Cheltenham Cycles was extra ordinarily kind enough to lend me two to test. This is the results of the first.
The bike is made by Merida and is part of their "Endurance Geometry" series. It's what I call a Sportive bike so not an out and out race bike that is all about speed and delivering the rider to the finish line in the shortest possible time but a slightly taller at the front, longer wheel base and more forgiving frame. This means that you are not so stretched, road imperfections are smoothed out and you don't end the ride battered and aching. Well that's the theory but what about in reality?
The bike comes with an almost complete 105 groupset including the levers which now feature hidden cables which I have to say are a joy to hold, quite small and perfect for my hands. The bars are an aero design from FSA and are 42cm wide, at first they felt very narrow after my usual 44cm ones but I was surprised how quickly I got used to them, maybe it was the feel of the shifters but i felt almost instantly at home on them. Gear shifting was faultless too. The wheels must have never been ridden as they pinged quite a bit at first while the spokes bedded in. Performance wise i found the front wheel quite flexy, out of the saddle and on the drops I could feel the side to side movement to the extent i had to check the pressure of the front tyre as I thought I was getting a flat.The merida has quite a tall head tube for its size (56cm or M/L) but even so with a 110mm stem it felt low at the front compared to what I am usually use, but again this took hardly any time to get used to, something to consider doing on my current bike. Reach from saddle to the bars seemed spot on.
As mentioned before this is the "endurance" frame, made of carbon with a "flex stay" at the rear and very sculpted chain stays that go from vertical to horizontal along their length to give additional cushioning. The stays and frame did their job, but it was no magic carpet ride, road ripples and imperfections could still be felt, admittedly I wasn't bounced off the saddle (there are some very rough lanes in my area) as I have when riding an Alloy frame on the same route. I would say that it was like riding a steel framebut without any side to side flax, I felt that all my pedalling imput was going into propelling the bike forward but it was still engaging not eye ball juddering and teeth chattering but weighing a lot less than a steel frame would. I don't see this as a bad thing at all, the bike wants to go fast and rewards a fast cadence keeping speed high, great for short blasts (I did 50 miles) but would I want this for all day epics on the same sort of roads? I'm not so sure. Great frame, Great levers, not so great wheels but certainly a contender