I rave reviewed Merida’s longer travel, higher cost One-Sixty 8000 earlier in the year and reckon it's one of the best enduro mountain bikes available. This shorter travel One-Forty version of the same frame has already picked up a bunch of awards from other testers too. There’s certainly a lot to love about this radical yet easy to ride, well equipped and widely configurable all-rounder. So what does it feel on the trail and how have Merida achieved that?
Design and geometry
The first win in terms of keeping production costs down and potential configurations open is that the One-Forty and One-Sixty share the same frame, just with different shock strokes. That means you can switch this bike from 143mm to 161mm in 29er (or 171mm in the mixed wheel mullet wheeled mode) with a tweaked shock and fork. While Mid to XLong (Merida’s ‘AGILOMETER’ sizing phrases things differently to most) come with 29er wheels both ends, you can swap to a 27.5in rear wheel (as used on the Short and XShort sizes and rebalance geometry with a flip-chip. The ‘flipped’ mode also increases travel to 151mm.
The One-Forty has an even more radical shape than it’s longer legged brother too. With a reach of 509mm on the Long, I actually opted for the Mid which still has a reach of 480mm. That is countered slightly by the super steep 80 degree seat tube angle pushing you forward on the bike, but with the XLong at 535mm reach, Merida really are going out there on length. It’s easy to size up too as seat tubes are really short (425mm on the Mid) and all bikes come with a Merida Team TR dropper post (a rebranded Limotec H1) that can be set anywhere from 30-230mm stroke. Head tubes are relatively short as well, but head tube angles aren’t as crazy with a measured 65 degrees on ‘my’ test sample.
Out of the box thinking certainly doesn’t stop with the seat post and geometry either. The ‘FAST Kinematic’ ‘P-Flex’ suspension uses seat stay flex rather than a rear pivot. The brake mount is extended off the chainstay to avoid interrupting that flex and its finned to help cooling on long descents too. The pivots are held in with ‘Non Slip’ tightening T30 bolts, the frame is lifetime warrantied for Category 4 AM+Enduro riding and there’s plenty of protection in areas likely to take a rock strike or chain whip.
Internal cable routing feeds through the headset which looks neat but makes headset servicing a pain. You can get to the controls under the BB through a ‘service hatch’ for easier management though and that also doubles as a potential storage location if you feed items up into the downtube void. Staring up into the downtube should let you see the smooth results of Merida’s AWS Anti Wrinkle System used to consolidate their bespoke Nano Matrix Carbon lay up.
You get a Merida mini-tool in a rubber sleeve under the saddle, as well as a 4/6mm rear axle lever tool, a Fidlock magnetic mounted bottle and Velcro strapped inner tube wrap under the top tube as well. The stubby chainstay fender that’s designed to protect the main pivot actually stops accumulated mud from escaping too, so it’s potentially doing more harm than good unless you get the optional longer fender upgrade.
Components and build
I’ve already mentioned the oversize, infinite adjustment dropper post but it’s worth reiterating how stiff and stable this feels in use. The lump of winder mechanism on the seat collar does look incongruously cheap and plasticky compared to how slick and clean the rest of the bike looks though and has a cover which pings off easily, making it easy to lose.
I had zero complaints about the function of any of the rest of the kit with Race Face cranked, XT triggered SLX gears give multi-shift capability at a bargain price and the SLX brakes delivering a ton of power through 203mm rotors. SLX hubs are a durable quality win on the wheels, the Merida rims are trendy 29mm internal diameter and the Maxxis DHF and Dissector tires are a great pairing for grip and speed. The rest of the Merida contact point and cockpit kit is all fine too, and while I did swap to a shorter stem than the supplied 50mm for part of the test period, the original is OK.
Merida are investing heavily in Marzocchi forks across their full-suspension and hardtail ranges, which is great news for riders who want a smooth and simple to adjust fork with maximum service interval timings.
Value is still good even in the face of discounting from other shop sold brands with the Trek Fuel EX 9.7 at £4,680.00 (was £5,200.00), Giant Trance X Advanced Pro 29 2 at £4,799 and the Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Comp at £4,250. Even without a rear pivot setup, it is heavier than all those bikes by up to 500g though. You do save around 900g compared to its One-Sixty relatives at each price point though, with the One-Sixty 6000 weighing in at 16.12kg compared to our test One-Sixty's 15.25kg.
