By Oliver Bridgewood published
The three bikes on test here represent the latest in the world of disc brake machines. We put each to the test on long climbs and even longer descents in the mountains to crown a worth champion.
With the Scultura, Merida has focussed on the descents, with larger rotors. Meanwhile, the SuperSix Evo Cannondale has done the opposite, creating a light and nimble bike.
BMC, however, took a different approach altogether – deliberately designing the bike around disc brakes. Could this edge out the competition?
Disc brake showdown: Merida Scultura
The Merida Scultura we have on test here represents the business end of Merida's disc brake bike range. Starting out at £2000 the price tops out at a wince-inducing £6500 for the model we have here.
We were big fans of the non-disc version of this bike, who's nimble frame was fast and responsive. While the disc Scultura isn't a slouch, the beefed up fork and through axles have removed some of that urgency.
However, point it downhill and it really comes alive. That super-sized fork and through axle keep the handling on the straight and narrow. Braking is excellent, too. The innovative heat sink and 160mm rotors are a great match.
- Merida Scultura Team 2017 Disc Brake Road Bike at Tredz for £6,500
- Merida Scultura 6000 2017 Disc Brake Road Bike at Tredz for £2,000
Read more: Best aero bike of the year 2016
Disc brake showdown: Cannondale SuperSix Evo HiMod Disc
Cannondale are renowned for their low weight bikes and the skimpy, Ultegra equipped seven and a half kilo model on test here is no different.
Cannondale stress the bike was redesigned to accommodate discs, and in that case the missing thru-axel on the rear seems like an oversight. Happily, without a brake track the rims can be lighter. As such, they compliment the frame well.
Like the Merida, its prowess shows on the descents, with assured handling and great stopping power.
Read more: Best disc brake bike of the year 2016
Disc brake showdown: BMC Roadmachine 01
The BMC differs from the other two in one respect: it was designed from the ground up to accommodate disc brakes.
The Roadmachine scores high marks for versatility. Not only is the bike comfortable but neat features like lever-less through axles keep things aero.
What's more, two headset spacers let you tailor the geometry from sportive to racing. The result? The ride is beautifully poised and balanced with a solid feel. It's lively and fun, without being twitchy on the descents.
- BMC Roadmachine RM01 Dura Ace Di2 2017 Road Bike at Evans Cycles for £8,799
- BMC Roadmachine RM01 Ultegra Di2 2017 Road Bike at Evans Cycles for £5,799
- BMC Roadmachine RM01 Ultegra 2017 Road Bike at Evans Cycles for £4,099
Read more: Best endurance bike of the year
Disc brake showdown: The verdict
The Merida Scultura has the best braking on offer. It's innovative heat-sink technology paired with 160mm rotors slows down the pace no problem.
Meanwhile the Cannondale is the lightest bike on test and ascended at double time. It's lightweight frame meant you never felt disadvantaged like you might on the Merida.
In that case, the BMC is best all round option. Purposely designed for disc brakes, it was the most comfortable bike on test, its handling was superb and it was pretty aero, too. Ultimately, though, it was the most fun.
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