Merida One-Forty 1500 £2000

Big travel trail machine

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Merida’s One-Forty 1500 is one of those bikes that tries hard to be all things to all riders. With 140mm (5.5in) of travel on tap at the rear, backed up by a full 150mm (5.9in) travel at the front, and Fox’s latest pedal-friendly shock and fork technology, it’s got ‘all-mountain’ written all over it. Metaphorically, that is. The question is, can it deliver?

Ride & handling: Easy to handle and excels on the descents

Merida have left nothing to chance when it comes to providing the One-Forty 1500 with decent descending performance. All the cues are there, from the torsionally rigid frame and fork (for accurate steering) to big brake rotors and chunky tyres (for better cooling and grip). 

Unsurprisingly then, this is a bike that relishes the prospect of a full bore assault on a fast, technical trail. There are no nasty surprises – just plenty of backup for enthusiastic riding. Point, pedal, let go of the brakes and let the Merida do the work. 

The Fox shocks at both ends provide a nicely matched feel which, provided you remember to set the CTD controls in the right place, swallows even chewy trails whole and spit them back out in more manageable chunks.

As the pace drops and the trail points back up, things aren’t quite so rosy. The Merida’s rear end isn’t particularly bouncy under pedalling, but this isn’t a bike you’ll want to race to the top of the hill. It’s not especially weighty for a mid-travel full bouncer, but it’s not a featherweight either. 

Sat a little way into its travel, the virtual pivot is also on the high side – which gives a slightly disconcerting ‘inchworm’ pedal feedback effect on steep climbs in the small chainring. It’ll get there, but a ‘sit down, shut up and keep pedalling’ approach is definitely the best way to dispatch the slower trail sections.

For out-and-out cross-country speed, then, there are better options out there. Wannabe racers and weight weenies should apply elsewhere. But the Merida’s combination of a decent spec, fuss-free handling and tempting price should help propel it towards the top of most rider’s mid-travel full sus shortlists. 

It’s well equipped, fun on the descents and competent enough on the pedally bits to make all-day epics seem like a good idea.

Frame & equipment: Good attention to design and spec detail

With its vertically mounted, rocker-driven shock and a main swingarm pivoting off a short linkage mounted just above the bottom bracket, the One-Forty takes the tried-and-tested virtual pivot route to a mid-travel rear end. 

Tyre clearance with the factory-specced 2.35in treads is tight, although some clever design around the chainstay bridge area means that all but the claggiest of mud should just fall through. Our pre-production test bike had a rattly shock linkage, but Merida assure us this will be sorted by the time you read this. 

Some subtle tube-profiling up front lends the Merida an elegantly svelte look that goes a long way to disguising its big-hit potential. The top tube even curves seamlessly into the downward swoop of the seatstays – it’s a nice touch that shows the attention to detail that’s gone into the frame design. A 15mm through-axle up front and 142x12mm rear end combine with a tapered head tube to make a precise-steering, twitch-free platform.

The Merida’s kit, which is based around Shimano’s solid mid-range SLX groupset, is particularly good for the money, and touches such as the 180mm rotors both front and rear are good to see on a bike that is likely to be ridden hard. 

Bump-swallowing duties are performed by a pair of Fox’s finest shocks, both fitted out with the CTD controls that have replaced ProPedal for 2013. In practice, we found that using the ‘trail’ setting at the rear and the ‘descend’ setting at the front gave about the right blend of small bump and big hit response without ever feeling wallowy.

The big volume tyres, wide bars with lock-on grips and cable routing for a bar-operated dropper post are all welcome details too. 

The supplied dropper post – which doesn’t have a remote, sadly – is a spec highlight that adds a dose of extra confidence on tricky technical descents. The lever below the saddle nose is easy to find, although it’s surprising how hard it is to find the time to take a hand from the bars to reach down and operate it. We’d be willing to bet that many One-Forty 1500 riders will be upgrading to a remote dropper pretty soon…

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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