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Review: Merida One-Twenty 8000

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The range starts at £1,500 with the One-Twenty 400 and eight models to choose from right up to the £7,200 One-Twenty 9000 tested here, which gets you a considerable burly spec including a Pike RCT3 130mm fork, FSA Gradient LTD carbon wheels, Maxxis Minion DHR II WT 2.4” front tire, SRAM Eagle drivetrain and Code RSC brakes, all bolted onto a full carbon fiber frame and swingarm.
bigquotes The lightweight frame, with a burly build, meaty tires, efficient suspension, and revised geometry ensures the One-Twenty doesn’t shy away when faced with very technical and demanding trails.







Construction & Features

There’s a shared design language across Merida’s full suspension range, it looks very similar to the One-Sixty I tested last year. It’s a smart looking frame with a swoopy top tube to increase standover and allow longer 150mm dropper posts to be used so you can more easily size up.

This top-end bike has the company’s lightest CF4 carbon front triangle and swingarm with full internal cable routing, a BB92 press-fit bottom bracket and a 1x-specific frame design. Other details include chainstay and downtube protectors to ward off rock strikes, Boost front and rear axles and an integrated headset inside the tapered head tube. Colour and graphics are subjective, so I’ll let you decide if the green getup works for you or not.To ensure the One-Twenty range is accessible and aspirational, there’s a choice of aluminum and carbon frames. Since this model sits right near the top of the range, it has a full carbon frame weighing a claimed 2,103g (incl. shock hardware) for a medium. The aluminum frame comes in at 3,020g so a sizeable saving if your pockets are deep enough to opt for carbon.

Geometry & Sizing Probably the most important change to talk about is the geometry tweaks, which will come as no surprise in this current climate of “slacker, longer, lower”. Up front, the head angle now sits at 67.3-degree with a 75.5-degree seat angle, a 455mm reach for a size large and 10mm shorter chainstays at 435mm for the 29er. The One-Twenty is available in four sizes - S to XL - with 29” wheels and just two sizes on the 27.5” bike.
Suspension Design
Components
Bike Setup
Climbing That the One-Twenty cleans climbs for breakfast is no surprise. The 28.1 lb weight, stiff frame and firm suspension makes for very fast and efficient climbing. It devoured all my local climbs, short and steep or long and grindy, with as much ease as you can expect for a bike of this weight. The wide-range Eagle groupset certainly helped too; who said a 50t sprocket would never catch on? I certainly gave the huge sprocket a hammering taking the Merida up the steepest walls I could find.I found the sizing and reach on the size large made for a very comfortable ride. It’s not the rangiest bike in the world, I’d perhaps like a bit more reach personally, especially after testing the Cotic FlareMax, but it’s usable on all sorts of terrain. It’s got a great deal of agility and quickness of steering that makes piloting it through twisting trails with lots of close proximity trees at the high speeds a lot of fun. 'Efficiency' is a word often bandied about with short travel bikes, and it basically comes down to whether the bike is helping or hindering you when giving the pedals plenty of input. Whether seated or out of the saddle, the Merida definitely makes full use of your input and it makes rapid progress up and over any sort of travel. Even with the suspension in the open setting it feels well controlled without excessive movement on smoother trails, yet it delivers a cushioning effect when you square up against a bigger obstacle.
I found the One-Twenty right at home for short and long distance cross-country rides. Its efficiency helps dispatch big all-day rides with plenty of elevation. There’s space for a full-size bottle in the front triangle so you can easily leave the hydration pack at home, and there’s space for strapping inner tubes and CO2 canisters to the frame. With its high speed and capability in the rough, it’s a natural choice for big marathon distance rides into the unknown, where the pace and lightness are great allies. The tires and components are probably overkill for a typically groomed and manicured cross-country course, where something like the Specialized Epic, Yeti SB100 or Santa Cruz Blur might be more natural choices. But it's all very welcome when you start descending...

