Merida Reacto Evo Team

Merida’s latest blend of speed and comfort is so advanced you can almost overlook the colour scheme…

Many people think of Merida as a fringe Italian brand. Actually it’s Taiwanese and is one the biggest bicycle companies in the world. It’s second only to Giant in terms of factory output and is arguably the largest producer of premium bikes worldwide, producing five million per year.

The last few years have seen an aggressive push from Merida in the road market. It bought out the sponsorship role with Team Lampre-Merida (much to Wilier’s dismay) and now it has revealed the Reacto Evo, which Merida claims is the culmination of its vast resources in production, research and pro-rider feedback.

Aerodynamics is at the forefront of the design, and Merida spent plenty of time in a wind tunnel to ensure that the Reacto has every wind-cheating benefit possible. (To better emulate real-world riding, the company used a pair of free-moving dummy legs attached to the bike throughout the testing process). Concealed gear cabling feeding into the top tube, and a recessed brake behind the bottom bracket, mean that airflow is clean and smooth over the frame. Merida has also championed a specific kamm tail tube profile called the NACA fastback profile (based on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics NACA0028 profile), intended to minimise the effects of crosswinds while being as fast as possible within the UCI restrictions on tube shaping.

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‘Testing time in wind tunnels is far from cheap,’ says Merida’s product technical manager David Webster, ‘but the scale of the factory and the scale of Merida as a brand means we can commit those kind of resources to getting the job done correctly.’

Merida has gone as far as to use strain gauges and data logging in the production process to fully understand the stresses in the frame. The result of all of that investment, Merida says, is a bike that is world-class in aerodynamic terms but also rideable on a daily basis.

In recent wind-tunnel testing by the famously obsessive German magazine Tour, the Reacto came out second overall among aero frames for aerodynamics, beaten only by the Cervélo S5. Yet in terms of vertical flex, its comfort was far in excess of any of the major competitors. Indeed, as a result the bike has been appointed as the ‘official bike’ for the Lampre-Merida pro team, meaning it’s the go-to bike for any stage.

‘Last season, the squad had the option to ride the Scultura SL or the Reacto,’ says Webster. ‘Initially it was a 50/50 split; some were very welcoming of the Reacto while others enjoyed the light weight of the Scultura SL. But in the early season this year they’ve virtually all been won over by the Reacto.’

That’s an impressive vote of confidence for an aero frame, given the long hours the pros will spend riding it. A glance at the Reacto’s frame reveals a few areas where that comfort may have been made possible.

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First there’s the ‘S-flex’ seatpost, designed with a chunk missing. Although a plastic insert can fill the space, the seat is effectively suspended above thin air. Then come the seatstays, which join the seat tube at the widest possible point and are not connected by a brake bridge, which Merida claims adds extra compliance to the rear end and helps offset the incredible stiffness of the bottom bracket area.

Whether the Reacto can really deliver on its promise of speed married to comfort, we can only confirm once we’ve had a chance to test it properly. Until then, keep an eye on Merida – it’s a giant that has awoken to its own potential, and we expect to see special things in the future.

Merida Reacto Evo Team, $8,999,
Web: Merida.com.au

Read the full review on the Merida Reacto CF 907-E.

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