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Merida Reacto 2021: The aero bike that Mark Cavendish will be riding this year

30 Jul 2020

Wider tyre clearance and integrated cables headlined Merida's new Reacto aero bike

As WorldTour racing gets underway again, Bahrain-Merida has a new aero bike with which to do battle: the redesigned Merida Reacto.

And with its revised tube profiles, fully integrated cabling and slicker looks, it’s a safe bet the likes of Mark Cavendish will be looking to the Reacto to take on flat stages and sprint finishes. So what has changed?

Update, January 2022: Since this news broke, we've published full reviews of both the pro-spec Reacto Team and the much more affordable Reacto 4000.

The major headline here is ‘comfort’. Tyre clearance has increased to a whopping 30mm, which would have been unthinkably huge for an aero bike just a few years ago.

But according to Merida, accommodating such monstrous rubber represents the best bang for compromised buck, with more voluminous rubber making the Reacto as capable over cobbles as its stablemates, meaning you can expect to see the Bahrain boys racing this at Paris-Roubaix (if it happens as planned).

But at what cost? Because as Merida says, this comfort and versatility is ‘paid for with reduced aerodynamics’, thus where other manufacturers have fought hard to bring you big numbers, Merida is quoting a very conservative figure: the new Reacto is 1 watt faster than its predecessor at 45kmh.

Some people may smile wryly at that, but Merida confidently states that because the Reacto generation three was already so fast already – ‘in the leading group of aero bikes as tested by Tour magazine’ – the Reacto no.4 need fear no-one anyway, especially with that increased clearance. It’s an interesting case.

Where are the gains?

With that in mind, the gains in aerodynamics are as follows: A new fork design, with fork legs more bowed and further from the wheel to aid airflow, plus a slicker tessellation between fork crown and head tube creates up to a 2 watt saving; the fully integrated cabling at the front end up to another 2 watts.

Unquantified, but mentioned, are more neatly integrated disc brake cooling fins – little metal heat sinks integrated into fork and rear triangle to help dissipate brake heat – smoother thru-axles and even lower seat stays.

As an aside, it’s worth pointing out, to Merida’s credit, that it was a pioneer of the square-shouldered, dropped seatstays now ubiquitous on aero road bikes (just check out Specialized’s new Tarmac SL7 and compare those stays to a 2013 Reacto generation two).

Commendably there are some other nice details too – the mech hanger is designed for Shimano’s direct mount system (other mechs fit too, though, with an adaptor), which brings the mech more in bound for greater protection and in theory is stiffer so provides snappier shifting. Then there’s the S-Flex seatpost, a carryover from before designed to flex for comfort but also able to be flipped, to bring the rider into a more aggressive TT position.

Prices are still to come, but expect the Reacto to satisfy a range of wallets, especially given the two frame models – CF5 and CF3.

Both identical geometry and looks, the difference here is in weight. A CF5 frame and fork is a claimed 965g and 457g respectively, a CF3 frame 1,145g/490g (size medium). Not inconsequential, and down to a difference in layup and materials.

As such, Merida says both frames are as stiff, just the CF3 is heavier and somewhat cheaper to manufacturer, and hence will be available for less than the CF5 models.

Then finally, sizing has been refined, Merida choosing to stick to last generation Reacto’s geometry but adding in an XXS frame size to create a Reacto portfolio of six sizes.

Keep your eyes peeled both here and in Cyclist magazine for a full test ride soon.


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