Descending With short travel bike reviews, this is usually the point where the line ‘great going up, compromised coming down’ gets trotted out. But the Merida bucks the trend, as other short travel bikes like the Intense Sniper are also doing, proving that short travel bikes, when equipped with decent geometry, and in the Merida’s case, solid equipment, aren’t fazed when the trail points down or it gets overly rough and technical. The One-Twenty was an absolute blast on the descents, allowing you to keep whatever gap you’d opened up on the climb into the following downhill. The geometry and suspension together with the Pike fork and beefy (for a short travel rig) Maxxis tires give the Merida the sort of control, stability and pace not normally seen in short travel bikes. When I received the Merida I wondered whether such equipment would be lost on a short travel bike. Sort of like those Audi Allroads with jacked up suspension and big plastic scuff panels. Well, I was wrong. The Merida managed to maintain that essence of a cross-country bike in its delivery of speed, but was as capable on the descents as some longer travel bikes I’ve ridden. The equipment choices removed some of the normal compromises you get on such short travel setups.The One-Twenty has genuinely eye-opening capability. It's t’s also ruddy good fun because you can push it and it doesn’t push back, but just asks for more speed and more engagement. I know, that sounds a bit cheesy, but the One-Twenty felt really robust and solid when pummelling through and down rocky chutes and smashing into berms and skimming across roots. The Pike fork is a highlight, giving a stout front-end you can really push into corners. Only occasionally when deep into a technical trail does it feel short on travel. The Merida won’t soak up the full impact of every root and rock you barrel into, so you have to really ride it, pick your lines, use its low weight to float over bigger impacts to make up for its lack of travel. And you will find yourself getting into situations because the tires and fork allow you to take bolder choices and more speed risk than you might on a conventionally specced short travel bike. Merida’s designers probably didn’t have enduro down on the list of requirements when designing the One-Twenty, but it proved its worth and capability at a local enduro event, the excellent Ex Enduro three day rampage around Exmoor. Granted, a longer travel bike might have been better suited if you were aiming for the top step, but the trails are nothing out of the ordinary here in the UK, and the Merida showed great mettle in meeting the demands of racing technical trails blind.I’d have no problem using the One-Twenty for XC and marathon races, but for general trail riding, I appreciated the fork and tires more commonly found on a trail bike with increased confidence in those situations that traditional short travel bikes might have you reaching for a white flag.
How Does it Compare?

Short travel bikes are going through a really exciting period of development. Geometry changes are trickling down from enduro and trail bikes and the increasingly demanding cross-country courses are pushing short travel bikes in an exciting direction. I’ve always been a fan of short travel bikes - I like the low weight and efficiency, but the comprised descending capabilities has always been the limiting factor on the most fun part of the ride. These new bikes are changing that, but Merida’s decision to combine modern geometry with beefier equipment has resulted in a bike that is not stunted when it comes to descending performance. The Intense Sniper XC immediately springs to mind as a short travel bike with modern geometry. I tested it earlier this year and was blown away, a super lithe bike wrapped up with long and slack geometry, it’s a perfect recipe for speed freaks. It has a similar head angle to the Merida but the reach is significantly longer, but in retaining typical cross-country fork and tires it’s hamstrung on rough trails compared to the Merida. Nothing that a change of parts wouldn’t fix, or going up to the Sniper Trail which boasts 120mm travel front and rear.Perhaps the other contender is the Santa Cruz Blur, a bike that is more contemporary than its predecessor, but the 68-degree head angle is steep compared to the Merida, but as Mike Levy said, the “un-cross-country-like traction and solidness will really let you be a goon on this thing” - it’s more capable than its numbers would have you believe. Regardless, it probably suits more cross-country racing than the Merida unless you changed the fork and tires.
Technical Report

Rock Shox Pike RCT3 fork: What can I say about this fork that hasn't been said before? Smooth, controlled, really well damped, stout chassis, it gave the Merida a reassuring authority on rough and technical trails and the extra weight over a skinner short travel fork is a small price to pay. It makes the most of the 130mm travel composed in all situations and sensitive on the small ripples.

Maxxis Minion DHR II WT/Forekaster tires: Tyres are obviously critical to how a bike rides and I was delighted to have such tenaciously grippy tires on the Merida. Fitting a rear-specific tire on the front might seem odd, but it worked just fine. The rear Forekaster offered good straight-line acceleration and worked hard in the corners and mud to provide consistent grip.

FSA Gradient LTD wheels: I was impressed with the strength and durability of these wheels, especially after riding on a flat tire at the end of one of the timed stages on the Ex Enduro event - the rim was crack-free and still true despite the hammering. The carbon rims have a 29mm internal width so combine well with the Maxxis WT tires, the hookless bead rims were easy to tubeless and the freehub was quick to engage.

KS Integra 150mm dropper post: The lower top tube has allowed Merida to fit 150mm dropper posts on the larger size frames, which was a benefit on steeper trails. The remote lever is a bit short to operate but it works smoothly - I’d rather see the Southpaw remote option. The post itself was smooth, consistent and reliable.





Is This the Bike for You? The burly build means the One-Twenty might not be the first choice for a cross-country racing purist, but if you’re into the idea of a short travel bike because you enjoy riding fast and don’t need a massive amount of travel, this bike fits the bill.
Pinkbike's Take
bigquotes It’s a lightweight and efficient bike that flies up and down trails and will suit hard-charging riders that want a light and fast trail bike. Merida says it’s the best all-round bike in its range and the bike for those people who want just one bike in their life. I could certainly happily use the One-Twenty for pretty much everything. David Arthur

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