Tested : Joe’s Merida eOneForty 700 eBike Review.

We’ve always been a fan of Merida’s ebikes here at Wideopenmag. How does the latest edition of their eOneForty 700 stack up?

Joe has been running the Merida eOneForty 700 through the mill over the last few months to see if this Mullet-wheeled, 140mm travel ebike keeps up Merida’s reputation for making excellent bicycles.

Photos by Dave Price.

Key features:

  • Fox Rhythm 34 float eMTB+ 140mm fork
  • Rockshox Deluxe Select+ shock
  • Shimano XT/Deore 12-speed drive
  • Shimano EP8 motor
  • Shimano 630Wh battery
  • Shimano SLX 4-piston brakes
  • Merida Expert TR alloy wheels
  • Merida Expert TR dropper
  • £5,200.00 RRP
  • Merida-Bikes.com

Last year I reviewed the 2020 Merida eOneForty and it blew me away. I was new to ebikes and I was genuinely impressed by the eOneForty ’s capability.

Merida market the eOneForty as a bike for exploring and long days in the saddle. It comes equipped with the Shimano EP8 motor and a 630wh battery, and the simple SC-E7000 display.

Suspension is handled by a Fox Rhythm 34 Float and a Rockshox Deluxe Select+ shock, both fairly basic in both function and performance, with only rebound adjustment and lockout. Group set was a mix of the ever faultless Shimano XT and Deore 12 speed, with the highlight being the silent rear free hub. Braking is handled by 4 piston Shimano SLX which were needed to slow it down on the steeps, and an improvement over the previous E140 I rode which only had an under powered 2 piston brake on the rear which was not up to the job.

Rims, dropper seat post, and finishing kit are all Merida own brand and more than competent in their performance and reliability. There is a Lezyne head light mounted to an bracket integrated in the stem that runs off the main battery if you fancy a bit of night riding, although you will also need a decent helmet mounted light to complement it. There is Merida’s signature saddle mounted multi tool and a 6mm Allen key integrated into the rear axle lever. Oh, and there is room for a water bottle.

The only thing that lets the bike down in terms of spec is the tyres. It comes with Maxxis Recon EXO casing which, lets face it, are a trail bike tyre at best, and certainly not up to the job of supporting a 50lb ebike.

Geometry

Merida’s geometry is often at the conservative end, but that doesn’t mean the bikes don’t ride well because of this. On the size large tested, you get a 450mm reach combined with a 430mm seat tube. This reach would be a medium on most other brand’s bikes. The 140mm fork gives you a 66.5 degree head angle combined with a 76.5 degree seat tube angle. Chainstays are fixed across the sizes at 439.5mm, with the wheelbase on the large coming out at 1204mm.

Up Hill

Ebikes tend to climb well, it’s what they do best and eOneForty supports this generalisation. The low front end and relatively steep seat angle puts you in a great riding position to tackle both steep climbs. The riding position combined with the smooth power delivery and torque of the Shimano EP8 motor made it hugely satisfying to clean some pretty steep and technical climbs. A fantastic feature of the EP8 motor is that it keeps applying power to the rear wheel for about a second after you stop pedalling, which helps get up steep steps and over big logs, and once you have the technique dialled you feel like a trials hero.

In the dry there was plenty of grip but as soon as it got wet, the Maxxis Recon tyre would let go and spin on steep climbs.

Downhill

Be sympathetic to Merida’s intentions of the eOneForty though, and things start to make a little more sense. Descending on flowing smooth trails is a dream on the eOneForty, with the weight keeping it firmly planted on the ground and the firm 140mm of travel allowing you to pump the ground to maintain speed. On that point, the reason for running the suspension so firm was because I found unless I ran it with around 15-20% sag on the rear it just wallowed and bottomed out on even the smallest of drop or landing a jump. As a result the front had to be run equally as firm to balance the bike.

As soon as things get loose and rocky the tyres are soon beyond their limit. They ping and skip around and roll under hard cornering. I didn’t get any punctures, but I would have little confidence in going on a long ride on rough ground purely due to the risk of slashing the thin EXO side walls. For this reason, after one ride I swapped the tyres out for some tougher DH casing tyres and Cushcore inserts, and the bike was completely transformed, allowing me to confidently hit rocky lines without the worry of being pinged off line or worrying about getting a puncture. I am sure battery life took a hit with the heavier and slower rolling tyres, but in my view it isn’t worth the risk of taking a 50lb ebike on a long ride with the EXO tyres, the risk of a ride ending tyre slash is just too high.

The firm suspension also resulted in a reduction in small bump sensitivity so over rough ground the bike did feel pretty harsh at times, and could be tiring to ride on repeated rough descents. Plus this exaggerated the already flexy nature of the Fox 34 fork, which felt out of its depth as soon as things got rough and choppy and under hard braking.

Reliability

During the test period nothing broke, but I am sure if I had kept the EXO tyres on they would not have lasted long. There was a persistent creak from the headset area too, which frustrated the hell out of me. Whatever I did I couldn’t not get rid of it, and the internally routed cables and hoses that are routed down through a slot in the headset made it incredibly difficult to strip down the headset to properly inspect and clean it. One thing that did impress me was the silent SLX rear hub. I had my doubts about its longevity but it lasted the test period with no issues.

I did also find it difficult to manage the battery life. The bars indicating remaining life, and the distance remaining seemed fairly accurate until the last bar. Just when I thought I had easily enough to get me home, it turned out it had less than half what the screen suggested and left me pedalling a 50lb bike with DH tyres a couple of miles, luckily on the flat. No big deal, but if you were trying to eek out the battery life on a big day of exploring, it could land you in a spot of bother if it ran out part way up a big climb.

What do we think?

To me, the purpose of an ebike is to get up the climbs as quick as possible, and make the most of the descents, and the eOneForty just doesn’t have the descending capability due to the lacklustre suspension and delicate tyres. Perhaps I am missing the point. As Merida market it for exploring and long days in the saddle, maybe it would handle that just fine as long as you stick to relatively smooth forgiving trails to avoid slashing a tyre and are confident in battery life management to avoid running the battery empty.

My personal view is that to release any amount of performance from the eOneForty the first thing to do it upgrade the tyres to something tougher like a Maxxis Double Down casing as a minimum. Only then can you release its true potential and hit some rougher terrain, or safely cover some bigger distances with the knowledge that you have tyres that are not going to slice open at the first sight of a flinty rock. And I would highly recommend getting to know the battery limitations if you plan to do any big rides away from your base.

The top spec eOneForty 8000 comes with Continental’s Trail Kings, crucially in the Apex Protection guise, as well as a better rear damper from Fox. You also get a jump to XT and SLX drive rather than the XT/Deore mix seen here. That may well be the one to go for.

We love:

  • Climbing ability
  • Integrated tools and head light

Could do better:

  • Unsupportive suspension
  • Thin tyre carcass
  • Creaky headset

You can check out the Merida eOneForty 700 on their website here.