The Merida Scultura Endurance is a comfortable carbon road bike that’s almost a gravel machine.
With big clearances, fairly upright geometry and mounts for proper mudguards (fenders), the Scultura Endurance is a versatile and capable bike that’s ideal for big distances on less-than-perfect roads, and it can hold its own on light gravel too.
The top-spec Scultura Endurance 7000-E model features Shimano Ultegra Di2 and DT Swiss aluminium wheels. Despite minor spec niggles, it’s a very likeable machine and it’s fairly competitively priced.
For full details of the 2021 Scultura Endurance range, make sure you read our news story from the original launch.
Merida Scultura Endurance frameset
The Scultura Endurance is built around a carbon frame weighing a claimed 1,124g including all hardware (rear derailleur hanger, seatstay bridge and bottle cage bolts). The matching fork comes in at a claimed 411g uncut.
The Scultura Endurance’s geometry leans towards the more chilled-out end of endurance road, with this medium test bike having 380mm of reach and 584mm of stack.
Merida considers the bike unisex – there’s no separate men’s or women’s version.
The Scultura Endurance’s frame, and in particular the seat cluster, is somewhat reminiscent of the Canyon Endurance CF, but the Scultura Endurance features fewer straight lines and the top tube flows into a distinctive bulge in the head tube.
The seat clamp is a wedge-style item that lurks under a rubber cover in front of the seatpost.
Everything about the frameset is up-to-date when it comes to standards. Flat-mount brakes are virtually a given now, as are 12mm thru-axles front and rear.
The direct-mount rear derailleur is nice to have too – this design makes rear wheel removal and installation easier.
Like so many new-for-2021 bikes, the Scultura is endowed with very tidy cable routing. The cables run underneath the stem before disappearing into the upper headset cover.
As ever, this adds some mechanical complexity (you’ll have to disconnect the brake hoses and gear cables to replace the upper headset bearing), but it looks super clean and has the side benefit of making it easier to run a fashion-forward handlebar bag.
Key to the Scultura Endurance’s appeal is its ample tyre clearances. Merida fits 32mm wide tyres as stock to the bike, but it’ll take 35s and, even better, there are mudguard (fender) mounts too – still a relative rarity on bikes of this ilk.
The rear seatstay bridge can be removed if you’re not running fenders, for a cleaner look.
I have slightly mixed feelings about the frameset’s matt finish, which looks great in photos but, as is typical for this type of paint, tends to show marks easily. It’s a personal preference, but I’d prefer an easier-to-clean gloss or semi-gloss.
The black sections on the frame are decals applied over the paint, and they seem more vulnerable to minor damage (e.g. rubbing against another bike in the car) than a typical fully painted finish.
Merida Scultura Endurance 7000-E build
This top of the range Scultura Endurance 7000-E has a full Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset barring the chain, DT Swiss P1850 Spline DB23 wheels and entirely in-house finishing kit.
There’s little to complain about, although my test bike (an early sample, I should point out) arrived with the markings on the bar printed off-centre, and the tape wrapped asymmetrically as a result.
I flagged this with Merida and would expect it to be rectified before bikes hit the shops.
While the DT wheels are tubeless-ready, the 32mm Continental Grand Prix 4-Season tyres are not, so you’ll need to shell out for new rubber if you want to ditch the tubes.
They’re also ‘only’ 18mm internal width – wide by traditional road standards, but not wide enough to take maximum advantage of the larger tyres the Scultura’s frameset accepts.
A nice touch is the compact multi-tool tucked in a case under the saddle. It’s handy to have it permanently attached to the bike, although the tool’s design is one that doesn’t work particularly well for saddle height adjustments because it tends to foul on the seatpost.
This medium bike weighs 8.4kg without pedals, decent if not exceptional for an endurance bike with chunky tyres and discs.
Merida Scultura Endurance 7000-E ride impressions
The Scultura Endurance lives up to its name with a ride that’s well suited to long days out.
You don’t get the sense that the frame is adding gobs of compliance but, even with my fit, there’s enough seatpost on show to add a bit of flex and, more importantly, you’ve got those squishy 32mm tyres to absorb bumps.
As a result, the Scultura certainly isn’t Specialized Roubaix levels of comfy, but the ride is smooth and doesn’t wear you down on broken tarmac and light gravel.
At the same time, the fairly upright geometry favours relaxed riding over distance.
That position means it’s never going to feel racy (although one could size down for a more aggressive fit), but the Scultura is stiff in the right places, feeling taut with hard efforts and accurate when you’re navigating bends at speed.
Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 groupset is as brilliant as ever, and fans of loud freehubs will appreciate the DT Swiss rear hub.
If there’s one disappointment, it’s Merida’s choice of tyres. As well as not being tubeless-ready, the Continental Grand Prix 4-Seasons are heavy (340g claimed, each) and, while it’s hard to assess meaningfully without rolling resistance data, they feel draggy and slow.
They’re the sort of worthy, durable tyres I’d fit to an all-weather commuting bike where puncture protection took precedence over performance, but they don’t do justice to the Scultura Endurance.
For mixed road riding and light gravel, I’d swap them for a set of Continental GP5000 TLs and reap the benefits of a proper tubeless performance tyre.
I did also rather fall out with the rear brake cooler that’s a feature on numerous Merida bikes.
Mounted between the caliper and the frame, this heatsink effectively reduces heel clearance by around 5mm on the left side.
I have a somewhat heels-in pedalling style and, as a result, I repeatedly caught my shoe on the cooler’s surprisingly sharp edge, making a nice gouge in a brand-new pair of Shimano S-Phyres. Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I asked Merida if it’s possible to remove the heatsink and apparently it can be replaced with a 4mm spacer.
The brand says Shimano’s higher-end Ice Technologies equipped brakes (with specific rotors and pads) run sufficiently cool without assistance, but it’s preferable to retain the heatsink with cheaper options and SRAM groupsets.
In any case, this won’t affect riders who keep their feet straighter while pedalling and who set their cleats slightly further apart, but it’s something to watch out for if you’re test riding a Scultura.
These niggles aside, I got on well with the Scultura Endurance. It’s comfy, well equipped and handles nicely, and I’d happily take it on longer rides.
It can also do a passable impression of a gravel bike. Tyre choice is always a factor with gravel riding, but as long as you’re not on excessively slippery or loose terrain, the Merida is happy to dabble off-road on fireroads and gravelly paths in standard form, and with knobblier rubber it could do even more.
Merida Scultura Endurance vs. Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 8.0 Di2 and other rivals
The Scultura Endurance is fairly competitively priced for its spec. Key rivals will include the Canyon Endurance CF SL Disc 8.0 Di2 which is £200 cheaper, but lacks the Merida’s tidy cable routing and mudguard mounts, and takes a maximum 30mm tyre versus the Scultura’s 35mm.
The Giant Defy Advanced Pro is a rival too. Giant hasn’t yet confirmed its 2021 pricing, but the high-scoring 2020 Advanced Pro 2 model cost the same as the Scultura and got a mechanical Ultegra groupset (Merida gives you Di2), but fancier carbon wheels, an upgrade over the Merida’s alloy ones.
Merida Scultura Endurance overall
The Merida Scultura Endurance is a likeable and versatile bike that has a lot to recommend it.
It rides well, takes chunky tyres if you want them and offers mudguard mounts where many rivals omit them.
The spec isn’t perfect, but a tyre upgrade would make all the difference, and even in stock form it’s a great all-round ride.
If I were shopping for a posh winter bike, I’d be sorely tempted by the entry-level £2,000 / €2,349 model with Shimano 105, but I don’t think I’d feel cheated by any of the range.