Thursday, January 8, 2015

Merida Scultura 5000: Lightweight Performance with Ultegra Groupset

After many rounds of upgrading, my Merida Scultura 5000 road bike has been fully upgraded! Many of the parts and components have been upgraded to Ultegra or Dura-Ace level. Here is a summary of the upgrades and the differences. The weight savings and cost of the upgrade have also been included wherever appropriate.

Original: Shimano 105 5800 11 Speed 11-28T Cassette
New: Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 Speed 11-28T Cassette
Weight Savings: 28 grams
Cost: ~$60 from CRC

This was one of the first upgrades that I did on my Merida road bike. Performance wise, there is no noticeable difference in shifting quality. However, the Ultegra cassette is lighter by a bit. For more details please refer to the blog post.

Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 Speed 11-28T Cassette

Parts of the Ultegra 6800 cassette

Bottom Bracket:
Original: Shimano Tiagra 4600 Hollowtech II BB
New: Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 Hollowtech II BB
Weight Savings: 26 grams
Cost: ~$40 from CRC

This is one of the components where I decided to get Dura-Ace level, since it is still affordable. It is smoother than the original BB, giving a slight performance improvement. More details and pictures at the blog post.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 Hollowtech II BB

Smaller Dura-Ace 9000 BB

Original: Shimano 105 5800 11 Speed Chain
New: Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 11 Speed chain
Weight Savings: Unknown, did not measure
Cost: $50 from CRC

All my bikes use Dura-Ace chains, either of the 10 speed 7900 series or 11 speed 9000 series. This is because they are affordable and are fully nickel plated for good rust resistance. Major advantage over the Shimano 105 chain is rust resistance.

Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 11 Speed chain

Dura-Ace 9000 11 speed chain

Original: Shimano Non Series FC-RS500 11 Speed 50/34T Crankset
New: Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 Speed 50/34T Crankset
Weight Savings: 119 grams
Cost: $220 from CRC

This is a major upgrade as this is a relatively expensive part to upgrade. There is also quite a bit of weight savings to be gained here, along with the improved appearance of the 4 arm crankset. Crankarm stiffness has been improved compared to the original crankset. Lots more pictures and comparisons at the blog post.

Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 Speed 50/34T Crankset

Shimano Ultegra 6800 Crankset

Brake Calipers:
Original: Merida Pro Brake Calipers
New: Shimano Ultegra 6800 Brake Calipers
Weight Difference: Heavier by 11 grams
Cost: $130 from CRC

This upgrade made a lot of difference to the braking feel of this bike. Along with the polymer brake cables and SwissStop brake pads, the braking performance has been greatly improved, along with the smoothness of the braking action. Although there is a slight weight penalty, it is definitely worth it due to the greatly improved braking power. Read the original blog post for all the improvements that you can make to your brakes.

Shimano Ultegra 6800 Brake Calipers

Ultegra 6800 Brake Calipers

Original: Merida Comp 24 Wheelset
New: Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 Speed Wheelset
Weight Savings: 480 grams
Cost: $380 from CRC

The most significant part of this upgrade is the huge difference in weight. 480 grams has been saved just by changing the stock wheelset to this affordable Ultegra wheelset. Acceleration has also improved with the use of this relatively lightweight wheelset. Find out the differences between the original and new wheelset at the other blog post.

Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 Speed Wheelset

Comparing the differences between the old and new wheels

Original: Continental Ultra Sport Tires, 23x700C
New: Schwalbe One Tires, 25x700C
Weight Savings: 12 grams for the pair
Cost: USD 80/pair from Wiggle

With the switch from 23C to 25C tires, and a lower tire pressure, the comfort of the bike has improved without compromising the speed. Ride feeling is good and the bike rolls really well.

Schwalbe One Tires, 25x700C

Schwalbe One tires

Original: Merida Race 1 Saddle
New: Selle Italia SLR Kit Carbonio Flow Saddle
Weight Savings: 215 grams
Cost: USD 180 from Wiggle

This is also a costly upgrade, but it is really worth it. Not only is the saddle a lot lighter than the original Merida saddle, it is also more comfortable! A saddle that is slim and fits the image of this road bike well.

Selle Italia SLR Kit Carbonio Flow Saddle

Lightweight saddle

Blue bottle cages, blue cable end caps, blue valve caps and some other miscellaneous stuff.

These other upgrades are merely for aesthetic purposes and do not improve the performance or reduce weight from the bike. However, they do make the bike look more unique and in my opinion, also makes the bike look better!

Blue valve caps

Blue cable end caps 

Matching blue bottle cages and Fizik seatpost ring

With all the upgrades completed, I now have a full Ultegra groupset on the Merida road bike! A full groupset usually excludes the wheelset, but I went all the way and also changed to an Ultegra wheelset. Here are some pictures showing the full Ultegra groupset on the bike. Some parts such as the BB and chain are from the Dura-Ace series which is even better.

Ultegra shifters, brake calipers and wheelset

Ultegra crankset, FD, RD and cassette. Dura-Ace BB and chain.

Let's take a look at the total cost of upgrading to full Ultegra groupset (excluding wheelset), and also the total weight savings of all these upgrades.

Total cost of Ultegra/Dura-Ace groupset upgrade: $500
(Crankset, brake calipers, cassette, BB, chain)

Original bike cost is $2356. After adding the $500 for the groupset, and deducting a bit for selling off some of the original components, the cost of the bike with full Ultegra/Dura-Ace groupset is about $2800.

