As the leaves begin to change colour, MERIDA launch a new version of their gravel bike. But what exactly has changed, and how does the new MERIDA SILEX 10K perform? To find out, we took the bike that won the Gravel World Championships for a spin through the stunning Dolomites.
Even at first glance, it’s clear that the new MERIDA SILEX has changed a lot. The biggest difference is probably the new focus on gravel racing and adventure gravel. This is a radically different approach to the old SILEX, and not just visually! However, the new version has competition from another bike in MERIDA’s racing stable: The SCULTURA ENDURANCE GR. Does this imply that the new bike leans more towards adventure than racing? The victory of Slovenian rider Matej Mohorič in this year’s Gravel World Championship and the bike’s strikingly fast appearance seem to suggest otherwise. So what kind of gravel bike is the MERIDA SILEX?We put this stylish bike, with its meticulously designed features and top-of-the-range components, to the test on a variety of terrain to answer this question.
New style, new ride? What’s really new about the MERIDA SILEX 2024?
At first glance, the new MERIDA SILEX stands out from the crowd, and it’s not just the distinctive paintwork that makes the design a real eye-catcher. Compared to the older SILEX, it exudes elegance and proudly displays its classic MERIDA heritage with its iconic kinked top tube. It also has a sporty, aero look with beefy tubes and wide, flat surfaces. The semi-internal cable routing system is called WIRE PORT and runs the cables from the handlebar into the headset. This is ideal for bikepacking and offers a more aerodynamic solution than the exposed cables of the previous model. All cockpits with the FSA ACR/SMR system are compatible, and an internal routing option is available for a hub dynamo lighting system.
But beyond the racy look, the new MERIDA SILEX is meant to retain its adventure DNA and not lose any of its versatility. Mudguard mounts make sure of that, but they are so well hidden that you only notice them at a second glance. The aluminium models can even be fitted with luggage racks – handy for commuters. There are also a number of other bosses for bikepacking accessories:six on the fork, two under the bottom bracket and seven in the frame triangle. The increased tire clearance from 38 to 45 mm provides a real sense of adventure. MERIDA also consider 650 B wheels to be redundant, which is why they are no longer used on the new SILEX. In-keeping with the spirit of adventure, MERIDA offer their own range of bikepacking bags.
If you are going to be riding with a lot of luggage, you will also need good brakes. That’s why the new MERIDA SILEX now comes with a 180 mm brake disc at the front. The addition of MERIDA’s new proprietary brake coolers gives the SILEX an extremely high quality appearance, though these only feature on the carbon fibre frames. The seatpost clamp is now fully integrated into the top tube, hidden by a rubber cover that is unfortunately not quite flush. Our test bike, the MERIDA SILEX 10K, is fitted with a dropper seatpost, which can also be retrofitted to other models.
Nothing like before – The features and geometry of the new MERIDA SILEX
Available in five different sizes, the MERIDA SILEX range is not yet complete at launch, but here’s the key facts: The SILEX is available in two frame materials, aluminium and carbon fibre. According to MERIDA, the aluminium version of the frame weighs 680 grams more. There are three different carbon fibre models, built around a CF2 frame, each available in two different colour variations, but not all of them are available immediately or everywhere.
Our test bike, the MERIDA SILEX 10K, will not be available in Germany for the time being. The MERIDA SILEX 10K is the top of the range, featuring a SRAM RED AXS / XO1 mullet drivetrainS, along with a Reynolds Blacklabel G700 Pro wheelset. The entry-level carbon model, the SILEX 4000, comes with a Shimano GRX 400 drivetrain and an in-house wheelset with Shimano hubs for € 2,349
There are also three aluminium versions, each in two colours: the MERIDA SILEX 400 with Shimano GRX 400, MERIDA’s own wheelset and Shimano hubs for € 1,699; and the MERIDA SILEX 200 with Shimano SORA drivetrain and a slightly more basic in-house wheelset for an affordable € 1,349. The premium SILEX 700 tops off the aluminium range, and sports a Shimano GRX 820 drivetrain and Easton EA70 AX wheelset. All other parts, including the handlebar, stem and seatpost, are made by MERIDA. The two top carbon models and the SILEX 700 come with a multi-tool hidden in the saddle. All SILEX models are offered in “only” five sizes, but these should cover most body proportions from XS to XL.
