With the 2021 SCULTURA ENDURANCE, MERIDA present a completely new frame set that promises maximum versatility. We lured the brand new road bike out of its comfort zone to test what it’s truly capable of between asphalt passes and gravel highways. Read our first ride review to find out how the concept of 700 x 35C tire clearance performs on the road!
For many of us, the time spent on our road bike is time to switch off and recharge. Regardless of whether you just want to let yourself drift along or discover new routes with your friends. Those who don’t have the time to plan their route meticulously in advance or are out and about in unknown terrain are usually afraid of only two scenarios: a technical defect you can’t repair next to the road or a section of the route that you can’t ride with narrow 700 x 25C tires. According to MERIDA, at least the latter should no longer be an issue with the brand new SCULTURA ENDURANCE! The Taiwanese bike industry giant’s pitch for their latest model is, “imagine being able to go for a ride without worrying about the road surface and knowing that you could ride a lot faster without neglecting comfort.” The SCULTURA ENDURANCE is a capable and fun-oriented road bike primarily aimed at amateur riders who want to have a good time on the bike, closing the gap in MERIDA’s portfolio between their more off-road-oriented drop-bar bikes like the MISSION CX or the SILEX and more road-oriented models such as the SCULTURA and the REACTO.
The concept behind the MERIDA SCULTURA ENDURANCE frame set
Maximum comfort and ultimate versatility – these were the two top priorities in developing the latest MERIDA. When you first see it, it’s the wide tires of the SCULTURA ENDURANCE that catch your eye. However, the 700 x 32C Continental Grand Prix 4-Season mounted on our test bike aren’t even close to reaching maximum tire clearance! The new MERIDA will clear up to 700 x 35C slicks, even if you’re running fenders via the integrated mounts. The comparatively high volume of the tires allows you to ride them at lower pressures, which plays a significant role in adding to the bikes comfort, though its more geared towards road riding than the Mission CX with similar tire clearance. Spoiler alert: the occasional detour on gravel or country lanes is absolutely no challenge for the SCULTURA ENDURANCE.
The organic shape of the carbon frame with its striking lines creates a good balance between understatement and bling factor. The colour options are a matter of taste but you’re unlikely to notice as you’ll quickly get lost in discovering all the details. While most of the latest road and gravel bikes rely on dropped chainstays to create enough clearance for the ever wider tires, MERIDA go their own way. Technically, the chainstays are positioned low down, but they seem to be curving upwards ever so slightly. The seat stays feature a detachable bridge, which you’ll only need if you choose to mount fenders as it doesn’t serve any other purposes. Following the principle of a leaf spring, the seat stays should offer additional compliance at the rear. The 27.2 mm seat clamp is beautifully integrated at the intersection between the seat stays, seat tube and top tube. The integrated cable routing of the SCULTURA ENDURANCE was given equal attention: all lines and cables are routed internally throughout, entering the frame through the headset with the help of the so-called WIRE PORT. The internal cable routing is compatible with both mechanical and electronic groupsets, remains quiet and is integrated very beautifully.
As with other bikes in MERIDA’s portfolio, the SCULPTURA ENDURANCE features their specially designed disc coolers. These aluminium heat sinks are mounted between the carbon frame and the brake caliper and are intended to aid heat dissipation during hard and intensive braking manoeuvres. While the SCULTURA ENDURANCE comes with 160 mm front and rear rotors as standard, the fork is compatible with up to 180 mm rotors. The 12 mm Thru-Axles and Shimano BB86 press-fit bottom bracket standard ensure that the frame is compatible with a variety of components available on the market. The direct-mount derailleur hanger for Shimano drivetrains has the same finish as the cooling fins, which rounds the bike off in a visually appealing way.
MERIDA SCULTURA ENDURANCE – geometry and spec
For the SCULTURA ENDURANCE, MERIDA have completely revised the geometry so that it should meet the requirements of most comfort-oriented long-distance riders. The size L frame we tested comes with a 19.65 cm long head tube, which results in a much more upright riding position compared to purely performance-oriented road bikes. With a head tube angle of 73° it’s on par with the REACTO aero bike, but the rear triangle is significantly longer with its 418 mm chainstays. Accordingly, the 1,017 mm wheelbase of the size L bike is a bit longer than what you’ll usually find on competition road bikes. The idea behind this is to improve composure and tracking stability.
