Merida One Sixty

Merida One-Sixty First Ride Review: Long & Purple

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The evolution of the Merida One-Sixty enduro bike sees it packed with new features. Here’s our first impressions.

  • Brand: Merida
  • Product: One-Sixty 6000
  • From: merida-bikes.com
  • Price: From £4,600
  • Tested by: Dean Hersey for 1.5 days

All pics: PaulBox©

Looking good

Three things I liked

  • Fast.
  • Sizing.
  • One sided bolt tightening, mostly via trail tool in the rear wheel axle.

Three things I’d change

  • I would like to try the bike as a mullet and with aluminium frame.
  • A tad noisy.
  • New seatpost design will need more time to test its reliability.
A very European concern (AKA mud)

The Merida ONE-SIXTY is a bike designed and tested to withstand the rigours of the modern enduro stage. Long travel and an extended reach to give riders confidence at speed and in the rough, whilst still allowing you to winch up to the start of the next stage. Merida has described this ground-up new design as untamed evolution from the previous generation.

Top linkage

There are a plethora of long travel Enduro bikes out there to pick for when the terrain denotes the need for the hammer rather than the scalpel. For this first encounter with the ONE-SIXTY, I had the luxury of Somerset’s finest. Not quite the length of run of your standard Enduro World Series stages. Nevertheless, the skinny slithers of steep, natural trails with a healthy mixed menu of rock, root and loam are more than adequate to cut its teeth on during this launch.

Another view of the layout

The range has three carbon and two aluminium frame build options with pricing between £9,000 for the flagship bike and the entry point bike is the ONE-SIXTY 600 at £2750. The top two builds; 10K and 8000 boast the SRAM wireless AXS systems, whilst the spec tested here is the 6000 (entry level carbon frame) with old fashioned cable gears. £4600 will land you the same carbon frame with all the same features (more on these in a minute) as its more expensive siblings, some RockShox suspension; up forward you’ll be treated to a Zeb Select fork that’s been paired with a Super Deluxe Select+ rear shock for the dance. Shimano is employed for both stopping and going duties, with 12 speed SLX drivetrain, an XT shifter and RaceFace Turbine cranks.

We heart Fidlock

It is good to see proper brakes rather than cost or weight watching. Anchoring up with 203mm rotors and SLX M7120 four piston brakes is what is needed on a bike built for warp speed. The finishing kit and wheel rims are from the Merida in-house parts pot. The Merida Team TR rims are wrapped in proper Maxxis rubber. With Assegai on the front and DHR II on the rear both 2.5” wide double down 3C items, 29×2.5″, not some cheap OEM spec compound.

Snazzy stack

I won’t dare start by going down the now well beaten path of slacker, longer, lower but this latest carnation of the Merida ONE-SIXTY, might not have grown in suspension travel but it has certainly grown in stature in just about every other aspect. Yet there is more than its angles to chat about, this bike is packed with all the features you would come to expect from any serious modern mountain bike and with more surprises up its sleeve.

Yep. One of those.

Merida introduced their new “Agilometer sizing” with the launch of both the ONE-SIXTY and ONE-FORTY range of bikes. This new geometry is aimed to deliver next-level performance whether that’s with a steep seat tube for efficient climbing or a slack head angle for capable descending. Merida says “The idea with this sizing system allows you to choose whether you want a bike with a long reach for a stable, planted feel or something shorter that’s lively and agile. Or, you know, that Goldilocks somewhere-in-between feeling.” Whilst it’s not a new theory, Merida has done a thorough and comprehensive job of it. The two other key factors of their sizing are getting the dropper post travel and handlebar height right.

WTF is this then?

The change from 27.5 wheels and the vertical shock position of the previous generation to a 29er with a horizontal shock is significant. The kinematics, anti squat and anti ride have been tweaked. The concept is that Merida wanted more progression to work well with latest rear shocks with bigger air chambers and also coil shocks. Then each frame size has a unique kinematics. The longer the frame the greater progression, as the rider gets heavier or rides more aggressively the risk of blowing through the travel increases. With 6% progression in the shortest size to almost 14% in the longest frame with sag set at 30% through to 95% of the available travel.

No really, WHAT is it?

