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Raleigh Merit Review

Last updated: April 6, 2020

Merit is a popular road bike lineup from a well-established brand Raleigh. With bicycles ranging from aluminum entry-level rides to advanced carbon cycling machines, there’s an option for any budget and skill level.

Models in Raleigh Merit Lineup

Raleigh Merit Lineup
Raleigh have made it really easy to understand the hierarchy of Merit series, with Merit 1 being an entry-level bike and Merit 4 being and advanced. Also, with each model, there’s a gradual one-step upgrade in component level (from Claris on Merit 1 to Tiagra on 4).

Merit 1

The basic model of the series – Shimano Claris drivetrain, caliper brakes, and alloy fork.

Merit 2

Still an entry-level bike, but with components are upgraded to higher-level Sora.

Merit 3

Beginner-level option with Sora, but the fork is now carbon, brakes are hydraulic disc and tires/rims are better compared to Merit 2.

Merit 4

The most advanced bike in the lineup with Tiagra groupset, carbon fork, and disc brakes.


Merit 1Merit 2Merit 3Merit 4
GroupsetShimano ClarisShimano SoraShimano Tiagra
Frame materialHeat-treated 6061 Aluminum
BrakesCaliper, Tektro Alloy Dual PivotCaliper, Shimano R3000 SoraMechanical Disc, TRP Spyre Flat Mount (160mm Rotor)Hydraulic Disc, Shimano BR-4770
ForkAlloy 1-1/8"Carbon with Alloy Tapered, 1-1/8"Carbon Monocoque Tapered, 1-1/8"
Weight22.6 lbs.23.5 lbs.23.2 lbs.23.1 lbs.
Weight limit300 lbs.


With Merit series, Raleigh have decided to use the same frame across all four bikes. Where the difference lies (in terms of frameset) are the forks, so read below for more details.

Frame and Geometry

All four Merit bikes have the same 6061 heat-treated lightweight Aluminum frame. It’s a time-proven solution that they use for several years already, admired by the customers.

The top tube angle and design allow for more relaxed and upright body positioning and are comparable to what you can see on other endurance road bikes.


Raleigh uses the same alloy fork on both Merit 1 and Merit 2 models. These are pretty rigid and will suit paved roads well. If the road surface you plan to ride is far from being perfect, we suggest considering Merit 3 and 4 for their carbon forks. These will dampen vibrations much better and weigh less.

Talking about the carbon forks on upper-level Merits, there’s one difference between the two to keep in mind. While Merit 3 has aluminum steerer, Merit 4 has a full-carbon fork. The hybrid ones (carbon fork with aluminum steerer) are less expensive to manufacture and weigh more. The difference is, however, barely noticeable. When it comes to reliability, carbon steerers have comparable longevity to those made of alloy, that is if you don’t abuse the bike.


Since the frame and its geometry are the same across all models in the lineup, the sizing table below can be applied to the entirety of the Raleigh Merit family:


Merit 1Merit 2Merit 3Merit 4
ShiftersShimano Claris R2000Shimano Sora R3000Shimano Tiagra ST-4770
Front DerailleurShimano Claris R2000Shimano Sora R3000Shimano Tiagra ST-4770
Rear DerailleurShimano Claris R2000Shimano Sora R3000Shimano Tiagra ST-4770
CranksetFSA Tempo Compact, 50/34TShimano Sora R3000, 50/34TShimano Tiagra ST-4770, 50/34T
CassetteShimano HG31 8-Speed, 11-32TShimano HG400 9-Speed, 11-32TShimano HG-500 10-Speed, 11-32T
ChainKMC Z8.1KMX X9KMC X10

In Merit series, Raleigh use a full range of Shimano’s entry-to-mid level sets from Claris to Tiagra (with Sora installed on both Merit 2 and 3).

Since these are full groupsets with no 3-rd party components, regardless of your choice you will get great value for your money, as even on the most basic Claris the shifting will be adequate.


Cranksets installed on all Merit bikes have the same ratio of 50-34T. This is a sweet spot for bikes of beginner and intermediate level. 

On the rear part of the drivetrain, however, the difference in class becomes more obvious. Despite all of the cassettes having the 11-32T ratio, the amount of sprockets (and therefore, speeds) across which this ratio is spread, is different. 

So, with eight speeds on Claris (Merit 1), nine speeds on Sora (Merit 1 and 2) and ten on Tiagra (Merit 4), the difference in shifting will be noticeable. With more sprockets to handle the same ratio, higher-level models offer less noticeable difference between the speeds, and therefore, more enjoyable cycling experience.


The choice of brakes for Merit is very logical. You get cheaper and easier-to-maintain caliper systems on the first two Merits and more expensive and effective disc ones on the third and fourth.

While caliper brakes on Merit 1 and 2 are similar in their design and differ only in class (Claris vs. Sora), the disc brakes on 3 and 4 are mechanical and hydraulic, correspondingly.

The debate is still ongoing as to which type of disc brakes is better, but here are a few takeaways to consider. Mechanical disc brakes are easier to maintain, but they are less responsive. The hydraulic ones, on the opposite, are harder to maintain with all the fluid changes but are handling better. On top of that, they provide more peace of mind by essentially offering a sealed system, thus eliminating the chance of mud and debris getting into the braking system.


Merit 1Merit 2Merit 3Merit 4
RimsAlex AT505Alex GD24PDT Swiss E1850
TiresKenda K-193 RoadSchwalbe Lugano II K-Guard RoadSchwalbe Durano Race Guard


Raleigh uses pretty high-quality double-wall alloy rims across its entire Merit lineup. With the first three Merits having pretty similar Alex rims, the wheels on Merit 4 are very interesting. It’s one of the best bang-for-the-buck options from a very reputable premium manufacturer, DT Swiss.

Regardless of the trim level, all wheels are tubeless-compatible out of the box.


While many other manufacturers use 700x25c tires in this price range, Raleigh have decided to go with wider  700x28c ones for better stability and comfort.

All bikes except for the Merit 4 come equipped with wire bead. The top-of-the-line trim has premium foldable Schwalbe Durano tires that provide better and more durable attachment to the rim.


Merit 1Merit 2Merit 3Merit 4
SeatRaleigh Road with Steel RailsRaleigh Road with Chromoly Steel RailsFizik Antares R7 with Magnese Rails
HandlebarKalloy HB-CR21 Road Bend, 31.8mmRaleigh Double Butted Road Bend, 31.8mm
PedalsFPD NW-366

In terms of ergonomics, there are no major differences across the entire range of all Merit bikes. More expensive models use double-butted handlebars, compared to standard ones on cheaper options – while their geometry is still the same.

All of them come with pretty standard flat platform pedals – which is clear. These will be enough for beginners, and more advanced cyclists will mount their set of favorite clipless ones. So spending more on expensive pedals made no sense for the manufacturer.

To sweeten the deal for the flagship Merit 4 model, Raleigh went ahead and installed an amazing Fizik Antares R7 which is based on a carbon-reinforced shell.