Tested: Merida OneSixty 6000 First Ride.

Jamie heads south and west to The Merida Bikes sponsored EX Enduro to try out the brand new Merida OneSixty Mullet enduro machine.

Jamie was able to get his hands on the bike at the recent Merida Bikes Ex-Enduro event for a first impressions, first ride. Read on to learn all about the new bike and to see what he thought after a chance to ride it on some of the UK’s finest loam tracks.

Photos by Paul Box.

Key features:

  • RockShox Zeb Select 170mm fork
  • Rockshox Super Deluxe Select + shock
  • Shimano SLX 12-speed drive
  • Shimano SLX 4-piston brakes
  • Shimano SLX hubs on Merida Expert TR rims
  • Merida Expert TR dropper
  • £4,750.00 RRP
  • Merida-Bikes.com

We’ve ridden plenty of Merida’s bikes here at Wideopen and have always been mightily impressed, particularly with how well their suspension works to deliver a fun and confidence-boosting ride. The recent Ex-Enduro was a chance to try the long-awaited, fully-updated 2023 Merida OneSixty 6000 which has been completely redesigned, from scratch.

Arriving at The Ex we were reassured to see this new Merida wasn’t just a fresh colour scheme and a slacker head angle as so many ‘new’ bikes are. The new OneSixty is a total redesign with a completely new frame, new geometry, new suspension layout. The full works. Same name but effectively a completely new bike.

Gone is the classic Merida silhouette, with the new OneSixty running a horizontal shock compared to the vertical one of old. On top of that there’s very little that’s been left unchanged when it comes to the latest model. The new bike comes with the ability, via a flipchip, to be run full 29″ or Mullet, without changing the geometry. There’s no 27.5″ option though, sorry guys and girls!

Merida Bike launch at The EX 2022 Please credit PaulBox ©

Geometry

Geometry is arguably the biggest talking point with the new OneSixty. Merida’s rep for making slightly short, slightly steep bikes has been firmly put to bed with this one and the new bike boasts some seriously modern and progressive numbers.

Seat tubes have been clipped by 5mm and the reach has grown by 25mm. Head angle drops a full 1.3 degrees from 65.3 to 64, while seat tube angle steepens from 75 to a rather steep 79 degrees. The bike’s chainstay is a compact 434mm on sizes XS to M and 438 on sizes above that.

The whole thing is longer, slacker and with a much steeper seattube.

Merida Bike launch at The EX 2022 Please credit PaulBox ©

Another useful update to the geo is the seat tube height. Merida has shortened the height of the seat tube, reducing the seat height across all models. The idea here is that seat height no longer dictates frame size and shorter riders are able to ride larger sizes, and vice versa.

Where Jamie is bang in the middle of size Medium and Large, this makes perfect sense and means either bike is an option. Choose medium for a slightly more compact feel or choose large for that ‘big bike’ feel. This isn’t unique to Merida but is a welcome feature that will help more riders find their perfect fit and feel.

Merida Bike launch at The EX 2022 Please credit PaulBox ©

The kinematics have also had a revamp, with the suspension now tuned to each size, with the larger frames being more progressive than the smaller ones. The XShort has 6% while the XLong has 14% progression.

The new One Sixty has a reasonable amount of anti-squat at the start and middle part of the suspension to provide really efficient pedalling performance. However, the anti-squat value becomes much lower deep into the travel, designed to make a bike that pedals well, but is active and unhindered on descents and big hits.

Compared to the outgoing OneSixty, the anti-rise is lower to make the kinematics more active, even under braking. At the beginning and middle of the travel, the anti-rise is a little less than 100%, but deep in the travel, the anti-rise decreases, for more active suspension under braking and big hit recovery.

Merida Bike launch at The EX 2022 Please credit PaulBox ©

The Frame

The Merida OneSixty is available in sizes from XShort up to XLong.

Reach on the size Mid (Medium) is 470mm with a seat tube length of 425mm. Head tube angle is 64 degrees combined with a suitably steep 79 degree seat tube angle. Chainstays on the Mid the sizes at 434mm with wheelbase of 1242mm.

While it might well be the cheapest carbon framed model in the new OneSixty range from Merida, the spec is nothing but solid, and likely the one most people will spend their money on if they’re in the market for a OneSixty. It shares the same CF4 III frame with its brethren, the higher specced 8000 and 10000 models but at a much more sensible £4,750 asking price.

For your money you get, as above, a CF4 III series carbon fibre frame, Rockshox Zeb Select fork paired to a Super Deluxe Select+ shock. Running gear is all Shimano SLX 12-speed, the brakes are SLX 4-pot numbers and you get SLX hubs too. Beyond, there’s an awful lot of Merida’s venerable finishing kit, handling the cockpit, dropper, rims.

Tyres are Maxxis 2.5″ Double Down casing Assegai and DHR IIs. No messing about with the rubber fitted here. Claimed weight for the Mid size OneSixty 6000 is just over 34lb (15.67kg).

Merida Bike launch at The EX 2022 Please credit PaulBox ©

And how does it ride? Over to Jamie…

All the facts and figure are great, but, it’s on the trail where it matters right?

I got a chance to ride the Merida OneSixty for a day and a bit ahead of the Ex Enduro in Minehead, Somerset. The trails are super varied, super fun and almost entirely natural with loads of rock, loads of roots and loads of loamy, high speed singletrack. Host to The Ex and Southern Enduro Champs, Minehead is a great place to get a feel for a long travel bike in my book.

I’ve really enjoyed the previous Meridas that I’ve spent time with and always felt that the Germans do a particularly great job of their suspension. What the bikes have previously lacked in sex appeal they’ve more than made up for with fun on the trail and the ability to really thrash them hard.

Our test ride was a chance to spend some time with the new bike’s designers and I was super impressed to meet a group of young, talented and enthusiastic guys that are very passionate about their bikes. They were reassuringly handy on two wheels and really excited to keep moving Merida forward with fast, fun and exciting-to-ride bikes. No arguments here.

Our test ride kicked off on a natural, pedally and very rooty singletrack trail in the ancient woodland above the race village. Despite the big travel nature of the bike I found that it squirted very nicely along the trail, changed direction fast and immediately had me looking for gaps, hops and off-cambers. It’s a bike I very quickly had a lot of fun riding.

Day two of our test was a full day’s uplifts on a variety of trails with plenty of high-speed, rough and rocky stuff in the mix. The end of the day was a steep, twisty, white-knuckle-fast bridleway down into Porlock that might well have been the most fun I’ve had on a bike this year.

The bike encouraged that perfect mix of off-the-brakes charging and playful, messing around. It’s a bike that’s super fun whilst at the same time being fast and very confidence inspiring which, I think, is a rare blend.

For me it’s the chain stay and seat angle that really gave this bike its personality. At 175cm tall and riding the size M, the bike treads a very nice balance of stability and playfulness. Those short stays make changes of direction a breeze and it has a nimble, fun, fast and playful feel. Combine that with 160mm of rear travel and you’ve got a very, very fun bike to ride.

Merida Bike launch at The EX 2022 Please credit PaulBox ©

You can check out the new Merida OneSixty over on their website here.