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The Reacto is Merida's aero race bike with this 5000 model sporting the majority of a Shimano Ultegra groupset. It is rapid on the flat and a fun bike to ride hard, although its boxy frame errs on the side of firmness over comfort, and it's just screaming out for some deep-section wheels to really exploit the aerodynamics.
I kind of like the way the Reacto presents itself. It's an honest sort of bike, stood there with its chunky, almost square tube profiles going, 'Yeah, I'm not going to treat you to the most cosseting ride you've ever had, but if you want to go fast stand on the pedals and I will deliver!'
And that's it in a nutshell really. On the flat or punchy, rolling terrain this is basically a time trial machine with drop bars.
At 8.97kg (19.77lb) it isn't that light for a two-and-a-half-grand bike, but everywhere other than the hills, aerodynamics will always win out over weight, and this is where the Reacto excels.
Get yourself hunkered down into the drops and once this thing is rolling, it flies. The reasonably stretched out position allows you to get long and low to get the power down, and with the geometry sitting somewhere between a race and endurance machine you don't need to be a supple racing whippet to exploit it.
The Fulcrums aren't a bad set of wheels, but with a steady flow of deep-section hoops passing through my hands for testing, a change to something of at least 50mm deep really highlights just how well this frameset cuts through the wind, while also dropping a bit of weight.
The ride is quite firm, there are options out there that take much more of the road buzz and vibration out before it reaches your contact points, but it doesn't exactly make the Reacto uncomfortable.
I enjoy quite a firm, stiff frame and the Reacto definitely suits the majority of my riding. With time for being on the bike often being at a premium, especially at the moment with home schooling and the like, the Reacto was great to grab for a couple of hours so I could just smash out the tension and enjoy the escape from monotony.
With the semi-relaxed geometry of the CF2 frame, it is a surprisingly easy bike to ride fast too. The steering is slightly to the quick side of neutral and you can really push it hard through roundabouts and flowing bends without having to scrub off any speed.
The overall weight, while taking the edge off acceleration, does give a very good feeling of security at speed. It feels planted – if you hit an unexpected patch of rough road or get pushed off your line by an impatient close pass, the Reacto never feels nervous or twitchy in your hands.
If you hit some hilly terrain the Reacto 5000 doesn't exactly fly up the climbs, but then again neither do I! What it carries in weight is more than offset by the huge levels of stiffness from the oversized tube sections, so if you are like me – a climber trapped in an off-season sprinter's body – you can get out of the saddle and really smash the Merida to the top.
On the whole, if you are looking at an aero bike then speed is probably your priority, and the Reacto isn't going to let you down.
The Reacto range is available in a number of material and braking options.
Entry-level models are made from aluminium alloy and come with rim brakes, although this does spread into the carbon fibre options too, like the super-bling 8000-E with its more aggressive and lighter CF4 frameset and Shimano Ultegra Di2 components.
The majority of the models are disc brake, and the 5000 uses the CF2 frame and fork. The geometry is slightly slacker and more relaxed than the CF4 but the claimed weight is pretty impressive: 1,150g for the M/L size that we have.
Up front you are getting a tapered head tube which blends into one with the front section of the top tube and that huge down tube. There is also some aero integration with the fork into the front of the frame too.
As you can see from the photos, aerodynamics have been considered everywhere, with flared sections behind the head tube and down tube, and the seat tube with its cutout to bring the rear wheel as close as possible.
All the cabling is fully internal, too, for a clean look.
Merida has gone for a press-fit bottom bracket on the CF2 frame. This means the bottom bracket shell can be wider than with a threaded version as the bearings are pressed into the frame rather than screwed onto the outside; it's 86mm wide rather than 68mm.
There are setbacks, like if tolerances aren't adhered to then water and grit can get in and cause creaking, or if the position of the openings for the bearings aren't lined up properly during manufacture then the bearings can wear unbelievably quickly, but over recent years of testing press-fit-equipped bikes through the winter months I've seen fewer and fewer issues.
The wider shell has allowed Merida to go wider with the down tube, seat tube and chainstays, which means the Reacto is very stiff indeed. Acceleration and climbing definitely benefit.
Other neat touches are the integrated seat clamp for the aero seatpost. It certainly gives a smooth look and I had no issues with slippage.
The seatpost has a large notch cut out of the rear which is usually filled in with a rubber section to give a little bit of damping against the vibration, but our test model came with a rear light that fits inside the elastomer. It's a simple light – a single static LED that runs off an AA battery – but it's quite effective.
Battery life is pretty short, especially if you use cheap supermarket batteries like I was, but it's ideal for those times when you misjudge what time you'll be home or if bad weather comes in.
I probably don't need to highlight the fact that the Reacto comes with flat mount calliper mounts and thru-axles, as that is pretty much the standard these days. One addition that you don't see often, though, are the disc coolers: grooved aluminium sections that sit under the callipers and allow heat to dissipate through the fins.
Merida claims they reduce temperatures by about 35%, though this is probably more relevant on long Alpine descents than the short, steep ones we have here in the UK.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the Reacto 5000 comes with the majority of a Shimano Ultegra groupset, which is pretty much par for the course for the money. I say majority because the crankset is a non-series RS 510 model which, for me, does cheapen the look slightly as I prefer to see a complete groupset if possible.
The shifting isn't affected, though, as the chain happily skips across the 52/36-tooth chainset, and paired with an 11-30 cassette gives the Merida a decent spread of gears, probably better than most aero bikes – that 36x30 bailout gear helping offset the weight on really steep hills.
Shimano's hydraulic brakes are some of the best in the business, and I certainly had no issues with the setup fitted to the Reacto.
