One of the sweetest-riding, most capable enduro bikes we’ve tested.
Merida is a huge Taiwanese bike manufacturer with an impressive R&D facility in Germany. It’s probably best known for its Olympic and Worlds-winning exploits on the XC-race circuit.
Even with this impressive palmarès, Merida is relatively unknown on the enduro race scene. That could be about to change, however, with the introduction of its new ‘One-Sixty’ enduro bike that’s packed with cutting-edge tech.
The 5000 model, tested here, is the cheapest of three, all of which use a sleek, carbon front triangle with good standover clearance.
Out back, the alloy seat and chainstays converge at the latest Boost 148 dropout spacing, ensuring maximum mud clearance and wheel stiffness.
RockShox’s Super Deluxe shock sports the very latest tech.
A trunnion mount uses sealed bearings connected directly to the shock body, instead of the upper eyelet, while the metric sizing increases internal overlap to improve stiffness and durability.
Combined with seal and damper refinements, these help maximise sensitivity; the Merida’s 160mm-travel floating rear suspension feels very controlled, with smooth, supportive progression through its entire stroke.
As such, bump tracking is second to none. Keeping it RockShox, the RockShox Yari fork shares a beefy 35mm chassis with the top-rated Lyrik, but has a cheaper, less effective damper design.
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With 170mm travel for more capability at high speed, the Yari is still happy smashing through the roughest trails with minimal fuss.
The stock Maxxis 2.4in Minion DHR IIs on the Merida are simply fantastic downhill, and because they get the latest WT (wide tyre) casing you get a much better profile with broad rims like the Jalco 29mm-internal ones fitted to the Merida.
The wheels are a bit heavy though, and this, combined with the more open tread, makes them quite draggy, so, outside of pure downhilling, flatter trails and uphills require more effort.
NX is the latest budget 1×11 drivetrain from SRAM. Shifting is smooth and quiet, but the crank lacks hollow-forged arms, so it’s not as stiff.
Merida’s own brand cable-activated dropper is no RockShox Reverb, but has a light-action lever that worked faultlessly. It needs 150mm of drop though.
With a big 200mm front rotor, the sheer stopping power of the Shimano Deore disc brakes caused no complaints, but they are pretty basic considering the price.
From the very first ride, the One-Sixty killed any idea that a brand renowned for XC racing can’t make an aggressive, super-capable bike that’s fun to ride downhill.
The feel of the carbon front end, its shape, and the riding position it puts you in are all superb.
The floating suspension design isolates you from the ground with gobs of traction, without sacrificing pop and support when pumping or jumping the terrain.
Mating this brilliant back end with a low dynamic bottom bracket height, and good lateral stiffness, allowed us to slash corners and hammer terrain as hard as any 160mm bike we’ve ridden.
We’d happily race the Merida at an EWS but it would be overkill for most UK trail riding.
The fat tyres and tall 170mm-travel fork make it hard to generate drive on flat, draggy sections of trail.
Pedalling response, however, is snappy enough for injecting speed before lips, or exiting berms, while the steep seat angle gives it good climbing legs too.
That said, this entry-level model would really benefit from the lockout of the RC3 shock, found on the more expensive models, for grinding uphill on liaison stages.
Verdict The Merida One-Sixty 5000 is a total blast for riding downhill fast, sending off jumps and shredding corners. In the right hands, we’re 100 per cent confident that it could easily win enduro races at the highest level. The silky smooth rear suspension offers brilliant performance while the Gucci carbon front end has perfect proportions without a hint of harshness. On the other hand, you don’t have to look very closely to spot cost-cutting, most evident on the brakes, fork, drivetrain and wheels. Despite this, it’s still one of the sweetest-riding, most capable enduro bikes we’ve tested, and comes highly recommended.