Wil reviews the 2019 Merida One-Twenty – a zippy, fun-loving trail bike
Following a 2.5 year gestation period, the Merida One-Twenty arrives on the scene as a brand spanking new trail bike for 2019. Following in the footsteps of the longer travel One-Forty and One-Sixty, the new One-Twenty transitions to a trunnion-mounted rear shock, along with an all-new frame dressed in a contemporary parts package.
As the speedy trail bike of the range, the One-Twenty is equipped with 120mm of rear suspension travel, a 130mm travel fork and 29in wheels. Its geometry has been massaged for 2019, bringing it up to speed alongside competitors such as the Scott Spark, Specialized Stumpjumper ST, and Giant Trance 29.
Globally, there are eight different models available within the One-Twenty range. Pricing starts at an attractive £,1400 / $1,999 AUD for the entry-level One-Twenty 400. Geometry and the suspension design is mimicked throughout the line, though cheaper models use an alloy frameset, with pricier models getting either a hybrid carbon/alloy or full-carbon frameset.
Sizes range from Small through to X-Large, and select models can also be had with 27.5in wheels in the Small and Medium sizes.
For the past three months, I’ve been testing this model; the One-Twenty 8000, which sits one rung down from the top-tier 9000.
My memory of past Merida mountain bikes is of overly light, spindly and twitchy lookin’ things with steep head angles, narrow bars and enormously long stems. Upon first inspection of the One-Twenty 8000 however, it would appear that this bike is quite far removed from those Euro marathon racers of old.
For a start there are no remote lockout cables in sight, and there’s also no front mech – the carbon frame is 1x only. Up front is a stout RockShox Pike RCT3 fork and a chunky 2.4in Wide Trail Maxxis Minion DHR II tyre. Powerful SRAM Code RSC 4-piston disc brakes clamp down on 180mm rotors, and the cockpit features 760mm wide riser bars and a 150mm stroke KS dropper post. Grams? What grams?
The overall frame shape isn’t a huge departure from the old bike, but subtle changes have been employed to create a stronger, stiffer and more trail-oriented ripper.
Frame reach has increased slightly (435 vs 431mm on the Medium size), while the head angle kicks back almost two full degrees to 67.3°. The effective seat angle steepens to 75.5°, and Merida has nipped the chainstays by 10mm to bring the rear centre length to a reasonably short 435mm. Even with the shorter back end, wheelbases have increased across the board, with the Medium growing 16mm to 1160mm.
Rear travel remains at 120mm, and the shock still ‘floats’ between the alloy rocker plates and the chainstay. Merida calls this its Float Link platform, and in our experience with the One-Sixty and One-Forty models, it’s a design that works very well.
At a claimed 2779g (Medium with shock and hardware) the full carbon CF4 frameset drops 400g over the previous model. More impressive though, is the fact that this frame is nearly a kilo lighter than the all-alloy frame found on the 400/500/600/800 models. That’s a mahoossif weight drop.
Bucking the trend for huge, bubblegum-style carbon fibre, the One-Twenty takes a sharper approach with its small diameter downtube and flattened top tube. The compact mainframe does encroach on water bottle placement though. Even with Merida’s supplied side-entry bottle cage, a 600ml bottle is very cramped in there, and I found it faffy to remove and re-fit while riding. Larger frame sizes will have less of an issue here though.
The back end cuts a narrow stance behind the bottom bracket in order to minimise heel strike. Even with flat pedals, I had no rubbing at all with my size 45 clobbers. The flip-side is that tyre clearance isn’t huge, and Merida states that 2.35in is the officially the biggest you can run in the back end. I tried a 2.4in Bontrager XR4, which fitted fine. However, if you’re expecting new-school 2.6in tyres or 27.5+ wheels to go in there, you’re best to look elsewhere.
Moving further back towards the dropouts, slender seatstays and big, boxy chainstays flare out dramatically to meet the 148mm wide rear hub. There’s a chunky platform for the rear disc brake calliper, while clevis-style pivot junctions aim to maximise lateral rigidity.
Merida uses its tidy bolt-up cable port system on the One-Twenty chassis to route all the cables and hoses through the downtube. This system allows you to pull the cables taut inside the frame, before clamping them down via the port plugs, thereby eliminating any internal cable slap.
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2019 Merida One-Twenty 8000 Specifications
- Frame // CF4 Carbon Fibre, 120mm Travel
- Fork // RockShox Pike RCT3, 130mm Travel
- Shock // RockShox Deluxe RT, 185x55mm, Trunnion Mount
- Hubs // FSA Gradient LTD, 110x15mm Front & 148x12mm Rear
- Rims // FSA Gradient LTD, 29mm Internal Width, Tubeless Ready
- Tyres // Maxxis DHR II 3C MaxxTerra EXO 2.4in WT Front & Forekaster EXO 2.35in Rear
- Crankset // SRAM Descendant, 32t X-Sync 2 Chainring
- Rear Mech // SRAM XO1 Eagle, 12-Speed
- Shifters // SRAM XO1 Eagle, 12-Speed
- Cassette // SRAM Eagle, 10-50t, 12-Speed
- Brakes // SRAM Code RSC, 180mm rotors
- Stem // Merida Expert TR, 60mm Length
- Bars // Merida Expert TR, 20mm Rise, 760mm Wide
- Grips // Merida Lock-On
- Seatpost // KS LEV Integra, 150mm Travel
- Saddle // ProLogo Nago X20
- Size Tested // Medium
- Sizes Available // Small, Medium, Large, X-Large
- Confirmed Weight // 12.69kg / 27.92lb
- RRP // £6,000 / $6,999 AUD
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|Price:||£6,000 / $6,999 AUD|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 3 months|