Merida went for a clean sheet design with the new OneSixty and Pete has been seeing how their base carbon model stacks up.
A marked departure from the Merida frame silhouettes we’ve become used to, the new Merida OneSixty mirrors that of the shorter travel OneForty, and propels them both into the forefront of their respective categories.
Rather than go for the now almost obligatory “longer, slower, slacker, downtube stowage and improved kinematic” tweaks that come with many new bike designs, Merida started from scratch and produced the new OneSixty that looks nothing like the outgoing model.
It’s fair to say that Meridas were, in the past, a little conservative in their numbers, but always produced the goods when asked on the trail. Proof positive that you should just get on with riding rather than concerning yourself with head angle numbers not being what you think they should be, for example.
Beyond the change in the shock layout to a horizontal one, you get the usual option of alloy and carbon fibre models. The frame comes with a flipchip that keeps the geometry static to run 29″ or Mullet wheels. Compared to the outgoing OneSixty, seat tubes have been clipped by 5mm and reach grows by 25mm across the board. Head angles drop 1.3 degrees and the seat tube angle has steepened by a full 4 degrees.
The OneSixty 6000 is the base carbon fibre model coming in at £4,750.00. For that you get the CF4 III carbon fibre frame, a Rockshox Zeb Select 170mm fork and accompanying Super Deluxe Select + shock. Drivetrain and brakes are the venerable Shimano SLX numbers, with even the hubs being of the same spec, laced to Merida’s Expert TR alloy rims. These are shod with Maxxis Double Down rubber, a MaxxGrip Assegai out front and a MaxxTerra Mion DHR II. Finishing kit is also Merida’s own, with the Team TR dropper being a full 230mm with a rather funky external adjuster to set the height it will extend to.
The OneSixty is available in XShort, Short, Mid, Long and XLong. The Short is the model tested here.
Reach on the Mid is 470mm combined with a 425mm seat tube length. Head angle is 64 degrees mated with a 79 degree seat tube angle. Chainstays 434mm on the XShort to Mid, with 438mm on the Long and XLong. Wheelbase on the Mid is 1242mm.
With the OneSixty coming with straightforward rebound and compression, it was merely a case of setting the sag, having a quick bounce in the car park, set tyre pressure and brake lever position before getting wheels on dirt. Sag-wise, it’s worth noting that the Zeb does not come with the laser etched sag markers like on shorter travel forks in the Rockshox line up.
As soon as the ground tips upward, you cannot help but notice the steepness of the seat tube angle. I have yet to ride a bike with a steeper seat tube angle and the steeper it gets, the better this feels. You can really keep the front wheel on the deck, something I have struggled with on other Mullet wheel bikes.
While the bike certainly isn’t as heavy as the scales would suggest, the 2.5″ rubber fitted does need some grunt to winch up protracted climbs and on this particular bike, the rear hub did feel a little stiff on the first few rides but did free up pretty quickly.
Climbing grip is excellent, with the Super Deluxe controlling this well whether seated or standing. Despite the option for locking out the shock, it doesn’t feel all that necessary, and is more of a increased damping option rather than a lockout. If you’re a pedal masher then the climbing switch will be useful to you. Regardless, the OneSixty gets to the top of the climb quicker than you’d think. Obviously it’s no racing snake, anyone on a shorter travel bike will get up anything faster but the climbing chunder.
With the OneSixty having got you to the top of the hill quicker than you might have expected, this is where the fun begins. Despite being at the long-ish end of the travel spectrum, the OneSixty handles more like a shorter travel bike that can take bigger hits. It feels very lively on the flatter, swoopier trails before becoming an engaging platform to tackle the steep and gnarly.
It’s been everywhere with me from daily laps of the woods to the usual large mountains and hasn’t really complained once. The bike offers the lively riding in the slower or more straightforward trails whilst having the wherewithal to charge through the big hits without so much as a grumble.
The roomy cockpit on the Short give plenty of space to shift your weight about when things start getting wild, and the SLX stoppers are always on hand to bring things back should you overstep the mark. The Rockshox dampers do a solid job of soaking up all manner of hits, and the rear end feels quite bottomless without losing any sensitivity to trail chatter.
While the DHR II rear tyre does leave something to be desired when you’re really pushing the braking grip, especially in the MaxxTerra compound, its a solid option for all other work. A MaxxGrip on the rear would wear out faster and roll slower, so it’s a compromise. It is, however, very nice to see Merida speccing Double Down casing front and rear on a bike that actually needs it.
The Merida dropper does take some time to get your head around but offers infinite adjustability and allows you to really pick your reach and just run with it. I could ride both the XShort and the Long quite happily if I wanted to and could just tune the dropper height to suit.
One thing that can’t be overlooked is the ability to fit a 750ml water bottle inside the frame on the integrated Fidlock mount. This is usually the first thing that falls by the wayside on most size small frames, and the Fidlock mount is a neat way of being able to access and store your liquid without having to almost crash the bike to access it.
What do we think?
Merida have created a bike that you could race an enduro on out of the box and probably go faster than what you were on previously. The 6000 spec seen here doesn’t ask the earth but offers some ludicrous performance and the frame is an excellent base for future upgrades too.
There’s very little to grumble about with the OneSixty and a lot that is very good indeed. That all starts with that rather fetching metallic purple and continues to the grin you’ll have when you get to the bottom of the hill.
That purple colour
Double Down tyres
Could do better:
Not an awful lot
You can check out the new Merida OneSixty over on their website here.