Review | Merida eONE-FORTY 9000: Does less travel equal more fun?

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Antony checks out the ‘ride it all’ Merida eOne-Forty 9000 – a trail ebike for those that want a nimble ride.

I have to hand it to Merida, they’re so confident in the appeal of this bike that they’ve decided to name it in CAPITAL LETTERS. More of us should have that sort of self-belief. And on paper, the eONE-FORTY 9000 (Sorry, I’ll stop using the capitals now) is a very appealing prospect. The market for ebikes, just like mountain biking in general, still seems to be made up of more have-a-go trail riders than self-shuttling downhillers, so it makes sense to put out bikes that pack less travel than a full-on enduro race machine, while still being able to handle a dash of tech.

Merida eOne-forty

The eOne-Forty isn’t a little sibling to the company’s flagship eOne-Sixty (which Mark got acquainted with here). It’s the same carbon frame, with a shorter fork and shock. The result lands firmly in the middle of ‘do everything bike’ territory, with a 66.5 degree head angle and a 76.5 degree seat angle. The frame’s length is middling but not too stumpy, at 450mm reach on our large test bike. If you want to go longer and slacker, the eOne-Sixty ticks both boxes by speccing a longer travel fork and nudging the frames up a size bracket. As a result, the medium eOne-Sixty has the same size frame as the large eOne-Forty.

Merida eOne-forty
That’s a well-protected downtube.

The Bike

Merida has a long history of construction in carbon, and has made frames for some of the biggest names in mountain bikes. Lots of rubber armour on the downtube and chainstay keeps everything quiet, although there’s no protection on the motor case . Fortunately, judging by the marks on ours, it seems more than capable of shrugging off the occasional clonk from a rock.

Merida eOne-forty
Vents double as cable routing – unfortunately the cabling on our test bike was a bit messy.

There are distinctive huge vents near the head tube designed to draw air into the frame, and help prevent the battery overheating. This hasn’t been an issue so far in Yorkshire, but Shimano specify a safe operating temperature of 50 degrees, and I can imagine the inside of the frame reaching this in some climates, or even in the car on a hot sunny day.

Merida eOne-forty
The frame’s front triangle fits a bottle cage and a 504 Wh battery.

The frame is somewhat jazzier in real life than in photos, and the gloss sections have a nice metallic sheen to them. There’s a tonne of standover room from the dropped top tube, but enough space in the front triangle for a small water bottle. With the adoption of integrated battery technology for eMTBs, carbon frames are more than just a bling extravagance – they enable tube profiles that are generous enough to fit a decent size internal battery, but also strong enough to withstand the stresses of mountain biking. The advent of internal batteries is definitely a big leap forward aesthetically. But it’s also a performance advantage, as the bike’s centre of gravity drops lower and the most expensive component is tucked out of harm’s way.

Merida eOne-forty
Shimano’s STEPS is a deservedly popular choice of drive unit.

Continuing the capital letters theme, the eOne-Forty is built around a Shimano STEPS E8000 motor. This is paired with Shimano’s simplest two-button controller, and a nice clear display. It’s easy to read, even in sunshine, and lets you keep an eye on your battery levels and how much work the motor’s doing.

Merida eOne-forty
The display unit is easy on the eye, and your knees.

The 504 Wh battery can be charged on or off the bike, the latter by removing the huge rubber protector under the down tube. The on-bike charging port is situated in a small well on top of the downtube, which looks like a natural place for mud to collect, but we’ve had no problems with water ingress.

Merida eOne-forty
The charging port looks vulnerable to mud and water, but it’s held up OK.

Drivetrain and brakes are also supplied by Shimano, both from its XT groupset. A 12-speed drivetrain paired with a 34-tooth chainring means you’ll never run out of gears on the climbs. On pedally downhills, I found I could nudge the bike slightly above the motor’s cutoff speed, but not by much.

Merida eOne-forty
Shimano’s 12-speed XT groupset egear

On the suspension front, the eOne-Forty 9000 features a custom-tuned Fox Float DPS Elite rear shock with 133mm of travel, and a 140mm DT Swiss F535 fork. The fork has a reputation for playing nicely with ebikes, as it uses a position-sensitive damping system that offers extra support for heavier bikes, at the expense of a slight weight penalty. However the adjusters on top of the fork don’t clear the straight down tube, which could be bad news in a crash. Merida do fit their carbon frames with a built-in Knock-Block, but for some reason on our test bike this was missing.

Merida eOne-forty
The DT Swiss fork features a neat custom mudguard

The eOne-Forty also uses the most fashionable wheel setup of the moment, with a 29in up front and a not-quite-plus-sized 27.5in rear. In theory this should make for a flickable, playful bike that also stays on target through choppy terrain. At the very least, it means there’s a decent amount of mud clearance between the chainstays. Tyres are the dependable Maxxis Minion in the lighter EXO casing – in 2.5 width at the front, 2.6 out back. The forks feature a removable lever with a built-in hex key that also fits the rear axle. Unscrew the shaft, and inside there’s also a tiny Torx key that will let you access the air valve on the forks. It’s a neat bit of kit, but unfortunately on the eOne-Forty it’s hard to tighten the rear axle with it, as the lever catches on the seatstay pivot.

Merida eOne-forty
The 27.5 in back wheel allows for short chainstays and plenty of clearance.

The Ride

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Merida eOne-Forty 8000 Specification

  • Frame // eOne-Forty CFA
  • Front Suspension // DT Swiss F535 One, 140mm travel, 51mm Offset
  • Rear Suspension // FOX Float Performance Elite
  • Wheels // DT Swiss Spline HX1501 ONE 30 Boost
  • Tyres // Front: 29×2.5, Maxxis Minion DHF II EXO Rear: 27.5×2.6 Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO
  • Shifter // Shimano XT
  • Rear Derailleur // Shimano XT Shadow Plus 12-speed
  • Crank // Shimano XT 165mm
  • Cassette // Shimano XT M8100 10-51t.
  • Saddle // Merida Expert CC
  • Seatpost // Merida Expert TR, 150mm drop
  • Handlebar // Merida Expert eTR, 780mm width
  • Stem // Merida Expert eTR, 50mm
  • Headset // Merida 1901
  • Brakeset // Shimano XT M8100, 200mm rotors front and rear
  • Grips // Merida Expert EC
  • Motor System // Shimano Steps E8000, 70Nm 250W
  • Battery // Shimano E0835, 504Wh
  • Mode Switch // Shimano SW-E7000
  • Display // Shimano E8000
  • Sizes// S,M,L,XL,XXL
  • Claimed Weight// 21.96kg/48.4 lbs size medium, no pedals.
  • Price // £7,000

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Comments (1)

    I’d love to have a go on one, I have an E-120 900e & I love it, this looks better & I’m sure it’s a tad lighter, but I paid £3300 for my bike (with Di2) a year ago & that made me wince, £7K is a whole chunk of cash & I doubt I could ever justify it.
    Cheers.

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