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Test - Merida Scultura Evo DA


Besides updates from races and racer’s profiles, we will also share with you our experience with material used by our team members.

 

In the very beginning, we would like to present you the most important part of a cyclists’ apparel and that is the bicycle itself. The road bicycle Merida Scultura Evo DA, a full carbon special equipped with carbon fork EG Merida Carbon fibre Lite, FSA components, Shimano Dura-Ace groupset and Fulcrum 5 wheels to be more precise

The most important part of the bike is the Merida Scultura Evo Nano carbon frame with a BB30 standard. This bike comes in a variety of colours with either white or black base layer. Cycling Team Banská Bystrica (CTBB) is provided with a white colour Scultura frame with a tint of team green. White frame looks really trendy, especially when provided with accessories such as white handlebar tape or white saddle. The white frame looks really great and shiny especially when being treated with a wax. There is a downside to the white colour as well though – even the smallest defects such as scratches or even dirt are much more visible on the white background. Therefore one needs to be more carefull about the bike. That is why I personally prefer a black colour or a raw carbon finish which is used on the forks used by CTBB at present.

This frame comes in broad range of sizes, from XS to XL. I find the geometry being a rather racing then fitness one, but very universal indeed. With the weight of about 1kg in M/L size, this frame beats the majority of its rivals. It is long enough with the head tube not too high, thus the bike is good at keeping the direction. Both head and saddle tube angles are 73deg. in the L-size, what are common angles for this size. This frame has a very good directional stability in high speed but is also very dynamic and easily manoeuvrable in curves. I appreciate especially the head tube being more massive – it makes the frame more solid and vivid at the same time during acceleration. This is one of the crucial tests the German Tour magazine concentrates on as well and is very notable also during a first ride on a new bike. This frame feature is further ephasized by using a solid fork which doesn’t vibrate even during intense braking or fast acceleration and provides a reliable support when riding off the saddle. The great qualities this frame provides in intense acceleration are further stressed by using a Double Chamber in both top and bottom frame tubes. These parameters will be appreciated mostly by sprinters and powerful riders capable of transferring power through their arms and back into the handlebars. The bottom bracket part firmness is enabled by a BB30 ax set. The frame is very solid, slightly at the expense of comfort though. There are special shapes of the seat and chain stays providing an increased amount of comfort when riding through uneven surface. The frame usually comes with aluminium FSA Energy cranks in Compact 50/34 size. This range of shiftings along with cassette 12-27 is universal enough and suitable for all types of riders, however it is not really intended for racing purposes. That is why CTBB riders chose one of the following two alternatives.

„I decided to go for a standard 53/39 rings with compact 110mm diameter instead of the provided rings. I was a bit worried about the stiffness of such rings at first, but my worries were unnecessary. One only needs to make sure the ring is well steady, I personally recommend the solid Rotor Aero full big ring. The FSA Energy compact cranks along with normal big rings 53/39 with compact spacing are extremely solid. They are even lighter than Shimano Dura-Ace cranks and thanks to a BB30 set also more solid. These qualities are very notable especially during an intense acceleration – the bike reaction is super fast, with no energy loss through the cranks and rings.“ were Roman Zrelica’s first impressions.

Other part of the team decided to go for a different type of cranks – the original Shimano Dura-Ace designed for BSA system – some due to an extreme cranks length (Viglaský 177,5mm, Haring 170mm), others because of using SRM system (Fraňo). After having tried both alternatives, I must admit the original BB30 with FSA cranks is more solid. Even though you can use a frame reduction and use the normal BSA with screw system, due to stiffness reasons I advise to use directly the FSA BB30 bearings from the outside with a normal Holowtech standard usable from the inside. This compromise solution almost reaches the stiffness of original BB30 set using the Shimano BSA Holowtech cranks.

