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Merida Reacto 5000 review

8 Dec 2015
Verdict:

The Merida Reacto 5000 is an aero weapon with all the right ammunition: speed, efficiency and comfort.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£2,000
For 
Comfortable for an aero bike
Against 
Seat clamp is a fiddle

Copying the geometry of the bike used by the likes of Rui Costa on the Lampre-Merida World Tour team, the Merida Reacto 5000 is an aero road bike with racing credentials. Frame tubes developed in the wind tunnel by the Taiwanese manufacturer combine with aero details to make a bike designed for maximum speed, efficiency and comfort. What more do you want? The question is: can it live up to the promise of being an ‘everyman’s aero bike’? And do the Ultegra components gel with the rest of its kit to form a cohesive whole?

Frameset

Merida Reacto 5000 seat tube

The list of proprietary frame tech on Merida’s website could take the space of this whole test to properly explain. The headline features, however, are NACA Fastback tube profiles for aerodynamic efficiency; an S-Flex seatpost, with a rubberised section to dampen road vibrations; Bio-Fiber Damping, which uses flax fibres woven into the carbon frame to assist with vibe isolation, and a flip-flop head allowing adjustment of the seat angle over a 3° range.

The frame’s geometry enforces its race-readiness, with a 73° head angle (which we measured at a moderately slower-steering 72.3°), short wheelbase and 136mm head tube allowing you to get low over the front, especially once the stem is slammed.

The Reacto seems to have pulled off the trick of providing decent comfort at the same time as impressive stiffness

Internal gear cables are neatly routed through the top tube by a top cap-mounted cable guide. Both rear and front mech cables have barrel adjusters, and the rear brake cable has an inline quick release for the direct-mount calliper.

Components

Merida Reacto 5000 frame

The Merida uses Ultegra for the shifters and mechs, then a mixture of lower-line Shimano components and FSA kit. An 11-28 105 cassette is matched to an FSA Gossamer Pro mid-compact, 52/36 chainset which gives away 57g to an equivalent Shimano Ultegra unit. Braking is taken care of by direct-mount 105 callipers. Popular on aero bikes, and even making their way on to more climbing-specific road bikes like Trek’s higher-end Émondas, direct-mount callipers are fitted into the fork and are therefore closer to the frame. This more rigid set-up offers more progressive braking force, a small aero advantage, and room for wider tyres. FSA Gossamer compact alloy handlebars are gripped by a 100mm Merida-branded ControlTech stem, while at the rearward contact point, Merida’s aero carbon flex seatpost is topped with a deeply padded Prologo Kappa 2 saddle. Fulcrum’s 35mm deep-section Racing Quattro wheels are found at either end and, like the Norco’s Easton EA70s, wear Continental 25c Grand Sport tyres.

The ride

For all the Reacto 5000’s aero tube profiles, the over-riding – and somewhat surprising – first impression is of a bike that’s really quite comfortable. The flared seatstays and chainstays, combined with Merida’s flexible seatpost, do a good job of isolating vibrations from rough roads. Plus, the Prologo saddle, while not the most comfortable of the four bikes we’ve tested here, is by far the most sumptuously padded. 

The bike seems to have pulled off the trick of providing decent comfort at the same time as impressive stiffness, the latter of which is evident when you rise from the perch and give everything you’ve got for a road sign sprint. The Fulcrum Quattro wheels are a sound choice, but we get the feeling their high radial stiffness makes the ride more severe than it could be on choppier roads. Plus, their 1,720g weight means they don’t accelerate with race wheel-rapidity, either. That said, in crosswinds, where you might expect slab-sided aero frame tubes and relatively deep rims to suffer, the Reacto effortlessly rises to the challenge. 

Merida Reacto 5000 review

It’s not a bad climber, either, especially when tackling a local ascent in the saddle. The mid-compact chainset doesn’t have the vast range of climbing gears offered by the Norco Valence SL, but it’s adequate for most short climbs. Key here is the solid connection between the wide bottom bracket and chunky stays, combined with the pleasantly cosseting rider’s rear contact point. It lacks the ease of shifting under load that both the Vitus and Norco offer. Possibly the FSA chainset isn’t quite as keenly matched to the shifters as Ultegra chainrings and cranks might be, but the cranks are certainly stiff enough once the gear is engaged. 

When the ride becomes more spirited, especially in downhill corners, the Reacto responds to small steering changes in a way that exposes its racing DNA. It’s by no means twitchy, but is highly responsive when ridden in anger. We’d stop short of saying ‘exhilarating’, but with all the available spacers above the stem and full commitment on the drops, there are bags of thrills to be had.

However, there are a few grumbles. The integrated seat clamp (with its associated expansion wedge butted against the seatpost) is fiddly to adjust, even if it’s aerodynamically efficient. And the direct-mount rear brake, located behind the bottom bracket fails to bite with any proper strength, though it does offer an aero advantage.

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 545mm 545mm
Seat Tube (ST) 520mm 522mm
Down Tube (DT) 614mm
Fork Length (FL) 372mm
Head Tube (HT) 139mm 136mm
Head Angle (HA) 73 72.3mm
Seat Angle (SA) 72-75 (adjustable) 73.6mm
Wheelbase (WB) 984mm 980mm
BB drop (BB) 61mm 66mm

Spec

Merida Reacto 9000
Frame Reacto carbon frame and pro-direct fork
Groupset Shimano Ultegra
Brakes Shimano 105 (direct mount)
Chainset FSA Gossamer Pro, 52/36
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-28
Bars FSA Gossamer compact, alloy
Stem Merida Pro, alloy
Seatpost Reacto Aero Carbon Race
Wheels Fulcrum Racing Quattro
Tyres Continental Grand Sport Race, 700x25
Saddle Prologo Kappa 2
Contact merida-bikes.com

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