Having spent time on the 900e model last year, it was clear that Merida had a particularly strong grasp on the ebike market with a fantastic bike. The major issue for myself was that their sizing only went up to large. Roll into 2019 and low and behold we have an XL eONE-SIXTY, and I really wanted to spend some time on it.Buy Electric Bikes on
Rather than the higher spec model, this year I was aboard the M#RIDA model, which although cheaper, is still a great build. With Rockshox covering the bounce using a Lyric RC and a Super Deluxe R, the bike floats on some fine suspension. The motor is the tried and tested Shimano E8000 but has the new low profile control on the handlebar rather than the Di2 inspired shifter. The wheels are 650b plus and run Maxxis Minions in 2.8 sizes, and these are strapped to a set of Fulcrum E-Fire 500 wheels.
SRAM codes are a welcome sight and the mixture of NX Eagle and GX Eagle balance durability, price and performance. Notably, the heavy NX cassette is used to good effect here as is the 'single click' version of the GX shifter.
The rest of the bike features some Merida own brand components to keep things more affordable and give a functional if not exotic finish to the bike.
The geometry has grown into an XL size, but nothing much else has changed, which is arguably a good thing. The reach is pushed out to 480mm but the head angle remains at a slightly steep 66.5 degrees and the chainstays at a tight 439.5mm. What it lacks in reach, the bike makes up for in stack height with a whopping 160mm headtube giving a super high bar height.
Living with an ebike is an interesting experience and one that I thought would result in the end of my 'normal' riding. This, however, was far from the case. After an initial flurry of excitement, the eONE-SIXTY found a place in the line-up and was used as part of a range of bikes, rather than the only one. I found that there were two types of rides I did with the eONE-SIXTY, either short blasts where time was an issue and I wouldn't normally have ridden, or huge rides where I took an extra battery and disappeared into the mountains for as long as possible.
Riding a Shimano equipped bike has become a familiar experience and gives an incredibly natural feeling. It's not surgy or excitable, just powerful and determined. Climbing up things is what ebikes are all about and the E8000 delivers plenty but does lack just a little in top end power. Combined with the short rear end of the eONE-SIXTY meant that it's not the greatest climbing ebike out there. The front just lifts a little too much, and combined with the high front end things can get a little vague.
The flip side to the climbing on the eONE-SIXTY is that it is by far the most 'normal' ebike I've ridden. Once riding along or down trails, the eONE-SIXTY keeps all those characteristics of a fun and playful trail bike. The short rear end makes it fun and easy to manual and even bunny hop, and given the bike isn't the longest out front, it all works well as a well-balanced package. There are more stable and longer ebikes out there, but if you go down that route then you really need to find some wild terrain to make the most of it.
The 160mm of travel on the eONE-SIXTY gives a beautifully smooth ride and supports the extra weight of the bike well, while still being lively enough to contribute to the playful nature of the bike. The grip from the large tyres is excellent and ebike tyres are improving but the Minions are still vulnerable to punctures and I took the opportunity to install some Eddy Currents from Schwalbe (review soon) to really give the bike some hardcore rubber. This allowed me to drop the pressure and really have confidence through rocks to let the bike go without fear of punctures. The other tweak I experimented with was sliding in a 29er front wheel, which with a narrower tyre allowed for a more precise steering feel which matched well with the bigger rear tyre providing the traction.
The frame, motor and suspension on the M#RIDA eONE-SIXTY is hard to fault, I would like to see a little more reach in the bike but they have hit a sweet spot for now. The rest of the bike in this set up copes well and although the wheels have held up, the hubs are proving to be crunchy and are needing a look. Elsewhere the dropper post is getting sticky and the cockpit was swapped out early on for some wider bars and better grips. The Code brakes are excellent and are hugely welcome on a bike that can go this fast, offering a ton of well-controlled power. The drivetrain, although unusual to see SRAM paired with the Shimano motor, gives a great solution and crisp trouble-free shifting.
Merida has still got a winner in their eONE-SIXTYeONE-SIXTY, which provides an engaging and playful ride with great power delivery from Shimano. The addition of an XL is good to see and completes the size range of one of the best emtbs currently on the market.
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This review was in Issue 58 of IMB.For more information visit Merida Bikes
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