BIKE REVIEW – MERIDA SCULTURA 200 (2019) ROAD BIKE

Shaun George Reviews

Merida is a Taiwanese brand that manufactures and markets bicycles globally – their R&D takes place primarily in Germany. Merida has gained a strong foothold in India over the past 5 years, especially in the road biking segment. Well priced, feature-packed bikes are some of the USPs of Merida bikes.

We’ve ridden the “Ride” road bike series from Merida before and we liked everything it had to offer. The Merida Scultura 200 we recently got for a test ride left us feeling much the same. On paper, the specs on the new Merida Scultura 200 might not seem to jazzy but it all comes down to how this bike rides and handles.

Read on to find out what makes this bike great.

MERIDA SCULTURA 200 ROAD BIKE OVERVIEW

The Scultura 200 is the successor to the Scultura 100 and is a part of Merida’s lineup of “Road race” bikes. The Scultura 200 much like the 100 features an aggressive geometry for riders looking at a performance-oriented ride.

At a retail price of Rs. 73,990/- in India (at the time of the review), the Scultura 200 is priced competitively when compared to its competitors in a similar category. It’s an Aluminum- Carbon bike; the fork being carbon. Internal cable routing and smooth welds make the frame look very appealing. While the frame is impressive to look at, it’s even more impressive to ride. There were a few upgrades we would have liked, but these were an acceptable compromise keeping the price point in mind.

The Merida Scultura 200 is a do it all bike for your long-distance brevets and also hit the local racing scene. The position on the bike isn’t too aggressive and is suitable for longish 3hr+ rides. Touchpoints were not too impressive and we will touch upon this later.

Overall it’s a bike that is worth its price and can definitely outperform some other bikes at a similar price point.

THE FRAMESET

The frame is the most important part of the bike as it defines the bike’s riding characteristics and components are secondary. Ironically enough, it’s the one part that riders know the least about. It’s important you choose a well-built frame and one that is of appropriate fit for your body dimensions and suits your kind of riding.

The Scultura 200 features a 6066 triple-butted aluminum frame. The bike felt lightweight, fast and responsive by road bike standards on both flat surfaces and climbs during our test. The hydroformed tubing keeps the frame strong and stiff while keeping the frame’s weight in check. The Scultura carbon fork ensures that the bike doesn’t feel nose heavy.

At first glance, there were a few things that caught our attention – internal cable routing, braze-on front derailleur, and the tapered headtube. Typically elements that are usually seen on the more expensive road bikes. It’s definitely good to see the brand not cutting corners on the frame.

The frame is well built with good paint finish and quality decals. Welds are well concealed for the most part but could have been finished slightly better near the top tube – head tube junction. The two color options available as of now are the glossy red and the matte finished grey. The internal cable routing looks neat and well-integrated into the frame. During our tests, however, the cables were quite noisy inside the downtube while riding on rough patches. Frame flex was minimal while powering on the crank, but the bike felt a tad less responsive compared to some other road bikes in this segment as there seems to be a good trade-off of responsiveness for a higher level of comfort.

Over poor road surfaces, the frame and fork felt quite compliant (comfortable) but the bar taping could have been a tad better to reduce the high-frequency vibrations at the palms which is a constant on Indian roads.

COMPONENTS ON THE BIKE

The saddle, cockpit and other touchpoints are crucial pieces that add to the overall riding experience. The saddle itself didn’t feel that comfortable over a longer ride. It wasn’t uncomfortable per se, it just didn’t feel as supple or as supportive as some of the other bikes we’ve tested in this price segment.

The cockpit was well set up with good quality components. Like we mentioned earlier – the bar taping felt insufficient because of the constant vibrations on rough patches. Not a dealbreaker, just a quick upgrade that could change your ride.

The cables and housing seemed to be of great quality. Lever action was smooth and not much effort was required to shift or brake. Maintenance will also not be much of a hassle as all the cables (yes, ALL the cables) are internally routed. This basically means that the cables and housings are not as exposed to the elements and will not wear out as fast.

Brakes are a crucial component and good brakes inspire confidence to allow you to ride faster and harder. This was rather disappointing on the Scultura as they just did not bite well to stop the bike fast enough. While the brakes felt safe and the brake calipers and the braking surface seems quite ok, the brake pads could have been of much better quality and potentially have a larger braking surface. A quick upgrade along with your new bike maybe?

WHEELSET

The Merida Comp SL wheelset on the bike is manufactured by Merida and has an interesting choice of a two-cross lacing pattern. Again, this is a feature seen on higher-end wheelsets that keep a low weight as a priority. We found that the bike would decelerate rather quickly and for some reason did not coast as well as some of the other road bikes that we tested on the same test route. Other than that, the wheels looked bombproof, but durability can only properly be judged after a long term review.

The wheels alone were not too heavy and the standard cup and cone bearings were also of good quality. As with all bikes, upgrading wheels is one of the simplest (not the cheapest!) way to squeeze a lot of speed out of your bike, but the stock wheelset is good to begin with, and great for training and weekend rides.

The Maxxis Dolomites 700x25C tires are standard on both the front and rear wheel. These tires were quite impressive and provided fast rolling on smooth tarmac. The ride felt super plush over bad roads and almost felt like we were riding a wider 28C or 32C tire. Traction was sufficient for most of our test situations where we try and evaluate various real-world scenarios and how our bikes handle these.

GROUPSET

The Merida Scultura 200 comes with a 9-speed Shimano Sora groupset that is paired with an FSA Omega crankset (50-34t). The bottom bracket is an FSA Mega Exo BSA bottom bracket. The Shimano Sora groupset is known to be responsive with smooth effortless shifting. The FSA-Shimano duo was working well and we found no problems during our test. The chainring upfront also performed really well.

The gearing ratios were great on this bike. An ideal mix between what a climber would prefer and what an endurance rider would prefer. The 11-32t cassette has become somewhat of a norm amongst bikes in this segment. The medium cage rear derailleur allows for some flexibility when it comes to cassette options.

WARRANTY

Merida offers a lifetime warranty on all their bike frames. Other bike components such as the forks have a 5-year warranty on them.

All other Merida branded components, including paint and finish, are guaranteed for 1 year from the date of purchase. It’s important to remember that any accidental damage will not be eligible for a warranty claim.

SCULTURA 200 SPECIFICATION

Frame: Scultura Lite BSA
Forks: Scultura CF
Brakes: Road dual pivot
Groupset: Shimano Sora
Wheels: Merida Comp SL
Tires: Maxxis Dolomites, 700x25C
Saddle: Merida Comp SL
Weight: 9.80kg (approx)

OUR VERDICT

We were quite impressed with the Merida Scultura 200 – it performed better than we expected it to. It’s the perfect bike for someone looking to get into road biking; with a 9-speed Sora groupset, you will be well equipped to handle all kinds of rides. The Scultura 200 isn’t a very aggressive bike and you can definitely do endurance rides on it.

After some time you may want to consider making a few small upgrades here and there but the bike is pretty well equipped as is.

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