After almost a year on the Merida eOneSixty 800 it’s time to (reluctantly) send it home and gather some thoughts.

Thanks for the good times, eOneSixty!

Merida eOneSixty Features:

  • Hydro formed Prolite 66 aluminium frame with 160mm travel
  • RockShox Yari RC fork
  • RockShox Super Deluxe R rear shock
  • Shimano XT/SLX 1×11 speed drivetrain
  • Shimano SLX disc brakes
  • Merida Expert Dropper post
  • Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.8” tyres g
  • Sizes: Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large
  • Colours: Silk Titanium/Black
  • Motor: Shimano E8000
  • Battery: Shimano E8010 500Wh
  • £4700

Details

First up, let’s look at the details. The Merida eOneSixty800 eMTB is Merida’s third from swaggiest full suspension eBike.

It has an alloy frame, 160mm travel and 27.5″ wheels with 2.8″ tyres. Power comes from our favourite eBike system, Shimano Steps with the Steps E8000 motor with E8010 500wh battery.

The build kit is a solid mix of Merida’s own kit and Shimano and RockShox. There’s a Yari RC fork, RockShox Super Deluxe R rear shock, 11-speed shifting with a combo of Shimano XT/SLX shifting and Shimano SLX brakes. Merida provide the wheels, bar and stem and dropper post.

The full package comes in at £4,700 with bikes available through Merida dealers and online.

Not too long, not too slack

Merida’s non-eBike OneSixty did a great job of showing us that you don’t need a super long, super slack bike to go fast and have fun.

The eBike version, in my book at least, does exactly the same thing. You could never call the geometry anything close to ground breaking but… I had some of my most fun rides of 2018 on the Merida and felt happy to push it hard through some nasty terrain on the Ex Enduro when I should have been playing it safe to film and photo the event.

Looking at the numbers you’ve got a 66.5° head angle, 75° seat angle, 460mm reach on the large. There’s 4 sizes from small to XL with the largest offering a large enough 480mm reach.

On the bike

When I tell you that I put a lot of miles into the eOneSixty, I’m not exaggerating. I had the bike for most of 2018 and spent a tonne of time thrashing it round the filthiest trails I could get it up, along and down.

I used the eOneSixty to chase racers round the UK Gravity Enduro and shoot Trackside videos, I freelanced at The Ex Enduro (3 big days on Exmoor) on it and I spent some big days out in North Wales off the beaten track. When Merida asked for it back I did my absolute best to delay its return as long a possible.

Should have taken goggles that day…

Why, the delay in returning the bike?

Partly because it’s an eBike. eBikes are fun, fast and make life way easier for media squids. They unlock your ability to ride with people that are insanely fit and they turn those ‘I’m only riding up that bloody great big hill once’ rides into the biggest days of riding you’ll ever experience.

But, aside from that, I’ll give some credit to the bike itself.

First up, throughout my entire time on the bike I only suffered with one issue with the bike’s performance. After about 11 months, the bike refused to switch on. We checked a few things using another eBike, discovered a faulty Di2 cable and had it working again with £20 and an hour in the workshop. Aside from punctures and a broken chain or two, the bike was absolutely flawless throughout the whole test and genuinely didn’t skip a beat.

A failed cable meant we had to bodge a spare on on, routed externally. Hence the messy cables!

Plenty of power

Shimano Steps is still our favourite eBike system.

It feels very natural to use and gives a wonderful illusion that you’re suddenly the athlete of your dreams, with no odd power surges to suspend the disbelief. It’s easy to use, the screen is neat and tidy and the battery never let me down when I was riding 6 hour days and hundreds of meters of climbing at The Ex Enduro.

I didn’t feel the need to mess around with the bike’s power output settings or try and ‘derestrict’ it or anything like that. It had plenty of power and Boost mode was more than enough when the hills turned steep, loose and technical.

Sizes and shapes on the trail

Despite the relatively conservative geometry, the eOneSixty did little to discourage me from hurtling down anything I could point it at. I’m about 5ft 11 and it felt fun to ride, easy to chuck about and didn’t need any wild movements to get weight on any part of the bike.

There’s arguments either way for the Merida’s geometry. I’m sure the brand would argue that the numbers are designed to be versatile. They’ve built a bike that’s easy and fun to ride for a range of abilities on a range of terrains, similar to the Canyon Neuron. They’ve also keep the angles relatively tight so it’ll climb well without the front wheel hurtling skywards. Important stuff for an eBike, which is designed to ride up, along and down with equal ability.