Bike is equipped with the Shimano top shifting groupset – Dura-Ace shifters with reliable front and rear derailleur. There is nothing to complain about, they all work in perfect harmony. It is a little bit surprising though that the left shifter has only one position at the big ring and thus needs to be set very accurately in order to avoid chain hitting the front derailleur. The front derailleur is 100% reliable. The gearing system is normally provided with a KMC chain which works perfectly with Shimano groupset, but all our riders decided to go for Yaban chains – we will bring you a review of these chains in one of the following tests. Yaban chain works in perfect balance with the Shimano Dura-Ace system. Shifting both ways, up as well as down, is fast and reliable. However, it is necessary to have the correct length of shifting cables. This is a small downside of this solution – standard Jagwire shifting cables do not meet the quality of the original Shimano cables. In a demanding racing season and when racing in bad weather conditions – in dust, sand and rain in African countries where we often go to – it is necessary to change all bike cables several times a year, especially the shifting ones. As for me personally, I prefer Campagnolo shifting cables. Their price is set slightly higher, but compared to other trade mark cables, they also last a little bit longer and work perfectly with Shimano system.

Merida Scultura Evo bike also comes in electronic version with Shimano Ultegra shifting. Price of such a bike is slightly higher, but one does not need to care about the cable exchange and thus enjoys the full comfort of the bike. CTBB riders prefer the standard mechanical Dura-Ace set – all parts are very easily exchangeable in case of malfunctions and the set is some 400g lighter than the electronic Ultegra version. There is also a cheaper version of Scultura, equipped with a durable Shimano 105, which is slightly heavier though.

While trying to keep the price of the bike low, Merida designers provided the bicycle with Merida Procraft brakes. The black&white colour harmonizes with the frame and they work very efficiently at only a slight touch. Its qualities remind me of Shimano brakes.

Seatpost, stem as well as the handlebar are of the FSA origin. FSA seatpost Team Issue is a carbon one with aluminium pad – despite being some 15g heavier than the FSA top carbon model, the seat positioning is extremely easy and user friendly. I appreciate the stiffness of FSA 150 stem a lot – it is again heavier by some 20g than the top FSA model, but it is deffinitely worth its qualities in terms of being extremely solid. Some CTBB riders decided to go for different stems - some because the bike provided didn’t come with the length needed, some because of extreme stem length required (Fraňo 140mm, Zrelica). As it would be a pity not to use the good qualities of the stem provided, all riders use the FSA 150 either on their mountain bike or cyclocross bike. FSA handlebar provided with the standard bike are of a mediocre quality. Decision what type of handlebars to use is a very individual one indeed – the majority of riders prefer handlebar with small drop and small compact drop because of holding the handlebar in the down position during long hours of racing. On the other side, there are giant riders such as Viglasky, who prefer a standard FSA Gossamer Ergo handlebar in 44cm width. Bike comes with a Selle Italia X1 saddle, which is an economical version of the popular SLR saddle. For some riders, this saddle is even more comfortable than the original SLR. It fits perfectly with the bike when in white colour with team green strap. The slightly higher weight compared to the original SLR is a small downside of the saddle. All CTBB riders were given Selle SMP made of real leather – we will bring you test of these saddles soon.

Bike normally comes with Fulcrum 5 wheels in team colours. It is a good set of training wheels – durable and solid, provided with aero spokes and Fulcrum bearing hubs. It is a set of tyre wheels, a very convenient one in terms of maintenance and durability. The weight of 1.780g is not one of the lightest, but the best wheels on the market would no doubt double the price of the whole bicycle – that is why the designers decided to go for a compromise model. Durability and long-lasting of these wheels outclass even lighter and more expensive models. At this point we come to the biggest advantage of this Merida model – its incredible price of only 2.349€. One gets an excellent racing frame equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace shifting, light and solid FSA Energy cranks, middle-class FSA accessories and a set of top training Fulcrum wheels, all of this for a very reasonable price. It is almost impossible to get an equivalent of this set for the same price. Merida Scultura Evo is simply a top racing special with attractive design, harmonic set of accessories at a great price.

Our bikes underwent a thoroughful and tough testing not only in European and Slovak conditions, but also in the severe conditions of African deserts in Cameroon and Morocco. They survived without any damage the demanding airplane transfers and transport on top of small African buses. The rumours of carbon being prone to breach were denied by the perfect state of the materials at the end of the season. There is even no harm to the top coating of varnish of the frame which means it outlasted even the challenging weather conditions in deserts. There is one small hint to the maintenance of the frame – we treat it with a car wax which improves the shininess and extends the ‘new look’ of the bicycle.

In our next review we will introduce you the Rotor oval rings.

Thoroughtful analysis of optimal position on the bike provided by BG FIT technology, by BIKEPRO BANKÁ BYSTRICA.
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