The Merida Ride 5000 is the definitive mile-muncher: fast and comfortable, built for UK roads and weather. But it needs better tyres and deserves better wheels.
Dave covered the technical detail of the Ride 5000 in his Just In article so I won't dwell on the geometry detail. Suffice to say the answer to his ultimate question "On paper it certainly offers very good value for money, will it ride as well as it looks?" is a resounding "Yes". This bike is fast, comfortable and forms a great platform for future upgrades.
On the forecourt of the town hall for a club run the Ride 5000 drew appreciative comments for its minimalist graphics and interesting combination of curved tubes and chunky boxes. It's a frame you'll grow to love – distance makes the heart grow fonder and all that. The first (and possibly only) upgrade I'd make purely for aesthetic reasons would be swapping the RS-500 chainset for an Ultegra four-arm – something easily done for maybe £50 all transacted on your favourite auction website. The only other non-Ultegra items are the 105 cassette and FSA chain, and I'm not sure many would notice the difference going upspec.
As Dave mentioned this is one tall bike. I ended up with the stem slammed (as low as possible under the spacers), but still a whopping three centimeters higher than my bikefit dictates. The higher bars were also wider than my usual at 420mm – narrow of shoulder persons should be looking for the shop to swap these out at purchase. The bar tape was nice and thick, and when paired with the slightly flattened tops made for a wide platform to rest hands on.
Staying at the sharp end, Merida's proved beyond doubt that through-axles on roadbikes Just Work. To remove the front wheel you flip the lever completely over to engage the notch in the axle body, then unwind six times using one finger on the lever. To reinstall, wind the axle in using the lever. When it bottoms out, simply wind back half a turn and flip closed. This quickly became intuitive, and no doubt contributes to the rock-solid steering and confident braking. No faff with lawyer-lips, or back-and-forth with two hands getting the skewer tension just right by tweaking the opposite nut. There's a standard quick release on the rear, but even under heavy braking it never shifted or allowed any rotor rub.
The shifter cables enter the top of the hefty downtube at a slight angle, and the front shifter outer was cut 10cm too long meaning it hit the knees when out of the saddle. Trimming this back gave an opportunity to try out the internal cable routing, and it's nicely done. The pink-coloured liner tube runs full length from the top entry point and out under the bottom bracket, making threading a new front shift cable the work of seconds.
The rear mech cable is a filth-defeating continuous run into the downtube, through the bottom bracket and inside the chainstay, emerging at the bottom of the seatstay in a neat arc.
Throughout the test period no rattling was heard from any cables. Both shift cables feature in-line barrel adjusters at the stem for mid-ride tweaking. Merida say the frame is fully Di2-ready including for a seat tube battery (there's a small rubber bung just below the front mech), for those wishing to really push the upgrade boat out. The front brake cable is routed through the fork, keeping things looking tidy and consistent with the frame.
Whilst the FrankenGroup doesn't noticeably affect performance, the wheelset leaves a good deal to be desired weight-wise. With no rubber on, and including the 105 cogset (320g) plus rotors (100g a go) the pair weigh in at 2.86kg - so naked that's about 2.34kg worth of hoops. In a market where around £200-worth of disc-ready wheelset could save you nearly half a kilo, it seems a strange compromise on such a great frame. Definitely the first place to be putting any upgrade cash, to get yourself a sub-8kg sportive-eater.
On the first genteel 20 miles to a pub the impression was not great – harsh, skittish and during an attempt to burn in the TRP HyRd brakes descending on a dry, smooth road, downright pants-fillingly-scary. Thankfully this was down to the spec'd Maxxis Dolomite 25mm tyres being totally unsuited for the sort of riding this bike is built for. It felt like it was on rails, but not in a good way.
The Dolomite is a self-admitted 'lightweight competition' tyre, so what it's doing specced on an all-day bike with clearance for 30mm tyres is beyond me. Fitting my go-to 28mm Schwalbe One tubeless tyres changed things dramatically. Even with big rubber on not-so-wide rims there's 10mm of tyre-fork vertical clearance, and a larger 12mm tyre-mudguard stay clearance at the back. That's plenty of room for mudguards using the hidden mounts under the fork crown and seatstay bridge, and on the rear of the fork legs and seatstays. (The Merida guards weren't available to test at time of review).