Inclusive of the Ultegra wheelset and Schwalbe One tires, this cost rises to about $3300. If the Selle Italia saddle is also included, the total cost would be $3500. This value is comparable to the bikes that are available at the shops, so it is still worth it to upgrade all these parts on my own. Note that I did not sell off the original crankset or wheelset, so it will actually cost less if I recoup some of the costs from selling them off.

If anyone knows a bike model/brand that has a better component spec for the same cost (or same spec for lower cost), please let me know! I would be interested to know which bike brand it is that can offer such good value for money. I suspect that Polygon would be one of them...

Next, let's total up the weight savings from all these upgrades.

Total weight savings for all upgrades mentioned above: 869 grams

This is a large amount of weight savings, with the majority of it coming from the wheelset. If you are willing to spend more, you could easily reduce the wheelset weight by another 300 grams.

Stock bike inclusive of PD-A530 pedals: 8.6+ kg
Stock bike with no pedals: 8.2+ kg

Upgraded bike inclusive of PD-A530 pedals: 7.8 kg
Upgraded bike with no pedals: 7.4 kg

After reducing over 800 grams from this bike, it is now quite lightweight! Even including the relatively heavy pedals, the bare bike (with no accessories) weighs only 7.8 kg.

Most bike weights that are claimed by the manufacturers exclude the weight of the pedals, and if you want to compare the weights, use the weight that excludes the pedals. If the pedal weight is excluded, this is a lightweight 7.4 kg road bike with excellent component specs that is a relative bargain at $3500.

If the components are upgraded to full Dura-Ace, it will be possible to lose another 200+ grams. An even lighter wheelset will cut another 300 grams. A lightweight carbon handlebar and stem will save another 100 grams. A lightweight set of road pedals can cut another 100+ grams.This will put the bike just above the UCI weight limit of 6.8 kg, which is pretty impressive.

In any case, I am now very happy with this road bike, with the improved performance coming from the upgraded components.


  1. Hi, nice sharing. I nearly bought this bike but I opted for Colnago ACR during a cheap sale. I frequented Hup Leong and all the parts you mentioned can be bought there too. One thing about the Shimano Ultegra 11 speed 6800 wheel set: the hub bearings have only 11 X 3/16 balls on a retainer per side. This is for ease of manufacturing. The bearings also have very little grease. You should find a reliable mechanic and replace the steels balls with higher grade 3/16 balls and pack 13 balls per side. This will significantly makes the wheel roll better.

    1. Thanks for the info about the steel balls. I might take your advice and consider changing out the steel balls. Thanks!

  2. Congratulation!

    What happen to the Bontrager Flare 3 ? That's one of the best solid quality light with fantastic strobe patterns.
    For the chain , LBS offer cheaper price , so I bought from them a pair of Shimano Dura-Ace 9000 11 Speed chain from LBS ( $37 ).

    1. The Bontrager Flare 3 has been moved to the other bikes. I agree that it is a good light, and I really like the threaded hole at the back. Allows for DIY mounting on rear racks.

      Which LBS has Dura-Ace 9000 chain so cheap? At Rodalink, they sell for around SGD 70. Online on CRC is SGD 50.

  3. Nice Saddle there!
    I won't be wearing cycling pants with padding for now.
    So which one do you recommend ?
    I like your old one ( Bontrager replacement) for design and price.

    1. If you are cycling without using padded shorts, the SLS saddle would be more comfortable.

  4. Hi Steve, do you think the Canyon Endurace CF 9 after shipping and GST could just about be equivalent value to your upgraded Merida?

    1. I'm not sure how much the Canyon costs, but shipping is about 400 usd, and after adding gst, a lot of the cost is not going to the bike at all.

    2. It's US$1659 + 343 shipping + 140 GST = US$2142.
      The total cost of ownership is the only consideration when comparing against another sold in Singapore.

      That's because whether you self import or buy from a Singapore retailer, the GST remains chargeable so a buyer is indifferent. Likewise shipping cost will also be incurred with Canyon, or else pay a retailer for bringing it in.

      Coming back to the comparison, assuming that cost is about equal, what's your opinion of one over the other please? Thanks.

    3. USD 2142 comes up to about SGD 3000. This is good value for a full Ultegra 6800 groupset. It also comes with pretty good DT Swiss R 23 Spline wheelset, which seems to have equal weight and quality as the Ultegra 6800 wheelset.

      My upgraded Merida Scultura 5000 with a full Ultegra 6800 groupset + Ultegra wheels costs about $3200.

      So, getting the Canyon would probably be about the same value as my upgraded Merida Scultura 5000. Of course, when ordering online you need to be very sure of your frame size, and there probably is no warranty coverage.

    4. hi Steve

      very informative and as I have the same bike, I am gping to make many of the same modifications. I got a slightly different wheelset - Shimano RS81 C35 which were on Wiggle for abt SGD 640

      one question though, where in Sing did you get the SLA saddle?


    5. I also got the saddle online.

  5. Where is the shop CRC which you mentioned ? You mean you buy the upgraded parts and install yourself ?

  6. CRC means Chainreactioncycles, which is the website.

    Yes I installed everything myself.


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