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The 7000-E tops the new Scultura Endurance range from Merida, and is a more relaxed, less aggressive version of its Scultura race bike. It still offers plenty of performance and comfort, but it's more suited to those big rides – and, thanks to large tyre clearances and mudguard mounts, you can use it whatever the weather too.
The first two are still part of the catalogue, but the Ride was culled and replaced by this, the Scultura Endurance.
The Endurance has taken a lot of its styling cues from the Scultura and, while they share the same seat and head tube angles, pretty much everything else is different.
Compare the medium (it's actually M/L for the Scultura) in each line-up and you see the Endurance has a shorter top tube and a taller head tube, creating a reach that's 10mm shorter and a stack height 10mm taller.
The chainstays are 10mm longer too at 418mm for a wheelbase of 1,001mm, although that's only 3mm longer than the Scultura.
What this all means is that you're still getting a performance-based riding position, but it's not quite as extreme. In fact, the Scultura isn't one of the most aggressive race bikes on the market anyway, so the changes aren't huge.
The Endurance still feels like a fast bike, and even with that slightly taller front end you can still get tucked down for speed and get out of the wind.
At 8.58kg the overall weight is good, which certainly aids acceleration and sprinting. It's a pretty useful climber, too.
I found the slightly more upright position and tweaked geometry let me stay seated on the majority of climbs, just tapping the pedals around. Merida has specced a 50/34T compact chainset and an 11-34T cassette, giving a few extra low gears over the common 11-28T, which also helps out.
When descending or hammering along on the flat there's a sense of stability thanks to the metre-long wheelbase. The Endurance feels well poised at speed, and doesn't feel unsettled by rough road surfaces.
This stable feeling continues on technical descents. Many endurance-style bikes tend to knock the head angle back a degree to slow the steering down a touch, but as I mentioned earlier the Scultura Endurance has the same angle as the Scultura. The only real change is that the Endurance has an extra 5mm of fork length.
The steering is on the quick side of neutral and, paired with the bike's stability, gives plenty of confidence in the bends. It really flows well and if you aren't a confident descender, the Endurance will no doubt help you improve without feeling out of control.
It's only on the really tight, off-camber stuff where I found the Endurance wasn't quite as sharp as a true race machine. Nothing massive, it just lacks a little precision right at the apex, but unless you're used to barrelling into bends at crazy speeds you won't be dismayed.
For me it only really became noticeable when descending through Cheddar Gorge in the Mendips. If you don't know it, it's quite a long descent that isn't too steep and made up mostly of gentle twists and turns – at the top, at least.
The Merida really flows very nicely indeed on such roads, and it was only when the gradient steepened and the bends tightened that I had to put in a bit of extra input and focus to get the bike around smoothly.
Comfort, for me, is where the Scultura Endurance really excels though. The choice of carbon layup in the CF3 frame and fork, coupled with the geometry, gives the Endurance a plush ride.
Even with the 32mm Continental tyres pumped up as hard as I like them, the Merida didn't suffer any annoying resonance from the road surface. It gives a very compliant ride, which is impressive considering how high the overall stiffness levels are.
The CF3 frame (Merida grades its frames in numbers, with CF2 being the lowest and CF5 the highest) on the 7000-E has a claimed weight of 1,124g for this medium size, which is pretty impressive – especially as it includes parts such as the derailleur hanger, removable seatstay bridge and various bolts. The fork is 411g with an uncut steerer.
Still, the Scultura Endurance doesn't buck any design trends, really. There's a tapered head tube at the front and corresponding fork steerer. The down tube is sizeable, as is the bottom bracket shell.
The BB itself is press-fit. That's not to everyone's tastes, especially on a bike that's likely to see plenty of wet miles, but I'm seeing a lot fewer issues with creaking from poor frame/bearing tolerances than when the idea was relatively new.
Being designed for long distance riding – 'road adventure,' Merida calls it – the frame leaves plenty of room around the tyres.