When shod with the Dolomites comfort was on par with my steel Charge Juicer shod with 28mm tubeless, which was okay but disappointing given the shock-absorbing carbon/flax tech on offer. The seatpost is 27.2mm carbon, 5cm longer than on my Charge, so should be a lot comfier. But let's blame the tyres. On 28mm tubeless the bike immediately felt faster, far more comfortable and much more surefooted. Diving into swooping corners under heavy braking became something to be relished, not feared. On one ride I turned back uphill and re-rode an S-bend of Wiltshire lane, the hedge-free borders giving enough visibility to be sure you weren't setting yourself up to be a hood ornament at 40mph whilst diving through consecutive 90-degree bends. With the right rubber this bike is capable of descending feats well beyond the ability or nerve of most riders.
Longer and longer
So does such an upright stance mean a tradeoff in speed? Not likely. On the first fast, long hilly outing I knocked five minutes off a 40-mile personal best despite a 12mph headwind. The Ride 5000 got me down the 'Britain's 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs' Coombe Gibbet descent over 10mph faster than the five previous attempts on the same tyres, hitting 50mph before hauling on the anchors. Descending was scarily confidence-inspiring, the ability to change direction and brake into sharp turns urging you on. Laying the bike over in corners with good visibility was a joyous experience on fat, grippy tyres. This point-and-shoot confidence is largely down to the massive head tube and fork. There's not a bit of flex apparent under heavy braking or steering load, with matching bars and stem feeling tight.
So where does the long-distance speed come from? I'm a big believer in comfort equalling quick, and on the Ride 5000 it felt like there was a volume knob halfway down the bike - big hits on the front would come through muted at the back, even large hits that bumped you out of the saddle were damped. Gloveless hands felt the hits, felt in contact with the road but didn't get fatigued.
The Ride 5000 helped me bag a rather smug Strava third overall on the 10-mile, 1% descent of a local valley, at 23mph – a whole three miles per hour quicker than just two months ago. A few weeks later doing an out-and-back effort in the same valley in pouring rain, I knocked another 30 seconds off that.
Given zero change in diet/training I put this 100% down to the bike. It was very comfy in the drops, never feeling like I was 'climbing' up or down to change hand position. Riding over the poxy, patched chip seal the vibrations were damped out almost to the point of invisibility. It's like the back half of the bike is riding over a different road, possibly a lovely tarmac one in rural Belgium funded by your EU contributions. The Prologo Kappa2 saddle was on par with my trusty Charge Spoon, either sitting back or on the rivet for quarter of an hour at a stretch.
Sprinting for signs on the flat or stomping on the hills, there's no flex evident through the frame; every erg is rewarded, even with the price-point-meeting wheels.
With the sportive market firmly in mind the Ride 5000 begs to get out for the day. On a 100-mile outing through the New Forest I was able to sit on 19mph for the first three hours, comfortable over bumpy rural roads and tight as a drum zipping across the New Forest's iconic ponied plains whilst gripping the generous Ultegra hoods like faux aerobars. The height of the drops meant long stretches low-down didn't feel like penury, and after five hours the Kappa2 saddle wasn't causing any discomfort, a few out-of-the-saddle stretches keeping numbness at bay.
The rear wheel was very pingy after 60 miles – It quietened down a good deal after being stress-relieved (pinch parallel pairs of spokes on the same side to overtension them, then release – gloves recommended), and once settled I had to tighten a spoke that was catching on the rear mech. A further 150 miles on the wheel was silent, all spokes having settled into place. Something to ask your bike shop to check before delivery or at the six-week free service, if there's one on offer.
Some 500 miles into testing a rattle appeared that defied all logic. Pulling on cables, gripping tubes, cages, in or out of the saddle, pedalling or not, nothing made a difference. What it turned out to be was the thin washer between the rear hub non-drive-side bearing shield and the dropout locknut. A tiny amount of play had developed, hardly visible yet enough to make noise. There's no lock function between the bearing shield and the locknut, so it simply needs to be kept finger-tight. This locknut unwinding a fraction also affected the brake rotor alignment as it pushed the caliper outwards in relation to the hub. Not the best of setups, and more reason to consider a long-term wheel upgrade away from the heavy stock wheelset with their price-point-meeting Formula hubs. About the time the rattle appeared the Joytech freehub started emitting gritty noises and was replaced immediately, as you'd expect under warranty.