I’d also argue that a 160mm eBike, like the Merida, encourages you to go and find trouble. It’ll get you up some really big hills… and it’s unlikely you’re climbing them to find easy, chilled singletrack on the way down. You’ll hunt out big, steep, nasty trails and in the UK you’ll almost certainly be hunting out the DH tracks you used to have to uplift. It’d be great to see geometry that leans a little closer to the bike you’d ideally choose for those grizzly, sketchy, technical trails.

Merida OneSixtyMerida OneSixty

Great job on the suspension

I liked the suspension on the Merida eOneSixty a lot. It made the bike a hell of a lot of fun to ride.

There’s a habit of brands fitting fairly basic shocks to their eBikes these days, despite them weighing loads and getting ridden harder than ‘normal’ bikes. The RockShox Super Deluxe R rear shock is a proper damper that you’d be happy to have on any bike, eBike or otherwise.

The back end felt great through rough terrain and was part of the reason I liked the bike so much. It was easy to ride the bike right up to your limit and push on as far as you dared. There was no hassle getting it set up right and no odd behaviours at all. Merida say that “A trunnion mount shock gives our frame designers more flexibility by using a shorter shock with increased stroke. Combined with the ball bearing bushing of the upper mount, shock sensitivity is increased, and the suspension performance can be perfectly tuned“.

Up front is the solid, reliable and very easy to upgrade RockShox Yari RC. Again, it worked well and gave me no head aches at all. If you didn’t like it, you could easily send it over to your favourite suspension tuner and get them to work some magic. I didn’t need to.

Upgrades

There were a couple of minor bits I would have upgraded, had I been buying the bike for my own collection.

First up, the brakes. SLX brakes are simple and mostly reliable but, lacked power for a bike of the Merida’s weight. I’d swap them out for a big, power 4-pot like the Shimano Zee M640, which are around £100 per brake these days.

Second, the tyres. For a bike of the Merida’s heft, I’d switch out the Maxxis Minion DHR II 2.8” rear tyre.

The EXO casing Minion’s just weren’t tough enough for aggressive riding on such a heavy bike. Keep the front tyre stock and get a heavier duty tyre on the rear, with a tyre insert like the Nukeproof Ard if you’re particularly savage.

That’s our experience of plus tyres generally, not just of the Merida / Maxxis combo.

Should you buy one over anything else?

At £4700 the Merida eOneSixty 800 is obviously not a low-cost investment. But, as with many eBikes, it’s an absolutely blast to ride. You’ll find excuses to ride it whenever you possibly can. It’ll compete for your time over your acoustic bike. You’ll have your biggest, gnarliest, toughest and most fun days out on it.

The higher-spec Merida eOneSixty 900E is no doubt a better put-together bike than the 800 but, is £1650 more at £6,350. The extra cost gets you a big leap up in suspension and brakes (but not tyres). At that price point, there’s a lot of choices for very, very good eBikes.

PinnedTV Jim Buchanan

PinnedTV’s Jimbo riding the higher spec OneSixty900 at THE EX Enduro.

There’s also the eOneSixty 900 (not 900E) that offers some subtle, but significant upgrades, for an extra £500. For the extra cash you’ll get a Lyrik RC fork, Shimano XT brakes, XT shifting and DT Swiss hubs. That feels like a worth-while extra upgrade in our opinion.

The Canyon Spectral:ON (first ride here) is a great eBike that we often look to as a bench mark. There’s arguments for both and in a few ways the Canyon sneaks ahead but… they’re pretty similar, particularly in terms of geometry.

There are sleeker eBikes out there with hidden batteries and carbon frames, but almost all of them are more expensive or don’t have Shimano Steps. We’re struggling to find many eBikes that offer as good a package for the money as the Merida eOneSixty.

Final thoughts

The Merida needs a few easy, affordable upgrades – mainly the brakes and the tyres. Despite that, the Germans have put together a great package for a great price. The suspension design and RockShox suspension work brilliantly together and, combined with Shimano’s Steps, it’s a bike you’ll want to ride a hell of a lot.

If you’ve got your heart set on the Merida, we’d recommend you give the slightly more expensive eOneSixty 900 a look.

We’d ridden three bikes from Merida this year and every one has been fun, fast and reliable.

We liked

  • Tough, reliable, low maintenance frame
  • One of the best value eBikes at this price point
  • Great suspension platform and well specced shocks

Could do better

  • Needs 4 pot brakes
  • Needs a heavier duty rear tyre
  • Slightly longer, slightly slacker would suit aggressive riders better
  • eOneSixty 900 is a tempting upgrade

 

 


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