With a lightweight carbon frame, and high end groupset, the Merida Silex + 6000 is the highest spec and lightest gravel bike Ben has tested.
Ben has been putting the Merida Silex + 6000 to the test during lockdown to see if Merida have got their gravel geometry dialled.
- 27.5″ (tested) or 700c
- Merida carbon fork
- SRAM Force 1 11-speed drive
- SRAM Force 1 brakes
- Merida alloy wheels
- £2650 RRP
Frame and Build Kit
Described as, ‘Glossy Ocean Blue,’ the Merida initially stands out due to its lovely paint job. As your eyes pass over the clean, angular lines of the frame, the second thing you notice is a head tube of monstrous proportions. It is possibly the longest head tube I have ever seen and is all part of Merida’s upright gravel riding geometry concept. Rather than a roadesque head down, bum up position the Silex sits you a lot more upright, in a position that is both comfortable and familiar to us mountain bikers.
The frame does have a quality feel to it and the finishing details were well executed with quiet internal cable routing, double bottle cage mounts and bolt though axles for stiffness and security. The only let down on the frame was the fancy looking integrated seat post clamp that consistently failed to hold the seat post in place for more than about 20 minutes. It is a carbon post in a carbon frame and on the first ride I found the post slipping as I rode.
After stopping a couple of times I found that the post had been greased which I then removed, thinking it would be fine. Unfortunately, even when dry it would still slip, even when I torqued the Allen bolt well beyond the suggested 4Nm. On rough roads the bolt would slowly back off and the post would slip. If I had the bike for longer I would apply some carbon friction paste to the post and I would Loctite the bolt.
A build highlight for me was the SRAM Force 1 single chainring groupset. It is a disc brake-specific range of components designed for gravel, CX and general commuting/riding and to a mountain biker like me, it basically looks like a single ring MTB groupset. In use I found the shifting to be very refined, both when spinning and when under load.
It is crisp but with a slight softness to the shifts that smooths the whole process out, keeping it quiet and making it easy to maintain momentum off road. It didn’t miss a single shift for the whole test, although there was no mud or rain to really test its reliability.
The SRAM Force 1 hydraulic disc brakes were more than powerful enough, even when riding on the hoods, and as usual for a gravel bike it is the tyres that become the limiting factor when you want to stop quickly. The levers are housed on Merida’s gravel specific bar which is a bit wider than a normal bar and also cuts a different shape with the ends unfurling, giving you a better riding position when riding off road on the drops. It does mean that every time you lean the bike on a wall it scrapes the lever tips, but it is practical and comfy when you leave the roads behind.
As a mountain biker who started in the mid 90’s I also appreciated the inline seat post which reminded my of a USE one I had in about 1998. It did help to keep you over the bottom bracket on steep climbs and it clamped a comfy Merida branded saddle.
This is the most expensive and lightest gravel bike I have tested or owned and that was instantly reflected when I pointed it up hill. It has good rolling speed on the 45mm Kenda tyres and with plenty of range in the 11 speed 11-42 tooth cassette I was flying up my local climbs in some personal best times. The upright geometry really comes into its own on steep pitches and if you want to, you can always get down on the drops to really put the power down.
Weighing in at just over 9kg (19.9 lbs) plus pedals and water bottle it is lovely and light, and when you stand on the pedals on a climb you can really feel it snap forwards. I rode the Silex+ 6000 up a number of dry, rocky bridleways and enjoyed the challenge of finding a line and then using my power and the bike’s agility to clean sections, find grip and hopping over roots and up steps. In this sense, it really does feel like a capable off-road bike and I found it surprisingly agile and engaging.
Bearing in mind its intentions, the Silex was a decent descender on the fire roads and chilled out bridleways that I took it down. The riding position plays a big part in that, as did the high volume tyres which damped things down and gave a surprising amount of grip. For a rigid bike, it was fairly quiet as well, mostly down to the cable routing and single ring.
When they were full of air, the Kenda Flintridge Pro tyres had a surprising amount of grip from the low profile tread. They were set up tubeless which was a first for me on a gravel bike. As always, tyres are a trade off between weight and puncture protection and I found myself getting quite a few punctures with the Kendas. I even had a thorn puncture, it was like I was back in the 90’s again.
While the sealant always sorted it out, plugging the hole, it did mean I had to reach for the mini pump as losing only 5 psi made a really big difference to the ride feel and left it feeling pretty sketchy. I also had to re-tape one of the rims as it was losing air through the spoke nipples as the factory tape was not properly applied.
As gravel bikes go, the Merida turns pretty well. You just need to take your time to set up properly and then hold your line. You can lean in a surprising amount on the Kenda tyres and the carbon fork does a decent job of being direct without being so stiff as to bounce you off line. All of my riding was on baked hard, dry, dusty trails and I probably only rode through a couple of muddy patches the whole time, so I can’t really comment on wet grip and performance which is unusual for a UK bike test.
The only issues were the seat post slipping and a few punctures.
At about £1000 more than the next cheapest gravel bike I have ridden, the Merida Silex+ 6000 is unsurprisingly the best one as well, so I don’t have other bikes to directly compare it to.
What do we think?
When you start to hit the £2,500 price point you really see a jump in performance and the glossy blue Merida is no exception. It felt fast, efficient and also comfortable and made the COVID-19 lockdown a whole lot more bearable.
- SRAM Force1 Groupset
- Merida gravel geometry
- Quality frame
Could Do Better
- Slipping seat post clamp