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Merida Reacto Team-E review

Verdict:

A racy WorldTour spec bike that does everything that’s expected of it. Photos: Mike Massaro

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£9,000
For 
Fast • Efficient • Makes you want to ride and push yourself • Comfortable despite its racy geometry
Against 
Not the best in crosswinds • Seatpost light is not USB chargeable • Seatpost clamp is fiddly

A bike that comes painted up in WorldTour team colours needs to deliver the performance to match, and for the most part the Merida Reacto Team-E lives up to its colourful billing.

In truth, the paintjob on this bike most closely matches last year’s Bahrain McLaren team colours. Since then, the team has morphed into Bahrain Victorious and the orange jerseys have changed to be mostly red.

Still, the orange paintjob is attractive without being garish, and you’ll simply be going too fast for anyone to notice the now outdated ‘Bahrain McLaren’ written along the top tube.

 

Speedy by design

The Reacto has always been Merida’s pure aero road bike, and in an age when many brands are blurring the lines between their lightweight and aero racers there is no doubt this latest version has both feet planted in the aero camp.

As well as the usual sharp angles and deep, aerodynamic tube profiles, the new version comes with fully integrated cabling inside a one-piece Vision Metron 5D ACR cockpit to keep the front end tidy and reduce drag. Plus it comes with fairly aggressive geometry.

The stack height of 571mm twinned with a reach of 400mm (size large, 56cm) puts this bike firmly in long and low territory with regards to the ride position. The integrated bar-stem is slammed onto the fork crown, which sits in a recess in the head tube – a new design that Merida says saves two watts. There’s no chance of adapting the position to be an upright cruiser, and to my mind the bike is all the better for it.

One of the biggest changes over the previous version is weight, with Merida claiming to have shaved an impressive 244g off the frame and fork. This brings the overall weight to 7.7kg for a size large, so it’s still no featherweight climber’s bike but nor is it resistant to going uphill.

Buy the Merida Reacto Team-E now from Tredz

Merida also says it has made improvements in comfort, but once again this is relative. A new carbon layup in the frame is claimed to provide vibration damping and a cutaway section in the seatpost adds further flex, but the bike’s overall stiffness means you’ll feel all but the smoothest roads. There is clearance for up to 30mm tyres, which could add a bit of extra cushioning, but really no one who buys this bike is looking for a comfy ride – it’s all about speed.

Lockdown restrictions ensured much of my testing was conducted in the post-1965 borders of Greater London, and more specifically in Richmond Park. It suited the Merida Reacto down to the ground.

Short, sharp blasts are exactly what this bike excels at – all that stiffness ensures rapid acceleration and it holds speed superbly. Handling is on the reactive side, although on gusty days the bike could feel wayward as the frame’s tall, sheer tubes and 55mm-deep wheels were caught by side-winds.

Small climbs, such as Richmond Park’s Dark Hill, were dispatched with ease by powering over them in the big ring, while even longer hills proved to be perfectly manageable when sitting in the saddle and knocking out a steady cadence. That’s the beauty of a bike like this on longer, shallower climbs: the slippery design helps offset the extra weight, while the frame’s stiffness ensures efficient power transfer.

Buy the Merida Reacto Team-E now from Tredz

To keep track of that power, the Reacto Team-E comes with a Shimano power meter as part of the package. It’s a nice touch and something that helps to make it worthy of consideration when being compared to similarly priced competitors.

Other neat additions include the disc brake cooling fins (like little alloy radiators attached to the callipers) that purport to stop the discs overheating, and the integrated rear light in the seatpost, which makes use of the space provided by the flex-inducing cutaway. Said light isn’t USB-rechargeable, albeit you could happily fit rechargeable AAA batteries. It is also easily obscured by a saddle bag, so I simply stuck my usual light onto my saddle bag and forgot all about the one that came with the bike.

 

Rich pickings

This is a bike that looks fast and rides as fast as it looks. Some people may take issue with the pro colour scheme on the grounds that it should be reserved for members of the team only, but it is done with enough class and subtlety that even the naysayers should find it just about acceptable.

It’s hard to see what the Merida Reacto does that sets it apart from other WorldTour-level aero bikes, except perhaps when it comes to the price. Admittedly, £9,000 is a significant chunk of anyone’s money, but you could be looking at an extra grand or two for similarly specced bikes from any of the other big-name brands. If speed is what matters most, the Reacto is certainly worth a look.

Buy the Merida Reacto Team-E now from Tredz

Pick of the kit

 

La Passione PSN Thermal bibshorts, £135, lapassione.cc

On cold days – and we’re not shot of those yet – these PSN Thermal bibshorts are a great choice for keeping legs spinning comfortably. The fabric feels plush and protective, and the large panel covering much of the rider’s back adds warmth and comfort.

The subtle branding is welcome because it means they can be paired easily with a range of other kit without clashing – the only concession to a logo is a line of small reflective rectangles on the side that help with visibility in bad light. It’s form and function.

Buy the La Passione PSN Thermal bibshorts now

Alternatively…

Save a packet

 

Drop down to the Shimano 105-specced Reacto 4000 model (£2,250) and you can save yourself a whopping £6,750. Merida claims it has the same stiffness as the Team-E frame but just a bit more weight.

Buy the Merida Reacto 4000 now from Tredz

Worth the weight

 

If you’d rather have something lighter, Merida’s equivalent pro-specced climber’s bike is the Scultura Team-E (£8,600), which swaps straight-line speed for a UCI minimum-nudging weight of 6.88kg.

Buy the Merida Scultura Team-E now from Tredz

Spec

Frame Merida Reacto Team-E Dura-Ace Di2 Disc
Groupset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Disc
Brakes Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Disc
Chainset Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Disc with Shimano integrated power meter
Cassette Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 Disc
Bars Vision Metron 5D ACR integrated bar/stem
Stem Vision Metron 5D ACR integrated bar/stem
Seatpost Merida Team CW
Saddle Prologo Scratch M5
Wheels Vision Metron 55 Clincher TL Disc, Continental GP5000 25mm tyres
Weight 7.7kg (size large)
Contact merida-bikes.com

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

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