Merida splits the difference and drops a 120mm fork model between its Big.Nine and Big Trail hardtails

Hardtails are very much alive and kicking. They may well sit in the shadows of both the latest e-MTBs and tech-heavy trail bikes but there’s still plenty of development going on.

We tested Merida’s Big Trail 600 – with a 140mm fork – back in 2022 and it impressed us, scoring a solid 9/10 but it’s the Big.Nine hardtails, with shorter travel forks, that the brand has just refreshed and relaunched.

Merida has given its XC focused 29in wheel hardtails a makeover, dividing them into two camps, the Big.Nine TR and Big.Nine. Both ranges are available with aluminium or carbon frames but each runs different travel forks with a component spec that’s picked to suit a specific riding style.

These are 29ers for less demanding terrain than the Big Trail hardtails but instead with an eye on speed and distance. But how do they compare when pitched against the best hardtails on the market?

Need to know

  • Aluminium or carbon frame options
  • 100mm or 120mm frame options
  • Five frame sizes (S-XXL)
  • 29in wheels F and R, on all frame sizes
  • Proportional chainstay lengths on carbon frames
  • Revised, more contemporary geometry
  • Low standover height
  • 2.4in tyre clearance
  • Merida’s reach-based AGILOMETER sizing system
  • Two bottle cage mounts, one tool mount
  • SRAM UDH hanger/dropout


The regular Big.Nine runs a 100mm fork, with a rigid seatpost, faster-rolling tyres and a flat handlebar. It’s got the look and stance of a head down race hardtail with a focus on high performance and low weight and would go head-to-head with bikes like the Giant XTC SLR 29 1.

Merida offers the Big.Nine over a wide price bracket, with the aluminium models starting at £1400 and running through to the Big.Nine 10K carbon model with a pro-level spec and £9000 price tag to match.

Merida Big Nine

Merida Big Nine TR range looks ideal for slashing singletrack

Buy a Big Nine if…

  • You want to race cross-country or marathon events
  • Low weight and fast rolling is your main priority
  • You want maximum speed uphill and on the flat
  • You want a bike with rapid handling responses

Big.Nine TR

The Big.Nine TR models are the ones that have piqued our interest though. And it’s the two aluminium models, the TR 600 at £1400 and the TR LTD at £1750 that stand out.

On the TR models fork travel is boosted to 120mm and that’s matched with a slacker 67° head angle, more aggressive front tyre, triple compound Maxxis rubber, a frame size specific stroke dropper post and a higher rise bar. As the TR nameplate suggests, these hardtails have a more trail-focused slant but still with speed baked into their DNA that’s all part of the Big.Nine ethos.

Hardtails with a 120 or 130mm fork often hit the sweet spot for us and bikes such as the Whyte 629 V4 are a benchmark example.

Merida Big Nine TR5000

Hardtails need to work well in a range of trail conditions

Big.Nine TR models are for riders that still want to hammer the climbs but also have fun on the descents. The ride characteristic is more relaxed than the laser-focussed race attitude of the regular Big.Nine.

Buy a Big Nine TR if…

  • You want the speed of a cross-country bike paired with the handling of a trail bike
  • You want better descending performance and don’t mind a small weight penalty
  • You want to push hard on climbs, but enjoy tackling trickier descents
  • You want a dropper post and more capable tyres as standard kit

Big.Nine TR model range and spec highlights

Merida Big Nine TR 600

Merida Big Nine TR 600

Big Nine TR 600: £1400

  • TR Lite III aluminium frame
  • SR Suntour Raidon 34 2CR 120mm fork
  • Shimano CUES U6000 11 speed transmission
  • Merida aluminium cranks
  • Shimano MT200 brakes
  • Shimano/Merida tubeless-ready wheels
  • Frame size specific dropper post
Merida Big Nine TR LTD

Merida Big Nine TR LTD

Big.Nine TR LIMITED: £1750

  • TR Lite III aluminium frame
  • Manitou Machete 120mm fork
  • Shimano Deore/XT 12 speed transmission
  • Shimano Deore cranks
  • Shimano SLX M7100 brakes
  • Shimano/Merida tubeless-ready wheels
  • Frame size specific dropper post
Merida Big Nine TR 5000

Merida Big Nine TR 5000

Big.Nine TR 5000: £2700

  • TR CF3 III carbon frame
  • RockShox Judy Gold Air 120mm fork
  • Shimano Deore/ XT 12 speed transmission
  • Shimano Deore cranks
  • Shimano SLX M7100 brakes
  • Shimano/Merida tubeless-ready wheels
  • Frame size specific dropper post
Merida Big Nine TR 8000

Merida Big Nine TR 8000

Big.Nine TR 8000: £5000

  • TR CF3 III carbon frame
  • Fox 34 Float SC Performance Elite 120mm fork
  • SRAM GX Eagle AXS T-Type Transmission
  • SRAM GX Eagle cranks
  • SRAM Level Silver Stealth brakes
  • Reynolds TR 309/289 XC carbon wheels
  • Merida Expert TR Lite 100mm dropper post

Merida Big Nine

The Big.Nine TR model have more of a focus on fun