Stays true to the hardcore hardtail philosophy
Merida Big Trail 800 need to know
- Modern 27.5 Plus trail hardtail
- Designed with a focus on descending with 130mm travel suspension fork up front
- 1x gearing specific, with an upper chain guide mounted to the ISCG tabs
- Three strong range, with prices starting at £1,300 for the Big Trail 600
Merida’s roots give it a sold footing in XC racing and lightweight marathon bikes, but some if its recent releases see it branching out in new directions and flourishing. Take Merida’s One-Sixty range of enduro bikes for example or the ebike versions.
Merida isn’t all about racing though, and the new Big Trail range of Plus hardtails that feature modern trail geometry longer travel forks are more focused on smiles per hour.
There are three different builds in the lineup, and we took the mid-range Big Trail 800 for a shakedown in the Welsh Valleys.
It’s based around the 27.5 Plus tyre size, and the Big Trail has a bold new frame design. The geometry is modern, but not cutting edge, where the 19in frame features a 445mm reach measurement, a 67.5° head angle and super-short 425mm chainstays.
The short back end makes for a whippy, responsive ride, where the necessary tyre clearance has been achieved by flatting the drive-side chain stay where it meets the BB. This combined with the curved seat tube allows the rear wheel to tucked further into the frame. It also gets a low-slung top tube that offers the rider ample space to move around when the trail get technical.
The frame’s neatly welded hydro-formed tubing is easy on the eye and has one or two nifty features too. Like the Smart Entry cable system that clamps the cable at the entrance and exit holes of the internal routing to eliminate cable rattle.
The Big Trail stays true to the hardcore hardtail philosophy. With its super comfortable riding position – helped by a tiny 35mm stem and 760mm handlebar – you instantly feel at home, quite happily hitting a trail in the same way you would on a full-suspension bike. The ride is surprisingly balanced, and the high volume 2.8in tyres allow you hammer in to sections of trail knowing that you’ll have grip and control when it’s needed most.
The softer 3C compound Maxxis Recon tyres are the perfect accompaniment to the Big Trail’s attitude. And even as you move down the range Merida hasn’t scrimped on rubber, as the entry-level Big Trail 600 has the exact same tyres so it will shared a similar ride quality. Bonus.