The highly-regarded TRP HyRd cable-actuated hydraulic-cylinder brakes needed some aligning and rotor truing out of the box, and despite a fair bit of fettling the front remained grabby. It wasn't noticeable at speed, but when going slowly the cutouts of the 'wavy' rotor made the brake pulse something chronic, to the point that on a slippery surface on the edge of grip, the uncalled-for modulation could result in locking up the wheel.
Obviously this isn't Merida's fault, so I asked TRP. They advised this rotor design is to assist with mud clearing, but come on: this is a road bike, not a 'crosser, and I've never felt the need to run wavy rotors on any of my mountain bikes.
Fitting some non-wavy rotors solved the problem immediately. The front brake was notably quieter, with better modulation and better low-speed performance. It would be great to see road bike manufacturers paying attention to this sort of thing when speccing disc brakes in future. Another thing to maybe get the LBS to check/swap, if you find the experience lacking.
I can't help but think the Ride 5000 would be better off specced with the full 105 5800 group, paired with Shimano's RS685 hydro brakes. This might add maybe a hundred quid to the price, but would be worth it for the consistency of look, feel and braking improvement. Sure, you wouldn't get the cachet associated with having ULTEGRA emblazoned on your levers, but let's face it: anyone who either cares or knows their stuff will spot the budget RS-500 crankset long before they read the levers. Every review in the last year has questioned the wisdom of spending the extra for Ultegra over 11-speed 105, and the Ride 5000 spec is this argument writ large. If not for full hydro brakes, Merida should go for 105 and spec lighter wheels.
The 2016 incarnation of the Ride 5000 Disc has been announced for release in late October, and comes with the new ST-RS505 hydraulic 105-grade shifters connected to the slimline RS785 hydraulic disc callipers for £1950, retaining the Ultegra mechs. That's a nice package that. Plus the wheels are upgraded to Fulcrum's Racing Sport Disc, which at 1872g the pair are pretty much bang on the desired half-kilo lighter mentioned above.
If you can't wait for the 2016 model, for £1900 notes (less for clearouts) and on different tyres the 2015 Ride 5000 delivers comfort, speed and smiles. It's a solid platform to spring some birthday money on tyre, wheel or component upgrades (in that order) without feeling you're dollying up the porcine. After a month or two of club runs, personal efforts and centuries my overall impression of the Ride 5000 on decent tyres is very good. It's made me faster and happier with no extra effort on my part - and if you're into Strava-sniping, it should give you a leg up on the local Back Lane Warriors. I'd recommend it to a friend I had to ride with often, and you don't get much higher regard than that.
Fast, stable and comfortable, and a few upgrades will make it even better
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Merida Ride Disc 5000
Size tested: 57
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
* Full carbon frame with flex stays, nano matrix, tapered head tube, internal cable routing and fitings for mudguards
* Shimano Ultegra groupset with RS500 chainset
* Tektro HyRd mechanically activated hydraulic disc brakes
* Full carbon fork with tapered steerer and internal cable routing
* find full spec on http://2014.merida-bikes.com/en_gb/bikes/leisure- commuting/disc-road-bike/2015/ride-disc-5000-3850.html
COLORS silk UD (dark grey/yellow)
FRAME SIZES 50cm52cm54cm56cm59cm
FRAME RIDE DISC CF2
FORK Race carbon disc 15
DERAILLEUR REAR Shimano Ultegra GS
SHIFTERS Shimano Ultegra
BRAKE LEVER attached
BRAKES Tektro HYRD disc 160 / Tektro HYRD disc 160 connect
CHAINWHEEL Shimano RS500 50-34
CHAIN FSA F11S
HUBS Bearing Disc-15 Road Axle / Bearing Disc cassette
RIM Merida comp 22 disc pair
FREEWHEEL Shimano CS-5800-11 11-32
TIRES Maxxis Dolemites 25 fold
HANDLEBAR STEM MERIDA pro CF OS -5
HANDLEBAR FSA Gossamer compact OS
HEADSET Big Conoid S-bearing neck pro
SEAT POST MERIDA carbon H SB15 27.2
SADDLE Prologo Kappa 2
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?
