Merida Bikes is represented in the top-tier of professional cycling for the first time in 2013, with the Lampre-Merida team aboard the Asian giant’s Scultura SL model.
Merida is one of the biggest manufacturers in the world, with its factories producing 2.5 million bikes a year under both its own label as well as for a host of other brands. Merida is more widely associated with mountain biking, however, and has a long association with the sport having sponsored the Multivan-Merida team since 2004.
That’s all set to change after Merida become bike and secondary sponsor of Lampre until 2015 after Wilier ended a successful ten-year association which saw the team’s riders win the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France green jersey and the Tour of Flanders.
But less of that, and more about the bike. The team, whose 2013 roster includes sprinters Alessandro Petacchi and Roberto Ferrari, will ride the Scultura SL. It will certainly be one of the, erm, more distinguishable in the WorldTour peloton, combining the fushia of Lampre to the green of Merida.
Merida’s design brief was to create a frame which is both light and stiff, but still comfortable. The Scultura, unveiled last year as part of Merida’s 2013 range, certainly ticks the first box, at a claimed 844g for a size 56cm frame.
The frame includes a number of technologies now considered de rigueur on high-end carbon fibre frames, including a tapered head tube with a one-and-a-half inch lower bearing, oversized bottom bracket (which uses FSA’s BB386 standard), a beefy downtube, deep asymmetric chainstays and super-skinny seatstays.
Key technologies include what Merida call Double Chamber reinforcement ribs – extra reinforcement inside the frame to improve stiffness – and Flex Stay technology, whereby a layer of central flax is added to the carbon fibre on the stays to help dampen road vibrations. It adds approximately 40-50g to the frame weight but, given their design brief, Merida say it’s a price worth paying.
The frame is compatible with both electronic and mechanical groupsets, and Lampre-Merida will use the latest incarnation of Shimano’s top-of-the-range Dura-Ace Di2 9070 11-speed group, which includes an extra sprocket for 2013.
Fulcrum provide the wheels, with the machine pictured above equipped with the Italian firm’s 50mm-deep Racing Speed XLR hoops. The team will also use the featherweight Racing Light XLR wheels, which weigh a claimed 1,226g for the pair.
Continental supply the team with Competition tubulars – a favourite in the peloton – while the cockpit components are from FSA (K-Force Ergo OS handlebar, OS-99 CSI stem and K-Force Lite seatpost). Finally, each bike will be finished with a San Marco Concor saddle with carbon rails and a pair of Shimano Dura-Ace pedals; part of the latest 9000-series mechanical groupset unveiled in 2012.