Merida’s Big Trail 600 boasts an engaging ride quality and feature-packed frame that instantly impressed us – making it a very compelling choice whatever your skill level.

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 9

Merida Big Trail 600


  • Lighter than most rivals.


  • Poor wet weather brake performance.


Merida Big Trail 600 (2022) review


Price as reviewed:


The last time we lined up Merida’s Big Trail in a bike test against the best hardtails on the market it was quite a different machine. All models rolled on 27.5×2.8in Plus size tyres and at a time when trail bike sizing and geometry was evolving rapidly, its dimensions and angles felt a touch dated. But Merida didn’t take it lying down, and given that the UK has always been a hotbed for trail bikes – especially those with a harder-hitting nature – Merida consulted its dealer base for feedback, leading to a fully overhauled Big Trail platform with a completely different outlook.

Merida Big Trail 600

Merida Big Trail 600


A sleek aluminium frame is still at the heart of the Big Trail 600 but it’s now designed around 29in wheels and a 140mm travel fork, and is available in five frame sizes. There are four models starting at £1,175, we picked the Big Trail 600 at £1,675, one down from the flagship bike.

There’s plenty to talk about with the new frame. At first sight we thought we’d been shipped the wrong size – not the XL we’d requested – but we needn’t have worried. Part of Merida’s new design is to build the frames around shorter seat tubes (taking advantage of modern 170-200mm droppers that are now available) and it was the short 455mm seat tube length that misled us. It gives buyers the option to consider reach and top tube measurements as a priority and move up a frame size without compromising on standover height.

Merida Big Trail 600

Two bottle cage fittings (on down tube) and top tube tool mount to lighten your backpack

Its vital stats also stack up well, and while not ground-breaking they are a major leap forward from the previous generation. The 65.1º head angle, 308mm bottom bracket height and 1,225mm wheelbase are all on the money.

Merida has packed the Big Trail frame with neat details as well as an exceptionally smooth finish. The down tube sports two bottle cage mounts and there’s an on-trend accessory mount under the top tube, along with SRAM’s universal gear hanger.

Merida Big Trail 600

Marzocchi’s Z2 fork is a smooth operator


There’s a Marzocchi Bomber Z2 up front, but gets 10mm more travel than the one on the Nukeproof Scout 290 Comp. In fact, it’s the only bike in the test with a 140mm fork. Like most forks on other modern hardtails, with the exception of the steeper Kona Honzo, Merida uses a shorter 44mm offset crown to work with the modern geometry and help keep the steering sharp at lower speeds. So what once was a custom tweak has now become the new norm.

With a longer travel fork and the option to upsize, Merida has kept the head tubes at a more generous length. And with no conical top cap on the headset there’s still the option to slam the stem to load the front wheel – and we certainly took advantage of that.

Merida Big Trail 600

Deore drivetrain is hard to fault


It’s a heavy dose of Shimano for the Big Trail 600 and that extends to the hubs, rotors and neatly integrated dropper lever. The only major deviation are the cranks, which are from Race Face. All in, it’s a solid, reliable build and as with the Scout, the 1×12 Deore transmission was faultless in performance.

Merida Big Trail 600

Merida Big Trail 600

The Shimano twin-piston brakes left us wanting though. Not with reliability – they’re tough and dependable – but with control, power and also ergonomics. With resin pads (and rotors to match) there was adequate power in the dry but less so in the wet and filth, especially when the terrain turned steep. The long lever blades didn’t help much either; moving them inboard for more leverage compromising the integrated shifter’s position.

Merida Big Trail 600

The Big Trail 600 rails turns and displays an athletic turn of speed


The Merida’s low weight, compact frame and harder, dual compound tyres give it a real turn of speed, especially on dry man-made trail centre tracks; almost the zest you get from an XC race bike. In these conditions the bike zips up climbs and rails berms with enthusiasm.

Merida Big Trail 600

Low slung frame gives amazingly low standover height on all five sizes

But as the test period shifted deeper into winter, the onset of slippery conditions dwindled our confidence slightly. Forcing us to back off on some testing off-piste trails, and wishing for softer compound tyres (certainly on the front), a more serious set of brakes and maybe the longer reach of the next frame size up.


Merida has done everything right with this latest evolution of the Big Trail. Its engaging ride quality and feature-packed frame instantly impressed us – making it a very compelling choice. With its low weight and sweet handling the Big Trail 600 ripped, especially in drier conditions. The frame’s range of sizing (and approach to it) should cover riders big and small, without having to opt for a smaller wheel size. Any compromise when riding inclement trail conditions are component based – unlike the Nukeproof – and can be part of a basic upgrade plan. The tyres are an easy and affordable swap but improving the stopping power of the brakes is more costly and involved. It’s also worth taking an in-depth look at the geometry chart. So if you’re 6ft or taller we’d recommend taking advantage of the short seat tubes by going up a frame size (yes, they make a XXL…) and with it the added stability of a longer reach and front centre. 


Fork:Marzocchi Bomber Z2, 140mm travel
Wheels:Shimano MT400/410 B 110/148mm hubs, Merida Expert TR 29 rims, Maxxis Dissector DC EXO 29x2.4in tyres
Drivetrain:Race Face Ride 32t, 175mm chainset, Shimano Deore M6100 derailleur and 12sp shifter, Shimano Deore 10-51t cassette
Brakes:Shimano M4100 two-piston 180/180mm rotors
Components:Merida Expert TR 780mm (35mm) bar, Merida Expert TR 50mm stem, Merida Comp TR 175mm post, Merida Comp SL saddle
Sizes:S, M, L, XL, XXL
Weight:13.86kg (30.55lb)
Size tested:XL
Head angle:65.1º
Seat angle:74º
Effective seat angle:75.8º
BB height:308mm
Front centre:790mm
Down tube:760mm
Seat tube:455mm
Top tube:653mm