We sent Steve Worland to the launch of the Merida 2014 range, here’s his report…
Don’t overlook Merida’s MTBs next year.
We’ve just been to their UK HQ for a sneak peak at the new range and they’re looking better than ever. It’s hard to know where to start when you see the whole collection from a new bike range but can’t throw a leg over any of them.
Fortunately Merida UK only brings in a choice selection from the complete Taiwanese factory range, but it still amounts to thirty one adult MTBs to choose from, plus a handful of great looking kids bikes and twenty hybrids with big and small wheels, all of which have enough tyre room for MTB tyres if you’re looking for an all-rounder.
The big news, for the less cynical at least, is that Merida has committed fairly wholeheartedly to the medium wheel size. There are two 650b full suspension bikes, at £1500 and £3000, and seven 650b hardtails in the range, from £550 to £2750, including two models at £575 and £800 aimed at women, although we’d suspect that a look at the colours and geometry will persuade a fair few men to buy them.
They call the 650b hardtails Big 7s, and the two full sussers offer 140mm of travel. We were particularly drawn by the look of the £1500 One-Forty 5-B, which gets a Rock Shox Sector 150mm fork, mainly Shimano Deore level parts and 2.35in Schwalbe Nobby Nic treads.
They’re certainly not abandoning 26ers and 29ers yet though. The Big Ninety Nine full sus’ range includes a superb looking Carbon Pro XT Edition model at £3000 with 120mm of travel, an SLX aluminium framed model with a Manitou Marvel fork for £1500 and a decently specced ‘entry level’ One-Twenty 500 at £1150.
Two new 160mm travel Enduro bikes, at £3200 and £2600, use a VPK (Virtual Pivot Kinematics) suspension set-up that promises rock-steady climb ability and fully active bump eating action whether you’re pedalling or not. A SRAM X1/XO 11 speed drivetrain mix with a 10 to 42 cassette plus de-rigour yellow and turquoise paint makes the £3200 One-Sixty 1 really look the part.
Eight bikes occupy the Big Nine 29er hardtail range, from the £500 Alloy 40 to the top of the range Carbon Comp 5000, which with a full XTR drivetrain and brakes plus a Fulcrum Red Power wheelset and Fox 32 Float Factory fork is pretty good value at £3750 compared to other full pro-team bikes.
The Alloy 900, at £1000 with a Manitou Marvel Comp 100mm fork and Shimano Deore level kit, is probably the most sensible buy for 29er beginners.
There are still nine bikes in the 26in wheel hardtail range… five of which are Juliet womens models, starting at £300.
There are also two very nice cyclo cross bikes, one with a carbon fork at £1000, another at £750. Both have rack and guard eyes plus two sets of bottle bosses.
Most models will be hitting the shops within the next few weeks and we’ll be trying to fit one of them into an up and coming bike test.