I dreamed that I owned a new road bike the other night. Then I woke up and it was true! Good timing too, as my previous road bike (a Merida Scultura Evo 907-com) had reached that magical age where the sale:upgrade ratio flashes green and says ‘no time like the present’ – one of those cool things that is only possible (and very gratefully received) due to support from Merida Australia and my local bike shop, the Bicycle Garage, Lilyfield.
The Reacto 907 is a stiffer, racier frame than the Scultura. It doesn’t soak up bumps in the bitumen quite as comfortably as it’s predecessor when riding slowly, but when the pace is on the ‘ride feel’ has a nice, carbon smoothness to it. The increased stiffness, especially in the rear triangle translates to quick acceleration and an ability hold speed nicely once the power is down. Most reviews on last year’s model rate its performance on the flats, but point out that it’s not a pure climber. This suits me well as the flats are where I tend to fly off the back of any group (especially one predominantly consisting of powerful blokes) and the climbs are where I’m happy to work a bit harder in training so I can ride like the wind while racing.
The Shimano Ultegra build (with 105 cluster) and Fulcrum Racing PRC wheel set make this rig a well built, good value option for regular riding and racing. The slightly lower spec also makes space in the Merida line up for the Reacto 907 E, where E stands for electronic shifting and extra oohs and ahhs from bike nerds world wide. While my last 105 cluster lasted seemingly forever before I needed to replace it, I admittedly swapped out this one with a new Ultegra 11-25 that I had recently purchased for my previous steed (rotating mass and all that).
While the facts about a bike make sense analytically, the first, fast ride is always full of surprises. For me, speed on the flats was somewhat expected, but cresting a hill climb with the main group certainly was not. Better yet, this revelatory hill climbing experience happened on the steepest hill on the regular Wednesday bunch ride – a hill which normally sees me blow half way up, and pant all over the handlebars with tears coming out of my eyes for the rest of it. I also held the group in the final sprint, and felt about 20% fitter just for having new wheels.
The finish on the Reacto 907 is classy and bold. The white, blue and shiny carbon graphics turn heads from afar, while some thoughtful finishing touches reward a closer look. The seat post can be flipped around to turn the bike into more of a time trial machine. I might have to borrow some bars and a skinsuit one day to test this feature out.
Thanks to Merida for making this bike appear in the time it takes to go to bed and wake up again. And thank you most of all to the Bicycle Garage for transforming my experience of inner city riding in Sydney. These guys are so much more than a shop: they are a bike fit service, coffee addiction centre, training program, laughing circle and a great crew to hang with during the week and at events. Despite a short-lived identity crisis when recently realising the kilometres I’ve been putting on skinny wheels, the shop bunch rides I’ve been doing with this crew are too much fun to miss out on. The short punchy climbs and sprints on the flats translate really well to mountain bike tracks, too. I wonder what I’ll dream about next!…
Photos: Kath Bicknell