Taken from Dirt issue 140, October 2013
More identifiable with cross country and endurance than gravity, what with the work of Gunn–Rita Dahle, however Merida make a few tidy 140 and 160mm travel bikes that are worth taking a look at.
In terms of history Ike Tseng set up the first Merida plant in Taiwan back in 1972, today it produces 2.4 million bikes and as such is one of the World’s biggest bike builders. It all started when Ike was travelling around America and found bike shops unwilling to repair Taiwanese made bikes. Today much of the development of Merida bikes takes place in Germany.
Our 2013 test bike is refreshingly simple and understated in terms of paintworks and graphics, but the finish and build quality is smooth on the weld, tough on construction values. Some of the Merida staff swear that there is no stronger frame than one of these. On the outside it’s a simple black and white bike with 160mm of travel front and rear by way of Fox suspension units, the 34 CTD FIT Talas 120–160mm fork and the Float CTD rear shock. Pretty average.
Componentry? A full set of Shimano’s XT, the de rigueur RockShox Reverb Stealth and the superb Mavic Crossmax wheelset which come with a lifetime warranty. It’s all top end stuff. Weight wise the Merida drops in at about 32lbs.
Click through to view the full Merida One Sixty 3000 gallery before reading on…
Sizing wise our 19” test bike wasn’t too bad for a six–foot rider and the bike comes in three other sizes and one other specification. A quick look on the website reveals the company are offering three builds for 2014 along with more lurid paintworks.
Ride wise the One Sixty goes about its business reasonably well, the shock is correctly tuned for the suspension system and the angles line up well with other bikes in this class. I wouldn’t say I was blown away with the Fox damping but then you’ve probably heard that all too often. Crucially the damper needs opening up after only a few runs. I wonder also if the bike could do with slightly more flex in the system, but we’d have to ride the bike with different dampers first to get a direct comparison. ‘Could they have gone slightly slacker on this bike’ is another thought, as well as increasing the front centre to give the 19” a bit more room up front.
The Merida is in a tough place, for as good as the specification and the great component spec that comes with it, there are many companies with more exciting offerings – for example a YT Wicked with full BOS damping and slightly better sizing for €3200, the Canyon Strive also. But more than this, I wonder how many people buying into 160mm travel are going to want the slightly bigger wheels? Maybe Jared Graves and Jerome Clementz have slowed the rush for this with their 26” wheel domination of the Enduro World Series. One possibility why Merida have not gone for the bigger wheels is that Specialized have also chosen to retain the Enduro at 26” (but also offer a 29” seen elsewhere on these pages). That said Merida do offer a smart looking 140mm bike with the larger wheel size.
The bike does feature many changes for next season (2014), the bike will be named the One–Sixty 1 for starters. Interestingly Merida have opted, like many other companies to bolt on the new RockShox Pike 160mm up front together with a full SRAM XX1 11 speed chainset too, yet retaining the XT braking. However they have chosen to stick with the standard Fox CTD shock, which is surprising given the improved performance of a well sorted Monarch or even a Fox Float X.CONCLUSION
A solid, well manufactured bike with few flaws, just simply hasn’t got much spark about it. The addition of the Pike, SRAM kit and a bit of colour for 2014 will go someway to solving that.
Price £4000: Merida Bikes.SPEC
Frame Merida One Sixty 3000
Rear Shock Float CTD BV SV – Performance
Fork 34 TALAS 26 CTD FIT-Performance 120-160 15mm taper
Headset NO.55EP Neck
Stem FSA Gravity lite
Front Mech Shimano XT
Rear Mech Shimano XT Shadow
Shifters Shimano XT
Chainset Shimano XT 38-24
Bottom Bracket Attached
Cassette Shimano CS-HG81-10 11-36
Front Brake Shimano XT-Fin 230
Rear Brake Shimano XT-Fin 180
Rims Mavic CrossMax SX disc INTL F15-R12
Hubs Mavic CrossMax SX disc
Tyres Schwalbe Flat Albert 2.4 Evo fold
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth