Merida One-Sixty 8000 review£5,500.00

Excellent frame shines despite skinny rims and wonky bar

BikeRadar score4/5

Merida has been quietly edging closer and closer to the top of the long-travel rankings in recent years, and the latest One-Sixty puts them into a potential podium position.

Even before you get onto the 8000 you can see it’s shaped ‘right’. The large size combines a 475mm reach with a 65.5-degree head angle to create a super-stable, self-correcting handling feel that’s on your side even when the terrain definitely isn’t.

RockShox’s Lyrik is an unshakably solid, smooth and consistently-controlled fork that’s easily tuned to a sweet spot. There’s no shortage of stiffness from the big box-section front end of the carbon frame too, making the only handling glitch the odd-shaped 760mm bar. That’s an easy swap though, and the SRAM X01 Eagle and Guide RS stop/go kit is excellent.

Clamped internal cable routing and room for a bottle are design pluses, while the press-fit bottom bracket and just three frame size options are minuses. The asymmetric alloy rear end has extended chainstay tips which, together with the short rocker link, create a ‘floating’ mount for the latest RockShox Super Deluxe RC3 shock. This has a three-position low-speed compression damping lever, which adds pedalling support to the smoothly mobile, high-traction back end if revs are low and torque high.

The Merida performs well on the rowdiest trails
The Merida performs well on the rowdiest trails

The One-Sixty is clearly a gravity-orientated rig though, and while it has 160mm of travel, its capacity to calmly swallow the biggest blocks and drops of battering black runs or off-piste boulder fields without flinching, spiking or getting kicked off line means it feels like a much bigger bike.

This means you can push the Merida hard on the rowdiest trails with masses more confidence than on most bikes. Like the Lyrik, the Super Deluxe shock has a more forgiving bandwidth, in terms of tuning, than the Fox Float X dampers on the other bikes, so you can get your A game on ASAP.

It would have been a possible Superbike of the Year test winner if Merida had fitted a wider option from the excellent DT Swiss 1501 wheel line-up. Unfortunately, the 25mm rims together with the stiff ‘2.4in’ carcass of the Continental Baron mud tyres (which actually only measures 2.2in) create an unnecessarily harsh ride. That meant the One-Sixty only revealed its truly outstanding performance when I swapped in wider, smoother wheels and tyres, but it’s potential is still good enough to score very high.

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

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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