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Verdict: 
Good, balanced performance with a solid component spec: a smart all-rounder
Weight: 
9,960g
Merida Cyclo Cross 500
8 10

Merida's Cyclo Cross 500 is a very good all-rounder, sneaking in at under the magic £1,000 mark. It's light and responsive enough to chuck round a race, and versatile enough for more general purpose riding. It's fun to ride and easy to recommend.

The build: good quality components on a good quality frame

Merida use their top-tier alloy for this frame, Prolite 66. The tubeset is triple butted for weight saving and quite heavily hydroformed too, most noticeably on the arched and flattened top tube. The welds are smoothed and with the shiny black paint finish it'd be easy to mistake it for a carbon frame from a distance; certainly it's got a nice, organic feel to the lines.

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The X-Taper head tube, with a 1 1/2in bottom bearing, feeds into a chunky down tube and the control cables run internally down it, unusually disappearing into ports in the top of the tube rather than the sides. The bottom bracket is a standard 68mm threaded unit, and at the back the disc mount is on the chainstay, which will make fitting a rack or mudguards a bit more straighforward.

The fork is full carbon, save for the alloy inserts to hold the 15mm thru-axle for the front wheel. There's plenty of clearance for a bigger tyre than the 35mm Continental CX rubber that's fitted as standard; you could probably squeeze a 50mm tyre in there, although there's less clearance for the back wheel. The fork has mudguard mounts too, although they're quite subtle: on the rear face of the fork blades and under the crown of the fork. Depending on the mudguard you fit, you might need to do a bit of tinkering to make it work.

Shimano's 105 groupset performs the shifting, mated to an FSA Gossamer 46/36 chainset. With the 11-28 cassette at the back you get a good enough range of gears for most riding and 105 was its usual perfectly functional self throughout testing. I put the Merida through some fairly filthy rides and never managed to make the 11-speed transmission skip or jump other than the odd hiccup.

Although the TRP Spyre brakes, with 160mm rotors, lack the overall power of hydraulics, they're easy to adjust and have a good feel at the lever.

The ride: composed off road, comfortable on

I chucked the Cyclo Cross 500 round a couple of local cyclo-cross races and it's perfectly capable of holding its own. At a feather under 10kg it's certainly not the lightest CX bike you can buy, but for the money it's about what you'd expect, and I managed to keep up with, well, some people. Let's say about half.

The off-road handling is good. The bike has a generous wheelbase and the steering is predictable, if a bit slower than a fully-fledged race bike. The fork is excellent: the 15mm thru-axle stiffens up the front end noticeably, and tracking over rough ground is really good, with very little noticeable dive under heavy braking.

When you put the power down the frame is plenty stiff enough to deliver. The ride is firm but not too harsh; the stays are shaped to allow a bit of flex and the 27.2mm seatpost has a bit of give in it too. There's less by way of give at the front: I found myself favouring the tops over the hoods over rough ground, Paris-Roubaix style. The Merida has extra cross-top levers for braking from that position, so it's one that you can use a lot more than if you were restricted to braking from the hoods or the drops. The cross-tops and discs can actually stop you as well, which hasn't always been my experience with trying to haul yourself to a halt from the tops on cantilever brakes.

On the road the bike is well behaved and easy to ride. The tyres are a bit draggy but you could swap them out for 28mm road tyres or 30mm gravel tyres for better road performance and still have the option of heading onto unsurfaced trails. If you're going to use the bike primarily for commuting, that'd be the first change to make. That and a set of mudguards and you'd be ready for year-round commuting. You could fit a rack too, but you'd have to hang it from the mudguard mount on the seatstay bridge, or fit a seatpost collar with mounts on, as there are no rack mounts on the seatstays.

The Cyclo Cross 500 feels a bit more like an entry-level race bike than it does an all-rounder. The only thing that doesn't really feel quite like race spec is the wheelset, which is well made but a bit on the heavy side. The bike was much improved for racing by swapping out the stock wheels with some lightweight carbon ones that cost as much again as the bike, but then you'd hope that would make a noticeable difference. You can keep the old ones and balance them against one another in the pit area for the pro look if you ever did decide to upgrade.

