The MERIDA MISSION CX 8000 is not your typical gravel bike but rather a UCI-compliant gravel racer. The steep angles and poor tire clearance make the MISSION CX look more like a Group B-rally car than a full on off-road tank. But did the MERIDA manage to impress our test riders on the trail?

MERIDA MISSION CX | 7.77 kg (size L) | € 4,399

The MERIDA MISSION CX in detail

A purist at heart and radical minimalist: for € 4,399 you will take home a 7.77 kg UCI-compliant cyclocross carbon racer with a relatively light SRAM Force 1 groupset, reliable SRAM Force hydraulic brakes and a DT Swiss ER1400 SPLINE DB21 wheelset. The stiff aluminium cockpit and carbon seatpost, as well as the saddle, are MERIDA in-house components. Size L bikes come with a standard handlebar width of 420 mm but the lack of flare in the drops is rather untypical. The compact shape of the handlebars reminds us of classic racing bikes.

On rough terrain the knobbly profile of the MAXXIS All Terrane tires provides enough reserves.

Tire clearance is within UCI regulations.

Nothing new for off-roaders: the standard 1x drivetrain with the option of switching to a 2-speed setup.

Following in the footsteps of the legendary Pikes Peak rally the SRAM Force hydraulic brakes with 160 mm rotors make for an authentic lock and skid party. The spec reflects this purist philosophy too. You won’t find any mounting points for pannier racks which comes as no surprise considering the MERIDA is UCI-compliant. Still, the MISSION CX 8000 gives you the option of running mudguards — but that’s it! If you’re planning long-distance rides or bikepacking adventures you’re better off looking for alternatives. Having said that, all other details such as the cable routing ports are neatly integrated and beautifully finished.

One clever detail: The MISSION CX comes with a built-in axle-tool which can be removed whenever needed.

First riding impressions

Braaap, Braaaap, Wrooom! You might have to recreate the engine noises by yourself but the acceleration of the MERIDA really reminds us of rally cars! Thanks to the stiff bottom bracket and direct power transfer on the handlebars the MISSION CX 8000 literally sprints forward. Not a single Watt goes to waste, the acceleration is direct and the performance great both on the road and hardpack. All of a sudden you find yourself in your best aero-tuck flying over the gravel on straight forest highways. Changing to the trail, however, requires a seasoned rider. The MISSION CX feels a little bit smoother than other UCI bikes but requires stronger riding inputs compared to other gravel bikes. To keep good traction on the trail our test riders had to switch to their most active riding mode — riding on the limit!

Tuning tip:
Chunkier tires will give you more reserves
Carbon bars with more flex

Just like a fine precision tool the MERIDA deals with nasty root carpets whilst maintaining its agile character in any riding position and accelerates out of corners consistently. But the direct handling comes at a price: having fun on short sections means getting tired on long distances. On top of that, the small cassette causes a loss of traction on long steep climbs — our cadence reminded us of a mudflat hike.

Conclusion

Are you looking for a sporty commuter that will get you through the occasional cyclocross race and can also take mudguards for rough, wet winter training sessions? You’ve come to the right place. The MERIDA MISSION CX 8000 delivers what it promises: A wholesome rally riding experience for trails and gravel — all of it at the expense of long-distance fun, unfortunately!

Strengths
  • Through-axle system
  • Clean look, neat cable routing
Weaknesses
  • Little comfort
  • The colour scheme is a matter of taste

Price: € 4,399
Weight: 7.77 kg size L
Info: merida-bikes.com


Here you’ll find our current group test on the best gravel bike.

Words: Benjamin Suhr Photos: David Rösler, Valentin Rühl