Merida unveiled its new Ride SL classics bike at the Taipei Cycle Show. The bike will be used by the Lampre-Merida team, just in time to hit the cobbles of the 2013 Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. As with other bikes in this category, Merida says the frame's purpose-built shape will provide a comfortable ride over the brutal pavé of northern Belgium.
Merida follows a well-proven formula out back on the new Ride SL, with flattened chain stays and seat stays that are expected to yield more readily over bumps. The seat stays and top tube are also offset at the seat cluster, with the idea that the seat tube will flex more easily under rider weight on rough ground. Not surprisingly, Merida fits the Ride SL with a slim, 27.2mm-diameter seatpost.
Up front it's a much more dramatic story, with the rear of the fork legs being radically scalloped out, again to promote flex and increase comfort. Merida fills the space with elastomeric inserts similar to Specialized's Zertz models. However, in this case we couldn't help but notice that they seemed barely attached to the carbon structure, which suggests they're at least partially cosmetic.
The scalloped backs of the fork legs
Other features include a tapered head tube, convertible internal cable routing, a PF86 press-fit bottom bracket shell, and trick hidden fender mounts at both the front and rear dropouts.
Merida had 25mm-wide tires installed on the show bike and it looked to be a fairly tight fit, although 28mm-wide rubber might still work. Claimed frame weight is around 900g and the complete bike as shown here is about 7kg (15.4lb).
The official consumer release is scheduled for this July but, in the meantime, don't fret too much about the ultra-loud paint job. This bike is destined for the Lampre-Merida team and the consumer version will almost certainly be available in a more subdued color scheme.
For more information on Merida see www.merida-bikes.com.