I had the privilege of a Merida ONE-SIXTY in 6000 guise for a couple of rides. In this spec, I tried out the model in size “Long”. With five frame sizes on offer in both carbon or aluminium frames. The ONE-SIXTY and its stablemate the ONE-FORTY (also launched simultaneously) share the same frame, either tweaked by accommodating the relevant stroke shock and the fork. The ONE-SIXTY wears a 170mm fork and on this 6000 carbon frame spec is a RockShox Zeb Select married with the frame carrying a RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ shock to control the 162mm of rear squidge. This latest frame can be run as I rode it in the standard “Long” configuration with 29 inch wheels at each end or as a mullet setup (standard configuration in sizes Xshort, Short and Mid) that pushes the rear wheel travel out to 171mm once you flip the chip.

“Limotec”? it’s a travel adjust (30-230mm!) dropper. Read on…

The silhouette of the Merida ONE-SIXTY looks familiar and is neatly aesthetically pleasing. What does set this new bike apart from the competition? Well, it is the first Enduro bike I have ridden that uses flexible seat stays. Merida states that the use of the Flexstay design increases stiffness, reliability and reduces maintenance. It is a concept that has been previously employed on their shorter travel models, but this is a first on a long travel bike. They have worked to keep the angular change between the upper and lower stays very low to reduce stresses and also minimise any effects on the action of the rear shock. The stays are also completely symmetric from side to side for the same reasons. Carbon fibre is well-known for its compliance properties, Merida has magically managed to keep the deflection of both stays at full travel to such a low amount that it can offer this P-FLEX technology on their aluminium frames too.

Team TR bar

This concept along with the rest of the Merida ONE-SIXTY range has been tested by the German engineers of the ZEDLER Institute. Merida is rightly proud that this has surpassed all leading industry standards for durability and has been awarded the highest possible rating with a category 5 score alongside a five year warranty, giving you the consumer peace of mind.

Strap-on

Another noteworthy mention is the Merida Team TR dropper seatpost is born from a collaboration with Limotec. This is a travel adjustable design from as little as 30mm to an incredible 230mm and requires zero disassembly and is a key component for the brand’s new sizing concept. You set the required height of the saddle and tighten the adjuster bolt taking up the slack of the post via an externally mounted mechanism. The frame, with its straight and uninterrupted seat tube, also has the integrated axle hardware fixing towards its base for use of an Eightpins telescopic seatpost. A design that is becoming an increasingly popular option in Germany. This alternative to the seatpost game claims to save approximately 30% weight by using the seatpost directly into the frame’s seat tube and also boasts flexible sizing with minimal maintenance. Definitely something I would be intrigued to test out at later date.

That’s how big it is

With features that include a large guide on the underside of the downtube, ample of protection on the chainstay and a rear mudguard keeping roost splatter and spray to a minimum. The Merida ONE-SIXTY has a chain guide for security to keep nuisance mechanicals like a dropped chain mid-race stage an unlikely hassle. The frame has internal cable and hose routing and the entry point is through the Wirepoint headset design, a method of routing designed to keep it neat, reduce unwanted rattles and not need to make structural modifications to the frame for cable entry.

Mullet-able

I particularly like the way Merida has thought about the on-trail maintenance with an integrated Allen key tool in the rear wheel axle that will tend to most bolts on the bike. All the bolts and hardware associated with the suspension design are one-sided to tighten and loosen with a single tool. This should considerably reduce the faff time on the trail. The axle key tool also opens up the Merida Service Port via a single bolt. This not only gives you access to the internal cable routing but also allows you to stow away some emergency items like a spare mech hanger, tyre levers and even a pump inside a long skinny tool roll that is stashed up in the downtube. You will find a multi-tool tucked up between the saddle rails and on the underside of the top tube you will find a base plate for housing a spare tube. All models with the carbon frame use the magnetic flush fit Fidlock bottle mount to allow the use of a proper size bottle inside the frame.

Not not-fun

A quick adjustment on the brake lever reach and I then set the limit on the dropper seat post. The suspension sag needed to be dialled in for my weight and a twiddle with the rebound on the fork and shock, putting it in the ballpark of what I use and was ready to ride. Once out I fine tuned the rebound and methodically dropped some air from both tyres over the course of the first ride. That was about it for me to feel at home on the Merida.

