Merida’s lower-priced alloy bikes have consistently blown us away with their performance per pound. Crank up the price, though, and even with a couple of key bling add-ons, it’s looking less impressive.
There’s nothing lacking about its speed commitment once you’re on board. There’s a whole load of spacers to remove from the steerer before the bars drop to a properly predatory height, but once you’re bouncing your knees off your nipples, you’re ready to go.
The thin-walled aluminium doesn’t squander power, and there’s a satisfying clunk every time you kick the power back in from freewheeling; in fact, with just a slight gradient or tailwind on your side, that big 54-teeth dinner plate starts to look inadequate.
Handling via the Vision bars is stable. It’s happy to dive straight into roundabouts and scrub the sidewalls on the super grippy Schwalbe tyres, but it won’t whip you across the road with every gust that hits the deep Zipp rims.
The relatively heavy alloy cockpit and frame make for a significantly higher overall weight than we’d expect for the price, though. This inevitably cuts into acceleration and its enthusiasm for climbs or out-of-corner efforts.
The stiff frame, skinny tyres and deep rims make it a proper boneshaker on anything but the silkiest tarmac; on our rougher test sections it was actually hard work to maintain any sort of pedalling rhythm and average speeds dropped dramatically.
Merida‘s alloy work is some of the best in the world, but the Triathlon Smooth frame is the same as the one on the £1,200 Warp 4. While it’s a cracking, test-winning chassis at that price, it’s only okay at this. The bulged barrel head tube leads into a skinny top tube and thin-walled teardrop down tube and seat tube.
Teardrop seatstays and curved chainstays are then blended into the back end, with all welds hand-smoothed for minimum drag. Internal weld seams stop the post dropping low, though, so we had to take a saw to it even on our 56cm version. Vertical dropout slots mean that rear wheel spacing is also pre-set.
While the frame might be a disappointment for the price, the £1,500 worth of Zipp 404 wheels help offset that, as does the £280 FSA Aero TT chainset. The Zipps are classics, cutting a good compromise between wind condition versatility and drag reduction.
Unfortunately, the supplied FSA brakes are soft-feeling, all-in-one blocks, and it took us a long time to get the SRAM Force groupset working smoothly, too, with various chain-grinding teething troubles until it finally settled in. The all-alloy cockpit doesn’t really cut it at this price, either.
There’s no denying the Merida is fast on the flat; it handles well and the super-bling carbon wheels and chainset will be a draw for many. But with a high weight, low comfort levels and only middling frame and spec, the Warp 9 doesn’t represent the final frontier of value we were hoping for.
Frame Triathlon Smooth
Forks Carbon Ultralite Aero
Groupset SRAM Force derailleurs and TT levers; FSA Team Issue Time Trial 54-42 Mega chainset; SRAM Force TT brake levers; FSA 6020 callipers
Wheels ZIPP 404 clincher; Schwalbe Ultremo R 700 x 23c tyres
Cockpit FSA Vision TT combo bar and stem
SeatingFizik Arione Tri; Merida alloy aero post
Weight 8.77kg (19.34lb) without pedals
Sizes 49, 53, 56cm
Contact : Merida 0115 981 7788 www.merida-bikes.com