The RT64 rotors don't have quite as much bite as Shimano's Ice Tech rotors, although I never really found myself struggling for power or modulation, I'm just being picky.
When it comes to the contact points, they are all Merida branded and they do a very good job.
The Expert CW handlebar is typical in its dimensions to most compact bars on the market, with the drops easily accessible for the majority of riders, and the stem of the same name varies in length depending on the size of the frame.
The Expert CC saddle is thinly padded and firm, just like a race saddle should be, and I liked it a lot.
A neat addition is the multi-tool hidden underneath in a small case that comes as standard. It's positioned in a way that you can still attach a saddlebag, which is a bonus.
The Fulcrum Racing 900 DB are quite a belt and braces approach for the Reacto 5000; it really deserves something lighter and more aero. Saying that, they're a good set of training wheels as they'll take plenty of knocks and abuse.
Tyre-wise, the 25mm Continental Grand Sport Races strike a good balance of grip, puncture resistance, rolling resistance and longevity without really setting the ride alight.
Basically, the tyres and wheels do a decent enough job, but the frame and fork really deserve something better.
The Reacto 5000 has an rrp of £2,500 which isn't too bad considering the quality of the frameset and kit level, non-series crankset aside.
Something like the Fuji Transonic 2.5 Disc comes in at £2,899.99. It's heavier than the Reacto by a couple of hundred grams and comes with, in the most part, a 105 groupset, swapping out the crankset for an Oval model.
Another option though could be the Orro Venturi Evo 105 at £2,099.99. True, it might be a closer match to the Reacto 4000 with its 105 groupset (again, minus the crankset), but it is only a few grams heavier than the 5000 and offers a very good ride quality.
On the whole, I like the Reacto 500. It has a quality frameset and while some might find the ride on the firm side, it is one of those bikes where you can just get out and smash it around a bit.
The overall quality is impressive and it is certainly a fun bike to ride, and with a few component tweaks it could be very good indeed.
Not the lightest or most comfortable, but if speed is your main goal then the Reacto delivers
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Merida Reacto Disc 5000 2020
Size tested: M/L
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
FRAME REACTO DISC CF2
FRAME SIZE XXS, XS, S, S/M, M/L, L, XL
COLOR GLOSSY BLACK/SILK BLACK
FORK MERIDA REACTO CF2 disc
BRAKE FRONT Shimano Ultegra
BRAKE REAR Shimano Ultegra
ROTOR FRONT Shimano RT64
ROTOR REAR Shimano RT64
BRAKE LEVER Shimano Ultegra
HEADSET MERIDA REACTO neck
HANDLEBAR MERIDA EXPERT CW
HANDLEBAR STEM MERIDA EXPERT CW
GRIP MERIDA ROAD EXPERT
DERAILLEUR (F) Shimano Ultegra
DERAILLEUR (R) Shimano Ultegra
SHIFTER FRONT Shimano Ultegra disc
SHIFTER REAR Shimano Ultegra disc
SEAT POST MERIDA EXPERT CW
SEAT CLAMP MERIDA REACTO AERO
SADDLE MERIDA EXPERT CC
CHAIN KMC X11
CHAINWHEEL Shimano RS510
CRANK SIZE 165 mm-XXS, 170 mm-XS/S, 172.5 mm-SM/ML, 175 mm-L/XL
FREEWHEEL Shimano CS-R7000
BOTTOM BRAKET FSA 386-BB30 PF6000 [SMN FC]
WHEELSET Fulcrum Racing 900 DB
TIRE FRONT Continental Grand Sport Race
TIRE REAR Continental Grand Sport Race
AXLE REAR MERIDA EXPERT SL
LIGHT REAR REACTO light seat post + Battery
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?
The Reacto is Merida's aero race bike range, with this 5000 model using the slightly less aggressive CF2 frame geometry rather than the race-inspired CF4 found on the top models.
I found it delivers well on its aerodynamic claims – it's a quick bike to ride.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
This model sits second in the CF2 range. The 4000 is below with a full Shimano 105 groupset and then there is the 6000 above which steps up to full Ultegra. The range topper is the 7000-E which still uses Ultegra but comes with DT Swiss P-1800 wheels.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
A good quality finish throughout.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
FRAME REACTO DISC CF2
100x12/ 142x12mm axle standard
BB386-PF30 bottom bracket standard
FORK MERIDA REACTO CF2 disc, full carbon fibre with tapered steerer.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The Reactos that use the CF2 frame and fork have a slightly taller front end and shorter top tube than the top end models, which means they sit somewhere between the geometry of a race bike and an endurance machine.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
This M/L size has a reach of 390mm and a stack of 575mm, giving a position that is racy without being too aggressive.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It has a firm ride but I wouldn't say that it is uncomfortable. It's where the levels should be for a stiff, fast bike.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The frame is very stiff throughout.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Lighter wheels would really highlight the efficiency of the frame.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? The slightly quick side of neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Overall, it is a very easy bike to ride. The handling inspires confidence and is well balanced.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
On the whole I'd say everything works well. The saddle is a good shape and promotes a fair bit of comfort.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The components match the frame for stiffness.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
This frame is crying out for lighter and more aero wheels.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Ultegra is a great groupset; I would just like to see a matching crankset though to give the bike a complete look.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
The wheels will take plenty of abuse but the frame deserves something much lighter.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Good all-round tyres that balance performance and durability well.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Decent in-house branded kit that'll work for the majority of riders.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's in the right ball park when you consider other aero road bikes on the market like those from Fuji and Orro mentioned in the review.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a good all-round package, and just a few component tweaks would turn it into a proper superbike.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!