Despite being criticised for its looks, the first-generation Merida Silex was an impressive bike – for its time. The gravel space, however, is in a state of constant flux and the contemporary gravel bike formula has rendered many bikes - the Silex included - pretty much obsolete. This forced Merida to go back to the drawing board with the aim of improving its handling, all-round comfort, visual cues and off-road ability, and it seems to be bang on the money. After all, Bahrain Victorious rider Matej Mohoric, secured the 2023 UCI Gravel World Championship aboard the all-new Silex. Let’s take a closer look at the second-generation Silex or you can read our Merida Silex 10k first ride impressions on off.road.cc.
While the new Silex bears a striking similarity to the bike it replaces, there are subtle changes that have made a big difference to the way the bike looks and performs. The biggest difference is the shortened headtube which has now made upgrading to an aftermarket suspension fork a viable possibility.
The geometry has also been tweaked culminating in a shorter stack and room for bigger tyres; up to 45mm (42mm with fenders). Look closely and you’ll see the dropped chainstays near the bottom bracket which allows for both 1x and 2x drivetrain compatibility.
The head angle has also been slackened by 1.5 degrees to 69.5 degrees, aiding in more control and confidence when things get gnarly. Despite the relaxed front end, the bike still responds eagerly to pedal inputs and feels as quick on the flats as it does on climbs and descents – Merida has really got the balance right here. The Merida Silex is available in five sizes: XS, S, M, L and XL, with an XS measuring 55cm in top tube length. Crank arm sizes differ across the range with XS/S, M and L/XL using 170mm, 172.5mm and 175mm, respectively.
You’ll also notice the cleaner aesthetic and lack of excessive hoses and cable faff at the front end. Much of this comes compliments of the Wire Port integrated cable routing as seen on the Scultura and Scultura Endurance. The frame is compatible with internally routed dropper seatposts and also utilises a top-tube-integrated seatpost clamp and Fidlock base mount (the latter on CF models only) for a cleaner aesthetic.
Unlike Merida’s road bike range, there’s only one carbon-fibre layup available across all four models. A medium frameset tips the scales at 1,220g, 680g lighter than the alloy version (both the CF and alloy bike utilise a 540g carbon fork). A full bike in medium guise, weighs just over 9kg without pedals, which is impressive given the bike’s rowdy nature and bigger tyres. But the new Silex is not just about out-and-out performance and subsequently comes outfitted with a host of mounting bosses on the frame and fork for panniers, bags and rear carrier racks, the latter is available on aluminium frames only.
An interesting addition and something that no doubt helps instil in the rider a heightened level of confidence and control are the 180mm rotors fitted front/rear. While Merida claims this move was included to cater for the added weight of luggage and bike bags, it’s had a positive effect on its technical proficiency, too.
The all-new Merida Silex range comprises seven models: four carbon-fibre models and three aluminium options. Carbon models include the Silex 10k, 8000, 7000 and 4000 while the alloy Silex comes in 700, 400 and 200 derivatives. There’s a lot to offer – both in terms of price points and spec levels.
The range is spearheaded by the Silex 10k which gets a SRAM Red AXS/X01 mullet groupset – 42T, 10-52T – complete with a Quarq power meter. Everything from the Reynolds Blacklabel G700 Pro wheels to Easton EC70 AX handlebars are carbon fibre items. It also gets a RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post, a gravel-specific Prologo Scratch M5 AGX saddle and Maxxis Rambler 45c tyres.
Following the 10k is the Silex 8000. Details on this model are not yet clear but we assume its release will dovetail with the imminent launch of the Shimano GRX 12-speed Di2 groupset.
Next up is the Silex 7000 which substitutes all the carbon-fibre goodies of the 10k for lightweight aluminium components. The groupset is Shimano's new GRX RX820 which adds a 12th cassette sprocket. It gets a 42T upfront mated with an 11-51T cassette. The wheels are Easton EA70 AX and are also shod in Maxxis Rambler 45c rubber. There’s no dropper, instead, the bike gets a carbon-fibre Merida Expert solid post.
The Silex 4000 gets the same tyres and seatpost as the 7000 but ditches a 1x arrangement in favour of a Shimano GRX600 2x groupset for added range. As such the gearing is pegged at 46-30T, 11-36T. It also employs Merida-branded Expert Sl II wheels.
The aluminium Silex models are impressively specced and follow a similar specification convention as the carbon-fibre models. The Silex 700 is practically identical to the 7000 with the only differences coming in the form of the rotors – the 700 gets Shimano RT64 180/160mm front/rear as opposed to RT64 180mm all round.
One down is the Silex 400. It follows the 4000’s build quite closely sharing the same Merida Expert Sl II wheels, handlebar, saddle, tyres and Shimano GRX600 2x groupset. The only difference is the seatpost which favours alloy over carbon fibre and the 180/160mm rotor arrangement.
The entry-level model in the range is the Merida Silex 200. It gets a nine-speed Shimano Sora groupset, complete with 48-32T, 11-32T gearing assembly. The components are nothing flashy – Merida-branded stock – but are hardy enough to endure the rigours of off-road trails. The only component it shares with its stablemates is the Maxxis Rambler 45c tyres.
Merida has historically nailed things when it comes to value, often usurping many of its rivals as a result. The new Silex isn’t any different – in fact, the spread is impressive with build options designed to appeal to a wider audience. Bar the Merida 8000 which is yet to be released, all bikes are available immediately for purchase.
Merida Silex 10K: £8,750 / € 10,500
Merida Silex 8000: £5,250 / € 6,300
Merida Silex 7000: £3,000 / € 3,600
Merida Silex 4000: £2,250 / € 2,700
Merida Silex 700: £2,350 / € 2,820
Merida Silex 400: £1,650 / € 1,980
Merida Silex 200: £1,275 / €1,500
Aaron is the editor of off-road.cc. He completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. As the former tech editor of Cyclingnews and Bike Perfect, digital editor of Bicycling magazine and associate editor of TopCar, he's travelled the world writing about bikes and anything with wheels for the past 17 years. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, raced nearly every mountain bike stage race in South Africa and completed the Haute Route Alps. He's also a national-level time triallist and eSports racer, too - having captained South Africa at both the 2022 and 2023 UCI Cycling eSports World Championships.