Merida says the chainstays and seatstays are shaped to create a kind of leaf spring suspension. As this bike does have a comfortable ride, I'm not going to dispute it.
With the standard 32mm tyres it takes full mudguards, and if you aren't worried about getting wet you can go up to 35mm slicks.
Not only would this make it a comfortable audax machine, it also means the Scultura Endurance could be a versatile winter trainer or year-round commuter.
The Endurance has internal cable and hose routing. Nothing new there, I hear you say, but Merida has designed the front end so everything enters the head tube through the spacers, which really cleans up the front end. It's the same theme with the seatpost, which has an internal wedge system for clamping.
You get 12mm thru-axles front and rear, and flat-mount callipers – the range is disc only.
The 'E' in 7000-E's name denotes an electronic groupset, in this case Shimano's Ultegra Di2. It's a groupset you really can't fault, to be honest. It has 95% of the shifting quality and performance of the flagship Dura-Ace, for a hell of a lot less cash.
I've mentioned the gear ratios (50/34 and 11-34 for those not paying attention) and it's a great spread of gears with the only large jumps coming at the top of the cassette – the bailout gears, if you like.
With 160mm disc rotors there's certainly plenty of stopping power, and as always with Shimano's systems there's loads of feedback through the levers.
Merida has fitted its finned aluminium heatsink to the chainstay and fork leg, there to soak away heat build-up from the callipers, although they'll be more valuable on long Alpine descents than those found in the UK.
The rest of the components are all Merida branded, and it's decent kit. The cockpit is stiff, and I especially like the shallow drop of the handlebar. It gives plenty of hand positions without putting you in too aggressive a position, and is accessible to all.
The Expert CC saddle is pretty minimalist for padding, although I got on alright with it. I wouldn't say it suited me perfectly, but I had no major issues. The sleeve under the saddle contains a Merida multi-tool, which is a neat addition.
Merida has specced DT Swiss's P1850 Spline DB23 wheelset, and it's a good 'un. It's a do-it-all kind of wheelset thanks to 23mm deep alloy rims, although they're narrow (18mm internal, 22mm external) for a bike that comes with 32mm tyres.
The resulting profile is quite pronounced, though, which isn't great for aerodynamics.
I had some Pacenti deep section carbon wheels (review to come) on test at the same time as this, and they noticeably boosted the Merida's performance. The Endurance is worthy of upgrades.
Continental's Grand Prix 4 Season tyres match the DT Swiss wheels' intent as good all-rounders.
They're not the quickest or grippiest out there, but they're good and take a lot of abuse – it's a fit and forget tyre. Their lack of tubeless compatibility might be an issue for some, but at least the wheels are tubeless ready.
Looking around at the opposition, the 7000-E is competitively priced.
Specialized's Roubaix Comp endurance offering matches the Merida at £3,500 and has the FutureShock system for added comfort, but you only get a mechanical Ultegra groupset and a max tyre clearance of 33mm. Mudguards aren't an option either. The Roubaix Comp Ultegra Di2 option costs £4,400.
Trek's Domane is available in SL 6 guise for £3,200. Again, this only gets you Ultegra mechanical, though.
Canyon's endurance bike, the aptly/bluntly named Endurace, can be had with Di2 for just £3,049 if you go for the CF SL Disc 8.0 model. Again though, it doesn't offer the versatility of the Merida.
I really enjoyed riding and living with the Merida Scultura Endurance 7000-E. It feels as close to a race bike as it needs to for the speed and performance required of a fast day in the saddle. But it's also fun to ride, either when going fast or going far, something that's only helped by its excellent comfort levels.