Ride, handling and performance
Weight will be less of a worry to the riders who this bike suits best though. While the head angle isn’t that steep, the long reach/wheelbase and low ride height of the easy squat suspension and short seat tube, long seatpost give it a super stable baseline vibe. Merida have set up the kinematic and 6mm flex in the rear stays for a supple, springy ride too. I had to do some rebound balancing to subdue deep stroke kickback and out of the saddle bounce, but 25 percent sag seemed to be the sweet spot. Set up this way, the One-Forty is also a smoothly floated traction Hoover on stutter trails or random rock sections but still gets full travel when needed. The low slung, relatively slim tubed frame sits on the forgiving rather than rigid side of the feedback spectrum which also boosts traction and slam damping.
The Marzocchi fork is not just equally supple up front, but in its default trim, it ramps up at the end of the stroke in a very similar way to the rear, so ugly landings are tidied up neatly once the rear damper is dialed in. The super steep seat angle, high level of traction from that naturally ground tracking rear end and mid length stem, mid steepness head angle combo stops it being too floppy when you’re crawling upwards. Add an efficient, seated pedaling feel and that means you can winch up ridiculously steep, technical upslopes when you’d be walking or wanting an uplift on a lot of bikes.
Merida’s spec also really feels like it’s been put together by proper riders not just sourced for manufacturing convenient. The Limotec/Merida dropper post lets you really slam your seated position and can be switched for a fully integrated Eightpins model. The Shimano dropper lever gives it a really nice feel under the thumb and the XT shifter gives a really light feel with a multiple shifting push compared to the single clicks of an SLX pod. SLX hubs are an heirloom product in terms of reliability and Merida rims have been solid on every bike we’ve tested from the brand. The Z1 fork is deliberately designed for extended service life while the external damper adjustments are simple for easy rather than expert setup. The Dissector tire on the rear adds an easier roll than something like a DHR and it’s good to see an EXO+ carcass for extra toughness in rocky terrain. Alloy cranks are also a relief when you’re tapping out through rocks due to the low ride height. Having a bottle, mini-tool and tube strap fitted as standard is a nice touch, but I did find the exposed hooks of the Velcro strap were very keen to snag kneepads. The 50mm stem can occasionally let the front end run wide too, so I switched to a 35mm for tighter, sharper trails and would suggest the same if that’s your favored flavor.
While my knees didn’t seem to mind the super steep seat angle on longer pedals as I’ve been gradually conditioning over a few years, pushing rider position that far ahead of the bottom bracket could potentially create biometric issues.
Despite looking rad on paper, the Merida actually feels super balanced on the trails. Ride position and extra long/extra low shape are great for confidence and you've got big brakes and a smooth fork to back that up. The rear suspension is also super absorbent for comfort and high traction control while still feeling efficient under power. The option to extend to 160mm or a mullet rear wheel adds long term versatility and the spec is a highlight reel of reliable choices. Add quality accessories and that boosts already good value especially as there are lots of shops selling it for under £4,000 at the moment.
It doesn’t hustle as aggressively as the Trek Fuel EX though or have the geometry adjust convenience of the Specialized Stumpjumper Evo. The steep seat angle might not suit some physiologies either and hefty weight will tell on more XC trail outings too, so it’s definitely more of a ‘fun bike’ than a ‘far bike’.
- Weather: Warm and sunny with occasional showers
- Surface: Dusty and dry to damp hero dirt, roots, rocks, drops, berms, etc.
- Trails: Manmade red and black, off-piste blue to double black, longer XC style backcountry raids
Tech specs: Merida One-Forty 6000
- Discipline: Trail
- Price: £4,500 / €5,799
- Head angle: 65 degrees
- Frame material: ONE-FORTY CF4 III carbon
- Fork: Marzocchi Bomber Z1, 150mm travel
- Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+ 143mm travel
- Sizes: XShort, Short, Mid (tested), Long, XLong
- Weight: 15.25kg (tested)
- Wheel size: 29in
- Chainset: Race Face Turbine 32T, 175mm chainset with bottom bracket
- Chain device: Merida Expert TR
- Rear mech: Shimano SLX
- Shifter: Shimano XT
- Cassette: Shimano SLX 12-speed 10-51T
- Chain: KMC X12
- Brakes: Shimano SLX disc brakes with Shimano RT64 203mm rotors.
- Tires: Maxxis Minion DHF MaxTerra 3C EXO 29x2.5in front and Maxxis Dissector MaxTerra 3C EXO+ 29x2.4in rear
- Wheels: Merida Expert TR 29mm internal rims with 32 double butted 32 spoke Shimano SLX hubs
- Bars: Merida Team TR 780mm bar
- Grips: Merida Expert EC
- Stem: Merida Expert eTRII 50mm
- Seatpost: Merida Team TR 30-230mm dropper
- Saddle: Merida Expert