Merida’s One-Five-O 880-D has been tweaked for 2009 and this six-inch travel trail bike is now the equivalent of a butcher, not a surgeon, which really comes into its own on the way back down.
Ride & handling: Flattens out the rocks and takes big hits in its stride
For a big 150mm (5.9in) travel bike, the Merida doesn’t mind climbing – it’s just not especially good at it. There’s a small amount of bob and it wanders about a bit due to its chilled out head tube angle, but it deﬁnitely can do ‘up’.
We swapped the standard bars and stem for a shorter, wider combo, which helped get rid of the ‘steering wheel’ feel of the standard X-Mission kit.
The Shimano SLX shifting is faultless and the excellent Fizik Gobi saddle lets you get your weight right forward. On fast, open singletrack you do become aware of that extra weight and length underneath you. The Merida tends to ﬂatten trails out as opposed to skipping nimbly through them, responding well to ham-ﬁsted aggression.
We’re big fans of the RockShox Domain forks. They’re sensitive over small trail obstacles, can hoover up the bigger stuff and don’t slow you down much on ﬂats or climbs.
Rocky descents are where the 880 really comes to life – the combination of the Domains, ﬂoating rear brake, chunky Maxxis rubber and the head angle provide an aggressive feel. The back end tracks well and takes big hits in its stride. A height adjustable seatpost and brakes with more feel would transform this bike into a great descender.
Frame: Floating disc brake sets the Merida apart from the pack
Merida have utilised what they call their HFS hydroforming technology throughout the bike’s alloy frame. The tubes are all concave in proﬁle along with a bulging oversize head tube for increased weld area for the top and down tubes. New for '09 is the ﬂoating disc brake mount system. This isolates rear wheel braking forces from the rear triangle and stops the back end squatting under braking.
This means the suspension stays fully active under braking, giving you much greater traction and control overall. The 68.1-degree head angle and just over 115.7cm (45.5in) wheelbase are both aimed at helping the 880-D stay planted at speed.
Equipment: Great RockShox fork, Shimano SLX drivetrain and DT Swiss wheels
There’s up to 160mm (6.3in) of adjustable travel up front thanks to a RockShox Domain 302 U-Turn fork, and 150mm (5.9in) at the rear, tamed by a RockShox Monarch 3.3 shock.
The Hayes Stroker Trail brakes are deﬁnitely beeﬁer than last year’s model, but don’t particularly excel.
The drivetrain is a full Shimano SLX set-up, which is a great choice here. The same goes for the DT Swiss wheelset twinned with X430 rims.