One month on the Merida eOne-Twenty eMTB

Features:

  • Shimano Steps E8000 motor
  • Alloy frame
  • 27+ with 2.8″ tyres
  • 120mm travel
  • Shimano Di2 equipped
  • £5500

Merida just keep on surprising us. We tested the One Forty 900 back in 2015 and had an absolute blast. Three years later and they’ve done it again – this time with their top spec, short travel eBike.

The Merida eOne-Twenty 900 is packed with top quality kit – a Shimano Steps E8000 motor, Di2 shifting, Pike RCT3 fork and a Super Deluxe RT shock. It has a modest 120mm of travel and big, beefy 2.8″ Maxxis tires.

All in all, it’s a bloody well specced bike that (aside from a glitch with the prototype Steps system) never skipped a beat despite getting an absolute thrashing during its time with us.

The basics

It’s easy to review an eBike and get caught up in just talking about eBikes. So, before the battery banter begins lets look at the numbers.

The eOne-Twenty has 120mm travel, an alloy frame, big 2.8″ tyres and some quite sensible angles. There’s a 66° head angle and a 455mm reach on a large. The numbers add up to a very fun and surprisingly agile, playful bike that doesn’t loose much fun despite the added heft of the motor and battery. The 2.8″ Maxxis Rekon tyres struggled a little in the winter filth but, that’s easily fixed.

Shimano Steps

Our eOne-Twenty 900 was the first one into the UK and was built with a pre-production Shimano Steps system, teamed up with Di2. At the very end of the test the motor refused to switch on, meaning a trip to Shimano for a service. Other than that, it was faultless and absolutely brilliant throughout.

Shimano’s electric Di2 shifting system worked really nicely indeed. The bike’s battery charges the gears and the motor. There’s no big, ugly head unit on the bars shouting “I’M AN EBIKE!” and everything works through the standard, subtle Di2 screen.

Merida eOneSixtyMerida eOneSixty

Adding to the reassuringly non-eBike feel of the Merida is the size and shape of the Steps motor. The design is smaller than other brand versions meaning it takes up less space on the bike allowed Merida to get the geometry much closer to a ‘normal’ bike.

That means less compromise in chain stay lengths and a bit less weight. The effect is a bike that feels genuinely fun and quite normal to ride. It’s great through tight, sticky, snotty woods and is the first eBike I’ve ridden that I’ve really got a buzz out of descending.

Beast mode

Where the Bosch system has several modes, Shimano only offers three – Eco, Trail and Boost. No complaints here, when you’re wildly stabbing the Di2 shifter mid-trail whilst juggling gears and dropper post it keeps things nice and simple. The Bosch system we’ve ridden elsewhere has an extra ‘tour’ mode for on-the-road spinning which I didn’t miss.

Point the Merida upwards in Beast (Boost) mode and you’ll be hard pressed to find a trail you can’t conquer. When the novelty of trying to be Dougie Lampkin wears off you’ll find Eco and Trail offer about-right levels of assistance with Trail offering a good balance of battery conservation and assistance.

The Boost mode works when your legs are dead, your riding in very strong company or the trails get brutally steep. For everything else you spin along nicely in a mix of the other modes.

What do we think?

The Merida eOne-Twenty was an absolute blast.

The Shimano Steps system gives a very balanced, easy to use ride that was neither underpower or overly punchy. The size and shape of the motor compliments the geometry really well and Merida have been able to make an eBike that’s as fun going down as it is hammering up.

We like

  • Neat and tidy use of Di2 for eBike controls and shifting
  • Shimano Steps feels like the best system we’ve tested
  • Fun, easy to ride geometry

Could do better

  • Maxxis Rekon tyres lacked a bit of grip in the wet
  • We had a few teething problems with the prototype Steps system
  • We had to give it back

 


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