With the SCULTURA ENDURANCE CUSTOM, MERIDA present a unique bike build specifically for this test, taking a whole host of components from the gravel shelf. Is the exciting concept capable enough to ride to a win against 14 of the best road bike of the 2021 season? Find the answer here!

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best road bike of 2021 – 15 models in review

MERIDA SCULTURA ENDURANCE CUSTOM | 7.57 kg in size M | € 9,499 | Manufacturer’s website

MERIDA have taken the SCULTURA ENDURANCE frame as the platform for this special build and want to create the perfect companion for any bike adventure. That means one of the biggest bike manufacturers in the world puts a much more significant focus on comfort here, especially compared to its REACTO TEAM-E CUSTOM also tested. But just like the REACTO, the SCULTURA pushes the limits of our road bike group test. You need only look at the build which, aside from the Shimano DURA-ACE groupset, all originates from the gravel sector. Particularly conspicuous is the Easton Cycling EC70 AX handlebar whose flare of 16° pushes the drops out 34 mm on each side making it the widest overall bar at 488 mm. That means you’ll be able to keep everything under control on bumpy ground. With these bars having enthused our test crew on many gravel bikes previously, they also get our praise and recommendation in this test! WTB Exposure 36 mm tires connect you to the ground and fit inside the SCULTURA ENDURANCE frame without any issue at all. They are mounted tubeless on a Reynolds BLACKLABEL ATR wheelset with a large 23 mm internal width and their large volume ensures excellent vibration damping and comfort.

Go for a beer!
With the 3D-printed beer can holder, MERIDA deliver one of the hottest accessories of our group test. With a click mechanism, it holds a 0.5 L can securely even on the bumpy gravel tracks of Tuscany and makes it look as though it floats cageless on the frame. #betterthankingcage
Disc brake or pizza plate?
Up front, there’s an XTR rotor in 180 mm, pizza format. It looks cool but isn’t absolutely necessary – unless you ate too much this winter or are planning bikepacking trips in the Alps.
Ready for big things
In contrast to most of the other bikes, the SCULTURA frame is designed for a 160 mm rotor at the rear. No adapter is required for this disc size – that looks good, saves weight and definitely makes sense.


€ 9,499


Seatpost MERIDA Expert CC 15 mm
Brakes Shimano DURA-ACE BR-R9170 180/160 mm
Drivetrain Shimano DURA-ACE Di2 R9150 2 x 11
Chainring 50/34
Stem FSA SMR System 100 mm
Handlebar Easton EC70AX 420 mm
Wheelset Reynolds BLACKLABEL ATR 12 x 100/12 x 142 mm Thru-Axle
Tires WTB Exposure 36 36-622 (700x36C) 36
Cranks Shimano DURA-ACE FC-R9100-P 172,5 mm
Cassette Shimano DURA-ACE CS-R9100 11–30

Technical Data

Size XS S M L XL
Weight 7.57 kg

Specific Features

3D printed beer can holder #betterthankingcage
generous tire clearances – 700 x 36C fits without any issues
180 mm disc rotor up front (Shimano XTR)
dual-sided Shimano power meter

Together, the Easton Cycling EC70 AX bar and the FSA SMR system stem look beefy and integrate nicely into the overall look of the bike. While the stem conceals cables and routes them internally into the headset cap, the 16° flare of the bars makes the drops the widest in the test at 488 mm.
All in – all year, all-terrain, all-purpose
The clearances of the SCULTURA are impressive. Even though the WTB Exposure 36 tires are the widest in the test, the frame still offers space for more. In terms of tire choice, that leaves you with all options open for route planning.
Who’s the strongest?
The SCULTURA ENDURANCE CUSTOM relies on a Shimano DURA-ACE power meter. During long days in the saddle, the dual-sided power meter leaves you with enough control not to burn out your muscles. Of course, you can also prove that you’ve got the strongest legs and that the delicious can of beer is well-deserved.

However, they’re not suited to ambitious road racing performance. Their rolling resistance is too high and grip through corners too low for that. For the drivetrain, MERIDA rely on the services of a DURA-ACE groupset with 50/34 t chainrings and 11–30 t cassette – this provides enough range for hilly rides on forest and grass tracks as well as occasional, moderate climbing segments. As a result of the wide gravel components, the SCULTURA ENDURANCE looks quite burly. That’s why you’ll be surprised lifting the lightweight, 7.57 kg, size M build for the first time. According to MERIDA, this setup would cost € 9,499, including the frame bag and beer can holder, but excluding the € 0.79 for 0.5 L of Stuttgarter Hofbräu Pilsener and € 0.25 deposit.

