Sunday, July 17, 2016

Merida Reacto 4000: Part 3 - Full Components Specifications

After taking the effort to disassemble and clean all the bike components on the Merida Reacto 4000, it is time to assemble back everything. Also, it is a good chance to take a look at the stock specifications for this bike.

Part 1: Introduction and Disassembly
Part 2: Disassembly (continued) and Restoration

Other than cleaning the disassembled components, the bike frame was also cleaned and waxed to get a nice glossy finish. Here are the pictures showing the results!

Large downtube with bottle cage bosses

After waxing the frame for a couple of times with Hi Glaze 88, it is now glossy, maybe even more than the original condition!

View of the rear triangle

View of the seat tube. All clean and glossy.

The D-shaped aerodynamic seat post, with the special rubber insert for added comfort

Hidden seat post clamp for a clean appearance. Works well with no slippage.

Now, let's take a look at the component specifications for this bike. Before the cleanup, it was not ideal for highlighting the various components as they are too dusty. With all the components cleaned and restored, this is the best time to show the component specifications.

Shimano 105 5800 2x11 speed road shifters. Reliable performance at a great price point.

The damaged silver name plate was changed to a new one

Controltech aluminium stem. This seems to be a 110mm length stem.

Internal cable routing, with the shifter cables running into the top of the top tube, through a plate specially designed for this purpose.

Tektro direct mount brakes, works OK but lacks power and smoothness compared to Shimano direct mount brakes.

One way to improve braking power is to change out the original Tektro brake pads, to the Shimano brake pads taken off from the Shimano Ultegra 6800 brake calipers.

The rear section of the rear brake caliper outer casing was changed out to a new section, as shown here. It exits from the side of the downtube and routes in a smooth curve to the rear brake caliper, which is mounted under the bottom bracket.

Another view of the hidden rear brake caliper. Maybe good for aerodynamics, but troublesome for adjustments, and braking feeling is not really good due to the longer and more complex cable routing.

FSA BB386 crankset with the Shimano 105 5800 front derailleur. All cleaned up and looking new.

View of the crankset from the left side

52/36T chainring combination, which is a popular mid-compact gearing nowadays. Shiny chain and clean chain rings.

Totally cleaned up drivetrain, front derailleur and bottom bracket area. Way different from the dusty condition when we first got the bike.

Shimano 105 5800 11 speed rear derailleur

Shimano 105 5800 11-28T 11 speed cassette, all clean and shiny again!

Even the tires and rims were cleaned by wiping with a wet rag. Looking new again! Continental Ultra Sport tires, 700x25C for a bit more comfort compared to 23C tires.

No more dusty spokes! The quick release axles were changed to Shimano QR for better clamping force. To see the difference between Good and Bad QR Axles, click here.

Overall weight of 9.0 kg without any accessories or pedals. Not lightweight, but acceptable for this aero setup, with a heavier frameset, heavier high profile wheels and also the not-so-lightweight Shimano groupset.

Front view of the restored Merida Reacto 4000

Looking fast with a small frontal area

Aero frame looks good with these high profile rims

With the bike fully restored, it looks like a brand new bike again!

All it needs now is to put on a pair of pedals, and it is ready to roll!

With this bike restoration, I have learnt more about this bike and the setup. For those who are considering an aero road bike with a good component specification, this is one bike you can consider. If you have a larger budget, you can consider the higher grade Merida Reacto 5000 which has Ultegra components.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Merida Reacto 4000: Part 2 - Disassembly (continued) and Restoration

This continues from the first part of the Merida Reacto 4000 disassembly, where the stock bike was being dismantled for cleaning. As the bike was quite dusty, it was necessary to remove the components for proper cleaning.

The next component to be removed was the crankset. As this is not the more common Hollowtech II crankset, it took me a while to figure out how to remove the crankset. Luckily it did not require any special tools, or it would not have been possible to remove it.

As a FSA Goassamer crankset, it is considered a mid-high end crankset, much like the Shimano 105 crankset. This FSA crankset does have a larger spindle which is 30mm in diameter, which is bigger and stiffer than the 24mm Hollowtech II type of spindle. Also, it has a BB386 spindle, which means that it is BB30 compatible, with a press fit BB width of 86mm.

