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Merida Speeder 100 2017 Flat Bar Road Bike Review

July 21, 2017
Merida Speeder 100 2017 Flat Bar Road Bike Review

The Merida Speeder 100 is pitched as a flat bar/fitness road bike with endurance road bike geometry for stability and comfort. There are disc brakes for confidence-inspiring stopping, along with tyres, groupset and other specifications that make it versatile enough for a multitude of purposes.

Flat bar road bikes are most commonly used for recreational riding and mirror the features and performance traits of traditional road bikes with drop down handlebars including quicker handling, light weight design, and gearing optimised for speed. As such, for this review, we are assessing the Speeder's propensity for fast paced commuting and recreational riding, versatility and comparable performance to drop bar road bikes of the same value. For more information on the difference between the most common recreational bikes, read our feature or watch the accompanying video comparing flat bar road, urban and hybrid bikes.

  • Who’s it for?: Those that commute frequently across intermediate to long distances, and also enjoy faster paced recreational and fitness riding.
  • What we like?: Good looking bike with robust tyres and comfortable geometry.
  • What we don’t?: The triple crankset requires riders to be proactive with their gear selection and we'd have loved to see hydraulic disc brakes over the cable operated versions.

Frameset and Geometry

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The Speeder 100 is Merida's entry-level aluminium 'flat bar road/fitness' bike with five other options existing in the form the Speeder 200, 400, 500, 10-V and 20 disc. The same 'Speeder Lite' frame is used throughout the Speeder range with the difference between each largely down to the drivetrain, fork material, and wheelset.

The frame is hydroformed aluminium that creates smooth lines and additional stiffness without adding excess weight. Hydroforming refers to shaping metals through the use of a mould and high-pressure fluid. The aluminium tubing is placed into a mould and then high-pressure pumps are used to force the aluminium into the shape of the mould, creating a frame that provides stiffness without the need for additional reinforcement or extra material. For more on frame materials and an in-depth description of aluminium, read our Bike Frame Materials Explained article.

The frame features a mixture of internal and external cables. The gear cables run internally through ports in the down tube while the front and rear brake cables run externally and are held in place with basic cable ties. The externally located cables save on production costs compared to internal cabling and make servicing and cable replacement far easier, although not as aesthetically pleasing.

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The welds at each tube junction are smooth, even and thick with no obvious gaps, which suggests high-quality craftsmanship and a frame that should be strong and robust. And as all good commuter bikes should, the Speeder 100 includes mounts for racks both front and rear.

While flat bar road bikes mirror the attributes and features of traditional road bikes, there are many interpretations of a 'traditional' road bike these days, and so it's best to think of flat bar road bikes adopting the same geometry as an endurance road bike, with a focus on stability and comfort that puts the rider in a more upright position. A quick look at the geometry confirms the Speeder's focus, consisting of long 435mm chainstays, a tall 215mm headtube, and wheelbase of over a metre (all for a size 56cm). These features aim to create stability providing confidence to new riders and those looking for sporty performance but without the aggressive position of drop down handlebars.

While the headtube may be tall, the angle is quite steep (73 degrees) and one we'd more commonly associate with fast handling performance road bikes. As such, the Speeder provides quick, responsive handling whilst maintaining an upright riding position.

The Speeder 100 is available is six sizes starting from 47cm and extending to 59cm, an impressive range that should cover the spectrum of rider heights.

Drivetrain

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Shimano provides the drivetrain componentry with easy to use 'EZ fire' trigger shifters that control a triple crankset up front (three cogs) and an 8-speed cassette on the rear. In order from largest to smallest, the chainrings on the front feature 48T, 38T, and 28T respectively, and are paired with an 11-28 cassette.

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There are 24 gears in total with coverage seemingly more focused on easier pedalling ratios than what we might typically expect from a sporty flat bar road bike. A quick scan of the Speeder 200 (the model above) and you can identify what we'd more typically associate with a sporty flat bar road bike featuring a 50/34 double crankset, providing faster gear ratios and less (potential) mechanical interference. However, as the Speeder 100 is targetted at beginner riders with a more cost-effective price tag, it's a considered choice.

