Merida’s structured fit means it has a nicely airy back, but suffers from issues with fit and loading.
A curved alloy perimeter frame hollows out the back, leaving a large air space behind the ‘trampoline panel’ to wick sweat. The taut fixed frame can create pressure points and chafing, and it bounces around on rough descents.
The way it bends the bag and holds it taut makes it hard to fit a full bladder into the provided sleeve, and filling it in situ reduces the amount of water you’ll get in. A full bladder also reduces cargo capacity but it just about swallows all the kit you need for a changeable weather day if you’re determined.
There are easy access zipped hip belt pockets and flank pockets, which more flexible riders will be able to get to without taking the bag off. There’s a stretch mesh back sleeve plus a pullout stretch mesh helmet holder and rain cover, but they take up valuable space when stowed.
As it comes without a bladder you can also choose your preferred type, and it’s priced accordingly.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.