Lighter weight, better aerodynamics and more comfort: MERIDA promise all of this for the new SCULTURA V TEAM compared to the previous model. But is this golden performance triad also reflected on the road? We’ve already put the brand new MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM to the test to find out.
The MERIDA SCULTURA TEAM was first presented in 2006 and it’s been the go-to climbing bike since its introduction in the portfolio of the Taiwanese brand with development in Germany. Until now, the classic frame of the previous generations did a great job of combining low weight with good damping characteristics and agile handling.
These attributes are said to have been retained for the latest generation of the road bike. However, the engineers at MERIDA are aware of the importance of wind resistance and have added a healthy dose of aerodynamic optimisation to the mix. Their pursuit of aero gains has also resulted in two updates that clearly distinguish the SCULTURA V TEAM from its predecessor visually: dropped seat stays and a one-piece aero cockpit with fully integrated cable routing. Although the classic frame shape is a thing of the past, the bike has retained its slender look and clean lines, which meets the zeitgeist of modern speed all-rounders and should appeal to a broad target group. Speaking of speed all-rounders, we let five of the fastest bikes in the peloton go head to head in our current issue of GRAN FONDO, #018 (available here).
Along with the dropped seat stays, the SCULTURA V TEAM has looked to its aero sister, the MERIDA REACTO (review here), for inspiration for the front end, trimming down the areas around the fork and head tube. As a result of the aerodynamic optimisation, MERIDA promise a power saving of 10 W or 4.2 % at 45 km/h, assuming there’s no wind and you’re on a perfectly flat road. Despite the aerodynamically shaped tubes, the size M frame is said to be 4.4 % lighter than its predecessor, weighing a mere 822 g. When racing, these marginal gains can mean the difference between winning and losing. They will certainly have contributed to the victories that team Bahrain-Victorious celebrated aboard the MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM in the WorldTour before the bike’s official release – two at the Critérium du Dauphiné and one each at the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España. For those who don’t race for a living, the improvements aren’t all that noticeable. The likes of us are more impressed with the clean and modern look of the internal cable routing. Professionals and recreational cyclists alike will appreciate the improved comfort. MERIDA’s engineers have shortened the seat tube by 40 mm and integrated the seat post clamp for more compliance in the seat post. Although it looks good and does improve comfort, the bolt of the seat post clamp is very close to the seat post and difficult to reach with a torque wrench. Our size M test bike weighs a slim 6.93 kg and costs € 9,999, featuring the brand new Shimano DURA-ACE Di2 9200 groupset (review here). MERIDA will be releasing alternative builds of the bike next year.
The components of the new MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM
Without a doubt, the most striking feature of the new MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM is the brand new flagship DURA-ACE Di2 R9200 groupset from Shimano. MERIDA’s all-round racer comes equipped with a 52/36 t chainset and an 11–30 t cassette. The brakes rely on 160 mm rotors front and rear. As such, the MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM shifts quickly and precisely even under load and offers plenty of reserves when braking. Since the groupset comes with a power metre as standard, it leaves nothing to be desired. Another highlight regarding the bike’s components is the in-house TEAM SL 1P cockpit, which is available with stem lengths ranging from 90 to 120 mm and handlebar widths from 400 to 440 mm.
The cockpit is among the slimmest one-piece solutions on the market and makes an elegant impression, fitting seamlessly into the bike’s overall look. However, the available cockpit options are somewhat limited. For example, you couldn’t choose a smaller frame and compensate for it with an extra-long stem. The SCULTURA V TEAM rolls on 28 mm wide Continental Grand Prix 5000 tires fitted to a set of Vision Metron 45 SL Clincher TL Disc wheels. You can set the bike up tubeless and, according to MERIDA, the frameset offers enough clearances for up to 30 mm wide tires, which seems more than realistic. The 700 x 28C Conti tires inflate to almost 30 mm wide on the rims, with an internal rim width of 21 mm, and they clear the frame with ease.
MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM 2022
Brakes Shimano DURA-ACE Di2 BR-R9270 160/160 mm
Drivetrain Shimano DURA-ACE Di2 R9200 2 x 12
Stem MERIDA TEAM SL 1P 110 mm
Handlebar MERIDA TEAM SL 1P 420 mm
Wheelset Vision Metron 45 SL Clincher TL Disc 12 x 100/12 x 142 mm
Tires Continental Grand Prix 5000 700 x 28C
Cassette Shimano CS-R9200 11–30
Size XXS XS S M L XL
Weight 6.93 kg in size M
The geometry of the new all-round race bike from MERIDA
The geometry of the MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM is identical to that of its aero sister, the REACTO. The developers wanted to ensure that both bikes can be set up the same way for one rider. This is particularly advantageous for professionals who switch between the two bikes depending on the route’s elevation profile. Unlike other brands, MERIDA are sticking to the two-bike policy as the REACTO will continue to be the aero specialist in their portfolio. With its deep profile 60 mm wheels, the REACTO requires a whole 17 W less power to keep at 45 km/h when compared to the new SCULTURA V TEAM. Of course, if you’re planning to buy the new SCULTURA V TEAM to compliment your existing REACTO, you will also benefit from the geometry, as you can simply transfer the settings of your riding position. The riding position of our 185 cm tall test rider was aggressive and low aboard the size M bike, equipped with a 420 mm wide handlebar and a 110 mm stem. It feels compact and integrated instead of being overly stretched on the bike. You can find all the geometry specs of the new MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM in the table below.
|Seat tube||480 mm||500 mm||520 mm||540 mm||560 mm||590 mm|
|Top tube||520 mm||536 mm||545 mm||560 mm||575 mm||590 mm|
|Head tube||105 mm||112 mm||128 mm||140 mm||155 mm||176 mm|
|Chainstays||408 mm||408 mm||408 mm||408 mm||408 mm||408 mm|
|BB Drop||70 mm||70 mm||66 mm||66 mm||66 mm||66 mm|
|Wheelbase||985 mm||983 mm||990 mm||990 mm||999 mm||1,010 mm|
|Reach||377 mm||384 mm||390 mm||395 mm||400 mm||409 mm|
|Stack||517 mm||529 mm||542 mm||557 mm||571 mm||593 mm|
The MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM in review
The first few meters aboard a new bike are always the most exciting, giving you a clear first impression.The first meters aboard the MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM resulted in an aha moment in terms of comfort! The interplay of the compliance offered by the voluminous Conti tires, the frame set, cockpit, and seat post noticeably defuse even rough impacts. Notably, the seat post provides plenty of cushioning at the rear, which isn’t to be taken for granted on a thoroughbred race bike of this category. With regard to handling, the bike doesn’t reveal any weaknesses either. It strikes a good balance between composure and agility, offering smooth straight-line stability without feeling nervous. The handling of the SCULTURA V TEAM isn’t aggressively direct, though it steers very willingly and follows the chosen line with precision, even when cornering at high speed. As such, the bike manages the fine line between agile and intuitive handling, which pros value and expect and doesn’t overwhelm beginners. Thanks to its good dampening properties, there’s nothing to stop you from occasionally cruising along in a relaxed manner when riding the MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM. However, the aggressive riding position will encourage you to get on the pedals. As soon as you do that, the bike comes into its own. Thanks to the low weight, it’s always willing to accelerate and even on climbs.
That said, you’ll need strong legs to conquer long and steep climbs with the gearing ratio offered by the 52/36 t chainset and 11–30 t cassette. You’ll notice the improved aerodynamics of the SCULTURA V TEAM on flat terrain and the descents. The bike is efficient at high speeds, allowing you to rack up the miles quicker than you think. You’ll also feel safe doing so aboard the MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM. The 28 mm wide Continental GP 5000 tires generate sufficient grip even in wet conditions and thus instil you with confidence when cornering and braking. The bike’s compliance contributes to a smooth ride even on rough roads, which also increases safety. Only the brakes of the new Shimano DURA-ACE Di2 9200 groupset feel somewhat unusual at first. Once you’ve gotten used to the brake levers’ slightly synthetic feeling and the brakes’ late engagement in the standard settings, they deliver tons of braking power and fine modulation, no matter how long and steep the descents. We recommend using the brakes’ adjustment to perfect the setup options.
Our conclusion on the MERIDA SCULTURA V TEAM
MERIDA have turned all the right dials with the new SCULTURA V TEAM, resulting in a bike that offers full-on racing performance without compromising comfort. This makes it a formidable contender in the battle for race wins. Nevertheless, it also appeals to those who love to ride fast but don’t want to break their backs. Only real all-road bikes are more comfortable.
- very comfortable for a race bike
- speed in every situation
- great looks with total integration
- shifting and braking performance
- plenty of clearances, even for up to 700 x 30C tires
- position of the bolt for the seat post clamp
- limited cockpit options
- not as aerodynamic as the REACTO
For more information, visit merida-bikes.com
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Words: Photos: Benjamin Topf