Review: Merida One-Twenty 8000
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.
|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.
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?
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.
|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|