Merida’s new 2019 Mission CX carbon cyclocross bike claims to be more race-oriented than its predecessor. With a lighter frame, improved tire clearance, updated standards, and reworked geometry that seems inspired by modern mountain bikes, the new Mission CX still retains a lot of the versatility that can make a cross bike great. Merida made a big deal about this bike being a significant departure from the previous Cyclo Cross model, but while it definitely in an improvement, the all-rounder character of the old bike continues on.
2019 Merida Mission CX 800 carbon cyclocross race bike
The new carbon Mission CX cross racer debuted this summer at Eurobike, but it wasn’t until later in the summer until I got my first chance to ride the new bike. The all-new CF2 carbon frame is said to have a frame weight of just 885g for a medium, plus another 402g for the new full carbon fork.
I personally spent a good bit of time racing its predecessor – the Cyclo Cross 900. It was in fact that older bike’s versatility that made it stand out among a number of overly stiff carbon cross bikes I’ve ridden & raced. So I was a bit worried when Merida hyped the ‘completely new’ Mission CX.
Just to clarify to those who need reminding, Taiwanese bike maker Merida sells their bikes in many global markets, yet they are not available in the USA.
2019 Merida Mission CX Carbon – What’s New & Actual Weight
We went into the full details on the new bike back in July, so head on over to that article if you want to pore over the details. Looking at the details of the 2019 Mission CX, the big things that jump out are a move to 12mm thru-axles at both ends and flat mount disc brakes.
Merida talked about big geometry changes for the Mission CX over its predecessor, but updates were relatively minor. Changes tended towards the growing trail mountain bike wisdom of longer, lower & slacker to provide more stability in the technical sections & at speed while maintaining low-speed agility. Along those lines my L/56cm frame gets 3mm more reach, a 6mm shorter headtube, 2mm lower stack, and 0.5° slacker headtube angle vs. the previous L/56cm bike. At the same time BB height and chainstay length weren’t touched.
The Mission CX is still designed as a dedicated cyclocross race bike so Merida doesn’t expect buyers to run much wider tires. But clearance does increase to plenty of room for aggressive 35mm tires plus plenty of mud. Provisions for full coverage fenders are still there. But now the rear brake bridge is removable for those who don’t plan to use fenders, and the fork gets easier to use hidden mounts for fender stays inside of the fork legs. The seatstays are meant to be a bit thinner for additional rear end flex, plus the removal of the fixed seatstay bridge also promises some extra rear end comfort.
The bike is still setup to run a double drivetrain (the top 8000-E spec gets CX 2x Ultegra Di2 setup.) But the front derailleur hanger is removable for the bulk of riders who will opt for the lighter & cheaper SRAM 1x setup.
Merida claims that this Mission CX 8000 has a weight of 7.7kg for a medium. Deduct the 280g for my set of Eggbeaters pedal, and this large test bike tipped our scale at 7.83kg, pretty much right on Merida’s target.
So, is the Mission CX a better cyclocross race bike than before?
Thinking about it as a cyclocross race bike, the changes over the old bike are pretty minimal. The geometry updates yield a bike that theoretically should be a bit more stable on rough cross courses, and more predictable in loose terrain. But remember those changes are a just on the order of 2-3mm and a half a degree.
That’s not a bad thing. The previous Cyclo Cross was an excellent bike to race cross on too. If you have an old one, you probably don’t need to throw it away and buy a new Mission.
I only really had the chance to train on the new 2019 Merida Mission CX 800 as my real cross race season starts quite a bit later in the year here in Europe (when the wet mud comes out). But the new lighter frame of the Mission CX felt faster than ever, with no loss in the precise handling that I loved in the old bike.
Is the Mission CX still a do-it-all cyclocross bike?
Oddly enough for a new cross bike promising race-oriented improvements, it was maybe the Mission CX’s versatility that was most improved. The best thing about the Cyclo Cross had been that it had race-ready handling precision & drivetrain efficiency, but it was forgiving enough that you could take it our for a three-hour ride without feeling like you had been beaten up. Many race-ready carbon cyclocross bikes go so overboard on the stiffness that you are happy that a cross race is only an hour (or even better for most amateurs – only 45mins). Any longer on those stiff race bikes and you were sore for days.
Merida’s new Misison CX delivers once again with a balance of drivetrain and handling stiffness, while being comfortable enough at the saddle that you finish a race fresh. And you can take the bike out for an all-day training ride on easy trails when you need to break up the monotony of intervals training and run-up drills.
Over the summer I got the chance to chance to spend a few hours riding the Mission CX in the foothills of the Alps on a mix of gravel, singletrack & roads together with Merida athletes and cycling legends Joaquim ‘El Purito’ Rodríguez and José Antonio Hermida. And the bike was as playful and fun exploring trails, as it was throwing it into tight turns on a cross course.
2019 Merida Mission CX 800 Review – Riding Impression
The 2019 Merida Mission CX 800 I have been testing retails for 4400€ (in Europe, of course) and comes spec’ed with a SRAM Force 1 groupset and DT Swiss ER1400 alloy wheels. That makes it a good bit more expensive than its predecessor with a similar spec, although the improved bike does shave a third of a kilogram off too.
The ride quality of the new bike is incrementally improved. And I already though the old bike was one of the best proper cross bikes on the market. Now that it gets a lighter frame, slightly tweaked better geometry, and a little added comfort, it is truly better than before.
If you are going to actually race it, a set of affordable tubular wheels would go a long way to making this a real CX race weapon. And since you have the room for slightly larger tires and the set of tubeless aluminum DT Swiss wheels that come stock with this bike, slap a set of fast-rolling 35mm Schwalbe G-One tires on there and you get even more road and gravel versatility out of the Mission.
While I already said that you shouldn’t dump a Cyclo Cross to go buy a Mission CX, if you are looking for a proper carbon cyclocross race bike, but having a hard time convincing yourself to buy such a specific bike – the 2019 Merida Mission CX 8000 is a solid option. It is one of the few carbon cyclocross bikes I have ridden in recent years that is truly versatile enough that I would enjoy riding it year round. Race the Mission CX all autumn. But don’t hang it up to wait for the next cross season, instead search out the next adventure aboard this all-rounder.