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Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition review

Smooth operator with SRAM’s wireless shifting

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £3,400.00 RRP | EUR €4,463.00 | AUD $4,999.00
Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition

Our review

A simple, elegant design produces a smooth ride with a good specification for the price
Pros: Smooth ride quality; stable handling; comfortable ride position; effective climber
Cons: Excess wheel weight; skinny alloy bar and tape reduce front-end comfort
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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.

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The Scultura Endurance brings a taller stack and shorter reach than the Scultura and ups the tyre clearance to 35mm, bang in the middle of all-road approaching gravel bike territory.

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

Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition road bike
There’s a more traditional rear-triangle design without Merida’s dropped seatstays.
David Caudery / Our Media

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.

Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition road bike
SRAM Rival hydraulic disc brakes are paired with Merida’s cooling fins.
David Caudery / Our Media

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.

XSSMLXL
Seat angle (degrees)747473.573.573.5
Head angle (degrees)7172737373.5
Chainstay (mm)418418418418418
Seat tube (mm)470490510530560
Top tube (mm)524538553568583
Head tube (mm)152161177197222
Wheelbase (mm)9971001100110171026
Standover (mm)767785803823852
Stack (mm)552565584603629
Reach (mm)366376380389397

Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition build

Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition road bike
The combination of 12-speed 40/35-tooth chainrings and 10-36t cassette is well considered for an endurance road bike such as this.
David Caudery / Our Media

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.

Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition road bike
The Rival Edition gets a standard bar and stem, as opposed to the 9000’s fully integrated cockpit.
David Caudery / Our Media

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

Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition - 06
The 27.2mm-diameter carbon seatpost hosts a Merida Expert SL saddle.
David Caudery / Our Media

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.

Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition road bike
There’s good feel and progression at the brake levers.
David Caudery / Our Media

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.

Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition road bike
Continental’s GP5000 clincher tyres provide plenty of grip and pace.
David Caudery / Our Media

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

Merida Scultura Endurance Rival Edition road bike
It’s up there with the very best endurance bikes.
David Caudery / Our Media

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.

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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

Thanks to…

Thanks to our sponsors, Lazer, FACOM tools and Band Of Climbers for their support in making Bike of the Year happen.

Product Specifications

Product

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

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