At Mountain Biking UK magazine – sister brand to BikeRadar – we ride our long-term test bikes hard for a year, constantly scrutinising their performance, to bring you the truth behind the marketing waffle. We also use them as test beds for the latest kit, chopping and changing parts to help you decide which upgrades are worth spending your money on. In this new video series we’ll be giving you a closer look at some of our rides.
#4 Jake Ireland’s Merida One-Sixty 7. 900
When he’s not hitting downhill tracks on his Saracen Myst, MBUK Wrecking Crew member Jake grabs his Merida One-Sixty to tear up the local trails. Over to him…
I was really excited for the Merida to arrive. It looks great with its Gulf Porsche reminiscent paint job and the spec is tidy considering the £3,250 price – DT Swiss wheels, an 11-speed SRAM set-up and a RockShox Pike RCT3 Dual Position Air fork up front matched with a Monarch Plus DebonAir shock out back.
It’s been a really interesting bike to have on long-term test. The suspension has some unusual traits – the rearward axle path causes a huge amount of chainstay growth, leading to chain growth and pedal kickback. I’ll be experimenting with different shock set-ups to try to improve the ride.
– The static geometry is pretty sorted. The head angle is slack, sitting at 66 degrees, and the effective top tube measures in at 605mm. The chainstays are 440mm long, and because they extend through a large part of the travel this makes the bike feel pretty stable.
– The spec is great for the money, considering it’s not a direct-sales bike. The Monarch Plus DebonAir shock is top notch, giving a huge amount of sensitivity and support throughout the stroke. The SRAM X01 transmission has been reliable and performed well too, even after I snagged the outer cable quite badly.
– A bike at this price shouldn’t need major suspension work to make it feel good. It’s not like I’m being fussy (this time!) either – the really quite poor pedalling of the One-Sixty is obvious to anyone who jumps on for a ride. Changing the chainring from the original 30t to a 34t made a big difference, but not enough to drastically improve things.
– The gear cable outer is somewhat vulnerable where it leaves the down tube just in front of the bottom bracket shell. I’ve had to replace it once a month on average!
– The original FSA chainring had a tendency to drop the chain over bumpy ground. They’ve supplied a new version, which should have sorted out the problem, but I’ve yet to ride it in anger!
– If I were to pick holes, the DPA spring in the Pike lacks support at times. I’ll be looking to swap the spring for a Solo Air unit at some point during the year so I can tune in some more progressivity with RockShox’s Bottomless Token volume spacers.
I’m still trying my best to get the suspension well and truly dialled in. Judging by the time it’s taken so far, it isn’t going to suddenly click and feel great. I’m going to be experimenting with different length shocks and maybe even some drastic gearing changes to try to combat the pedal feedback. Plenty of technical jargon for me to chat about!
The Forest of Dean’s backcountry trails are quite literally on my doorstep so I’ll be getting as much time in on the Merida as I can to try to get things dialled. I might even crack out the stopwatch too, because quite a lot of the time faster doesn’t mean more comfortable!
Jake hits the jumps at tidworth freeride in wiltshire on his merida one-sixty:
MBUK’S 2015 long-term bike test fleet
For 2015 we’ve ordered in some of the coolest, most exciting and interesting bikes the industry has to offer so we can put them through their paces and let you guys know just how they hold up. We’ve got quite an assortment too, spanning a good mix of wheels sizes, disciplines and price brackets, from a steel fatbike to state-of-the-art carbon trail bikes. Look out for more long-termer videos on BikeRadar soon.