The popular XC dual-suspension platform has a new frame design and 120mm fork option for those who like riding rowdier descents.

Merida might be one of the world’s largest mountain bike brands, but they have made their loyal XC dual-suspension followers wait for a downcountry bike.

Merida Ninety-Six

With the latest version of Merida’s Ninety-Six, you get more contemporary geometry angles and a very cleverly designed carbon-fibre frameset.

The company has been marketing its Ninety-Six since 2008 and it has a credible legacy in the XC dual-suspension segment. With this latest version, Merida wished to retain all the steep gradient climbing ability and swift XC flat-terrain speed, but add some additional descending confidence too.

A new carbon-fibre frame was the solution and besides the tidy appearance, this new Ninety-Six has completely redesigned front and rear triangles.

Merida Ninety-Six

You can have all the bottles – and a shock remote

With more XC dual-suspension bikes adding dropper seatposts and rear shock remotes, cable management has become an issue. To prevent annoying rattles or tension issues, the new Ninety-Six’s cables snuggle into the frame via a Merida designed custom Wire Port headset.

The cable routing between this new Ninety-Six’s triangles is also much better, with a journey that goes about, instead of below, the bottom bracket – notably reducing the risk of terrain snagging your cables. An integrated chain guide also keeps your drivetrain running true, even when pinging through the wildest rock gardens,

All the traditional XC frame features are very much in evidence with this Ninety-Six. You can stack two full-size water bottles in the front triangle, with any shock rub, and still have space for Merida’s Trail Mount utility carry mount.

Merida’s new Ninety-Six range is four variants strong, with all the bikes featuring 100mm of shock travel and a new pivotless rear triangle. Geometry numbers are slacker and longer than before, with a 68° head angle, which slackens to 67.5° when running a 120mm front fork – available on the Ninety-Six 8000.

Slightly limited tyre widths

Merida’s new Ninety-Six offers two carbon-fiber layups: CF4 and CF5, with the latter being 150g lighter. The only specification debit is rear tire clearance, which is limited to 2.3”. That means you won’t have option on the latest 2.4” fast-rolling trail wide XC tyres, with this new Merida.

The lead build option is Merida’s RC 9000. Equipped with Fox Factory suspicion (a 100mm 32 SC fork and Float shock), this XC dual-suspension racing machine uses Shimano’s latest XTR 1×12 drivetrain and brakes. It also rolls an XRC 1501 wheelset from DT Swiss, with Maxxis Recon Race 29×2.25” tyres.

For a downcountry alternative there is the Ninety-Six 8000, using a Rockshox SID 120mm fork and SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain. Stopping power is provided by Shimano XT brakes, with four-piston calipers up front and a two-piston configuration at the rear.

The Ninety-Six 8000  also features a generously long 170mm stroke dropper seatpost (on a size L frame) and rolls aggressive tread pattern Maxxis Minion DHR TR EXO 3C 29×2.3 tyres.