First Look Review : Pete’s Merida Big Nine TR 600.

Merida’s ever-popular Big Nine range gets a revamp and Pete’s had a run out on the entry-level TR 600 ahead of the launch.

More standover and tyre clearance as well having a run through Merida’s Agilometer means the Big Nine TR 600 offers some serious downcountry fun in a package that won’t leave you bankrupt.

Photos by Pete Scullion.

Key features:

  • SR Suntour Raidon 34 2CR 120mm fork
  • Shimano CUES 11-speed drive
  • Shimano MT200 brakes
  • MERIDA COMP CC II rims on Shimano TC500 hubs
  • MERIDA COMP TR dropper
  • £1,400.00 RRP
  • Merida-Bikes.com

The new Merida Big Nine TR offers a familiar silhouette but with their all-mountain and enduro bikes getting a refresh in the geometry stakes, it was now the turn of their popular hardtail series, the Big Nine.

Reach has grown considerably across the sizes, whilst the seat tubes have been clipped to a similar degree. Seat tube angles are now 1.8 degrees steeper with the head angles going the other direction, a full two degrees slacker. With the reach-based sizing like on their full suspension bikes, you can pick a size either side of your recommended one to go after more stability or a more playful bike.

Two carbon fibre and two alloy models of the Big Nine TR will be available. The Big Nine TR 600 seen here is the cheapest bike in the range at £1,400.00. The range-topper is the Big Nine TR 8000 at £5,500.00.

Geometry

The Merida Big Nine TR is available in Short, Mid, Long, X Long and XXLong.

Reach on the Mid is 440mm with a seat tube of 410mm. Head angle is 67 degrees with a seat tube angle is 74.2 degrees. Chainstays are size-specific on the alloy LITE frames, with the Mid having a 433mm chainstay on a wheelbase on the Mid of 1155mm.

Opening moves

Beyond tweaking fork sag, tyre pressure and lever throw, this base model Merida Big Nine TR 600 was ready to go. Saddle height felt right from the get-go, so the only thing next was to heat cycle the MT200 brakes and we’d be ready for anything. I have, in the past, failed to remember that brake pads don’t work immediately, and gone hairing into the first turn only to get the fear.

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My opening lap would be on the stone cold classic trails of North Third and Cambusbarron near Stirling. Whilst there’s plenty to cater for bouncy bikes, there’s also some cracking numbers that suit this bright red downcountry machine.

Despite being entry-level in the range, the Big Nine TR 600 isn’t exactly heavy, thanks to its well though out alloy frame and sensible components. Despite this, the relatively small top cog will mean you’ll still need to put the effort in on the ups. While Merida have steepened the seat angle considerably, there’s also scope for this to be further steepened as for this kind of bike, 74.2 degrees isn’t exactly steep.

That said, there’s no issues with the front end feeling light, thanks mostly to the low stem and front end stack height. This also helps the forks work at their best as they’ve always got your weight over them. The forks also come with a lockout if you really want to go full ham.

When things got steeper and more technical, the Maxxis Rekon tyres needed sensible line choice and power application not to spin up, but they do offer speedy rolling and make the most of whatever power you put down when the grip remains.

Any reservations I might have had on the downs were soon discarded, and the Big Nine proved to be far more capable at being slung down anything an everything I pointed it at. The Suntour fork did a solid job of keeping my hands from getting too knackered, although any firmness was really due to me keeping the tyre pressure up. That also had a knock on effect of the front wheel being a little vague when pushed hard but knowing it was coming meant you could easily correct.

Fast, flowing trails were a hoot and a smoother line rewarded with extra speed that you’d then have to deal with later down the trail left me with a big old cheeser on my face. When you did stray off line or opt for a slightly chunkier line choice than was sensible, I was soon reminded as to what bike I was riding. It’s been a while since I rode a hardtail though, so I was a little out of practice.

A little more time to fine tune the fork and maybe get the tyre pressures right would likely mean this bike would be a real flyer on some slightly choppier terrain but for now there’s plenty of promise from the bright red downcountry machine.

You can check out the new Merida Big Nine TR 600 over on their website here.


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