Review by Ben Plenge // images by Jamie Edwards

450miles of racing later! Our Merida one-forty 900 Review

Race tested: Ben’s Merida 140

MTBStrengthFactory’s Ben Plenge has been riding and racing our Merida 140 long-termer all season long. He’s raced the Scottish Enduro World Series race, the full UK Gravity Enduro and hundreds of miles in between. With 450km of riding in the tank, it’s time to check in.

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The Merida 140 basking in the summer sun. Rest assured … she’s been tested in much fouler conditions than these!
  • 140/150mm travel ‘all-mountain’ bike.
  • 27.5 wheels
  • £3000.
  • SRAM 1×11 Drivetrain.

It’s probably fair to say that the name ‘Merida’ doesn’t quite invoke as much excitement as some of the other bike brands you’ll see out there. If we’re being brutally honest, it’s probably not a brand that many UK riders (patriculary the gravity crowd) aspire to add to their stable. Don’t let that fool you though, the Taiwan giants have produced a really solid, great value bike that’s ready to shred straight out the box.

“Don’t let that fool you though, the Taiwan giants have produced a really solid, great value bike”

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“The only thing that lets it down off the peg is the tyre choice”

Merida labels the bike as, ‘All-mountain’ and a quick look at the components will confirm its aspirations for fast and rough riding. Reverb Stealth, RS Pike, SRAM 1×11, XT brakes, 45mm stem and 760mm bars all point towards a capable bike. Don’t forget the on-trend 67 degree head angle and 450mm reach (Size L) measurements.

The only thing that lets it down off the peg is the tyre choice. The plasticy feeling Schwalbe Nobby Nic and Rock Razor combo just didn’t hack riding and racing in UK conditions. The Nobby Nic, although more aggro then in previous years is just too hard a compound to really stick as an aggressive front tyre and the Razor out back is just way too niche for a UK supplied bike. If you buy this bike you should budget another £80-£100 for new rubber unless dry, trail-centre loops are your only ambition. Throughout the test I mostly rode with the excellent WTB Vigilante or the Michelin Rock’R 2.

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“survived a lot of abuse”

The wheelset is a basic DT Swiss pairing that have survived a lot of abuse and my only criticism of them is that they are way too easy to get tyres on and off, making inflating a tubeless tyre near impossible without a compressor. It also meant that I was not confident running very low pressures as I would burp the tyre quite easily.

On the trails, the Merida has a planted and stable ride that has a good blend of agility and high speed stability. It sits nicely between the slacker, longer travel enduro race bikes and lighter, less gnarly trail bikes, making it a good choice for the sort of riding that many UK riders do every weekend.

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“a refreshing choice”

The cockpit is well set up and the short stem was a refreshing choice, especially from a brand that is more known for road or XC bikes. The (25mm rise bars did look a little retro, attracting a few comments out on the trails but they felt great. Having said that, the 25mm rise combined with the stacked FSA headset limits how low you can run your bars, so if you like them low, you may need to change one of these components.

The Pikes are 150mm Dual Position, meaning that you can vary the travel and therefore the ride height so you can climb in a more comfortable position. The problem is that you cannot tune them as much as the Solo Air versions as you can’t fit the bottomless tokens. This meant I found it hard to get a tune that really worked for me. At low pressures the fork lacked support and would dive through its travel and at higher pressures it ramped up way too much and lacked sensitivity.

SQ LabsLeaderboard

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“nothing flashy, but it worked brilliantly throughout the test”

The Fox Float CTD shock is an entry level model and nothing flashy, but it worked brilliantly throughout the test, rarely bottoming out and never really feeling out of its depth. That is until I blew it in late August preparing for the Ae Forest UK Gravity Enduro Series race. I’m not going to hold this against it though, for a basic shock I think it survived well.

At first the lack of a chain guide or ISCG tabs alarmed me and after 450km of off-road riding (including the Enduro World Series) I’ve only lost the chain once. Unfortunately that happened in a timed-run and lost me valuable time and results. The FSA narrow-wide ring has done a great job but I’ve now got a chain guide on the bike from EThirteen. To me, it’s just not worth the risk of dropping chains for a little added weight and cash. That’s an easy upgrade though and doesn’t spoil the bike.

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“Rant over!”

And whilst we’re talking about FSA … The chain ring is three bolt and yet another new standard! Why do we have yet another standard?! It’s fine until you’re away on a trip and smash your chainring on a rock. If you had a normal 4 bolt pattern then you could go into literally any bike shop and replace it with one of many other brands, but with this system you are likely to be completely stuck unless they happen to sell FSA rings. Rant over!

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“A quiet bike is a quick bike”

My only other niggle is the amount of cable noise that the Merida generates – especially from the internally routed cable in the downtube. I spent a lot of time and effort to make this bike quiet and it is still quite noisy. Literally everywhere that a cable passes, it is able to slap against the frame. Remember – A quiet bike is a quick bike. Just go a DH World Cup and you will see and hear for yourself.


The Word:

Whilst I have picked up on a few niggles, the Merida is actually a really good bike that offers a lot of versatility for UK trail riding once you change the tyres. It is a good spec for the money and the frame seems really well built and finished and is covered by a lifetime guarantee which should give you peace of mind.

The only things to break were the rear mech hangar when I crashed it into a rock and the shock which blew after several months of hard racing. Otherwise, the whole bike has been creak and maintenance free throughout.

Merida is still not a brand that you see much on the trails, but this bike should help to change some opinions.

You can read more from Ben at or here on Wideopenmag.

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