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Merida One-Sixty 7. 700 2015

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£2,160.00 , save 20% Merida One Twenty 900 2016 Mountain Bike
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RRP £2,700 View specs

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Tested by Ben Horan

Review

After over 17 years of riding predominantly the discipline of Downhill, a year ago I got rid of my 240mm travel Santa Cruz V10 Carbon Downhill rig and replaced it with a 27.5" Giant Trance 2. Having felt a little disappointed with my 140mm of travel getting lairy at high speed on rough trails, when the Merida One-Sixty 7.700 arrived I was more than psyched to see what it could do!

If you haven't heard of Merida, a chap called Ike Tseng started it in 1972. Since then, Merida have expanded extensively, and in 2001 bought 49% of Specialized. So, in short, they know what they're doing…

Out of the box I instantly noted the quality of the smooth welds and sleek lines of the 6066 triple butted and hydroformed frame. The mix of gloss and matt finishes on the frame look stealthy, aided by the internal cable routing also. The frame boasts a 142x12mm rear through axel keeping things stiff at the rear end, and at the opposite end a 67 degree tapered head tube keeps that end burley too. The pivot system that Merida call their VPK system, which stands for Virtual Pivot Kinematics, which is essentially a virtual pivot point mechanism giving 160mm of rear wheel travel.

On the rear end, the Merida One-Sixty 7.700 comes equipped with the Rockshox Monarch RC3 Plus shock, which has external rebound control, pre-load and 3 low speed compression settings accessible via small easy use lever; soft (open), middle (for pedaling) and firm (basically a nearly locked out setting). A neat scale on the side of the shock also assists in setting the sag exactly where you want it. Up front, your bump squashing control is taken care of by the air sprung Marzocchi 350 CR forks. These run 160mm of travel, with 35 mm stanchions, and weigh in at 2030g, and have pre-load, compression and rebound controls. In comparison of weight, the well-known Rockshox Pike Solo Air weighs in at 1861g; so not too much difference there.

Out on the trails, I found the firm Rockshox Monarch setting is useful for journeys to and from the trails whilst on the road, and obviously for off-road climbing. When things got a little loose however, I found using the middle setting gave good controlled grip and comfortable climbing, keeping good traction at the rear wheel. On the front end, the Marzocchi 350 CR remained stable on general climbs, and only began to 'bob' significantly on the steepest climbs when having to stand on the pedals.

On the middle shock setting, rough flat sections and descents are easily smoothed out by the Monarch shock and Marzocchi 350 CR forks which feel super smooth and responsive with their 'Espresso' coating, eating up everything in their path easily.

On the descents, sticking the Monarch in to the soft setting meant the One-Sixty 7.700 comfortably took whatever I could throw at it, especially on the sort of downhill trails you find in Enduro style races; the Merida swallowed it all. The travel on this bike feels bottomless - so bottomless sometimes it does make you wonder whereabouts in the travel you actually are!

The first thing I noticed out on the trail was how easy it was to pop off obstacles on this bike. And once actually airborne, the bike just feels perfectly well balanced. All I wanted to do is jump this bike!

When on the ground the Merida pedaled well and made it easy to charge rough terrain. The wide Gravity Light 760mm stem and bar combo feel great up front, making changes in direction swift, precise and stable, with plenty of grip up front offered from the Schwalbe Hans Dampf tyre and Marzocchi fork combo. Even when missing a line, the Marzocchi fork stayed planted keeping that all-important grip coming. Under heavy braking the Marzocchi 350 CR holds up well and stays high in the travel, whilst it's 35mm stanchions keep the front-end flex free and rigid, adding to the control you want with good feedback.

At the rear end of the Merida One-Sixty 7.700 the Monarch shock effortlessly soaks up both bumps little and large, keeping good traction over the rear wheel. Having jumped onto this bike after riding a 27.5 Giant Trance for a year, the overall stiffness of this frame shone through, giving amazing feedback and control. The only let down at the back of this ride is the Schwalbe Rock Razor rear tyre, which in anything over moist conditions seems useless. The speeds this bike can carry means a much more grippy rear tyre is required. On the flip side though, it does keep rolling resistance to a minimum!

Braking is done using Shimano SLX brakes, with 203mm Front and 180mm Rear rotors. Needless to say, braking is strong and reliable. The DT Swiss rims have stayed strong and true over 3 months of testing, and my derrière remained in one piece also thanks to the prologo kappa 2 saddle!

Keeping the rear wheel turning on the Merida One-Sixty 7.700 is a set of FSA Comet cranks with narrow-wide 30 tooth chain-ring. This connects to a SRAM X1 1x11 set up (10 tooth by 42 tooth), although if you prefer more rings up front, there is a front mech direct mount built onto the frame. Not once in 3 months did I drop a chain or miss a gear using the SRAM 1x11, and the gearing catered for my entire Trail riding needs. The only time I felt I was losing out was on road sections between trails where my legs often spun out. A bonus of this chain drive meant things were kept tidy at the bars too; for a dropper post lever maybe…?