Size XS S M L XL
Seat tube 470 mm 490 mm 510 mm 530 mm 560 mm
Top tube 524 mm 538 mm 553 mm 568 mm 583 mm
Head tube 152 mm 161 mm 177 mm 197 mm 222 mm
Head angle 71.0° 72.0° 73.0° 73.0° 73.5°
Seat angle 74.0° 74.0° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
Chainstays 418 mm 418 mm 418 mm 418 mm 418 mm
BB Drop 66 mm 66 mm 66 mm 66 mm 66 mm
Wheelbase 997 mm 1,001 mm 1,001 mm 1,017 mm 1,026 mm
Reach 366 mm 376 mm 380 mm 389 mm 397 mm
Stack 552 mm 565 mm 584 mm 603 mm 629 mm
Helmet POC Ventral SPIN | Glasses Oakley Radar | Jacket Rapha Men’s Commuter Jacket
Jersey Giro Men’s Tech Tee | Pants Giro Chrono Sport Bib Short | Shoes Mavic Cosmic SL Ultimate
Socks Rapha Pro Team Socks Extra Long


MERIDA put a particular focus on comfort with the SCULTURA ENDURANCE CUSTOM. As a result, it beats all other bikes in the test which, alongside the geometry of the carbon frameset and the proven MERIDA S-FLEX seatpost, is mainly thanks to the voluminous tires. Set up tubeless, they can be ridden at very low pressures and can flex over even larger obstacles. One warning: find a good middle-ground when it comes to the tire pressure to make sure not to generate maximum comfort at the expense of precision.

It’s exciting how MERIDA have pushed the definition of road bikes far beyond the end of the asphalt with this custom bike and gravel components – a guarantee for fun on the hardpack!

Especially as the SCULTURA rolls across our test track in the mid-back of the pack, not letting itself be manoeuvred around potholes as unerringly as the S-Works Aethos, Wilier Filante or the MERIDA REACTO due to its wide tires. Otherwise, the bike is balanced, agile and steers willingly and directly into corners. Nonetheless, fast-paced corners aren’t really its thing. As a result of the comfort-oriented frame geometry and the comparatively upright riding position, there’s not enough weight over the front wheel but, in addition, the lacklustre cornering grip of the WTB rubber sees the limit reached quicker than the competition rolling on pure road bike tires. This costs the MERIDA the top spot in the category of security, where it is otherwise beyond any reproach with the power of its 180 mm disc rotor at the front and it’s easy to control nature thanks to the wide, flared bars. While not standing out in terms of acceleration, the bike is still sufficiently responsive and sits in the upper third of the test field. In contrast to the REACTO and the efficiency-specialists from BMC and Storck, it has to work noticeably harder to maintain speed because the wide tires and wide stance of the rider on the bars act like a parachute. The SCULTURA ENDURANCE frame forms an excellent basis for exciting builds, which the mounting points for fenders and luggage mounts contribute to. The unique build we tested here demonstrates just one of many possibilities.

Tuning tip: scale down the extremely wide tires and fit 700 x 32C ones instead to improve on-road characteristics

Riding Characteristics



  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Fun factor

  1. boring
  2. lively


  1. firm
  2. comfortable

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Technical Data


Size: XS S M L XL
Weight: 7,57
Price: € 9,499

Indended Use

Smooth tarmac 1
Allroad/Gravel 2
Everyday/Commuting 3


The excellent comfort of the MERIDA SCULTURA ENDURANCE CUSTOM makes it the right choice for all those who want to cruise mainly beyond the asphalt and head out on a bikepacking trip now and then. Ultimately, its gravel components shift its area of application so far towards gravel and hardpack that it has to live with significant compromises in terms of on-road performance. Sporty riders looking for maximum speed on asphalt won’t find it here.


  • great off-road performance
  • mounting points for mudguards and luggage racks
  • versatile frameset allows a whole host of different builds


  • large tire volume dulls on-road performance
  • missing sprightliness compared to the test field

For more information head to merida-bikes.com

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best road bike of 2021 – 15 models in review

All bikes in test: BMC Roadmachine 01 ONE (Click for review) | Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-MOD Disc Ultegra (Click for review) | Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 eTap (Click for review) | Cervélo Caledonia-5 Dura Ace Di2 Disc (Click for review) | Mason Resolution Ekar (Click for review) | MERIDA REACTO TEAM-E CUSTOM (Click for review) | MERIDA SCULTURA ENDURANCE CUSTOM | OPEN MIN.D. (Click for review) | Orbea Gain M20i (Click for review) | ROSE REVEAL FOUR DISC Ultegra Di2 (Click for review) | SCOTT Addict eRIDE Premium (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Aethos (Click for review) | Storck Fascenario.3 Comp Disc Ultegra (Click for review) | Trek Domane+ LT 9 (Click for review) | Wilier Filante SLR (Click for review)

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Words: Photos: Valentin Rühl