Joe Finney’s first bike test with Wideopenmag comes in the form of the Merida eOneForty Limited Edition ebike.

Joe Finney joined the Wideopenmag test gang recently and he’d hardly walked in through the door before he was sent back through it with a Merida eOneForty Limited Edition ebike to test.

  •  Aluminium frame
  • 29” front and 27.5” rear
  • 140mm travel
  • Shimano XT/SLX 12 Speed drive
  • Shimano E8000 Steps Motor
  • 504Wh Battery
  • £4300
  • Merida-Bikes.com

I’m fairly new to e-bikes and the Merida eOneforty Limited Edition has really changed my opinion on them. I had ridden one before, but it was just too big and heavy to really enjoy on any normal terrain that I ride. This one however is a different beast.

Merida market the Merida eOneforty Limited Edition with ‘great at climbing, but show it some technical downhills and singletracks and it comes alive’. The new geometry and frame design give the bike a very playful character that’s precise and fast and I could not agree more. This bike is so much fun.

“This bike is so much fun”

Frame and Build Kit

As e-bikes go, this one looks pretty subtle. The alloy frame hides the battery neatly inside the down tube. Access is gained by simply popping off the cover, and releasing the battery with a 4mm hex key. Charging of the battery can be done on or off the the bike and Merida provide an adapter that lets you remove the battery and charge it separate from the bike…. Useful if you have a second battery or want to charge in the living room!

The motor is a Shimano E8000, which performed flawlessly except from the time when it rather embarrassingly switched itself off just before I dropped in to stage 2 of the Mini Enduro at FoD. When it was switched on though, it was fantastic, giving really smooth power delivery. I particularly like the feature that keeps the motor spinning for a second after you stop pedalling, its great for getting up technical climbs and up and over large steps or logs.

Suspension is from Rockshox with a 35 Gold RL fork and Deluxe Select+ shock. Both of which performed remarkably well considering they are from the budget end of the range. These budget dampers do seem to suit the higher weight of e-bikes, and seems to make the suspension work much better than they would on a regular bike.

Gears and brakes are from Shimano, with a mix of XT and SLX 12 speed and MT520/500 brakes. The gears took quite a beasting from the power generated by the motor combined with a few badly timed gear changes, yet continued to shift perfectly. Bear in mind the months I had the bike, I probably covered three times the miles I would normally do on my regular bike, and all in the wet winter slop.

The brakes both impressed and baffled me… the front was a mighty impressive 4 pot Shimano, which gave a huge amount of power and modulation with great feel. The rear however, was a 2 pot which although it felt good, just didn’t have enough power to slow down the heft of an e-bike when the going got steep.

As a result, it chewed through three sets of brake pads in a month, with them lasting only a couple of 30k rides each. The fronts still look new, so its definitely a problem with the small rear brake, and I’ve never had this problem with any other bikes.

Wheels are Shimano hubs and Merida own brand rims. The front tyre is a 29×2.5 Maxxis DHF and the rear a 27.5×2.6 DHR2. A good tyre combo for all round riding, only let down by the EXO casing which I think is too light for an e-bike. I ran a tyre insert in the rear to protect the tyre and rim and had no issues, but the bike had been ridden before me and already had several holes in the sidewalls which I had to plug before I could run it tubeless. I ended up running a tougher WTB Verdict Wet tyre up front which improved support as well as grip in the mud.

Endura Takeovertea

The rest of the build kit is own brand and all performed as expected, with a couple of nice touches. The rear axle has a built in lever, which pulls out to double up as a 4mm & 6mm hex key, and there is a neat multi tool hidden in a rubber pouch under the seat. Less to carry in your bum bag. Happy days.

The only thing I could fault with the build was the dropper cable was too short to put the seat high enough. With the seat in the position I needed, when the bars turned to the left it would pull on the cable and the seat would pop up. A relatively easy fix if it wasn’t for the internally routed cable and fiddly cable clamps that are used to stop the cables rattling in the frame.

Climbing

This is where I was most impressed with the bike if I am honest. Am I really saying this..? Yep. I always had wondered if an e-bike could turn a boring slog of a red trail centre climb into something fun. Maybe this is just a general e-bike thing, but wow, this bike can climb. The red trail at FoD in the wet in boost mode was so much fun. The bike just urges you to push it as fast as possible. Railing uphill berms are a thing on this bike and it turns you into a bit of a hooligan.

Down Hills

On paper the geometry seemed a bit short and steep, so I was not really expecting great things. How wrong I was.

To me a 66.5 head angle seems a bit steep these days, and perhaps on the steepest tech it may be a bit out of its depth, but then it is a 140mm travel trail bike. However, it handled everything I took it down, which included some steep switchbacks and deep loamy ruts.

When the terrain got really rough I did wish for a longer travel fork, but if that’s your thing then buy the eOneSixty. I did run a full on mud tyre (WTB Verdict Wet) for much of the test period due to the prolonged wet February we have just had, and the amount of grip this bike generates in the corners is phenomenal, really impressive. I literally never ran out of front wheel grip. The rear end would break away but into a nice controlled slide.

One of the quirks of the eOneForty is the sizing. It is all one size out compared to the eOneSixty, so a medium eOneSixty is basically the same size as the large eOneForty which is worth bearing in mind when looking to buy one. Merida are trying to guide you towards buying a slightly smaller bike than you might normally in an attempt to make it more fun and playful, more like a trail bike.

When you combine this with the mullet wheel setup, you do get a bike that likes to be leaned into and whipped round a turn. It is a playful and lively ride even with the budget suspension. Whilst you lose some high speed and straight line stability on a shorter bike, the weight of an e-bike negates this somewhat compared to a normal MTB.

Reliability

To be fair to the bike, it had a month of hard use in the most demanding conditions. All it got between ride was a hose down and some chain oil, so most of the niggles I had were probably down to that. A seized mech clutch solved with some cleaning and oil and an error message on the display, which seemed to be down to dirty battery terminals which I resolved by cleaning it with some contact spray.

However, on my last ride the rear wheel developed a nasty crunching noise and a lot of side to side play, so I think one of the freehub bearings has disintegrated. This is the first time I have ever had a problem with a Shimano hub, they are usually bomb proof, so hopefully this is a one off.

What do we think?

Like it or not, e-bikes are here and I am going to embrace them. This bike opens up options that just were not there before. I’ve got a 6 month old boy, so riding time has been limited recently, and this bike has meant I could get out and cover 25k in 1.5 hours. In my local woods. In the wet.

I love it. The only issue is they also make the eOneSixty. How good must that be?

We Love

  • Loads of grip
  • Makes climbing really fun
  • Front brake

Could Do Better

  • Would benefit from tougher tyres
  • Weak rear brake
  • Tougher rear wheel bearings

Check out the Merida eOneForty Limited and the rest of the range on Merida’s website here.

Read all our bike reviews on our website here.