Merida make great bikes. They aced our short-travel group test and their eMTBs are top-notch. With a great build kit, there is a lot to like about the Merida ONE-SIXTY 700. However, for aggressive riders it has a problem that’s hard to ignore.

For an overview of the test fleet head to thtrue oup test: What’s the best 2020 Enduro Bike under € 3,500 – 9 mountain bikes in review

MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 700 | 170/165 mm (f/r) | 15.1 kg in size L | € 3,199 | Manufacturer’s website

The Merida ONE-SIXTY 700 in detail

There’s a lot to like about the 15.1 kg Merida ONE-SIXTY 700. With a solid build kit, drop-dead gorgeous paintwork and masses of travel, we were excited to put it to the test. Merida’s carbon bikes are things of beauty and we loved the black chrome paintwork of the 27.5” wheeled ONE-SIXTY 700. However, unlike the carbon models, the separated tube shapes around the headtube give the aluminium model an ugly-duckling look (in frame sizes L and XL). Aesthetics aside, the build spec is good, including a RockShox Yari RC fork with a whopping 170 mm of travel and a RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ rear shock controlling 160 mm of rear travel. Unfortunately, the latter is just the basic model with no external low-speed compression adjustment aside from the climb switch. The drivetrain is the excellent 12-speed Shimano XT and the brakes are the formidable SLX M7120 four-piston stoppers paired with 200/180 mm rotors. Merida use their own brand 150 mm Expert TR dropper post and 40 mm stem and bars. The bike rolls on Merida’s own brand aluminium wheels with a 29 mm internal width shod with Maxxis Assegai/Maxxis Minion DHRII with EXO+ sidewalls.

27.5” wheels feel immediately dated on a long-travel enduro bike. On rough trails, you just have to work so much harder.
Dive, dive
We found that the 170 mm YARI RC dives through its travel in front-heavy turns. We would look at increasing the number of tokens in the fork or fitting the new 2021 Debonair spring upgrade.
A mother’s love
The frame has an aesthetic that only a mother could love. The smaller sizes with no gap between the top and down tubes look more appealing.


€ 3,199


Fork RockShox Yari RC 170 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ 165 mm
Seatpost MERIDA Expert TR 170 mm
Brakes Shimano SLX M7120 200/180 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT M8100 1x12
Stem MERIDA Expert TR 40 mm
Handlebar MERIDA Expert TR 780 mm
Wheelset MERIDA Expert TR 27.5"
Tires MAXXIS ASSEGAI / MAXXIS Minion DHRII 2.5"/2.4"

Technical Data

Size S M L XL
Weight 15.1 kg

Specific Features

Sexy paint
The black chrome finish looks very sexy but the bike’s beauty is only skin deep.
Poor choice
We would prefer the non-adjustable RockShox Super Deluxe Select+ with a heavier compression tune
Cool features
We love the secret multitool stashed under the saddle, handy for quick trailside repairs.
A bit too basic
The basic own-brand dropper post impressed us less, proving a little sticky to get moving from some sitting positions

The geometry of the Merida ONE SIXTY

It’s fair to say the Merida ONE-SIXTY does not have the most modern geometry with a lazy 75° seat angle and overly long 470 mm seat tube height. The bottom bracket is relatively high with a 6 mm drop (9 mm higher than the Canyon Torque, the other 27.5” bike in this test) and the compact 430 mm chainstays tuck the rear wheel under the rider. The tall 125 mm head tube keeps the stack height higher at 613 mm and a 474 mm reach keeps the bike feeling spacious.

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 400 mm 430 mm 470 mm 490 mm
Top tube 559 mm 591 mm 630 mm 648 mm
Head tube 105 mm 110 mm 125 mm 130 mm
Head angle 65.3° 65.3° 65.3° 65.3°
Seat angle 75.0° 75.0° 75.0° 75.0°
Chainstays 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm
BB Drop 6 mm 6 mm 6 mm 6 mm
Wheelbase 1,157 mm 1,189 mm 1,223 mm 1,247 mm
Reach 410 mm 440 mm 474 mm 490 mm
Stack 595 mm 599 mm 613 mm 617 mm

The Merida ONE-SIXTY 700 feels dated, with an undamped suspension system that favours comfort over support and feedback.

