If your idea of fun is sliding around in the woods on natural trails, searching for grip, and riding for pure kicks then the eOne-Forty does the job
The new Merida eOne-Forty 9000 is the little brother in Merida’s new range of e-bikes with their battery hidden away inside the down tube
Merida eOne-Forty 9000 need to know
- Short travel e-bike with 133mm travel and 140 fork, and mullet wheels.
- Full carbon frame, internal 504Wh battery and Shimano E8000 motor.
- Trail bike ethos, designed to be fun and manoeuvrable, with climbing prowess.
- More conservative geometry than the bigger-travel Merida eOne-Sixty.
- Four bike range, top end 9,000 model boasts Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes.
Just like regular powered bikes, e-bikes are designed with a specific kind of riding in mind. Take the Specialized Turbo Kenevo, it has triple crown forks and a “shuttle mode”, and is for downhill. The YT Decoy we tested recently works best on big, all-mountain trails because it’s stiff and progressive. While the Merida eOne-Forty here is very definitely a trail bike, which means it’s comfortable, fun and manoeuvrable, and totally suited to the kind of riding most of us enjoy.
It shares the same frame design and look as the bigger eOne-Sixty bike, albeit with less travel, at 133mm. It’s also smaller overall with the reach nearly 10mm shorter, and the head angle is a degree steeper too, which Merida says makes the bike better at slow speeds and climbing.
Now maybe Merida’s definition of trail riding is different from mine, but I want to have maximum confidence and control when I’m riding down any kind of trail, and that comes from long, low and slack geometry. I’d rather Merida had stuck with the bigger bike’s geometry, which incidentally might even have actually helped the bike climb, with its longer overall wheelbase and less cramped cockpit that made me feel like upsizing to the size XL frame.
The frame in question is smart looking, made from carbon fibre with an alloy 6016 rear triangle it’s designed to mirror the non-motorised Merida One-Forty bike. Those distinctive vents you see behind the head tube aren’t just for show, Merida says they held cool the motor, and double as internal cable routing ports. I think they look tacky, but plenty of people seem to like them.
The e-bike boasts some interesting features, some of which I like, some I don’t: there’s an on/off button looks great inset in the top tube, although you have to push it hard to get it to work, unlike YT Decoy’s effortless switch that’s also better positioned under the top tube. The battery cover feels robust, but it’s only secured with a rubber o-ring, which has stretched over the bike’s (500mile) life and doesn’t fit snugly anymore. No matter, Merida has designed the o-rings to be replaceable, so can always get a rattle-free fit.
You can take the 504Wh battery out and charge it off the bike; the release mechanism is ingenious because you use the bolt through lever from the rear axle to unlock it. You can also charge the battery through the bike, although the charge port is located on top of the BB housing, meaning it was usually full of water, which is almost certainly a terrible idea. Finally, there’s a headseat block to restrict the bars from turning right round, which is perfect for limiting damage in a crash, and there’s a great chainstay protector that helps keep the bike silent.
I’ve always liked the Shimano STEPS E8000 motor that the eOne-Forty uses, it’s powerful, reliable and doesn’t make too much noise. It is however outclassed by the latest generation Bosch motor, something I really need to bring up because of the cost of the bike. At £7,000 this 9000 model comes up against some pretty heft competition, most of them outgunning it in terms of power, motor modernity and battery capacity.
Merida eOne-Forty 9000: first ride review
The eOne-Forty is a serious looking bike, decked out in matt black livery and subtle graphics, but it is joyful to ride — really it should be fluro orange to better reflect its personality. A combination of the linear shock tune and short back end helps the bike manual easily, and it contributes to the feeling of being able to flick the bike around with ease and it flatters your skills, to a point. The mullet wheel setup is a proven formula for e-bikes and the eOne-Forty makes good use of it: the 29in wheel and Maxxis Minion DHF tyre up front grips without being draggy, while the 27.5in rear wheel does help the bike react sweetly to changes in direction.
The flattery comes to an end when you push the bike harder, faster or on rougher trails, where the eOne-Forty rips through its travel and leaves you at the mercy of its relatively conservative geometry. The flexy back feels good on the slow, muddy and natural trails we have in abundance all over the UK for msot of the year, dishing out grip where you wouldn’t expect to find it: but on firmer, faster trails with berms it feels a little more vague and less trustworthy.
If you’re in the market for an enduro e-bike that can hammer fast, steep and rough trails all over Europe this is not the bike for you. But if your idea of fun is sliding around in the woods on natural trails, searching for grip, and riding for pure kicks then the eOne-Forty does the job.