- Smooth, vibration killing ride
- Neutral handling
- Sharp edge to paint along top tube
Price as reviewed:
Merida’s all-round race bike, the Scultura, has been around in this present guise since its release in 2016. Although they don’t shout about it Merida has two tiers of Scultura; distinguished predominately by differences in carbon quality and layup, geometry and changes in tubing profiles.
Superficially, however, it’s very difficult to tell them apart as all frames follow the same general shape and silhouette. The Scultura Disc 7000-E sits at the top of the lower, CF2 framed tier. Whereas the CF4 framed Sculpturas are very much the aggressive race bike as used by the Bahrain-Merida World Tour team, in the CF2 guise it is very much aimed at being the racebike suitable for the everyman.
Squint and all of Merida’s Scultura bikes look the same, using frame tubing that mimic the same lines, creating a seamless range of race bikes. However the 7000-E, along with the lower priced 5000 and 6000 models, uses a slightly heavier but much more economical carbon layup.
It also has a taller head tube and slacker head angle which in turn shorten the reach and lengthen the wheelbase. These tweaks provide the 7000-E with a more relaxed and comfortable ride position along with stable, less flighty handling characteristics. Making the Scultura 7000-E a much more promising package if you want to ride rather than purely race.
Interestingly Merida also give the CF2 a larger diameter lower headset bearing providing a better steering response at the expense of overall weight. In reality it’s only the taller headtube that noticeably delineates the division between the CF2 and the higher tier CF4 framed Sculturas. They all share the slightly aero ‘NACA Fastback’ profiled down and seat tubes as well seat angle and chainstay lengths.
Even the paint schemes follow the same same pattern with the 7000-E adorned in a sumptuous gloss blue and carbon clear coat. The only real thing I could fault about the look is that the edge of the paint on the top tube has a sharp edge that caught my leg a few times when riding or resting on the bike.
Merida has stuck with the additional aluminium cooling fins found on both front and rear disc mounts. Designed to reduce heat build up and make the Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes work brakes more efficiently it adds a unique look to the frame. Whilst we didn’t notice a drastic increase in performance when descending there certainly were no issues with braking. One aspect of the 7000-E we preferred over the higher end disc models were the thru-axles. We weren’t fans of the RAT levers so the more ‘standard’ versions found on this model were much easier to use.
The 7000-E has been specced exceptionally well for a bike sold through IBDs and outdoes almost all of the other bikes at this price point barring a few, direct to consumer brands. Even the inclusion of an FSA chainset, the only deviation from the full Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, more expensive FSA Energy chainset. DT Swiss P-1800 Spline wheels are solid performers if a little wooden and even the ‘budget’ Continental Grand Sport Race tyres impressed with good levels of grip and fast rolling speed. Merida has specced a sensible but racy gear set with 52/36 semi-compact chainset and a wide ranging 11-30 cassette for the 7000-E.
The finishing kit barring saddle is all Merida. The aluminium handlebar and stem are pretty basic looking but the bar features a comfortable reach and bend. A carbon shafted seatpost adds a little extra forgiveness to the ride quality and the saddle clamp is reliable and simple to use. I wasn’t a fan of the Prologo saddle at the start of the test period but it became more comfortable as the test went on. It has a relatively flat profile that suits the slightly more upright riding position provided by the 7000-E.
Ride the 7000-E back to back with a Scultura with the more aggressive CF4 frame and the ride experience is just a little less relentless. It soaks the bumps and road chatter up sublimely and maintains speed exceptionally well. It’s not a bike that responds instantaneously when stamping on the pedals but it doesn’t feel hindered by this. Its like Merida has put a gumshield on a piranha and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for most of us.
The long wheelbase made for stable descending experience. Even the headtube being 20mm taller than the CF4 Scultura (a whopping 190mm on our size large test bike) didn’t make the 7000-E feel overly unweighted at the front although we did slam the stem to help with this. In its stock build the 7000-E is a suitable companion for everything from long distance sportives to the occasional foray into road racing. Slot in a set of lighter or more aero wheels alongside faster tyres and the Merida Scultura Disc 7000-E becomes a superb race bike for riders that don’t fancy a properly aggressive riding position.
The CF2 framed 7000-E transforms Merida’s race bike into a much more versatile machine. One that’s just as happy cruising on the club run as it is on the race circuit. It has lost some of the whippet like handling traits of the lighter framed version but the upshot is a big increase in ride comfort. And at this price point, few brands can compete with the Scultura on spec and value.
Frame: Scultura CF2 Disc
Fork: Scultura CF2 Disc
Size range: XXS-XL
Size tested: L
Groupset: Shimano Ultegra Di2/FSA Energy chainset
Gear ratios: 52/36, 11-30
Wheels: DT Swiss P1800 Spline DB23
Tyres: Continental Grand Sport Race 700x25mm
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc
Bar: Merida Expert SL
Stem: Merida Expert CC
Seatpost: Merida Expert CC
Saddle: Prologo Nago Evo