The One-Forty range is Merida’s contender for the (you guessed it) 140mm travel 27.5” All Mountain sector, with the top of the line 800 sporting a pair of 150mm RockShox Revelations up front, which gives some indication as to the persona of this solid looking bike. Revelations now share the same chassis at Pikes with 35mm stanchions and are much more capable than the previous models.Buy Trail Bikes on
Rocking a hydroformed, triple butted 6016 aluminium frame, a pair of chain stays you could build a house on and a colour scheme that says ‘I’m going to smack you in the chops’ the Merida One-Forty 800 is not a subtle bike. Nor is it a particularly lightweight one for a mid-travel bike, with the XL-framed test bike weighing in at over 14.5kg. But with a slack 66.3 head angle and long wheelbase, the 800 may just have a trump card to play.
Merida’s Float Link places the shock between the seat and chain stays in a suspended set up that is designed to track small bumps effectively and offer improved traction and feedback over fixed shock equivalents.
Continuing the burly theme is a pair of 2.6” tyres from Maxxis hooked onto Merida’s own 29mm wide rims, the front making the use of a sturdy 15mm bolt through boost axle. The cockpit too tips its cap to the One-Forty’s robust nature with a 760mm wide bar and stubby Merida Expert stem. Curiously we see SRAMs latest Code brakes, which focused on downhill and raw stopping power seem incongruous on a trail bike.
They say that first impressions are the most important and I have to admit to thinking that the One-Forty was a bit of a lump upon our first meeting. My concerns about weight were to be unfounded though as within seconds of swinging a leg over the bike and setting off up the first climb the 800 had me thinking up sentences usually reserved for bikes of a racier class. Power transfer through the pedals is excellent, with each stroke equating to an eager surge forwards on all but the boggiest of ground.
The 800 continued to impress over the type of undulating trails, lanes and fields that make up a lot of the bits in-between the fun gravity stuff, with only the Maxxis Recon rear tyre proving the weak link in the chain over wet rocks during steep climbs.
After proving itself more than adept on the climbs, I was eager to throw the bike at some descents and see if its burly nature was all mouth and no trousers. Descending over loose, wet limestone it was great to be encouraged by the 800 to push forward on the bars and dig that wide 2.6” tyre into the earth for more and more control.
Throwing the bike into tight turns revealed a slight reluctance and trail feedback left me wanting more - the 800 often feeling a little numb. However, this was easily offset by the fun factor when going wide open straight into rock gardens and off considerable jumps - the sturdy Revelation forks stepping in to show their worth when faced with a near OTB moment!
With a trail bike, the blend of climbing and descending characteristics is a tricky balance. The 140 is surefooted and stable in both directions, happy to cover large distances in its stride without becoming a bore to ride. It's descending competencies lean towards stability at steep over playful shenanigans, and it will look after a rider in all but the steepest and roughest of tracks. Climbing skills are front and centre, but rather than all-out speed, it's a tenacious and efficient ascender, always surprising with its ability to deal with very technical features and leg-destroying gradients.
The 140 shares plenty of genetics with its bigger brother the 160 and does beg the question of why one would choose a shorter travel option when the 160 is so competent. Costs aside, the Carbon 160 would compete on weight but carry extra travel and confidence. What the 140 is able to do is pedal that little bit better, and just give a bit more return on energy through the suspension. It's a tough job to do, but the slight reduction in travel does give the 140 a livelier feel and fits the trail bike category better than the 160.
In terms of sizing, it's great to see Merida extend the range up to XL, and this now includes the 160. Giving a reach of 475mm in XL isn't groundbreaking, with many larger bikes hitting the 500mm mark, so those interested in progressive geometry might be disappointed.
Aside from the slight lack of traction from the rear tyre, the 2.6 tyres have proved again that high volume tyres work well in this size, providing grip without too much uncontrolled bounce. Elsewhere the components have held up well, the Code brakes are phenomenally powerful and perhaps over-kill on a trail bike. GX Eagle is consistently proving itself as a great drivetrain, and the KS dropper was faultless for the test.
The One-Forty range offers riders a great choice of mountain munching bikes at excellent price points, and the top spec 800 is very capable when it comes to going up efficiently and downhill rapidly.
There are other bikes out there that offer lighter, more playful options but for full-on riding down semi-steep trails and mid-range rock steps, the 800 is a great choice.
Riding the One-Forty 800 is not so much about being playful with the trails as trying to destroy them with shear strength and girth. That’s not to say that it isn’t a fun bike to ride if you identify the types of trails to match its strengths and it certainly had me grinning from ear to ear on several occasions when ploughing through technical descents.
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This review was in Issue 50 of IMB.For more information visit Merida Bikes
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By James SwannOriginally from Sheffield, James lives and works in the mountain bike mecca that is the Lake District and has been falling off bikes since he was six. In between working on bike events, riding bikes, racing bikes and writing about bikes he enjoys talking about bikes with anyone who will listen. He really likes bikes.