With the eSILEX+ 600, MERIDA are introducing their first E-gravel bike. It relies on a MAHLE Ebikemotion X35+ hub-drive and shares the same frame platform as the E-road bikes and E-fitness-urban models. But does the modular concept work or did MERIDA push it a little too far? Read on to find all the details and a comprehensive test.
There are plenty of reasons to own an electric bike: we want to be free, independent and above all, we don’t want to worry about countless restrictions on our way from A to B – which is quite common these days. While demanding all of this from just one bike might be asking too much, the new MERIDA eAL700c frame platform supports three different types of eBikes and thus covers many areas of application. Could this be the way to get our freedom back? An E-gravel bike as a modern freedom fighter – why not? The following review will tell you how the eSILEX E-gravel fared in our practical test.
The MERIDA eAL700c frame platform
One alloy frame, three bikes. The eSILEX (gravel), eSCULTURA (road) and the eSPEEDER (urban) are all based on the same MERIDA eAL700c frame platform with a MAHLE Ebikemotion X35+ hub-drive. The spec and motor-setup differ from model to model and reflect the respective field of application. This makes total sense because, after all, an E-road bike has completely different requirements than a motorised urban bike.
The MERIDA eSILEX+ 600 in detail
With the eSILEX+ 600, MERIDA promise to deliver a bike with a gentle breeze of artificial tailwind to help you climb steep mountain passes, keep up with fitter riders and carry an extra piece of luggage on your pannier rack – even if this exceeds our recommended 10 kg limit. With its low 14.14 kg system weight, slim silhouette and superb motor integration, the eSILEX wants to offer the ultimate overall package for the modern traveller and contemporary explorer. The frame has numerous bolt-on points for pannier racks, mudguards, a kickstand, two bottle cages, a range extender and the MERIDA’s Trail Mount system on the underside of the top tube, which allows you to carry tools, a pump and a spare tube. There are two more mounts on each side of the fork, which can be used to attach even more bags and water bottles. MERIDA even offer their own range of bikepacking gear, including a practical fork-cage with waterproof bag called the ‘Gravelcage’. We’ve already tested the MERIDA SILEX+ 8000-E gravel bike in our bikepacking-review, where you get an overview of the bags.
The artificial tailwind of the MERIDA eSILEX – the MAHLE Ebikemotion X35+ hub-drive
The MERIDA eSILEX+ 600 is powered by a MAHLE Ebikemotion X35+ hub motor, which offers up to 40 Nm torque. The motor is operated via the iWoc button integrated in the top tube, which relies on LEDs of different colours to indicate the selected support mode and the remaining battery capacity. The Ebikemotion companion app, which connects to the system via Bluetooth, allows you to regulate the intensity of the three support modes and offers onboard navigation. In addition to displaying the riding data, the app will also evaluate and tell you how much assistance you used on your last ride. One more clever feature: you can connect the app to your heart rate monitor to define zones when the motor should kick in and offer support. This makes the eSILEX the perfect workout partner for basic training even on undulating terrain!
The capacity of the completely integrated 252 Wh battery in the down tube can be expanded by 208 Wh with the optional range extender, giving you a total of 460 Wh. The range-extender attaches to two bolt-on points on the seat tube and is not included in the scope of delivery. The range of an E-gravel (and eBikes in general) doesn’t only depend on the size of your “tank”! Electricity consumption, the degree of efficiency and performance of your motor, and around 20 other external variables play into the equation – including the riding style, the rider’s weight and the kilometres ridden above the 25 km/h threshold. As such, it’s impossible to make general claims about the range. You can read more about this in our sister magazine E-MOUNTAINBIKE in „The truth about lab Tests”.
The spec of the MERIDA eSILEX+ 600
Like the analogue MERIDA SILEX, the eSILEX is available in two versions with either 650 x 47B off-road tires or faster-rolling 40 x 700C. With its non-motorised counterpart, it also shares the same SILEX CF2 carbon fork but, unfortunately, not the extremely comfortable MERIDA TEAM CC seatpost, which is replaced by a stiffer MERIDA EXPERT CC seatpost. The eSILEX+ 600 in this test retails at € 2,899 and features a mechanical Shimano GRX RX600-1×11 drivetrain and MERIDA’S in-house components and wheels. These roll on Continental Terra Trail 650x47B tires, which are featured in our gravel tire group test, where you can read how they perform.