Helmet Endura MT500 | Glasses 100% Speedcraft | Jersey Loose Riders Bad Trip
Shorts TLD Ruckus | Shoes FiveTen Impact VXi

Big travel, big disappointment – The Merida ONE-SIXTY on the trail

Hopping on board the Merida ONE-SIXTY, it feels comfortable, the riding position is upright and easy-going and more compact than the 474 mm reach would suggest. Heading uphill, the dated 75° seat angle feels even slacker as the bike sinks back into its travel as the trail steepens. While not the slowest bike on the climbs in the group, it winches uphill with the lazy manner that prefers seated spinning rather than out-of-the-saddle sprints. At low speeds the handling feels great, the small 27.5” wheels are nimble and direct and carving turns can be initiated effortlessly from the centre of the bike. The bottom bracket is not the lowest, so the bike feels quite tall in berms and compressions, but the lively suspension adds to the fun. However, as soon as things get up to speed downhill, the Merida ONE-SIXTY quickly starts to unravel. The problem is predominantly down to the very active and under-damped suspension system. While plush and sensitive at low speeds, it’s also very low in progression – Merida informs us it has 9% progression compared to 40% in the YT Capra – so much so that the RockShox Super Deluxe gives up the full 165 mm travel far too easily.

With no low-speed compression adjustment, we could not stop the bike blowing through the middle of the stroke, leaving the bike feeling like it only has 140 mm travel. The Merida comes with two volume reducers installed inside the shock as standard and while adding a third helps, we would still like more mid-end stroke support. The lightly damped feel results in a lack of feedback from the trail when it gets rough and makes the bike unpredictable when hitting big square-edged hits. That vague ride feel is not helped by the 170 mm Yari fork, which needs a lot of compression damping to stop diving into its travel, resulting in a harsh initial suspension stroke. It’s not all bad though and riders who do not ride aggressively will find the bike very comfortable. Another highlight is the excellent Shimano XT drivetrain which works flawlessly, as well as the SLX brakes paired with 203/180 mm rotors which scrub speed effortlessly with ample feedback and modulation. We also like the MAXXIS Assegai 2.5 WT tires. In the EXO+ sidewall, they spin up to speed well and grip like crazy on the currently unseasonably dry trails.

How does the Merida compare

Compared to the rest of the group, the underdamped Merida feels very nervous at speed. This is partly due to the smaller wheels, but also because the active suspension (even with all the volume reducers installed) lacks compression damping, resulting in a lot of chassis movement, reducing trail feedback and making it harder to predict what the bike will do on an impact. With the huge travel it offers, the Merida should be able to keep up with the shorter travel Ibis Rimpo AF, but the Ibis leaves it in the dust. The nearest competitor is the Canyon Torque. Both share the same wheel size and long-travel aspirations but the Canyon’s progressive suspension is much better suited to taking impacts from big hits and charging hard.

Tuning tips: fill the non-adjustable RockShox Super Deluxe shock with volume reducers

Riding Characteristics



  1. sluggish
  2. efficient


  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced


  1. harsh
  2. plush

Fun Factor

  1. planted
  2. poppy

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Intended Use










The Merida ONE-SIXTY 700 feels dated and outclassed. It’s not a bad bike but it’s not a really good one either. In these competitive times, that’s just not good enough. Even with massive 170/165 mm reserves, the travel feels like a lot less and is best suited to gentle riders looking for a plush and comfortable bike. Aggressive riders will find the lack of support frustrating.


  • handling is nimble and fun on easy trails
  • mirror chrome paintwork is sexy
  • Shimano SLX brakes are exceptional


  • underdamped suspension that blows through its travel
  • 170 mm RockShox Yari sits deep into its travel on steep descents
  • the slack seat angle slows the bike on the climbs

For more info head to:

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to thtrue oup test: What’s the best 2020 Enduro Bike under € 3,500 – 9 mountain bikes in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Torque AL 6.0 (Click for review)| GIANT Reign SX 29 (Click for review) | Ibis Ripmo AF Coil (Click for review) | MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 70 | Nukeproof Mega 290 Expert (Click for review) | Privateer 161 (Click for review) | Propain Tyee CF (Click for review) | Trek Slash 8 29 (Click for review) | YT Capra Comp 29 (Click for review)

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Words: Photos: Trev Worsey, Finlay Anderson