much fun it is to ride.
For the endurance bike testing alone, I notched up in excess of 1,200 miles/1,931km.
Our Endurance Bike of the Year contenders
- Wilier Granturismo SLR UDi2
- Rondo RATT CF2
- Vitus Venon Evo Force AXS
- Cervélo Caledonia Rival
- Merida Scultura Endurance
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, AUD $4999.00EUR €4463.00GBP £3400.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 9.14kg (XL), Array, kg|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Merida|
|Features||br_Features, 11, 0, Features, Accessories: 12-piece Merida Multitool, Merida Saddle tool holder|
|Available sizes||br_availableSizes, 11, 0, Available sizes, XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Brakes||br_brakes, 11, 0, Brakes, Sram Rival Hydraulic disc with Sram Centrelock Paceline 160mm|
|Cassette||br_cassette, 11, 0, Cassette, CS XG1250 D1 10-36|
|Chain||br_chain, 11, 0, Chain, Sram Rival|
|Cranks||br_cranks, 11, 0, Cranks, Sram Rival 40/35 chainrings|
|Fork||br_fork, 11, 0, Fork, CF3 carbon|
|Frame||br_frame, 11, 0, Frame, CF3 carbon|
|Front derailleur||br_frontDerailleur, 11, 0, Front derailleur, Sram Rival AXS|
|Grips/Tape||br_gripsTape, 11, 0, Grips/Tape, Merida Expert road|
|Handlebar||br_handlebar, 11, 0, Handlebar, Merida Expert SL Alloy|
|Headset||br_headset, 11, 0, Headset, Merida 8151|
|Rear derailleur||br_rearDerailleur, 11, 0, Rear derailleur, Sram Rival AXS|
|Saddle||br_saddle, 11, 0, Saddle, Merida Expert SL|
|Seatpost||br_seatpost, 11, 0, Seatpost, Merida Expert CC carbon|
|Shifter||br_shifter, 11, 0, Shifter, Sram Rival AXS HRD|
|Stem||br_stem, 11, 0, Stem, Merida Expert CW 120mm|
|Tyres||br_tyres, 11, 0, Tyres, Grand Prix 5000 clincher, 700 x 32c|
|Wheels||br_wheels, 11, 0, Wheels, Fulcrum Racing 800 DB wheelset|