With Merida giving their range a massive overhaul this year, there has been a lot of excitement around a certain all-mountain/enduro bike they were releasing - the One-Sixty! The model is available in three builds with this bike we have on test, the One-Sixty 7000, sitting in the middle of the range.Buy Enduro Bikes on
Merida are from Taiwan, the home of bike manufacture, and have been around for a long time now. In addition to making their own bikes they also produce for some of the industries key players. In short, these guys know what they are doing! Perhaps best known for the Merida Multivan XC team, 2017 sees them moving into the broader mountain bike market, with a range of trail hardtails and long travel enduro bikes.
Merida’s One-Sixty comes with cutting edge tech and geometry, sporting a fashionable 65-degree head angle, which seems to be the benchmark for modern enduro bikes, and featuring 148 Boost spacing on the rear and float link suspension with a metric shock. This bike seems future proofed…for now anyway!
The frame is a sexy carbon front end with a burly and reliable aluminium rear triangle boasting internal cable routing and a rubber protector on the down tube to protect from pesky rock strikes. When it comes to the componentry they haven’t skimped on this build at all, with suspension delivered with a RockShox Lyrik RC 170mm fork up front and a Super Deluxe RC3 shock at the rear. The whole machine rolls on a set of DT Swiss E1700 Spline Two while Shimano XT provides the transmission and stopping power. All this weighing in at just 13.8kg - on paper it certainly looks like a cocktail for success.
Getting the suspension platform dialled in was a doddle with the high-end Lyrik and Super Deluxe. Going off the recommended settings from RockShox was the best place to start and I eventually settled at 30% sag in the shock.
With everything tuned in I decided to head out for a ride at my local trail centre; a mixture of fast, flowy singletrack and some off-piste loamy turns lending a perfect introduction to the bike and a test of how a long travel bike would perform on 'normal' trails. Now I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but when I initially looked at the spec of this bike and saw 170mm front and 160mm rear travel I immediately thought I would have to wrestle this bike uphill. To my surprise with the shock flicked into its firmest setting I steamed up the first ascent with relative ease and cornering tight switchbacks on the climb didn’t seem too awkward at all. As a hard-hitting enduro bike I had assumed it would not climb well, but that was obviously not the case.
With the first uphill out of the way pushing the shock into full open, the suspension came alive as I pushed and pumped through an undulating trail. I was impressed with how the plush and supple the suspension system felt as it took care of all the lumps and bumps. Perhaps with the quantity of travel on offer it ploughed over everything too well, as at times I felt the 170/160mm travel just ate up trail features I’d normally ‘pop’ off.
When descending I noticed a lack of feedback, almost like I was on a floaty magic carpet ride - that was until I decided to go wide open and turn it up to eleven. This is where the One-Sixty is at its happiest. Don’t get me wrong, it does all the other things with aplomb, and can climb pretty well too, but this bike was made to be ridden fast!
With the speed test out of the way, it was time to take on the gnar with some arduous twisty trails. Plummeting steeps was fun, the slack head angle making me feel less exposed than I probably was. Hitting the turns was as easy as ABC with the short 430mm chain stays keeping it snappy. There were a couple of issues that arose when riding steep technical terrain, one of which was the 760mm bars which made it feel a little cramped compared to what I was used to. The other issue was the 125mm dropper that became very apparent when I got hooked up on it when I mis-judged a chute! I would suggest that a longer dropper is definitely needed on the larger sized rigs. These are purely personal issues and with a few tweaks it would be easy to find my perfect set up.
The idea of sizing is something to consider also, with no XL size, very tall riders will need to look elsewhere or spec accordingly, but it would be great to see a bigger size in the range in the future.
Other than the bars and seat post I couldn’t fault any of the other componentry, the RockShox Lyrik was a standout, providing 170mm travel to chew through chucking sections at speed as well as being sensitive to small bumps. The DT Swiss E1700 Spline Two wheelset are a lovely addition with super easy tubeless set up. They are super smooth and silent running so you can really sneak up on your riding buddies when they’re not paying attention!
If you are in the market for a bike that descends like a bat out of hell and can winch you to the top without coughing your lungs up with exertion, then this could be the rig for you. I think you would be hard pressed to find this spec at a better price. A carbon frame, outstanding fork and shock, a tried-and-tested drivetrain and brakes, as well as a bling wheelset - you really do get a lot of bang for your buck! This combination of all-out performance and a competitive price point means that the One-Sixty could become the privateers weapon of choice at your local enduro series.
This review was in Issue 48 of IMB.For more information visit Merida Bikes
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By Danny O'CallaghanDanny is a lover of trails! He has explored these trails worldwide but the trails he loves the most are on his doorstep in the English Lake District and he's made it his personal mission to ride them all! Always keen to push the limits, he has an impressive list of injuries and adventures in equal measure.
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