Merida’s new One-Sixty 3000 is their top-flight enduro/all-mountain machine, and is designed to take the fight to the established 160mm (6.3in) brigade. But can the new platform cut the mustard against seasoned competitors?
Ride & handling: Happiest on the flat or descents
Even with both the fork and shock open in descend mode, the Merida is an admirable climber. We initially encountered a trace of pedal-induced bob (in climb mode) but a touch more air than we’d normally run sorted it out across the board.
Along and down is the One-Sixty’s ideal comfort zone and it’s pretty good at both. Descending and trail pace were hampered by the 2.4in Schwalbe Fat Albert tyres though – they just don’t offer the grip their ample girth promises, particularly not in the wet. A more aggressive tyre would open the bike right up. It’s virtually silent, too, thanks to the neat cabling and clutch-equipped rear mech.
The Mavic wheels are superbly stiff and, alongside the intuitive feel of the XT drivetrain and brakes, help to inspire a confident, direct feeling. The Fox suspension supports you nicely in the initial travel but can mop up harder hits with ease.
The One-Sixty has the feel of a well-balanced sum of its parts. Those intent on gravity enduro might prefer a lighter carbon fibre frame (Specialized’s Stumpjumper Evo Carbon springs to mind). With the Merida tipping the scales at a shade over 14kg (31lb) it’s not far off, though, and what you lose in shiny black stuff you recuperate on the spec sheet.
Ditch the tyres and you have a superb long-term prospect that’ll see you through alpine adventures for years.
Frame & equipment: Well specced and long lasting
With a slack 66.5-degree head angle and a 600mm long top tube (size large), the Merida offers a good amount of room up front. There’s plumbing to accommodate the Reverb Stealth post and internal cable routing. You also get the excellent 142x12mm rear axle and a tapered head tube.
The VPK suspension platform operates around a lower linkage located just above the bottom bracket and an upper rocker in front of the seat tube.
There’s wall-to-wall quality hanging off of the Merida, just as you’d expect for £4,000. The full Shimano XT groupset is just that, right down to the 10-speed cassette and silent clutch-equipped rear mech.
You also get a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post, Mavic Crossmax SX wheels and a CTD-equipped Fox 34 TALAS fork and Float CTD rear shock. All of the aforementioned could be considered among the best in their respective fields. At this money, it’s disappointing not to see at least one Kashima-coated suspension unit.
Many will prefer the simplicity of a 1x10 drivetrain but the Merida’s granny came in handy more than once for winching us up techy climbs, and the MRP guide was faultless.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.