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Merida 2018 Reacto Team-E review: faster, lighter, comfier, still demanding

by Matt Wikstrom

January 26, 2018

Photography by Matt Wikstrom


After a stretch of five years, Merida has updated the Reacto, the company’s aero road platform, by carving away a significant amount of weight while creating a sleeker and more comfortable chassis. The overhaul also includes the creation of a disc-brake version, however the company has yet to abandon rim brakes. Indeed, the number of rim-brake-equipped Reactos outnumbers those with disc brakes in the 2018 catalogue.

In this review, Australian tech editor Matt Wikstrom takes a look at the Team-E version of the new Reacto with rim brakes. Fashioned after the bikes supplied to Team Bahrain Merida, the Team-E is a high-end offering designed to compete with other aero superbikes on the market.


The Reacto has been a part of Merida’s road catalogue since 2011. The original version featured a stout profile with thick frame members, but it wasn’t until the second generation (2013) that the company sought to improve the aerodynamics of the Reacto family. Team Lampre-Merida immediately put the new bike to work, and the combination of a stiff, responsive chassis with low aerodynamic drag served its riders well.

According to Merida, when it came time to re-visit the design of the Reacto, its goals were both clear and simple: lose weight, reduce drag, and add comfort. And in every instance, the company says it was able to achieve its goals, starting with a weight loss of 17% compared to the second-generation chassis.

240g was lopped off the weight of the frame, the fork was slimmed by 38g, and the seatpost is 65g lighter. Some of those gains were achieved by reducing the size of the frame members while changes in the layup helped elsewhere.

Those slimmer frame members also helped the aerodynamics of the new bike along with some re-shaping for the seatstays and the addition of an integrated bar/stem. The net result, according to Merida, was a 5% improvement, or as much as 8W in power savings for the rider.

As for the comfort of the new bike, a change to the seatpost employing Merida’s S-Flex concept delivered an increase of ~10% in compliance. The company simply removed a larger chunk from the rear of the post to encourage more flex under load. A silicon rubber insert continues to be incorporated to damp vibrations as well.

With its goals for the new bike satisfied, Merida unveiled the Reacto III ahead of the Tour de France last year as Team Bahrain Merida prepared for its debut in the event. Now, the bike is available to riders around the world (except, most notably, the U.S.A.) with a choice of seven distinct models with rim brakes plus a handful of disc-brake versions.

For this review, I was given the opportunity to spend a few weeks aboard the Team-E version of the new Reacto with rim brakes, a cost-be-damned kind of build that honours Team Bahrain Merida’s WorldTour bikes.

BEFORE THE RIDE

At face value, the Reacto III may be lighter and a little more aerodynamic, but the bike still closely resembles the previous iteration that I reviewed in 2015. Both bikes share the same “NACA fastback” tube shapes, oversized down tube, flattened top tube, and lowered seatstays. The Reacto III also continues to make use of direct-mount rim callipers with the rear brake still positioned underneath the chainstays on the new bike.

pon closer inspection, the differences start to appear, starting with slimmer seatstays and softer lines for the front end of the bike. Gone, too, are the harshly sculpted and pragmatic lines that defined the previous iteration, and in its place is a bike that looks a whole lot sleeker, and yes, faster. The new integrated cockpit certainly adds to this effect, as does the way the rake of the fork lines up perfectly with the leading edge of the head tube.

Cable-routing has been tidied up for the new bike, too. Now all the cables enter the down tube at the same point, whereas they were previously split between the top and down tubes. The only thing that spoils this effect is Shimano’s clunky in-line quick-release device for the rear brake, a necessity for easing rear wheel changes.

Merida continues to offer the Reacto with a BB386EVO bottom bracket, a versatile fitting that will allow owners to use a wide variety of cranksets. However, this won’t extend to all power meters (e.g. Stages and Verve Cycling’s InfoCranks) since there is very little clearance between left crank arm and the brake calliper under the chainstays.