Merida’s out-and-out full suspension cross country race bike takes the form of the all-singing, all-dancing Ninety-Six RC 10000.
Back in summer 2021, Pete tested the Merida Ninety-Six 8000, the top ‘downcountry’ bike in the range, with its 120mm fork. Fast forward a year or two and the full race machine has arrived in the form of the Ninety-Six 10000.
The Ninety-Six is available in Medium, Large and XLarge.
Reach on the Medium is 453mm with a seat tube of 440mm. Head angle is 68.5 degrees with a 76.5 seat tube angle. Chainstays are 435mm across the sizes and the wheelbase on the Medium is 1169mm.
With the Merida Ninety-Six RC 10000 being the range-topper, there’ no real surprise that this bike is dripping with the very best of kit. That all starts with the CF5 carbon fibre frame, sporting, you guessed it, 100mm of travel. That travel is handled by a Fox Factory DPS shock, paired to a Step Cast Fox 34 fork with 100mm travel.
SRAM’s XX1 AXS Eagle 12-speed drive is on drivetrain duties with a power meter on the crank, if you needed any more confirmation that this is a cross country race bike. Shimano XTR 2-pot anchors handle the braking duties and these units come with carbon levers. Because, you know. XC. Reynolds Blacklabel XC carbon wheels sound like a swarm of angry bees behind your ankles, shod with suitably racy Maxxis Rekon Race rubber. Fox Transfer SL dropper deals with the seat height and the rest of the kit is Merida’s own. Both the fork and shock have a Gripshift to operate the lockout.
The shortest travel bike I have ridden for a while has been the Jamis Dakar at 140mm, so the Ninety-Six felt a world apart when I first rode it. After a brief sag setup on the suspension, we were off and boy did that front end feel low. The other thing that jumped out at me was just how fast across the ground this bike was with even the slightest of inputs.
Second ride out, I’d slam the seat rails forward to bring myself closer to the bars and hey presto, it felt less like I was trying to sniff the stem. It would take some time to get used to the lockout as the default position is locked, twisting the grip gets you your suspension back. This is the opposite to what it was on the Ninety-Six 8000.
Since getting it, it’s done over one hundred miles of everything but actual bike trails. The bike arrived when I finally got the motivation to ride again, and fast, easy miles seemed like the best way to do it. Fire roads and forest paths of all kinds have been getting rinsed since the bike showed up.
At the top of every descent, I need to remind myself how slick the tyres are, and how little I can expect from the suspension. This bike is firm, plus the easiest gear feels like it was designed for someone with far better legs than I have. It’s an XC race bike out and out.
Much like the Ninety-Six 8000, the linkage is crazy progressive, and despite the mileage, I am still nowhere near getting close to full rear travel on this thing. I’m not entirely sure what the thinking is here, as if weight is so crucial, surely running less travel and a shorter stroke shock would make more sense?
Regardless of the available travel, the Ninety-Six RC 10000 continues to get me from A to B and back again in record time, churning out the miles up or down in a fashion that seems like cheating. The AXS shifting is super consistent and easy despite the regularity of cold hands in winter and the XTR stoppers are more than up to the task of reining in the bike if things get out of hand.
You can check out the Merida Ninety-Six RC 10000 on their website here.