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Other Features

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Once confined to mountain bikes, the use of disc brakes on recreational and commuter bikes is becoming more and more common due to the fact they provide superior brake control and durability, especially in the wet when compared to rim brakes. As such the Speeder 100 is equipped with mechanical 160mm Promax disc brakes that should provide ample stopping power.

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The wheelset provided on the bike, the Merida Comp Disc 22, is a basic alloy disc wheelset and features a large stainless steel spoke count for added strength. Wrapping the wheels are the Maxxis Detonator 32c tyres that provide a good balance between speed and efficiency while offering enough puncture protection from debris. With such wide tyres fitted, the 700c wheels offer sufficient rollover ability to clear obstacles like train tracks and curbs (just don't go slamming into them!).

Merida also provides the finishing touches including their own saddle, seatpost, handlebar, and stem. The weight for the 56cm bike we tested was 11.12kg including flat pedals but no bottle cages.

Ride impressions

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As I'm used to riding a drop down handlebar road bike, the move to riding a flat bar road bike wasn't as far removed as I had thought. The Speeder 100 hummed along at speed easily and the handling was surprisingly sharp given the length of the headtube and wheelbase, and the additional width of the straight handlebars. Steering required little effort, which is largely down to the steep head tube angle. This, combined with the tall headtube, made for an easy to ride bike with good levels of responsiveness. The more upright position was instantly comfortable and came in handy when navigating through heavy traffic during commutes.

Getting up to speed and away at traffic lights took a bit of work, which is to be expected with the longer wheelbase and larger tyres, but given its purpose, the decision to opt for slower tyres to provide better comfort and puncture protection is a good one. While saddle choice is an intensely personal preference, the Merida Sport saddle was incredibly comfortable for me with plenty of padding and a partial channel through the middle easing pressure on soft tissues. Such was the comfort I rarely wore bib shorts with a chamois, instead, riding in either sports shorts or pants for the majority of the testing period.

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The easy to reach and use trigger shifters were great but riders will have to be proactive with gear selection as the triple crankset leads to a lot of cross chaining if you get lazy with your shifting. As such, I found myself shifting far more than I would normally and wishing for a more simplified double or single crankset. There is also significant steps between each sprocket on the rear cassette which can make it tough to find the sweet spot of gear selection when riding at a fast pace.

The cable operated disc brakes performed well, the only issue experienced was the tendency for them to grab at times. While hydraulic disc brakes are perhaps more than what you would expect at this price point, the consistent performance in adverse weather conditions, as well as the incredibly low maintenance, ease of use, and better modulation (control) of the sealed hydraulic system might be enough for prospective buyers to spend a little more (AUD$300) and opt for the Speeder 200 which features Tektro hydraulic disc brakes.

A significant benefit of disc brakes is the potential to run much larger tyres. The Speeder was fitted with 32c tyres but there is enormous clearance for much larger, and so if you want additional protection from punctures, or ride on particularly course roads, the option is there.

Conclusion

The lack of multiple hands positions aside, when comparing the Speeder to a similarly priced drop down handlebar road bike, it performs well, albeit with a lack of faster gear ratios. The bike is light enough to cover undulating terrain, and the 24-speed drivetrain provides more than enough gears to conquer the steepest bergs. As mentioned, we'd have loved hydraulic disc brakes in place of cable actuated ones and a double crankset with simpler shifting in mind, but that option does exist with the Speeder 200 at a negligible cost.

The Merida Speeder 100 is available in Australia now with an RRP of AUD$899. There are six sizes available; 47cm, 50cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm and 59cm. Our main tester is 184cm and rode a 56cm size. To learn more about how this bike compares to similar urban-type bikes, check out our full feature on flat bar road versus urban versus hybrid bikes.


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