Ey up!

The first day would really let me test the bike’s all round ability, with a couple of hours in the hills with some steady climbs and a nice little loop that incorporates a taped stage of the upcoming weekend’s EX Enduro race. The steep seat tube angle of 79° helps with the spin and winch climbs between stages. The first couple laps of the test loop I felt like I was rushing into turns too hard, braking far too late and then having to stamp hard on the pedals on corner exit to get back up to speed. Once I settled into the ride and used the bike to its advantage, I let the bike settle, carry some speed and use the grip on offer with the big wheels and let it fire me out headlong into the next challenge. My first impressions are that I had to work hard to get the bike to break traction that is the amount of grip the Merida NE-SIXTY gives away to the rider, boosting confidence especially when I found myself being goaded in faster and faster on corner entry.

Good times down South

The second day of this initial rendezvous took us further afield. A day of uplift wagon assistance takes us to the highest point in the county rewarding us with a substantial 500m descent back to sea level. This gives me a chance to open the reins to let the Merida ONE-SIXTY get into its stride. The bike really comes into its own in these fast sections of trail and feels stable, dealing with the sniper rocks lying in wait in the long grass and ferns for my careless line choice.

498mm reach on this Large

The gargantuan 498mm reach on the size “Long” was paired for my 5ft 11 frame and denotes the bike’s plough-ability. More than ample space to let the bike fly when you need it to and offers an abundance of stability when the bike eggs you on to reach terminal velocity. Interestingly the bike seemed to defy this measurement, surprisingly I didn’t feel overly stretched out or too racy even which paid dividends in the steeper sections allowing me room to move without leaving the front end too unweighted part in thanks to the low stack height (625mm). A low stack height is a good call, allowing consumers to increase the bar rise and the number of stem spacers to gain the desired height. After all, you can’t remove the stack height if the headtube is too long. Good work Merida.

Also available in not-purple

Overall

I would like to get the bike to the bike park for some repeated runs with some wheel swallowing holes and to throw it at jumps and drops to push the bike to full travel and to make sense of the sizing. A stint set up as a mullet and a comparison between the two frame materials would go some way to understanding this enduro beast from Merida. But first impressions are positive and so far Merida ONE-SIXTY 6000 could be the thinking riders buy of the range.

With that in mind there will be stock of limited specs and sizes landing at Merida dealers from October. You can expect the stock levels to be bolstered up in 2023 increasing availability.

Specification

  • Frame // ONE-SIXTY 6000 CF4 III, 162mm travel 29″, material: carbon
  • Shock // RockShox Super Deluxe Select+,
  • Fork // RockShox Zeb Select+, 170mm travel
  • Wheels // MERIDA EXPERT TR, 29mm inner width
  • Hubs // Shimano SLX hubs, Fr 110x15mm, R 148x12mm
  • Front Tyre // Maxxis Assegai 29×2.5″, fold, TR DD 3C MaxxGrip
  • Rear Tyre // Maxxis Minion DHR II 29×2.5″, fold, TR DD 3C MaxxGrip
  • Chainset // Raceface Turbine
  • Shifter // Shimano SL -MT500-IL / Shimano XT, Multi Release
  • Rear Mech // Shimano SLX M7100 Shadow+, SGS
  • Cassette // Shimano SLX, 10-51 teeth, 12 speed
  • Brakes // Shimano SLX M7120, 4 piston 203mm rotors
  • Stem // MERIDA EXPERT eTRII, 35mm diameter, 0°stem angle, 40 mm length
  • Bars // MERIDA TEAM TR, aluminium, 780mm width, 30mm rise
  • Grips // MERIDA EXPERT EC
  • Seatpost // MERIDA TEAM TR, 34.9mm diameter, 0mm setback, 30-230mm travel
  • BB // BSA 73mm– Ø30mm, Ext. Seal
  • Size Tested // Long
  • Sizes Available // XShort, Short, Mid, Long, XLong
  • Weight // 15.67 kg size MID (claimed)
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Review Info

Brand: Merida
Product: One-Sixty 6000
From: Merida Bikes
Price: £4,600
Tested: by Dean Hersey for 1.5 days
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