Part of Merida's 'Leisure/Commuting' range, I can't find any official marketing blurb on the Ride 5000 so let's just say it's for people who want to go a long way, in comfort. Disc brakes and mudguard mounts let you do so in poor weather, so it's squarely aimed at the UK Sportive / fast commuter market, and I'd agree that's who it best suits.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Can't fault it. stiff as a broom where needed, nicely compliant where needed. It looks the business too, in the semi-raw carbon-and-yellow-paint.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Carbon, and flax.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Fairly relaxed. You can sit up off the bars at the end of a long day without being instantly flicked into a hedge, and it's predictable at speed.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It's tall, begorrah. If you are used to stem-chewing setups, it will feel like a Chopper.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, super-comfy. Can't fault the ride, on the right rubber.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Spot on - stiff as anything around the headset, BB and rear axle, nicely forgiving around the seatpost.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Never felt like anything was being wasted.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Not noticeably, and I have Size 11 flippers.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral and predictable. Never caught me out.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Change of tyres gave it a totally different feel. Get rid of the 25mm, go fat.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Never felt the stem to be wanting, even though looking down silhouetted by that monster head tube it looks like a pencil.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The crankset didn't feel flexy, and with comfort = speed, those tyres '' they've got to go.
Felt perfectly efficient, grinding out of the saddle or flat out on the flat.
Nippy, but those heavy wheels will have held it back from its potential.
Being so solid, honking it on grippy tyres was a lot of fun.
Wow. Just...wow. So stable, it should carry a health warning.
Pootling along it felt like you could balance a pint on the top tube, were it a tad flatter.
Fine. No problems.
With the right tyres, no problem.
I lived for this - it was so much fun to drop into corners. Absolutely solid.
Being so stiff it was efficient, but being so upright could mean needing to lean further forward on the really steep stuff.
It's a mish-mash, and not the quietest.
The Joytech freehub should be put In The Sea.
Compromises here. Not 'bad', but not 'very good' either.
It's OK, but should have stuck with full 105.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
That non-Ultegra crankset isn't the prettiest.
Wheels and tyres
Disappointing, on such a fab frame/fork.
Not great. Pingy spokes and a freehub dying after 500 miles are not premium experiences.
They're heavy. Way too heavy to do the frame justice.
Out of the box, the tyres are too mean and un-grippy. Swap them at birth.
The wheel/tyre package drags down the whole bike.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
They weren't good. Yes, change them - tyres immediately for 28mm Conti's or Schwalbes, and change the wheels as soon as you can afford to for anything sub-2000g that gets good reviews.
It's Ultegra. Can't fault it.
It's Ultegra. Can't fault it.
It's Ultegra. Can't fault it.
105 would have done the same job.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Can't fault Ultegra, paired with Ultegra mechs.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
The TRP HyRD's were OK, but the front was very grabby - to the point of traction-losing at low speeds on slippery stuff. A solid rotor made a big difference, and Merida really shouldn't have spec'd a CX rotor for a roadbike.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes indeed.
Would you consider buying the bike? This is tough. Not at RRP, as I now know I'd be wanting to swap the tyres and wheels on Day One.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, but with the caveats re wheels and tyres.
Use this box to explain your score
This is tough. With decent fat tyres, it's an 8. With even slightly better wheels it'd be an 8.5, possibly 9. But the spec tyres and brake rotor choice, coupled with the sea-anchor pingy wheelset drag the out-of-box experience down to a 7. On a slightly sub-£2k bike you shouldn't have to worry about such things, and smarter speccing would have delivered this. That said, I smashed loads of PB's and leapt up the Strava ladders on many local roads, so don't get me wrong - it's a very good bike. Conflicted.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 183cm Weight: 72KG
I usually ride: Charge Juicer My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, MTB, singlespeed and Dutch bike pootling