By Stefan Abram
Merida’s fifth iteration of its lightweight, climbing-focused Scultura platform hits all the marketing buzzwords – with claims of weight savings, improved aerodynamics and increased compliance – vertically, of course, the lateral stiffness sees an increase.
But unlike some others, Merida has provided some detailed numbers to back up those claims – so let’s jump in and take a look at how great the improvements are claimed to be and exactly these are being compared against.
And of course, the top-end version of this bike comes with the brand new Shimano Dura-Ace groupset.
Starting with the headline numbers, in a size medium, the Scultura V’s CF5 frame is claimed to weigh 822g, while the fork comes in at 389g. Comparing that to the outgoing CF4 frame of the Scultura IV, this represents a saving of 38g and was “achieved through optimised carbon layup and the widespread usage of higher modulus, more expensive carbon fibres”
Realistically, you’re unlikely to notice this level of weight saving – it’s approximately equivalent to that of a large mouthful of water. But in terms of the engineering, it is quite impressive, a 4.4% weight saving on what was already a lightweight frame is no mean feat – especially when the aerodynamic optimisations have been taken into account.
As the Scultura IV could already be built up to hit the UCI weight limit, you might question what is the point in making the frame any lighter. But Merida justifies this by pointing out that it makes hitting that target a little easier, reducing the need to resort to “exotic – and less durable – components.”
The new Scultura V borrows a lot in its design from Merida’s Reacto aero bike. Perhaps most obviously, the cables have been tucked inside the handlebars in a fully integrated setup, while the seatstays also been lowered.
Even with the Scultura V built up to still come in under 7kg, its aerodynamic performance has been measured at 224.5 watts at 45kph – about 10 watts lower than the Scultura IV, which turns in results of 234.3 watts at 45kph.
By fitting more aerodynamically optimised wheels and tyres, the Scultura V can be brought down to 217.7 watts at 45kph.
Comparing the fastest tested setups of the Scultura V and the Reacto IV aero bike, the Scultura V suffers about 10 watts greater resistance, although it does come with a weight saving of around 300g.
It’s broadly accepted – and Merida further reiterates – that: “reducing body and muscle fatigue allows riders to ride harder, for longer.” Therefore increasing comfort is a part of increasing performance.
To do this, Merida has reduced the vertical stiffness from the bottom bracket to the saddle from 111 Newtons per millimetre of deflection to under 80 N/mm. Part of the way this was achieved was by shortening the seat tube by 40m, which exposes more of the seatpost and therefore allows for more flex.
In addition to that, the tyre clearance stands at a fairly generous 30mm, allowing for use of wider tyres for greater cushioning.
But for these increases in vertical compliance, lateral stiffness has been mainained at 62 N/mm at the bottom bracket, while the lateral stiffness of the fork has been increase by 12.8% to 53 N/mm – “improving the frame’s pedalling efficiency and the steering precision”.
Availability and spec
This build will feature the new Shimano Dura-Ace 12spd groupset, including a power meter. While the wheels will be the Vision Metron 45 SL tubeless ready, wrapped in Continental GP5000 TL 28mm tyres.
Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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