Merida Scultura 9000 review£7,500.00

Super light climber flatters to deceive

BikeRadar score2/5

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.

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:

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:

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.

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.

This article was originally published in Procycling magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Jamie Wilkins

Deputy Editor, Procycling / Editor, Urban Cyclist, Procycling Magazine
Rides fast everywhere, all the time. Jamie started riding age 12, first on mountain bikes, progressing through cross-country and downhill racing (followed by motorcycle road racing and a dark time as a runner). A dedicated roadie since 2007, Jamie has dabbled in road racing, crits and time trials, but has the most fun simply riding hard with a couple of friends, chasing daft average speeds. Needless to say, Jamie values pure performance above all else and loves aero kit. Fiercely honest in his reviews. Has a chain-cleaning fetish.
  • Age: 37
  • Height: 185cm / 6'1"
  • Weight: 71kg / 156lb
  • Waist: 79cm / 31in
  • Chest: 96cm / 38in
  • Discipline: Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Mountains, rolling stuff, flat and windy, hacking through the city…
  • Current Bikes: Ridley Noah SL 20, Scappa Purosangue, Canyon Speedmax 9.0 SL
  • Dream Bike: Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 9.0 LTD, in red, please. And a Pashley Guv'nor.
  • Beer of Choice: Recovering teetotaller, still working this one out
  • Location: Bath, UK

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