|Seat tube||440 mm||470 mm||490 mm||510 mm||530 mm||560 mm|
|Top tube||515 mm||524 mm||538 mm||553 mm||568 mm||583 mm|
|Head tube||140 mm||152 mm||161 mm||177 mm||197 mm||222 mm|
|Chainstay||418 mm||418 mm||418 mm||418 mm||418 mm||418 mm|
|BB Drop||66 mm||66 mm||66 mm||66 mm||66 mm||66 mm|
|Wheelbase||992 mm||997 mm||1001 mm||1001 mm||1017 mm||1026 mm|
|Reach||360 mm||366 mm||376 mm||380 mm||389 mm||397 mm|
|Stack||539 mm||552 mm||565 mm||584 mm||603 mm||629 mm|
At the launch of the SCULTURA ENDURANCE, you’ll have a choice four complete builds, whereby the availability of the options depends on the distributor of each country. The € 2,349 SCULTURA ENDURANCE 4000 is the entry level model, featuring a Shimano 105 groupset, MERIDA Expert SL wheels and 700 x 32C Maxxis detonator tires. Our best value tip definitely goes to the SCULTURA ENDURANCE 6000 featuring the complete Shimano Ultegra R8020 groupset, Fulcrum Racing 700 DB wheels and 700 x 32C Maxxis Detonator, priced at only € 2,899! We got to test ride the SCULTURA ENDURANCE 7000-E, which is the range’s flagship model for now. However, expect to see models with a higher-end spec in the future.
Groupset Shimano ULTEGRA R8070 Di2, 2×11, 50/34 T series (52/36 t on the test bike)
Cassette Shimano CS-HG700 11–34 t
Brakes Shimano Ultegra hydraulic Disc BR-R8070 160/160 mm
Wheels DT Swiss E1850 Spline DB23
Tires Continental Grand Prix 4-Season, 700 x 32C
Seatpost MERIDA EXPERT, 20 mm offset
Handlebar MERIDA EXPERT SL, 420 mm
Stem MERIDA EXPERT CW, 110 mm
Weight 8.48 kg in size L.
Price € 4,199
Availability now at official dealers
MERIDA SCULTURA ENDURANCE 7000-E first ride review
As you get on the bike, you’ll immediately notice the long head tube and you’ll quickly feel at home on the brand-new MERIDA! The riding position is pleasantly upright and guarantees to get you to your destination without neck pain no matter how far away your destination might be. Besides the riding position, the carbon frame provides good vibration damping, which adds to the bike’s the long-distance comfort. Small and high-frequency vibrations get absorbed effectively. However, the Continental Grand Prix 4-Season tires reach their limits with larger obstacles, offering too little cushioning, and letting the rider hop up and down on the bike. Mounting tires with better damping properties and setting up tubeless is likely to do wonders for comfort. Where the Continentals do perform well is in providing traction in the corners and in their braking behaviour. They offer a lot of grip and thereby instil you with confidence.
Tuning tip: lighter wheelset for quicker acceleration & more comfortable tires
When accelerating, the frame is extremely stiff and direct. Only the relatively hefty wheel and tire combination limits the MERIDA’s light-footedness. Once up to speed, the bike benefits from the inertia of the wheels’ rotating mass and is happy to stay there. At 8.48 kg in size L, it’s not a super light road bike, but it still climbs easily enough. If you’re out to hunt the fastest time up the climbs, this is the wrong bike for you anyway. The SCULTURA ENDURANCE is about having a good time and it’s got a lot of potential to do so.
While our two previous points of critique can easily be remedied with an upgrade, the steering behaviour of the SCULTURA ENDURANCE is something that you’ll have to learn to live with. The bike’s steering feels almost like a professional race bike, with a very quick and direct response. This seems logical, since wider tires often make the steering feel too sluggish. However, compared to the rather long chainstays, the front feels just a bit too agile. This requires you to be careful and alert as you steer in order to stay on track and hit your desired line. Fitting a longer stem could help calm the front down slightly and bring it more in line with the stability of the rear. However, since this is an endurance bike meant to be comfortable enough for all-day rides, this conversion makes little sense in our view.
Our conclusion on the SCULTURA ENDURANCE 7000-E
The MERIDA SCULTURA ENDURANCE 7000-E offers excellent all-round capabilities, giving you very wide range of applications. Regardless of whether it is a long-distance ride or exploring poorly maintained and even gravel roads: with the vibration damping of the carbon frame set and the cornering traction and puncture resistance of the Continental tires, it has a lot to offer the road bike adventurers among us! It’s a shame about the unbalanced handling, since the agile front requires you to stay alert despite the long and stable chainstays. For quicker acceleration, we would have preferred a lighter wheelset, but considering the price and the bike’s intended use, this is something we’d be okay to live with. Switching off made easy.
- excellent cable routing
- cornering traction
- no toe overlap in size L
- not the quickest in acceleration
- unbalanced handling
- tires offer insufficient damping
For more information head to merida-bikes.com
Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: Robin Schmitt