Described as the German-Taiwanese firm's most versatile bike yet, the new Merida Silex is touted as a touring, bike-packing, gravel, commuting and, well, road bike all in one. We caught first sight of the Silex, which has clearance for up to 50mm tyres, at Eurobike and it's expect to land in the UK later this year.

Merida will offer the Silex frame in two versions: as a carbon fibre chassis with a claimed weight of 1,050g, or an aluminium frame which comes in at a claimed 1,500g. Both are matched with a 500g carbon fork and are characterised by a geometry inspired by the mountain bike world. Five sizes will be available (XS to XL).

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

The Silex combines a tall headtube and long reach with a short stem (80mm or 90mm, depending on the frame size) to put the rider in a more upright riding position. That gives a clue as to the type of rider the Silex is aimed at - endurance riders more concerned with long-distance, all-terrain comfort than full-gas racing - and, according to Merida, has the dual benefit of maintaining stiffness in the front-end and improving off-road control.

"There are many bikes out there with a so-called endurance geometry, but the actual difference is very small," according to Merida. "Usually the difference is just a longer headtube and a shorter reach.

"We have noticed that many customers still put a significant amount of spacers underneath the stem to bring up their position on the bike. This reduces the stiffness noticeably as well as having a negative effect on the clean appearance of the bike.

"With our new concept we’ll have a long tapered headtube which makes the use of several spacers obsolete. Not only will the bike look much sportier, but it will have a substantial increase in front-end stiffness which is quite important if you take it off-road."

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Let's talk more about the Silex's off-road capabilities then. The frame has clearance for up to 50mm tyres when paired with 650b wheels, or 42mm with 700c hoops, opening up a wealth of riding opportunities beyond the road. Merida, by the way, will also now offer a range of bike-packing bags, sported by the bike on display at Eurobike. You'll find rack and mudguard mounts on the frame, too, with clearance for 35mm rubber with the latter.

The Silex also hints at off-road or long-distance adventures with five bottle cage mounting points: two on the downtube, two on the fork and one on the seattube.

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Needless to say, the Silex is a disc-specific frame, and has thru-axles at the front and rear. You'll also find Merida's finned disc brake cooler on the non-driveside chainstay, a feature first introduced on the Scultura Disc last year and subsequently appearing on the Reacto Disc when the aero bike was launched in June.

The frame is compatible with 1x and 2x drivetrains, with a neat cover supplied for the front derailleur mount if you are running a single-chainring setup. Internal cable routing and an integrated seatpost clamp also give the Silex a smart finish from front to back.

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Eurobike 2017: Merida Silex gravel/adventure bike (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

Merida will offer the Silex in eight builds. Three will be based around the carbon fibre frame, with SRAM Force 1, Shimano Ultegra and SRAM Apex 1 drivetrains respectively, while five will use the aluminium frame, dressed in Shimano Ultegra, SRAM Apex 1, Shimano 105, SRAM Apex 1 (this time with a Sunrace cassette, FSA Gossamer chainset and mechanical disc brakes) and Shimano Sora. All will come with 35mm semi-slick tyres co-developed with Maxxis. Prices are to be confirmed.

Website: Merida Bikes