Merida Bikes eONE-FORTY 9000 2020 Mountain Bike Review

Merida Bikes eONE-FORTY 9000 2020

Reviews / Electric Bikes

Merida Bikes 240,830

At A Glance

It's fair to say Merida’s eONE-SIXTY was a massive success for the brand when it was launched. E-bikes were still finding their way in the world and the bike managed to provide riders with a brilliant ride that rode like a normal bike. Fast-forward to the present day and Merida has introduced both a new eONE-SIXTY and an eONE-FORTY.

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Based around the previous frame, and using the same rear end, the two bikes have a different shock and fork which creates the travel difference and they're specced to reflect their intended use. The eONE-FORTY has 140mm of travel and is firmly in the trail bike category whilst the longer travel version is certainly more enduro.

So, 140mm travel, a 66.5-degree head angle and 440mm chainstays give the ingredients for an all-round trail bike. Sizing is best measured in reach numbers, which range from 410mm to 490mm and combined with short seat tubes give plenty of flexibility with the fit.

The spec on the eONE-FORTY ranges from the 4000 model at £4350 through to the 9000 model at £7000. the top two models (9000/8000) use the same Shimano E8000 drive system and the lower spec (4000/5000) use the E7000 system. All models use the same internal 504Wh battery. This internal battery, along with the carbon construction are the major changes from the previous version of the bike. The other change has been to put a 29inch wheel out front and a 27.5 plus outback, this keeps the chainstays short but gives a more precise front end to the bike.

The 9000 version tested here comes with Shimano's latest 12 speed XT groupset which deals with the transmission and braking, sensibly it comes with 165mm cranks to keep pedal strikes to a minimum. The fork is the rather rare DT Swiss F535 and the rear suspension is covered by a Fox Performance Elite DPX2.

Wheels are DT Swiss 1501 Hybrid wheelset which is specifically designed for the loads imposed by e-bikes, both in terms of torque and additional weight. The rest of the bike is finished with Merida kit including dropper (170mm on XL), bars, stem and grips.

The new design certainly looks great, the battery is hidden and the frame looks smooth with a 'lightness' to the design. It will even fit a water bottle, which will please plenty of riders.

On The Trail

On the bike, it's clear that it would take no time at all to get comfortable and confident, it's familiar, with no surprises. There is nothing wild about the geometry numbers and although I rode an XXL the reach is only 490mm meaning it felt compact. As a result, the eONE-FORTY has a playful style to it, with an easy to ride simplicity about it. There are no super long chainstays or progressive reach numbers here, it's very much conservative in the geometry department. Usually, for me, this would be a little underwhelming, but it does give a neutral and predictable feel to the ride.

It's noticeably quiet, other than the hum of the motor, there is no rattle, no chain noise. This has been a long time coming for e-bikes and it's great to ride a well thought out and integrated system. Climbing is comfortable, but it's not designed as a hill climber to tame super steep climbs and needs a lot of body position adjustment to keep the front down if you look for steep ascents. For more reasonable climbs there is no issue, but if you were looking for an e-bike to tackle super technical climbs then the eONE-FORTY is not that bike. Comfortable, composed and an easy ride to the top is the order of the day.

On descents, the eONE-FORTY continuously surprised me time and time again. It constantly performed beyond what I thought would be its limit. On very steep ground the geometry throws up some issues, and on long rough corners it doesn't have the stability to carry tonnes of speed, but it does keep on fighting for you. Being a little short and steep it struggles to blast through the off-camber rough stuff. I kept popping a foot off on long corners, just in case, as I wasn't sure if the front, rear or both might struggle and step offline.

On more amenable corners the bike gives a lively pop through the turn and can be easily launched out of each corner. When you turn the difficulty of the trail down a notch the eONE-FORTY shines and shows how agile and manoeuvrable it is through the turns. It's pretty light for an e-bike, and those short chainstays mean it’s happy to play on a rear-wheel and bunny hop over trail features. Far from a scientific test, it is the first e-bike I've successfully 180 bunny hopped in a car park, so read into that what you will...

The effect of the mixed wheel size is noticeable, and the shorter back end is great for smaller sizes but I'd happily take a longer back end on the XXL size. The smaller rear end does keep things lively but the 29er on the front is the real winner as it offers a more precise and predictable front end than the previous model with its plus-sized front tyre.

Charging has to be done on the bike, which could be an issue for some riders, but it's easy to access and has a cover to keep it clean. The battery removal is easy, simply remove the cover on the downtube, then insert a 4mm hex, turn slightly and the battery is out. The new internal batteries are slightly heavier than the external ones, but still, are a great shape for carrying in a pack if you have a spare.

The two battery system is certainly the way to go for riders who want to go far on their ebike. Being able to carry a second battery gives you 1000Wh of battery. Other bikes offer larger batteries, but to carry a second large battery (625/700Wh) could well be challenging due to shape and weight.

The kit on the bike is rather good on the 9000 model, but I'd question the DT Swiss fork. It's a bit tricky to set up but does offer a lot of tweaking options. I struggled to get it to give enough mid-stroke support and ended up running it a little firmer and faster to keep the front up through repeated hits. It also gave a small knocking in the top end of the fork, which was distracting but seemed not to affect anything.

Elsewhere, Shimano's new 12-speed transmission continues to impress and the four pot brakes with big rotors did a great job of keeping things under control. The 170mm drop post was very welcome and it's hard to fault the rest of the build.

Overall

A stylish bike with well thought out features to give you the best possible ride experience. The eONE-FORTY provides riders with an easy to ride trail bike, which offers a seamless transition to the world of electric bikes. Confidence inspiring but with a playful spirit, eONE-FORTY will make a lot of riders very happy on the trails.

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This review was in Issue 61 of IMB.

For more information visit Merida Bikes

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By Ewen Turner
Ewen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.

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