Almost immediately, what becomes apparent with the Merida OneTwenty is that the suspension is dialled. The Float Link on the OneTwenty does a fantastic job of keeping things smooth without hanging up, blowing through travel or being too progressive.
Despite being a £2200 bike, Merida have definitely done their homework even when lower spec dampers are concerned and you can set about fine tuning everything else and know that the dampers are spot on.
Out on the trail the reach is plenty for a trail bike at 415mm (rising to 452 on the large) on the small I tested and I constantly had to remind myself that the bike is indeed a trail bike as I was charging into trails well beyond its intended use. A relatively steep 68 degree head angle doesn’t seem to make the bike twitchy even on steeper trails, and the 74.5 degree seat angle means it charges up hills.
The only sticking point with the size small was the shorter Merida dropper (100mm drop) that meant that with me being at the upper limit of the size, I couldn’t quite get the saddle low enough for more involved trails. That said, the post is simple and effective, remaining so throughout.
For fast trail blasts, the fitted Maxxis Forecasters really add to the forward urgency but are found wanting fairly fast when things turn to root or mud. Gripper, fatter rubber would turn this bike into a better off-piste trail-basher, but that would put you into OneForty territory pretty fast, and would slow the wicked pace of the bike.
With its well-thought out spec, dialled suspension and grin-inducing ride, the Merida OneTwenty in any guise might well be the faster bike for most people out there going for your 140-160mm machines. The 8000 I rode in Germany really didn’t want to come unstuck and was goading me to go faster from the off.
What we think?
If you ride a lot of trail centres, the Merida OneTwenty will get you from A-to-B faster most all-mountain vessels, and the damping is such that it will take a fair amount of off-piste action too. For the latter though, I’d maybe think about going up a size to get the room to manoeuvre.
If you’ve two grand burning a hole in your pocket and you’re after your first full suspension mountain bike, you’d be hard-pushed to go better than the Merida OneTwenty 600.
Could do better:
125mm dropper on the size S.
A grippier front tyre.
Check out the Merida OneTwenty 600 and the rest of the OneTwenty range over on Merida’s website here.