Better tyres, improved geometry and bigger sizing should make the Big Trail an absolute ripper 


Merida has a new version of its Big Trail hardtail, with bigger sizing, better geometry and improved components. That’s an impressive jobs list to tick off given the previous gen bike was already one of the best hardtails you could ride: But the Taiwanese brand has ticked it all off.

Crucially, the Big Trail now gets grippier tyres and more powerful brakes, something that really held us back when testing the Big Trail 600 in 2022. Add that to some seriously aggressive geometry changes, including a radically low BB and slack head angle, and way bigger sizing, and Merida’s do-it-all-on-a-budget hardtail looks absolutely drip. (Apparently that’s Gen Z speak for cool.)

The Big Trail is all about proper trail riding, but on a tight budget

Merida Big Trail need to know

  • Big.Trail 600 is £2,000; Big.Trail 500 costs £1,500; Big Trail 300 priced at £1,100
  • Alloy frame with 140mm fork, 29er wheels front and rear, and internal cable routing
  • Geometry tweaked, with slacker head angle, steeper seat angle, and lower BB
  • Sizing overhauled, Merida has added 20mm to the reach measurement
  • New cable routing, chainstay protection and sizing name

So pleased to see four-piston brakes, which should let you ride the Big Trail at its full potential

Component changes I love

Last time I tested the Merida Big Trail, it blew me away with its composure and sheer ability to crank up to speed. If accelerating was no problem, slowing the thing down really was though, thanks to single compound rubber front and rear. Honestly, those tyres didn’t grip at all well in the wet, and we recommended changing them asap.

Grippy tyres are going to do you a massive favour in the wet, the Minion is a great blend of speed and control

Merida seems to have absorbed our critique there, because the 600 and 400 both now get grippy Maxxis Minion tyres up front rather than Dissectors, which still have their place on the rear. The top-end 600 also gets the 3C (triple compound) rubber from Maxxis, which is even better because it’s both grippier and faster rolling.

The brakes are better too now, at least on the 600, Merida’s beefed them up and moved to a 4-piston brake, the Shimano XT M8120. That means more power for less effort over the outgoing 2-piston brakes.

A 64° head angle is about slack enough for enduro racing, let alone trail riding!

Slacker, steeper and lower

Slacker and steeper? Darn right, the head angle has been kicked out by 1.5° to 64° to made descending easier. At the same time the seat angle’s been steepened up 1° and straightened out to allow more room for a dropper post, which in turn means better standover height. Merida is effectively bringing your bum closer to the bottom bracket, which should help you pedal more easily on steep climbs, resisting that loop-out problem.

Merida has some seriously long dropper posts on its bikes, sizes Long and XL give you 240mm

Incidentally, Merida’s switched to a heavier 34.9mm dropper post size to allow for its chunky Team TR II post, although you don’t get the fancy height-adjustable one, which is too much money here. 

The Big Trail will now have a lower centre of gravity when you’re stood up and descending too, the bottom bracket height has come down 3.5mm and that makes it ground-huggingly close. I’d wager this bike will generate more grip in the corners now because of this.

The Big Trail is a category 4 rated bike, meaning it’s still warrantied if you take it enduro racing

Sizing changes

Merida has changed its naming system, instead of XS, small, medium, large and XL, you now get X-short, short, mid, long and X-long. Pointless? Maybe, but there’s an extra 20mm added to each of those sizes to bring the bikes in line with other Meridas. That means if you had a Merida e-One-Sixty and a Big Trail they’d feel pretty similar in terms of size (but definitely not power). 

The seat tube angle now makes sense, it counteracts that extra reach and means the bike won’t feel too small when sat down and pedalling.

How clean does that head tube look, now Merida has routed the cables through the headset?

Cable routing, chainstay protection, and tools

Merida’s done a neat job making the bike look modern, and much of that is down to its Wire Port internal cable routing. Those hoses and cables now go in through the Across headset, which incidentally is a new 2-piece top cap configuration) instead of entering through holes in the downtube. There’s extra space for fettling then, and Merida says that’s allowed it to fit foam tubes inside to reduce any cable slap. The gear cable now runs through the chainstays for a cleaner look and added protection. There’s also a new moulded two-piece chainstay protector. 

Rubbery two-piece chainstay protector should help keep the bike silent when you’re thrashing it

The Merida Big Trail range

Big.Trail 600 (£2,000)

RockShox Pike fork, Shimano XT M8120 brakes, Merida cockpit and dropper post, Shimano Deore drivetrain, Maxxis Minion DHF/Dissector MaxxTerra 3C tyres, 14.2kg claimed weight.

Big.Trail 500 (£1,500)

RockShox Psylo Silver RC fork, Shimano MT410 brakes, Merida cockpit and dropper post, Shimano Cues drivetrain, Maxxis Minion DHF/ Dissector tyres, 15.1kg claimed weight.

Big.Trail 300 (£1,100)

Big Trail… in big woods

Suntour XCR34 2CR fork, Shimano MT200 brakes, Merida cockpit, Shimano Cues drivetrain, Kenda Regolith tyres, 14.7kg claimed weight.