A delight to ride
Modern geometry and 2.6in tyres make the new Merida One Forty 800 trail bike a delight to ride. Joins a line-up featuring One Twenty and One Sixty.
Merida One Forty 800 need to know
- Merida’s new 140mm travel trail bike joins a highly rated line-up.
- The frame is a single-ring only design, where the hydroformed 6016 alloy is the brand’s lightest aluminium.
- A floating shock design allows the leverage rate to be manipulated at both ends.
- Shorter wheelbase and steeper head angle than the acclaimed One Sixty enduro model, aims for a more playful ride quality.
With chunky 2.6in tyres, stretched-out geometry and a 1x chassis, Merida’s new One Forty is a prime example of a modern, progressive trail bike. In fact, it’s one of only a handful of trail bikes using fatter 2.6in tyres.
The lightweight, aluminium-only frame shares its outline and suspension layout with its 120mm and 160mm ‘Float Link’ siblings. And just like its stablemates, it takes its name from the amount of suspension travel the frame delivers.
Compressing a Metric-sized RockShox Deluxe shock is a forged upper link, and thanks to the trunnion mount the shock rotates on sealed bearings eliminating the friction associated with bushings. Merida has also added a twist, with the lower shock mount being an extension of the chainstays, it rotates as the suspension compresses, allowing Merida to further tune the leverage rate.
To back up the latest shock tech the new One Forty frame also gets Boost hub spacing, a 150mm dropper and rattle-free internal cable routing. Oversized 2.6in tyres, stiff Descendant cranks and DH-rated Code brakes reflect the Merida’s intentions, and, with a light suspension touch and the huge tyres, there’s awesome grip for really aggressive descending.
Pushing hard, the 2.6in Maxxis rubber remains poised and confident, with the knobbly front Minion DHR II clawing in at every angle. Out back the lower profile Rekon offers just enough bite on the right trail, but, crucially, it also rolls really fast to maintain agility and speed. By dampening chatter and aiding momentum, the bigger volume tyres work great on all trails too, so the One Forty never feels sluggish, despite being a bit heavy and only having average weight wheels.
In fact, the way the Merida handles slippery awkward trails so easily with Plus-tyre-like speed, comfort and grip, minus any of the weird floating behaviour in mud, I reckon the 2.6in set up is so good, it’ll soon become standard issue on all trail bikes.
This trail bike’s not all about the tyres though. Despite the shred factor, the solid chassis isn’t overly stiff or lifeless, and, with smooth 12-speed SRAM GX Eagle, it’s surprisingly efficient and nimble uphill. The rear suspension is totally sorted too and remains taut and supportive when pedalling hard, hitting turns or pumping. It also remains sensitive and smooth over rocks, braking bumps and roots, making it a winning combination. With the 150mm RockShox Revelation fork up front, the One Forty often feels like it has more travel than advertised, without ever feeling too soggy.
At 455mm, the reach is pretty standard for a modern size large trail bike and with the stubby stem, rider position and steering feedback feel intuitive and neutral whether cruising singletrack or attacking descents. Compared to Merida’s 160mm enduro rig, the BB is a tad higher for increased pedal clearance, but it’s still plenty low enough, making it very easy to flick the One Forty about or change direction quickly.
With great pedalling efficiency, brilliant suspension and top fun factor, the new One Forty is going to further boost Merida’s growing reputation. Sure it’s a little chunky, and a new Charger II damped Pike would be a better fit than the Revelation on a £3k bike, but whoever’s in charge at Merida’s Stuttgart HQ clearly knows their stuff, as this is now the third new Merida in a row that I’ve totally fallen for.