You might think brands like Specialized, Scott and Trek are the big ones, but in terms of productivity, few manufacturers produce anything like the number of bikes Merida do. And their CC3 is a typically solid and enjoyable off-roader.
With plenty of fat alloy tubing between rider and wheels we were expecting a bit of a brutal stinger, but the CC3 is actually a lot more calm and cultured than we gave it credit for. Big lumps come through clearly and it rattles over low-speed stuff, but generally it’s a comfortable cruiser that certainly doesn’t discourage you from pushing the pace, whether on road or off.
Handling clarity and power delivery are equally solid. Its steady head angle and long stem mean it won’t change direction quickly, but once aimed it stays true and steady right to the run out, and it doesn’t skitter or snatch on loose or slippery stuff. This is a real confidence booster during those first wary off-road rides on super-thin tyres, and remains a relaxing bonus wherever you take it.
While it’s steady, stout and reassuring, the stable handling and 22.5lb weight don’t make for the most vibrant, high-velocity experience when you put the power down. It’s not a slouch or watt-waster, but it’s definitely the more sedate of the two bikes here.
The frame quality of the CC3 is out of proportion with the price. Even this entry-level frame has triple-butted alloy main tubes, shaped for stiffness on the down tube and comfortable shoulder-carrying on the top tube. A conventional A-headset sits in the reinforced head tube with reinforcing gussets top and bottom. T here’s also loads of mud room between the multi-shaped stays, as well as a chunky derailleur hanger that should handle a few spills without spoiling.
The separate shiny seat-collar piece sits right over the tube slot to keep out crap, while treaded mounts and clearance for front and rear mudguards plus rear rack, make this a useful utility bike rather than just a dirt racer.
While the kit selection is generally good for the money, there are some details we’d change to capitalise on its potential. For a start there’s no need for such a long stem on an already steady-steering bike, and something shorter would ‘de-barge’ the overall character significantly.
Given the weight of the bike, a wider range rear cassette would be a big bonus. The 50-tooth chainring is handy when the wind or gradient is behind you, but you’re going to have to grunt a fair bit to get it up steeper grassy banks even with the 34-tooth inner. The Tiagra shifters aren’t as crisp and clean in operation as the 105s, either. Bar-top auxiliary levers are useful in some situations, but overall braking performance suffers, and we had to back off early on descents to stop us ploughing into gates or sailing straight on at corners. The Maxxis tyres are nice and comfy, though, and the Shimano hubs should stay silky smooth forever.
Frame Cyclo Cross-Lite-Single
Forks Cyclo Alloy
Groupset Shimano Tiagra with FSA Omega 50-34 MegaExo; Tektro 570 calipers, with Shimano Tiagra STI levers
Wheels Mavic CXP225 rims on Shimano Tiagra hubs with Maxxis Larsen Mimo CX 35 700 x 35mm tyres
Cockpit Merida XM Comp CEN Road Classic bars with XM Comp OS CEN stem
Seating Merida XM Comp OS CEN seatpost and XM Comp saddle
Weight 22.44lb (11.08kg) without pedals
Sizes 48, 52, 55, 58cm
Contact : Merida UK 0115 981 7788