Very comfortable, versatile mile-muncher that offers plenty of performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Merida Scultura Endurance 7000-E
Size tested: 55cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
CHAINSET: Shimano Ultegra
WHEELSET: DT Swiss P1850 Spline DB23
TYRES: Continental Grand Prix 4-Season
SHIFTERS: Shimano Ultegra disc Di2
FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano Ultegra Di2
REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano Ultegra Di2
CASSETTE: Shimano CS-HG700
BRAKE LEVER: Shimano Ultegra
BRAKES: Shimano Ultegra
ROTORS: Shimano RT800
BOTTOM BRACKET: SM-BB72-41B, Pressfit 86.5
CHAIN: KMC X11
HEADSET: MERIDA-8151 Semi integrated HS
HANDLEBAR: MERIDA EXPERT SL
STEM: MERIDA EXPERT CW
SADDLE: MERIDA EXPERT CC
SEAT POST: MERIDA EXPERT CC
SEAT CLAMP: MERIDA EXPERT
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 says,: "Based on the hugely popular and highly regarded SCULTURA platform, we have created a new addition to our tarmac focused line-up – the SCULTURA ENDURANCE. Offering a modern frame design with a more comfort-orientated geometry, plenty of tyre clearance and seamless integration of the latest standards, the SCULTURA ENDURANCE finds its place in the MERIDA line-up between the SCULTURA on one side and the MISSION CX and the SILEX on the other. Wide tyres offer plenty of comfort, even on the most pothole littered country lanes, while a longer head tube offers a more relaxed riding position. The SCULTURA ENDURANCE is the perfect choice for more leisure-focused cyclists who want to enjoy long hours in the saddle while being comfortable and relaxed on the bike!"
I found the Scultura Endurance has the same sporty characteristics as the standard Scultura, but with increased comfort and more forgiving handling.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
The 7000-E sits at the top of the Scultura Endurance range. Beneath it are the 6000 with basically the same build but mechanical shifting (and Fulcrum wheels) for £2,500.
Then there's the 4000, which has a 105 groupset and Merida-branded wheels for £2,000.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Build quality looks and feels very good indeed. I'm a big fan of the striking blue paint job, too.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Both the frame and fork are various grades of carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Compared to the race-orientated Scultura, the Scultura Endurance has much more relaxed geometry. A taller head tube and shorter top tube means the riding position is less aggressive.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack for this medium is 584mm and the reach is 380mm – fairly typical for a bike of this type and size.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes. Overall comfort from the frameset and components is very good on all types of road surfaces.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Great levels of stiffness throughout.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
On the whole, the Merida feels efficient. A good spread of gears means you can spend a lot of time in the saddle, saving energy over having to get out of the saddle on long climbs.
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? Neutral, but still quick enough to be fun.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It sits squarely in the neutral camp. You get very little in the way of surprises as you carve through the corners, with only the fastest and tightest showing the handling isn't quite as sharp as a race machine.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I found all the components pretty comfortable. Thanks to the low gear ratios I found myself sat in the saddle much more than normal, but never had any issues or soreness.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Ultegra chainset is one of the stiffest out there, and both the handlebar and stem showed no signs of flex.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
That 11-34T cassette gives you an extra couple of bailout gears over the usual 11-28T offering.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The Ultegra Di2 groupset has refined electronic shifting, and the hydraulic braking system is one of the best on the market.
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 DT Swiss wheels offer a great balance of performance, durability and weight. Something deeper and lighter does improve the performance – the Scultura Endurance frameset is ripe for upgrades.
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?
The Continental Grand Prix 4 Seasons are good for most conditions, and work throughout the year. Rolling resistance is pretty good, as is grip and durability.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The Merida finishing kit does a sound job for all of the contact points. The shallow drop of the handlebar means that getting out of the wind doesn't mean an aggressive position.
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?
At £3,500 the Scultura Endurance is the same price as the Specialized Roubaix Comp, but that only gets a mechanical Ultegra groupset instead of Di2. Trek's endurance bike, the Domane, costs £3,200 in SL 6 guise, and that too gets mechanical Ultegra shifting.
Canyon offers the Endurace CF SL Disc 8.0 with an Ultegra Di2 group and similar wheels for £3,049, which is quite a bargain.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Scultura Endurance 7000-E offers a lot of the performance of the Scultura, but with a more comfortable position for non-racers. It's a really nice bike to ride too, thanks to a quality frameset and a well-specced build for the money.
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!