CROSSWAY, SPEEDER or SILEX? Which is the right choice for you? Hybrid vs city bike vs gravel bike
(texte original: Merida International)
If you’re looking for a bike that’s designed to take on the urban sprawl, help you achieve your fitness goals, offer a fun way to have adventures at the weekends or just as a practical everyday workhorse, then the MERIDA SPEEDER, CROSSWAY and SILEX range of bikes are more than capable of doing all these things - and many more.
All of them are made with MERIDA's proven quality and attention to detail, with high-quality frames and components designed to put up with rigorous use. All of them use disc brakes for reliable all-weather performance and it’s also possible to fit mudguards, stands and luggage racks to them, so they can be used as year-round, all-weather commuters or for longer trips. All are at home on the road but can be used off-road too and they are all able to carry luggage, whether that's for work or for touring further afield.
However, they all have different strengths that lend themselves to different kinds of riding and riders, so we’ll run through the key differences in character and capability between these three bikes, so you can choose the right machine for you.
As the name suggests, the SPEEDER range is all about covering ground quickly. It’s designed to deliver almost all of the effortless speed of a traditional drop bar road bike but it gives you a more upright and comfortable riding position with improved visibility by using flat handlebars, something especially useful when navigating urban traffic. We call it our city bike, because it's ideal for urban roads, paths and trails - but it doesn't mind some gentle off-road either.
Because it’s so closely related to a road bike, the SPEEDER is best suited to sealed surfaces, something due in part to the low-profile and fast-rolling 32mm wide slick tyres. These tyres roll quickly, but their lower volume and lighter casings mean that they're less comfortable and more fragile on off-road terrain, so it's best to stick to smoother dirt roads or forest trails.
All the models in the range use a rigid carbon fibre fork, delivering excellent efficiency and low weight with a degree of impact absorption. None of the bikes have suspension to help reduce weight - this also means SPEEDER bikes are very efficient and responsive to ride.
The bikes also have gearing that is best suited to riding at higher speeds rather than scaling very steep climbs or tricky off-road sections, so you should take your local terrain into account as well.
You should consider a SPEEDER if:
- You want a bike with all the speed of a traditional road bike, but don’t want a dropped handlebar
- You want to ride at higher speeds and on generally flatter terrain with sealed surfaces
- You are willing to sacrifice a touch of comfort for speed and low weight
While the CROSSWAY is more than capable of handling the concrete jungle, it’s aimed at the rider that wants to look up and enjoy the journey instead of just getting from A to B as quickly as possible, with geometry and handling that’s all about making comfortable as well as swift progress. It's what is known as a hybrid because it takes elements from road bikes and mountain bikes.
With larger diameter, deeper treaded 40mm tyres and suspension forks on all models for improved comfort and safety, it’s also more capable of taking excursions onto the dirt, whether it’s fire road trails in the forest at the weekend, trekking holidays or simply enjoying a more scenic route to work. Many bikes in the range also come with suspension seatposts to further take the sting out of bumps, while adjustable angle stems allow you to fine-tune your fit.
This versatility is backed up with a much wider range of gearing than the SPEEDER or SILEX, with all bikes featuring triple front chainrings to allow you to tackle everything from steep hills to faster, flatter sections.
For riders with less mobility, another large advantage of the CROSSWAY range is that every model in the range comes in a low step-through frame version, making it easy to saddle up.
You should consider a CROSSWAY if:
- You want the extra comfort of a suspension fork and larger tyres and don’t mind a small weight penalty
- You want the option of a low step-through frame design
- You need a very broad range of gearing for tackling steeper hills or riding more heavily laden
The SILEX is our dedicated gravel bike, able to hit off-road terrain with an almost mountain bike capability, but because it has road-bike style dropped handlebars, it’s a very speedy and sporty ride on the road too. It sits somewhere between a full mountain bike and an endurance road bike, but it's a much sportier ride than the CROSSWAY. It's designed for cycle touring too, but not in a traditional sense, working best when used for lightly laden, fast-moving bikepacking trips thanks to numerous mounts all over the frame and fork. While it's a sporty bike at heart, its mixed terrain ability and cargo-carrying versatility have endeared it to a wide variety of riders that want to use it as a speedy commuting bike during the week as well as escaping at the weekend.
The biggest visual difference between SILEX and the other two bikes is that it uses dropped handlebars. These do require you to have your hands in the dropped portion of the handlebar to have maximum overall control and most effective use of the brakes but it provides a more comfortable and upright riding position than a road bike thanks to a geometry that places the bar much higher. That helps it excel off-road, but it’s also a big advantage for urban riding thanks to the greater visibility it offers compared to most drop bar bikes.
To help provide comfort and control on off-road tracks, it comes with a choice of smaller 650b wheels with higher volume 45 mm tyres or 700c wheels with slightly smaller 38 mm tyres, both with tread patterns designed to work in the dirt. All bikes have hubs with through axles to ensure stiffness and security too.
There’s no suspension fork or seatpost on any of the models to reduce weight, but all models have carbon fibre forks to help reduce trail buzz. The top-end models are also available with carbon fibre main frames which helps reduce weight even further.
SILEX bikes can come with both a double chainset or a single chainring up front, paired to very wide ratio cassettes. The gear range is more biased towards easier gears for off-road riding than the SPEEDER and it's a narrower overall range than the CROSSWAY.
While the SILEX has a more sporting focus than the other two bikes, it offers a huge number of mounting options for racks or bikepacking bags, meaning it’s a very capable load-lugger too. It’s even possible to fit mudguards, though they don’t come as standard.
You should consider a SILEX if:
- You want a sporty feeling riding position and don't mind a dropped handlebar
- You want to hit off-road trails regularly, but don't want the weight of suspension
- You want to go cycle touring, but with minimal luggage