Merida is one of the top brands to get their 2020 model bikes to India first
I got to take a quick spin around the block of the Merida Mission CX 300 SE. The ride was too short for a detailed review, but long enough to give my first impressions of the bike.
About 8 years ago when the amateur racing started off in Hyderabad, one of the better riders and early adopters bought a cyclocross bike. He was not sure whether the Indian roads could be tamed on a typical road bike and hence picked up a cyclocross. Now many of us are comfortably riding road bikes, but like they say life comes around a full circle and there is renewed interest for cyclocross and adventure bikes.
Adventure/Gravel bikes dominated the new launches of the last few years. Merida India has interestingly given preference to Mission CX series (Cyclocross) over the Silex series (Gravel/Adventure). While there are similarities in the two categories, each brand seems to have a different design approach. Merida has focused on keeping the Silex endurance focused and the frame design has a sloping top tube and higher stack giving a more upright posture.
The Mission series on the other hand has cyclocross racing as its core DNA. The top tube is horizontal and you will bend more. The best thing I liked about this bike is that the frame is very responsive. This combined with a smooth bottom bracket ensures a very good ride. The 300 SE comes with Aluminium alloy fork which is a departure from the carbon fork blades which has become standard in bikes at this level. This contributes a little to the additional weight.
There is almost no cyclocross races in India. So what purpose would this bike serve? Its an exciting take for a brevet or in wet weather. If you are looking for a bike which can handle any surface, but not necessarily looking for an upright or slow bike, this would be the ideal bike. The Mission 400 has a even better frame and carbon bladed fork which should make it even more exciting, but surprisingly the 400 comes with 46-36 chainrings, where as the 300 comes with 50-34 chainrings which will be more ideal for the typical Indian brevets.
The bike comes with a 2*10 speed Tiagra shifters and derailleurs. Braking is effected by Tektro Spyre mechanical disc brakes. The bike is priced very aggressively at Rs.79,990 and comes with a beautiful red colour which Merida calls “Silk X’Mas Red”. All you need now is for Santa to bring in this X’mas present earlier.