2021 Merida Ninety-Six updated for the XC and Downcountry crowd

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Merida’s lightweight Ninety-Six is updated for XC race and down-country larking about.

Had you told me this time last year that I would be looking at 120mm travel bikes with a glint in my eye, would have told you to sling your hook! “Only the most gnarly of enduro bikes are for me!” I would scream while disappearing into the distance searching for more roots to smash. But 2020 has been an odd year, and in-between lockdowns I’ve actually replaced my big bikes with a down-country style whip, which means 120mm travel bikes like the new Merida Ninety-Six has suddenly become appealing to me.

Ok, so the 120mm bike is the more aggressive of the two because Merida is now offering the Ninety Six in either RC or non RC builds. The RC with 100mm of travel at either end and thirst for uphill sprints and the.. non-RC for folks like myself who enjoy lightweight on the way up and a little extra travel for hooning on the way back down.

From the info we’ve received from Merida, it looks like both bikes are built on the same carbon frame which incorporates flex stays on the rear end and new geometry which dwarfs the previous generation Ninety-Six. For 2021 a Medium frame is now as long as the older size L and in XC mode it’s 1.5 degrees slacker (3-degrees slacker with a 120mm travel fork plugged in).

Of course, the reach and angles are what grabs the headlines these days, but Merida has been smart enough to tweak other areas of the new frame to make it better. The 2021 bike benefits from more rear tyre clearance meaning more aggressive rubber can be applied for trail riding. The frame is more durable and requires less maintenance thanks to the P-Flex (non-pivot) chain stay suspension system and Merida has placed Trail Mounts to the frame. These are extra mounting bolt below the top tube to give riders a place to hang tools and spares from. On top of this the new Ninety-Six has space for 2 water bottle and the seat tube has been redesigned to offer maximum dropper insertion.

The clean lines are helped with the use of internal hose and cable routing, and all models of bike come fitted with a dropper post AND a RockShox Twistloc lockout remote for the rear shock. What’s really smart is the Fox rear shock sit’s up inside the frame so none of the lockout mechanism is visible.

Merida’s full redesign of the Ninety-Six also includes a move to an SRAM UDH mech hanger, a Merida chain guide, narrow Q factor, threaded BB, integrated frame protectors and upgraded bearings for improved durability.

2021 Merida Ninety-SIX and Ninety Six RC Geometry

RC for 100mm race while none-RC is 120mm trail.

NINETY-SIX RC 5000

  • Shimano Deore/XT 1×12 drivetrain
  • Shimano SLX brake
  • Rock Shox suspension – New SIDLuxe shock – very compact and light
  • Sram Twistlock lockout – Very clean look
  • Dropper seat post lever is perfectly reachable
  • MERIDA EXPERT TR LIGHT dropper seat post- Shimano lever
  • MERIDA EXPERT TR through-axle lever
  • MERIDA COMP CC saddle with MERIDA multitool
  • 29×2.25″ Maxxis Recon Race TR EXO tyres

NINETY-SIX 8000

  • Sram GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain – Copper coloured cassette and chain – 10-52 cassette- Carbon crank
  • Shimano XT brakes- 4 piston in the front / 2 in the rear
  • Rock Shox suspension- New SID fork – lightest 35 mm stanchion fork – New SIDLuxe shock – very compact and light
  • Sram Twistlock lockout – Very clean look- Dropper seat post lever is perfectly reachable
  • MERIDA EXPERT TR dropper seat post with Shimano lever- 170mm travel in size L
  • Reynolds TR 309 carbon wheelset
  • MERIDA TEAM handlebar – 740 mm width- Only weighs 140 g!
  • MERIDA EXPERT TR through-axle lever
  • Prologo Scratch M5 PAS saddle – Carbon baseplate
  • 29×2.3″ Maxxis Minion DHR TR EXO 3C MaxxTerra tyres

NINETY-SIX RC XT

  • Shimano XT 1×12 drivetrain
  • Shimano XT brakes
  • Fox suspension – Fox Performance 32 Float SC fork – Performance Elite Float custom shock – remote lockout is customised for the NINETY-SIX (so that is can be hidden inside the frame)
  • Sram Twistlock lockout – Very clean look- Dropper seat post lever is perfectly reachable
  • MERIDA EXPERT TR LIGHT dropper seat post- Shimano lever
  • MERIDA EXPERT TR through-axle lever
  • MERIDA EXPERT CC saddle with MERIDA multitool
  • 29×2.25″ Maxxis Recon Race TR EXO tyres

NINETY-SIX RC 9000

  • CF5 frame – lightest version
  • Shimano XTR 1×12 drivetrain with Race Face carbon crank (one of the lightest Shimano compatible cranks)
  • Shimano XTR brakes
  • Fox Factory suspension- Kashima coating- Fox Factory 32 SC fork – one of the lightest cross country fork – Fox Factory Float custom shock – remote lockout is customised for the NINETY-SIX (so that is can be hidden inside the frame) Sram Twistlock lockout – Very clean look- Dropper seat post lever is perfectly reachable
  • Fox Factory dropper seat post
  • DT SWISS XRC 1501 carbon wheelset
  • MERIDA TEAM handlebar – 740 mm width- Only weighs 140 g!
  • MERIDA EXPERT TR through-axle lever
  • Prologo Scratch M5 saddle – Carbon rails and baseplate – Only weighs 129 g!
  • 29×2.25″ Maxxis Recon Race TR EXO tyres

For more details visit the Merida website.

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