Specs of the MERIDA SILEX models
|Drivetrain||SRAM RED 1 AXS/SRAM X01 Eagle AXS||Shimano GRX 820||Shimano GRX 400||Shimano GRX 820||Shimano GRX 400||Shimano Sora|
|Wheelset||Reynolds Blacklable G700 Pro||Easton EA70 AX||MERIDA EXPERTSLII rim with Shimano hub||Easton EA70 AX||MERIDA EXPERTSLII rim with VP CL hub||MERIDA COMP CC rim with VP CL hub|
|Price||€ 9,599||€ 3,249||€ 2,349||€ 2,599||€ 1,699||€ 1,349|
The changes are not only visually apparent – they are also reflected in the geometry of the new SILEX. The head tube is shorter, mainly to allow for the use of suspension forks. As a result, the stack has shrunk considerably, by 19 mm in size M. The massive chainstay drop does not affect handling, just maximum tire clearance. The wheelbase has been increased by 21 mm, and the head tube angle has relaxed by 1.5 degrees, to 69.5 degrees. So the new MERIDA SILEX is more sporty, but still lets you fly smoothly over gravel roads.
|Top tube||550 mm||565 mm||580 mm||600 mm||620 mm|
|Seat tube||440 mm||470 mm||500 mm||530 mm||560 mm|
|Head tube||130 mm||150 mm||170 mm||190 mm||210 mm|
|Chainstay||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm|
|BB Drop||75 mm||75 mm||75 mm||75 mm||75 mm|
|Wheelbase||1.048 mm||1.065 mm||1.082 mm||1.104 mm||1.126 mm|
|Reach||392 mm||402 mm||412 mm||426 mm||441 mm|
|Stack||570 mm||588 mm||607 mm||626 mm||645 mm|
On the gravel, get set, go! The MERIDA SILEX 2024 put to the test
As its looks promise, the new MERIDA SILEX 10K is a real fun machine. It is a pleasure to ride, especially on fast and dynamic trails, despite the relatively long wheelbase. With its lively, agile and above all playful handling, it zips through fast and tight corners and, despite the rather heavy and grippy MAXXIS Rambler tires, feels fairly nimble too, even on roads or flow trails The bike also excels when it comes to acceleration, where it is fast, stiff and efficient. Thanks to the perfectly balanced geometry, the riding position is sporty yet comfortable – even on the longest rides. So there is nothing standing in the way of long adventure rides with the MERIDA SILEX! But it also works really well for those quick after-work laps with fast descents where you really want to let it rip, staying on track and responding precisely to steering input. In other words, it’s ideally balanced. Only the Easton EC70 AX handlebar is a bit of a letdown – the skinny, round tops are not very comfortable, especially on long rides, due to the pressure distribution. The relatively thin bar tape also contributes to the hard feel.
In most circumstances, especially when you’re not tackling the most challenging trails, the level of compliance is surprising. The frame absorbs bumps effectively, and the generously sized tires combined with the superb Reynolds wheelset do an excellent job of soaking up trail imperfections. This focus on adventure is undeniably convincing. Yet, the MERIDA SILEX never feels sluggish, even on long stretches of gravel. On the contrary, with your hands in the drops you’ll feel like you’re flying along effortlessly on a high-performance racing bike. Admittedly, our test bike did have all the headset spacers removed, allowing for a low, aggressive riding position. Despite the praise, the bike has its limitations. The dropper post may give you the impression that you can tackle challenging trails, but this ability is somewhat limited. An off-road version with suspension fork, which can be easily retrofitted, would certainly be an exciting addition to the range.
A racer or an adventurous thoroughbred, the MERIDA SILEX embodies it all.
Conclusion on the new MERIDA SILEX 10K 2024
The redesign of the new MERIDA SILEX is a complete success. With the new focus on greater off-road capability through increased tire clearance and an all-rounder character with a sporty look, the gravel bike can be used almost anywhere. The performance matches the aesthetics, and this versatile Taiwanese bike excels at everything from gravel races to multi-day gravel adventures. A truly impressive all-rounder, perfect for fast or long rides.
- high fun factor, especially on dynamic tracks
- sleek look
- lots of mounts for all eventualities
- high-end components
- Easton handlebar doesn’t suit everyone
Tuning Tip: ergonomic handlebar and thicker handlebar tape
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Words: Calvin Zajac, Martin Staffa Photos: Jan Richter