With Merida’s longer travel One-Sixty enduro bike being a hit with us and taking a place in the 2018 Dirt 100 we were keen to see what else this brand had to offer. The One-Forty models take many of the design cues from Merida’s One-Sixty platform and roll them out into a bike that looks bang on for the UK trail rider.

Rewind a few years back to the 26” wheel days, mid travel bikes such as the Orange 5, Trek Remedy and Lapierre Zesty were common sights at trail centres – they simply hit the spot. So, how does this top spec One-Forty 800 compare against our benchmark 2018 trail bikes?

Suspension and chassis

There is no carbon in sight here - the full aluminium frame on this Merida is neatly finished with double-pass welding and rolled out in a black on black stealthy finish.

The One-Forty frame platform is the latest in Merida’s line up to use the Float Link design and with this the trunnion rear shock is mounted to an extension of the chainstays in a similar manner to that seen on Trek’s full suspension bikes. Merida says that this enables the engineers to ‘precisely influence the transmission ratio and progression increasing sensitivity and giving greater mid stroke support’. The RockShox Deluxe rear shock was easy to dial in and felt like a good balance with the 150mm travel RockShox Revelation fork.

Shape and fit

The size XL we tested suited my 6’2” ride height and is the largest in a range of four sizes - with the slim tubing and heavily dipped top tube it does look a touch ungainly in this biggest frame size though. Merida specs a 150mm fork with 140mm of rear wheel travel for the One-Forty models and they roll on 27.5” wheels with high volume 2.6” tyres.

Merida says that the goal was ‘to have a more playful bike than its bigger brother’

The measurements stack up well; it’s bang up to date without being at the extreme end of the current geometry trends with this XL example having a 474mm reach, 515mm seat tube and a 140mm head tube. The slack 66.3 deg head angle and 75 deg seat angle will suit most riders and the long 1222mm wheelbase is up with the times as are the 435mm chainstays. The dipped top tube gives ample stand-over height and gives this trail bike an agile and manoeuvrable feel when the terrain gets tight. 

Componentry

With the One-Forty 800 model weighing in at 14kg (30.8 pounds) for the XL bike I wasn’t expecting to see any superlight hardware as standard. This German designed bike has an air of longevity and durability about it though – a machine that looks built to last many seasons of hard use.

SRAM’s popular GX Eagle 1x12 transmission (one of our picks in the 2018 Dirt 100) proved faultless through the test period. Four pot SRAM Code brakes are standard spec and a nod to the fact that this Merida is a bike that can be pushed hard into challenging terrain and the 180mm rotors felt amply big enough.

The stock wheels are built with 32 spokes front and rear – a sound choice for both reliability and easy of spares. The 29mm (internal width) Merida aluminium rims are laced to Joytech hubs and although these performed well they don’t come supplied with tubeless tapes and valves. With quality tubeless ready Maxxis rubber as standard kit I ditched the tubes and saved around 400g a wheel…

The 150mm stroke KS dropper post on the XL size bike is a welcome sight, as is the 50mm Merida stem. My only complaint is the 760mm width handlebar, which may be wide enough for many riders but is 20mm narrower than the 780mm bar I would normally run on a trail bike of this size.

Feeling

After spending the bulk of my test time on 29” wheeled test bikes I was keen to try a freshly launched 27.5” trail bike – especially one with 2.6” tyres. Although the One-Forty isn’t the lightest bike it has a lively feel and only shows its 14kg weight on longer climbs. Modern geometry and the 27.5” wheels gives the Merida a planted feel on rough descents yet it is nimble through tight singletrack, with the lack of noise from cable routing or transmission really adding to the whole ride experience.

The ride of the One-Forty certainly won me over and this is a bike that’s very easy to get on with from the start

The rear shock has plenty of mid-stroke support and along with the recently revised Revelation fork gives this bike a purposeful and confident felon typical trail centre terrain. There’s no question that the 2.6” tyres add to the well damped and comfortable ride quality and it’s good to see Merida choosing the 3C Maxxis tyres compound as standard spec.

Limitations

The One-Forty 800 sells at £2800 and at this price tag many buyers will be hoping to see a carbon main frame with an eye on keeping weight down. There’s no carbon option with this bike but the finish, design and build quality of the frame is second to none.

When it comes to spec, it’s the wheels and fork that are areas that may be worth an upgrade over time. The recently revised RockShox Revelation, although now sporting wider 35mm upper legs, doesn’t have the damping sophistication of the pricier Pike or Lyrik and this is noticeable in more challenging terrain.

The stock wheels are built for reliability and ease of servicing but we’d like to see tubeless valves and tapes supplied as standard.

Although the One-Forty is a mid-travel trail bike I feel that on the two larger size bikes a 780mm handlebar would compliment this bike’s ability and be a better choice although there were no issue with the shape.

Verdict

Merida One-Forty 8000 Specification

Frame - ONE-FORTY, aluminium.

Fork - RockShox Revelation RC Air 150mm, Boost

Shock - RockShox Deluxe RL

Derailleur - SRAM GX Eagle (Rear)

Shifters - SRAM GX Eagle trigger

Brakes - SRAM Code R - 180mm rotors

Chainring - SRAM Descendant 6K Eagle 32T

Chain - SRAM GX Eagle

Cassette - SRAM XG 1275 Eagle, 12 speed, 10-50 teeth

Hubs - Joytech (Boost F+R)

Rims - Merida Expert TR, 29mm inner width tubeless ready

Tyres - Maxxis DHR II 2.6" TR EXO front and Maxxis Rekon 2.6" TR EXO rear

Stem - Merida Expert TR 3d forged 6061 aluminium, oversize clamp

Handlebar - Merida Expert TR aluminium, 760mmX20mm. 

Seatpost - KS LEV Integra dropper 30.9mm

Saddle - Prologo Nago X2

Pedals - Not included

This bike goes head to head with some stiff competition from direct sales options such as Canyon’s Spectral and YT’s Jeffsy 27, so when it comes to value for money it makes sense to look at the broader picture of what this Merida can offer – not just at the spec list. A full dealer network is definitely a plus point if this is your first proper trail bike as they're able to assemble the bike, dial in the suspension correctly and advise on sizing.

The ride of the One-Forty certainly won me over and this is a bike that’s very easy to get on with from the first ride. It’s a fun machine that handles well and has the added benefit of increased comfort and traction from the higher volume 2.6” tyres – a sorted trail bike that’s well worth a look.

PRICE: £2800

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