Large diameter BB386 spindle looking pretty stiff

Weighs 519 grams on the right side including 52/36T chain rings

251 grams for the left crank arm, including the integrated crank bolt

Total weight of 777 grams including the spring washers. Very similar to the weight of the Shimano 105 5700 crankset.

Overall view of the clean crankset

Press fit bottom bracket in the frame. Nice and clean now!

After removing the crankset from the frame, it was easy to clean up the bottom bracket area. As it is a press fit bottom bracket, it is not worth the trouble to remove the bottom bracket.

Also note the rear caliper brake which is mounted underneath the chain stays, supposedly for better aerodynamics as compared to being mounted on the seat stays. It is also a direct mount brake, which should give better braking force as compared to the usual type that is mounted with the centre bolt. One major disadvantage of being mounted underneath is the difficulty of servicing the brakes. Most of the time, it is necessary to remove the crankset or chain rings to make adjustments to the brake, as the chain rings will block access to the brake.

This bottom mounted rear brake also does not have a quick release adjuster, which makes it more troublesome to remove the rear wheel. More elaboration on this issue can be found later on.

Bike frame is flipped upside down for better cleaning of the rear caliper brakes.

In order to allow the rear wheel to be removed, the rear caliper brake needs to be opened up. However, since there is no quick release adjuster, Merida added an inline cable adjuster to the rear brake cable, near the handlebar area (shown below). However, this is not ideal as it is not as convenient as a quick release lever, and is it not possible to get back the same cable tension setting after removing and installing the wheel.

Original setup, with the inline cable adjust for the rear brake.

A better solution is to use an inline quick release adjuster, such as the Shimano SM-CB90 Brake Cable Adjuster, which has a quick release lever. This should have been used, instead of the stock cable adjuster, since the rear brake does not have a quick release lever. I decided to change the stock adjuster to the SM-CB90 brake cable adjuster for future convenience.

At the same time, since the original brake cable adjust needed to be removed anyway, I changed out the rear section of the brake outer casing to a new section. This involved some internal routing through the frame, and so it took quite a bit of time and effort.

Changed to the SM-CB90 Brake Cable Adjuster, which is the correct part to match the rear brake caliper.

Rear section of the brake cable outer casing, passing through the frame

Direct mount front caliper brakes by Tektro. Cleaned and lubed for smooth operation.

Scuffed right side shifter and name plate, which was probably sustained at the same time as the scratches on the rear derailleur.

Cassette is clean and shiny after a thorough cleaning. As you can see, there is very little wear on the sprockets which means low mileage on this bike.

The shifters were not removed, because they were not really dusty, and also because it was too troublesome to remove the bar tape and the shifters. With that, the disassembly is complete!

Now, since most of the components are already off the bike, I took the chance to clean and wax the bike frame. As a bike frame with a glossy finish, it is great to make the frame nice and shiny again.

It is now time to reinstall all the cleaned up components. Assembly in progress!

Bike is partially assembled, to be continued!

Part 3 to be continued

Friday, June 17, 2016

Merida Reacto 4000: Part 1 - Introduction and Disassembly

Recently I had a chance to restore an aero road bike, the Merida Reacto 4000 as shown below. This is a road bike by Merida, and it is an aero road bike, which means a more aerodynamic frame and component placement, as compared to a conventional road bike such as the Merida Scultura.

The way that Merida uses to label their range of road bikes is quite straightforward, as I will explain here. Merida road bikes are generally classified into two main groups, Road Race and Road Comfort. Road Race consists of Scultura and Reacto, whereas Road Comfort has Ride and Ride Disc.

Road Race
Scultura - Conventional road bike looks with an emphasis on a lightweight frame
Reacto - TT style of bike frame design with an emphasis on aerodynamics

Road Comfort
Ride - Road bike with more relaxed geometry and extra damping from lower seat stay placement
Ride Disc - Basically the Ride with disc brakes

For each of these categories, the numbering signifies the type of frame material (aluminium or carbon), and also the grade of components used.

3 digit numbers (Eg. 400, 500) - Aluminium frame
4 digit numbers (Eg. 4000, 5000) - Carbon frame

One great thing I admire about Merida is that for their aluminium frames, they try to replicate the look of the carbon frame. For example, the aluminium Reacto 400 looks very similar to the carbon Reacto 4000 in terms of frame shape. Only upon closer examination is the aluminium welding visible.

The higher the number, the higher the grade of components used. For example, the Scultura 400 is an aluminium frame with Shimano 105 components, while the Scultura 5000 has a carbon frame with Ultegra components.

With this definition, it is easy to know roughly the type and grade of the Merida road bike just by looking at the model name and the model number.

The Merida Reacto 4000 is a road race bike with an aero shaped frame made of carbon, and is equipped with Shimano 105 components. I already have the Merida Scultura 5000 myself, and this bike was what my friend bought as a second hand bike from another seller.

Merida Reacto 4000 in stock condition

I went along to check out the condition of the bike, and found that it was in good condition. It was covered in a thick layer of dust, which means that the bike has been sitting in a storeroom for at least a few months. There is quite little wear and tear on the components, which means that this bike has seen very low mileage. After checking to make sure that there is no obvious damage on the frame or wheels, and that all the components are working fine, the deal was closed at a good price.

Before it can be used, I wanted to give the bike a full service, and also ensure that all the components are installed well and adjusted properly. It also gives me a chance to learn more about this bike and write about it.

Stock bike weight of 9 kg without pedals. This is a size 54 frame. Not lightweight.

Thick layer of dust on the Shimano 105 rear derailleur. Slight scratch marks on the RD which means the bike probably fell on its side before.

Dust covered Shimano 105 11 speed cassette and chain. Very little wear or dirt which means either very low mileage or very well maintained.

Dust is everywhere, including on the hub and also the spokes.

It comes with a FSA chain, and also has a quick link for easy chain connecting/disconnecting

Lots of dust also on the Shimano 105 front derailleur and bottom bracket area

Since this bike is so dusty, it will be necessary to disassemble most of the bike for a thorough cleaning of the components before reinstalling them. Time to start work!

Upon removing the rear derailleur, I took the chance to check the alignment of the RD hanger as it seemed that the bike had fallen on the right side before, potentially affecting the RD hanger alignment. Therefore, I decided to use a RD hanger alignment tool to check the alignment. For a detailed guide check out this link.

Using the RD hanger alignment tool to check and adjust the alignment of the RD hanger. It was actually quite well aligned, and not much adjustment was required.

After removing the front and rear wheels, I cleaned the dust off the hub and the spokes, but left the tires on as there is no need to remove them for cleaning. It is also a good chance to weigh these deep profile 38mm wheels.

Weight of rear wheel + tire + inner tube is 1680 grams.

Weight of front wheel + tire + inner tube is 1454 grams.

This gives a total wheelset weight (including 2 x inner tubes and 2 x tires) of 3134 grams. For comparison, the Ultegra 6800 wheelset on my Merida Scultura 5000 weighs about 2300 grams, which means a weight difference of more than 800 grams! This is a very significant weight difference for these aero wheels.

Merida Reacto stock wheelset with 38mm rims

Moving on, I continued the disassembly of the bike by removing the seat post and saddle. As usual, I took the chance to weigh the parts for future reference.

Wedge type of seat post locking mechanism, found recessed on the frame

Double chamber seat post tubing for the aero shaped seatpost. Not so nice surface finishing on the inside.

Rubber damper on the seat post for more comfort. Effectiveness is unknown.

Innovative seat rail design, with reversible clamps that can accommodate a round saddle rail or oval shaped carbon saddle rails.

Aero carbon seatpost weighs 291 grams. Considerably lightweight considering the chunky clamp design and the rubber damper.

Stock saddle on the Reacto 4000. Not lightweight, but looks good and is quite comfortable.

Current condition of the Merida Reacto 4000, with most parts disassembled for cleaning.

Disassembly is not completed yet, as I will still be removing the crankset for cleaning. To be continued!