But even in full stock build, it's perfectly capable of holding its own in the pack. If you're a podium-botherer then you'll want something lighter and probably a bit faster in the turn, but for those of us embracing mid-table mediocrity it's more or less ideal.

Overall: a very good package for the money

A smart-riding alloy bike with a carbon fork, decent disc brakes and a 105 groupset is a solid buy, and at under 10kg and under £1,000 the Cyclo Cross 500 makes a good case for itself. It's plenty versatile enough for day-to-day use but it's capable of racing too. The handling is good, and all the components are well chosen.

Verdict

Good, balanced performance with a solid component spec: a smart all-rounder

road.cc test report

Make and model: Merida Cyclo Cross 500

Size tested: 59

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

COLOR metallic black (green/white)

FRAME SIZES 47cm50cm52cm54cm56cm59cm

FRAME CYCLO CROSS LITE

FORK CC Carbon disc 15

DERAILLEUR FRONT Shimano 105 D

DERAILLEUR REAR Shimano 105 SS

SHIFTERS Shimano 105

BRAKE LEVER On Bar Lever additional

BRAKES Tektro Spyre disc 160

CHAINWHEEL FSA Gossamer 46-36 Mega

BBSET attached

CHAIN FSA F11S

HUBS Bearing Disc-15 Road Axle / Bearing Disc cassette

RIM Merida comp 22 disc cross

FREEWHEEL Shimano CS-5800-11 11-28

TIRES Continental Cyclocross Race 35 fold

HANDLEBAR STEM MERIDA pro OS -5

HANDLEBAR MERIDA Road Pro Classic OS

HEADSET Big Conoid S-bearing neck pro

SEAT POST MERIDA pro H SB15 27.2

SADDLE Merida Race 1

PEDAL NO

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Merida don't make any specific claims for the Cyclocross 500.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Well built and finished.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Prolite 66 triple butted alloy frame, full carbon fork.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

59cm frame, 590mm effective top tube, 403mm reach, 612mm stack.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

It was pretty much as expected.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

The CX 500 is a good compromise between race stiffness and commuting comfort.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

The frame and fork are plenty stiff.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

It's an efficient machine.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

No issues.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral for a cross bike.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

It's not as quick in the turn as a dedicated race bike but it's stable and predictable.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
7/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, it's a good all-rounder that's light enough to thrash round a race

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Use this box to explain your score

You're getting a quality frame, good components and good brakes. The wheels are a bit on the heavy side but well built and reliable. Overall it's a good package for a grand.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 189cm  Weight: 91kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

 

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

5 comments

Avatar
bendertherobot [1407 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Good to see TRP making inroads. I suspect the BB5/7 range will be consigned to history soon. Maybe SRAM will make a hybrid brake to tide us over until Apex hydro?

Avatar
joules1975 [447 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
bendertherobot wrote:

Good to see TRP making inroads. I suspect the BB5/7 range will be consigned to history soon. Maybe SRAM will make a hybrid brake to tide us over until Apex hydro?

I remember being really excited by the idea of Avid bringing out a disc brake way back when, cause the Avid V brakes were just brilliant and by far the best. I was very disappointed and have been ever since by Avid disc brakes. I believe the latest hydros are somewhat better, but due to over a decade of stuff designed for California and so utterly useless over here (except for a short period when new), I refuse to put cash anywhere new a set.

Love the TRP Spyre though! Why did it take so damn long for companies to realise that mechanical brakes are always flawed if only one pad moves, and even now only one company seems to have found this out. Just a shame that TRP parent company, Tektro, can't seem to come up with better than average mechanical brake.

As for TRP making inroads, they are still only really found on Giant and Merida bikes, which is basically because Tektro and TRP are part of the A-team of primary suppliers to both companies.

Avatar
vonhelmet [833 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
joules1975 wrote:

As for TRP making inroads, they are still only really found on Giant and Merida bikes, which is basically because Tektro and TRP are part of the A-team of primary suppliers to both companies.

Ribble offer them on their disc braked endurance bike for what it's worth.

Avatar
bendertherobot [1407 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

And Genesis!

Avatar
cyclesteffer [249 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

And Ridley!