For 2017, stealth Taiwanese powerhouse Merida has reworked their line performance hardtails: updating 27.5 and 29er carbon models and introducing a new plus-sized option.
Beginning at the sharp end of things, the BIG.Nine and BIG.Seven carbon race hardtails have been revised to reduce weight, increase comfort and stiffness, improve cable routing, and to bring their geometry up-to-date. Really one line, the BIG.Nine and .Seven are race-oriented models with 29in or 27.5 wheels as appropriate for rider size and preference (S-XXL for the former, XS-L for the latter).
The one-by-specific frames use an EPS core and higher-end fibres to achieve an impressive 900g frame weight (BIG.Nine in medium). At the same time, Merida recognise the importance of comfort, flattening both the seat and chainstays and incorporating vibration-damping flax Bio Fibres to keep buzz at bay. The specified Comfort seatpost on BIG.Nines and .Sevens is also flattened near the top, further improving comfort. All this while a massively wide downtube and Boost rear end maintain lateral stiffness for race-style efforts.
Geometry has been tweaked to shorten the bikes’ chainstays and head tube for more a more responsive and aggressive ride while the reach has been increased for stability’s sake. Internal cable routing is apparently here to stay, and improved thanks to better anchoring at entry and exit points as well as inside of the bottom bracket shell.
For those whose riding style is more maul than scalpel, Merida have announced an aluminium-framed BIG.Trail. With trail riding fun as its goal, all four sizes and three models in the 27.5+ line have slack 67.5° head angles, stubby 428mm chainstays, and come fitted with 35mm stems and 130mm forks. The Boost front and rear ends will take up to 2.8in tyres and sport ISCG 05 chainguide mounts.
The split drive-side chainstay is extremely similar to that seen on some Specialized 27.5+ hardtails- little surprise given Merida’s 49% ownership stake in the Big S. Droppers are of course part of the package, with 30.9mm seat tubes and Stealth routing as stock. Pricing and availability have not yet been set.