Well, with all that kit, you would imagine you are probably reaching the end of all that is possible when buying an 'All-Mountain' bike for £2,600.00? Not so. On top of all that, Merida supply you with the well tried and tested reliable Rockshox Reverb dropper seat-post to assist you in demolishing all trails without you having to stop your assault to drop your saddle!

With the Merida's ability to perform on any trail thrown at it, and weighing in at just one kilogram more than my 2014 Giant Trance 27.5 2, for me it is a no brainer; the Merida has completely become my ride of choice. It comes smothered in great kit, and is a true 'All Mountain' bike, with nothing screaming to be instantly upgraded. After 3 months of testing, no pivots or parts are showing signs of wear either, but only longer testing will prove the quality and longevity of moving parts. However, this beast is an Enduro weapon!

At a glance

Verdict Like Downhill, Enduro, and Trail? Want to ride up, as well as warp factor 9 down? If you answered yes then this is a bike you should consider buying.
Value
Performance

Do you own this bike?

by Chris Burn  on 3 Aug 2015
I've always been a fan of trying something different, so when I started thinking about an enduro bike I didn't automatically lean towards Specialized or Giant. I knew about the quality of Merida's bikes but until recently their in-house big hitting bikes have left a bit to be desired in terms of suspension and geometry. This 27.5" machine is bang up to date, with a slack 66 degree head tube, long and low feel and a shortish back end. The espresso coated Marzocchi 350 CR was a big seller too along with the excellent Monarch plus shock and X1 drivetrain.
Unpacking the bike, the frame looked solid and well made with neat welds. I did think the line between the matt and gloss paint was a little too pronounced with a visible lip where the gloss starts but I've not found it a problem with durability.

The first few rides took getting used to as it's been a long time on a hardtail. The 'VPK' design is very reactive and the long stroke shock makes for a supple ride. That, coupled with the rearward motion of the lower link, makes for some pedal jack of the shock is left fully open and you stand up. It's annoying at first but I got used to just flicking the compression lever to max which stops it. It does hint at this bike's real character though - a downhill ripper! I took it to the alps for a week of shredding at Les Arcs, Pila and La Thuile and it came into its own, both in terms of speed and durability. I found I was keeping up with better riders as that rear end soaked up everything but maintained plenty of stability for railing corners. The slack head angle and solid fork gave massive confidence when it was barely-controlled-falling steep and the SLX brakes are faultless, as ever. In a week where mates were dealing with loose frame bolts, endlessly breaking expensive Mavic spokes and dealing with shrieking Avid brakes, the Merida's comparatively basic build shrugged off everything, my only problems being chipped paint and a few loose spokes in the rear wheel (and a scratched fork stanchion from a crash but I can hardly blame the bike for my ham-fisted riding)! I did change the tyres for a reinforced Michelin Wild Grip'r/Rock'r combo as the Schwalbe tyres would be no match for rocky Alpine descents, albeit fine for most UK riding.

Considering the spec, this bike is great value and well made. It looks great in my opinion and is a hoot to ride. I may fit some lower rise bars soon as the Gravity Light ones are a bit odd shaped but I'm glad I took a punt on something different - it's a cracker!
by Chris Burn  on 3 Aug 2015
I've always been a fan of trying something different, so when I started thinking about an enduro bike I didn't automatically lean towards Specialized or Giant. I knew about the quality of Merida's bikes but until recently their in-house big hitting bikes have left a bit to be desired in terms of suspension and geometry. This 27.5" machine is bang up to date, with a slack 66 degree head tube, long and low feel and a shortish back end. The espresso coated Marzocchi 350 CR was a big seller too along with the excellent Monarch plus shock and X1 drivetrain.
Unpacking the bike, the frame looked solid and well made with neat welds. I did think the line between the matt and gloss paint was a little too pronounced with a visible lip where the gloss starts but I've not found it a problem with durability.

The first few rides took getting used to as it's been a long time on a hardtail. The 'VPK' design is very reactive and the long stroke shock makes for a supple ride. That, coupled with the rearward motion of the lower link, makes for some pedal jack of the shock is left fully open and you stand up. It's annoying at first but I got used to just flicking the compression lever to max which stops it. It does hint at this bike's real character though - a downhill ripper! I took it to the alps for a week of shredding at Les Arcs, Pila and La Thuile and it came into its own, both in terms of speed and durability. I found I was keeping up with better riders as that rear end soaked up everything but maintained plenty of stability for railing corners. The slack head angle and solid fork gave massive confidence when it was barely-controlled-falling steep and the SLX brakes are faultless, as ever. In a week where mates were dealing with poise frame bolts, endlessly breaking expensive Mavic spokes and dealing with shrieking Avid brakes, the Merida's comparatively basic build shrugged off everything, my only problems being chipped paint and a few loose spokes in the rear wheel (and a scratched fork stanchion from a crash but I can hardly blame the bike for my ham-fisted riding)! I did change the tyres for a reinforced Michelin Wild Grip'r/Rock'r combo as the Schwalbe tyres would be no match for rocky Alpine descents, albeit fine for most UK riding.

Considering the spec, this bike is great value and well made. It looks great in my opinion and is a hoot to ride. I may fit some lower rise bars soon as the Gravity Light ones are a bit odd shaped but I'm glad I took a punt on something different - it's a cracked!

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