Previously best known for its road and cross-country bikes, Merida’s trail bikes have really impressed us in recent years. The new Big.Trail 600 is a bike with a big bag of tricks.
Merida Big.Trail 600 frame
The double-butted 6061 aluminium alloy chassis looks sleek with its low-slung top tube and smooth welds.
A host of neat features make the Big.Trail a highly versatile bike. These include two bottle cage mounts plus an equipment mount under the top tube, so you can load it up for all-day epics.
There are also discreet rack and mudguard mounts, in case you fancy doubling it up as a commuter or adventure bike. Boost rear-hub spacing will make any wheel upgrade easier.
The frame is limited to 2.5in tyres, although clearance seems ample. It has a small chainstay protector to curb chain slap.
Reach numbers are conservative – just 455mm on our large frame. However, short seat tubes (430mm on the large) mean you can size up if you want more stability at speed.
The Big.Trail’s 75.5-degree effective seat tube angle is steep and modern, and the 65.5-degree head angle makes for confident handling on a wide variety of trails.
Merida Big.Trail 600 kit
The Big.Trail 600 delivers a capable package, but it comes at a price that seems high.
The Marzocchi Z2 fork gives you the basics required to set it up for your weight and riding style.
Merida’s Expert TR wheels have a 29mm internal width and are shod with 29×2.4in Maxxis Dissector tyres.
Finishing kit is also own-brand, with a 780mm bar, 50mm stem and 150mm dropper.
Merida Big.Trail 600 ride impressions
The Big.Trail is comfortable to sit on. I removed the stem spacers to lower the bar height, and it puts you in an upright, relaxed position when pedalling seated.
That doesn’t make it a poor climber, though – its steep 75.5-degree seat angle gives you a strong position over the bottom bracket for pedalling.
It also helps keep your weight forward, maintaining pressure on the front wheel to keep it tracking up steep ascents.
Whether seated or standing, the Big.Trail is a proficient climber, so if all-day adventures are your cup of tea, it’s not going to stretch you out into a painful position.
Some flat-pedal riders have found the chainstays prone to heel rub, but that wasn’t an issue for me, riding clipped in.
While the Merida feels casual in its seated position, it’s anything but tame when things get more challenging.
Thanks to its low BB and standover height, short seat tube and long dropper post, the frame and saddle don’t get in your way when you’re hitting the descents.
This gives you plenty of space to manoeuvre the bike when tackling tight turns and technical sections of trail. Although it’s not as agile as some of the best trail bikes, it’s certainly no slouch.
The 140mm-travel Z2 fork has enough small-bump sensitivity and progression, helping to instil confidence in the front end, while the Maxxis Dissector tyres give a good balance of grip and support, without being too harsh and reducing comfort.
The 1×12 Deore drivetrain works predictably well, giving crisp and precise shifts both up and down the cassette, and has the edge in feel and performance over SRAM’s equivalent offerings.
Its 10-51t cassette, here paired with a 32t chainring, provides an ample gear range to grind up the steepest climbs and not spin out on the fastest descents.
Under the saddle is an 11-function multi-tool, plus there’s a mount below the top tube to carry essential spares.
With its 34mm stanchions and 140mm of travel, the Marzocchi Z2 fork inspires confidence when tackling bigger hits.
The 2.4in Maxxis Dissector tyres give good grip and support.
Merida Big.Trail 600 geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||75.5||75.5||75.5||75.5||75.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||65.5||65.5||65.5||65.5||65.5|
|Seat tube (mm)||380||410||430||450||470|
|Top tube (mm)||579||600||622||645||670|
|Head tube (mm)||95||100||110||120||120|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||66.5||66.5||66.5||66.5||66.5|
Merida Big.Trail 600 bottom line
My only niggle with the spec (other than value) is the MT410 brakes, which are okay in the dry, but lack punch in the wet.
Taking everything into account, the Big.Trail 600 is a composed ride with handling that never felt too demanding.
How we tested
The £1,500 mark has become a highly competitive price point for hardtail mountain bikes in recent years, with many brands offering versatile builds that pack in a solid spec for the money.
We put four trail-focused hardtails around the £1,500 mark to the test to see which came out on top.
All four of the bikes on test are built tough to withstand some abuse, so while they may not be as fast over the roughest terrain as a more expensive full-suspension rig, they shouldn’t be any less fun to ride.
While the hardtails tested here all serve a similar purpose, individual brands often prioritise different ride characteristics, giving each machine its own feel. These reviews and our in-depth buyer’s guide to the best hardtail mountain bikes should help narrow down the choice.
Other bikes on test
|Price||AUD $2499.00GBP £1675.00|
|Weight||13.89kg (L) – without pedals|
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL, XXL|
|Tyres||Maxxis Dissector Dual EXO TR 29x2.4in|
|Stem||Merida Expert TR, 50mm|
|Shifter||Shimano Deore M6100|
|Seatpost||Merida Comp TR|
|Saddle||Merida Comp SL|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Deore M6100 (1x12)|
|Handlebar||Merida Expert TR, 780mm|
|Bottom bracket||Race Face BSA|
|Grips/Tape||Merida Comp EC|
|Frame||Double-butted 6061 aluminium alloy|
|Fork||Marzocchi Bomber Z2, 140mm travel|
|Cranks||Race Face Ride, 32t|
|Cassette||Shimano Deore M6100, 10-51t|
|Brakes||Shimano M410, 180mm rotors|
|Wheels||Merida Expert TR, 29mm rims on Shimano MT400 (f)/Shimano MT410 (r) hubs|