Merida Reacto 300 review

Aero road bike that cuts a sharp and distinctive swathe

BikeRadar score3.5/5

The Merida Reacto 300 is all straight lines inherited from the Reacto Evo carbon bikes ridden by the Bahrain-Merida team, so forget curves, this is all wind-cheating profiles and a super-sized carbon aero seatpost.

The technology involved has swallowed a fair wodge of cash, so there’s a step down in componentry, making it nearly 10kg.

But weight is actually something of a red herring when it comes to performance. It’s lovely to pick up a bike and find the weight is barely detectable, but if Chris Boardman had been riding his hour record on a bike a kilogram heavier, the difference in his distance would have been measured in tens of metres at most.

There are a lot of aero features in the Reacto’s frame
There are a lot of aero features in the Reacto’s frame

The science says that aerodynamics virtually always trumps low weight, the exceptions being when you’re accelerating and climbing, fighting against gravity rather than just air resistance. Okay, if you’ve got the budget you can have low weight and aerodynamics, but at this price aero should be king.

This raciness is matched by the gearing. The 10-speed Shimano Tiagra is a level down from 105 but mechanically similar, and for an unashamedly aggressive bike the pro-compact 52/36 and 12-28 pairing makes perfect sense; this isn’t a bike for Sunday afternoon dawdles.

The setup does make hills more of an effort though. The 36/28 bottom gear means you’ll be cranking rather than spinning on steeper climbs.

The rear wheel cutout tightens the rear end but the brake is awkwardly placed
The rear wheel cutout tightens the rear end but the brake is awkwardly placed

In keeping with the Reacto’s aero credentials, the rear brake is a direct-mount unit tucked behind the bottom bracket, and this gets an upgrade to cartridge brake blocks unlike the non-cartridge front. The result is average braking and a rear block that will fill with road crud due to its low-slung position.

It’s much more positive when it comes to handling and comfort. I thought this bike would be brutal — it isn’t. The large blunt-backed carbon seatpost actually soaks up a fair bit of road buzz, though the frame can’t disguise the bigger bumps.

The seatpost echoes the shape of the seat tube, which along with the down tube and fork has a teardrop profile that delivers aerodynamic efficiency without causing air turbulence.

The Merida overcomes its weight handicap to deliver a fast, fuss-free ride
The Merida overcomes its weight handicap to deliver a fast, fuss-free ride

It’s stiff, too, aided by the tapered head-tube, but it handles impeccably. The handlebar has flattened tops, for another marginal aero gain and added comfort when you’re on the tops.

Merida’s Reacto was a bit of a surprise. It overcame its weight handicap to deliver a fast, fuss-free ride with a minor gripe regarding braking but more comfort than I expected. You want to go fast? Then aero would seem to be the way to go.

Merida Reacto 300 specifications

Merida's Reacto 300
Merida's Reacto 300
  • Sizes: 47cm, 50, 52, 54*, 56 (*tested)
  • Weight: 9.74kg
  • Frame: Triple-butted 6066 aluminium
  • Fork: Carbon Race
  • Chainset: FSA Omega, 52/36
  • Bottom bracket: FSA Mega Exo
  • Cassette: Shimano Tiagra 12-28
  • Chain: KMC X10-1
  • Mech: Shimano Tiagra
  • Shifters: Shimano Tiagra
  • Wheelset: Merida Comp 30 CW
  • Tyres: Maxxis Dolomites, 25mm
  • Wheel weight: 1.36kg (f), 1.92kg (r)
  • Stem: Merida Expert
  • Bar: Merida Expert
  • Headset: Merida M2331 Neck
  • Saddle: Merida Comp SL
  • Seatpost: Orbea carbon
  • Brakes: Merida Road Comp (f), Reacto Direct (r)

Merida Reacto 300 geometry

  • Seat angle: 73 degrees
  • Head angle: 72 degrees
  • Chainstay: 41cm
  • Seat tube: 53cm
  • Top tube: 58cm
  • Head tube: 16cm
  • Bottom bracket drop: 6.1cm
  • Wheelbase: 1,000mm
  • Stack: 55.1cm
  • Reach: 39.7cm
Simon has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and more seriously since his time at university in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). This has taken in time trialling, duathlon and triathlon and he has toured extensively in Asia and Australasia, including riding solo 2900km from Cairns to Melbourne. He now mainly rides as a long-distance commuter and leisure/fitness rider. He has been testing bikes and working for Cycling Plus in various capacities for nearly 20 years.
  • Age: 53
  • Height: 175cm / 5'9
  • Weight: 75kg /165lb
  • Waist: 33in
  • Discipline: Road, touring, commuting
  • Current Bikes: Rose SL3000, Hewitt steel tourer
  • Beer of Choice: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Location: Bath, UK

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