At A Glance
Striking, that is the word that came to mind on first sight of the Merida Big trail 600. A gorgeous forest green set off with bright red forks and decals. The 2021 model is an equally alluring purple affair that also catches the eye.Buy Hard Tails on
This is the top of the range Big Trail, with 2 lower models for 2021.
Beyond the looks alone there is a purposeful stance to the Big Trail that suggests Merida have put together a top-notch trail hardtail. I have always been a sucker for the classic hardtail silhouette and whenever I see a top tube flow straight into the seat stays my heart picks up a beat.
There is more going on here than just pure looks. A ground-up reworking of the Big Trail sees it step right into the ‘to be taken seriously’ arena.
Boost front and back, a revised chain line to allow better tyre clearance, internal cable routing are all present. As are 2 sets of bottle bosses and one of my favourite features, a trail tools mount located on the underside of the top tube.
I rode a large frame which sports a 65.5-degree head tube angle, 75.5-degree seat tube angle, 455mm reach and a pretty darn low bottom bracket with 66.5mm of drop. The frameset and so the geometry is shared across the range.
On kitting out the Big Trail 600 Merida spent the money wisely. The fork is the number one place to be putting your money on a hardtail and the Marzocchi Z2 is smooth, predictable and simple to use. They also focused on the drivetrain, the Deore 6100 12 speed never missed a beat. Maxxis Dissector 2.4 tyres impressed throughout the test. I love to see a fit and forget Raceface crankset too, so that made me happy. Most of the rest is Merida stuff, all of which gets on with the job in hand, though a special mention goes to the in house dropper that worked a treat, never letting me down.
On The Trail
This bike is a pleasure to ride.
It’s not too long nor too short, seated it feels compact rather than stretched but I was able to pedal it comfortably on several long ‘just going for a ride’ type meanders. It climbs solidly, motoring up and over pretty much anything, the compliant fork helping keep the front under control on technical climbs and the reasonably short rear end rewarding small shifts of weight. It is low however, I would prefer to see 170 cranks across the board rather than just on the small. As timing my pedal stroke was important when keeping the power on over rough ground.
That low bottom bracket does make it a joy on twisty terrain and swooping corners. Merida have hit the fun sweet spot with the Big Trail, at 65.5 degrees the head tube angle, low BB and 435 chainstays all come together to give an inspiring feel that begs to be pumped, popped and pushed. As the wet weather has come in I have spent more and more time on the Big Trail, ample tyre clearance and a well-balanced nature lend itself to much mudslinging, two-wheel drifting and general honing about.
The last incarnation of the Big Trail saw Merida getting to grips with the idea of a good all-round hardtail. With this Big Trail they have really struck a balance, this bike is easy to ride, easy to ride hard and rewarding on a variety of terrain.
A true challenger to the established order, if you are in the market for friendly, fun and frankly handsome hardtail the Merida Big Trail certainly warrants consideration.
This review was in Issue 64 of IMB.
By Rou ChaterRou Chater is the Publishing Editor of IMB Magazine; he’s a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, but his passion for bikes knows no bounds. His first mountain bike was a Trek 820, which he bought in 1990. It didn’t take him long to earn himself a trip to the hospital on it, and he’s never looked back since. These days he’s keeping it rubber side down, riding locally and overseas as much as possible.