Drivetrain Shimano GRX RX600, 1 x 11, 40T
Cassette Shimano SLX CS-M7000, 11–42T
Motor MAHLE Ebikemotion X35+, 40 Nm
Battery 252 Wh
Brakes SRAM GRX RX600, 160/160 mm
Wheels MERIDA Expert SL
Tires Continental Terra Trail, 650 x 47B
Seat post MERIDA Expert CC, 0 mm offset
Handlebar MERIDA Expert GR, 420 mm
Stem MERIDA Expert IR, 90 mm
Weight 14.14 kg in size M
Price € 2,899
Availability as of now
The geometry of the MERIDA eSILEX
|Seat tube||470 mm||490 mm||510 mm||530 mm||560 mm|
|Top tube||525 mm||540 mm||555 mm||570 mm||585 mm|
|Head tube||145 mm||160 mm||175 mm||190 mm||205 mm|
|Chainstay||431 mm||431 mm||431 mm||431 mm||431 mm|
|BB Drop||70 mm||70 mm||70 mm||70 mm||70 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,032 mm||1,044 mm||1,055 mm||1,066 mm||1,076 mm|
|Reach||374 mm||384 mm||395 mm||406 mm||416 mm|
|Stack||565 mm||581 mm||597 mm||613 mm||629 mm|
Compared to its analogue counterpart, the eSILEX is slightly smaller, with the reach and stack measuring about 5-10% less. However, the geometry still makes for a relaxed and upright riding position, which perfectly suits the area of application of the eSILEX.
The MERIDA eSILEX+ 600 in test
“Respect man! The speed at which you’re keeping up with me on these mountain roads is truly impressive – and without a motor!” During our test rides on the local country lanes and forest paths, fellow riders were surprised by how fast we were riding on what they thought was an analogue bike – and that happened more than once! We’re not surprised, because at first glance the MERIDA eSILEX doesn’t even look like an eBike. The rear-wheel drive concept with a MAHLE Ebikemotion X35+ hub-motor is neatly integrated into the frame and works incredibly well. The alloy frame makes a very positive impression too: the comparatively thin tubing resonates less than a chunky carbon frame, making the eSILEX pleasantly quiet even with full support of the motor.
While the eSILEX accelerates willingly from a standstill, it’s still no Porsche 911. Compared to modern eBikes with a Bosch or Shimano drive, you’ll notice the lower 40 Nm torque and thus reach the 25 km/h threshold with noticeably less momentum. To switch between assist modes, you have to take one hand off the bars to reach for the iWoc control integrated in the top tube.
One of the strengths of the MAHLE rear-wheel hub motor is riding at the 25 km/h threshold, where it delivers the assistance extremely naturally either side of the threshold. On flat and slightly hilly terrain, the motor delivers sufficient power and handles single-digit gradients without breaking a sweat – even when riding with luggage. Only on mid-range gradients does the MAHLE motor reach its limits. For a detailed test of the MAHLE Ebikemotion X35+ hub motor, you can read our SCOTT eRIDE E-Road bike review, which explains the rear-wheel drive concept in detail and highlights all the pros and cons of the system.
In terms of riding performance, the eSILEX strikes with a very smooth character. Thanks to the geometry and the relatively long chainstays, the riding position is compact and upright. The handling is very intuitive and makes MERIDA’s E-gravel easy to ride even for gravel and e-Bike newbies. The bike literally encourages you to cruise and enjoy the surroundings, ideally on your day off, without any time pressure. Attacking or riding aggressively is definitely not one of its strengths.
Despite the fairly stiff frame, the MERIDA eSILEX feels pleasantly comfortable, which is mainly due to its components. The fork, seatpost and tires offer good level of compliance and the voluminous 650 x 47B Continental tires absorb all small vibrations. However, hard knocks from big rocks/roots and small obstacles travel straight into your body almost unfiltered and cause the front-wheel to lose traction, making the bike hard to control on rough trails. The eSILEX+ 600 is more suitable for touring, bikepacking or even commuting and prefers to leave tough and technical descents to other gravel bikes.
MERIDA eSILEX+ 600 – our conclusions
A bike for a multitude of trails: the concept around the MERIDA eSILEX+ 600 makes total sense. With its smooth handling, upright riding position and good self-damping qualities, MERIDA’s E-gravel bike is a great companion for exciting adventures in the unknown that can take a fair amount of luggage with its numerous bolt-on points. On rough trails with big rocks and chunky roots, however, the eSILEX feels easily overwhelmed and can quickly lose traction. In return, the bike shines with outstanding all-round qualities and proves to be a true quick-change artist: if you decide to get the E-gravel model and suddenly lose interest in drop-bars, you can easily convert it into an E-commuter with mudguards and riser bars.
- Very composed
- Compact, upright riding position
- Good self-damping qualities of the overall system (bike and components)
- Highly suitable for everyday use thanks to the many mounts for bottles, mudguards and pannier racks
- Visually discreet motor integration
- Motor lacks power on steep climbs
- Poor control on demanding terrain
Find all information about the MERIDA eSILEX+ 600 at merida-bikes.com
If you still can’t decide which gravel or e-Gravel bike to buy, you should read our Gravel Bike Buyer’s Guide, where you’ll find everything you need to know about gravel bikes!
Words & Photos: Philipp Schwab