The MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 allows you to choose the frame size not based on your anatomy but your riding style. While the concept is nothing new, MERIDA’s approach is the most consistent we’ve seen so far. But how does it translate into trail performance?
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review
The 2023 MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 was redeveloped from the ground up and has very little in common with its predecessor. Particularly striking are the discreet, clean look and unique geometry concept, which combines a short seat tube and very long 230 mm dropper post across all sizes, allowing you to choose the frame size according to your preferences and riding style rather than your anatomy. While this is by no means a new approach, this is the most consistent way it has been implemented so far. Moreover, you can choose between a 29” wheel setup or a mullet configuration. Depending on the wheel size, the rear suspension of the € 8,999 MERIDA generates 162 mm (29″) or 171 mm (mullet) travel, which are complemented by 170 mm at the front.
The MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 in detail
The frame of the ONE-SIXTY has an integrated service port at the bottom of the down tube, which doubles as a storage compartment and can be accessed with a 6mm Allen key integrated into the rear thru-axle. The compartment comes standard with a pouch and is complemented by an additional tool strap on the upper shock-mount, which lets you carry other trail essentials like a spare inner tube directly on the bike. A multitool hides under the saddle while a mudguard between the seat tube and seat stays protects the frame from mud and flying debris. MERIDA deliver the ONE-SIXTY 8000 with a special Fidlock cage mount for magnetic bottles, but this can be easily replaced with a conventional bottle cage if needed. An elongated but rather thin TPU plate shields the frame from stray rocks, while a generously sized seat- and chainstay protector prevents chain slap and paint chips. Additionally, MERIDA covered the exposed sections of the seat stays with protective tape.
The spec of the MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000
The MERIDA is the only bike in this test to come with RockShox suspension, consisting of a ZEB Ultimate fork with Charger 3 damper and Super Deluxe Ultimate RC2T air shock. As usual, both suspension components allow for easy setup and deliver top performance on the trail. MERIDA’s in-house 780 mm TEAM TR alloy handlebars are slightly narrower than most other bars in this test, which measure 800 mm. The shifter is attached to the bars with a separate clamp, which might not look as tidy but makes it easier to adjust the position of the shifter independently from the brake levers. As already mentioned, the MERIDA TEAM TR dropper post offers a whopping 230 mm travel, which can be adjusted infinitely between 30 mm and 230 mm using an Allen key. Needless to say, this ensures excellent freedom of movement and at the same time allows riders of all heights to adjust the maximum extension of the dropper to suit their needs and preferences – we love it! Shifting is taken care of by a wireless 12-speed SRAM GX AXS drivetrain, while Shimano XT brakes with 200 mm discs front and rear do stopping duties. Mixing components from those two brands might seem a little unusual, but there’s nothing that speaks against it. For the wheels, MERIDA rely on a Race Face Turbine R alloy wheelset and MAXXIS tires, combining a 29×2.5″ ASSEGAI in the soft MaxxGrip rubber compound at the front and 29×2.4″ Minion DHR II in the harder MaxxTerra compound at the rear. Both tires come in the robust DoubleDown casing, which, in our opinion, is the perfect choice for tough enduro riding.
The spec of the MERIDA leaves nothing to wish for and is complemented by well-thought out frame details.
MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000
Fork RockShox ZEB Ultimate Charger 3 170 mm
Rear Shock RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate RC2T 162 mm
Seatpost MERIDA TEAM TR 230 mm
Brakes Shimano XT 200/200 mm
Drivetrain SRAM GX AXS Eagle 1x12
Stem MERIDA EXPERT eTR2 40 mm
Handlebar MERIDA TEAM TR Alu 780 mm
Wheelset Race Face Turbine R Alu 29"
Tires MAXXIS ASSEGAI, Doubledown, 3C MaxxGrip/MAXXIS Minion DHR II, Doubledown, 3C MaxxTerra 2.5/2.4
Size XS S M L XL
Weight 15.5 kg
The geometry of the MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000
The MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 is available in 5 sizes, XS to XL. However, the “S” and “L” in the acronym stand for short and long, meaning that the frames come in different sizes but are suitable for riders of all heights. With a 445 mm seat tube and 498 mm reach, the inseam isn’t a decisive factor in the choice of size. At 79°, the ONE-SIXTY has the steepest seat tube angle in the entire test field, while the 438 mm chainstays are rather short. However, the chainstay length grows with the frame size, providing consistent handling across all sizes. MERIDA also adapt the progression of the rear suspension to suit the frame size and the approximate rider weight each size is supposed to cater for. A flip chip in the shock mount allows you to adapt the rear end to be compatible with either 27.5″ or 29″ wheels without altering the geometry.
|Top Tube||535 mm||562 mm||589 mm||621 mm||652 mm|
|Seat tube||400 mm||410 mm||425 mm||445 mm||470 mm|
|Head tube||95 mm||95 mm||95 mm||105 mm||120 mm|
|BB Drop||7 mm||7 mm||7 mm||28 mm||28 mm|
|Chainstay||434 mm||434 mm||434 mm||438 mm||438 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,188 mm||1,215 mm||1,242 mm||1,275 mm||1,308 mm|
|Reach||415 mm||442 mm||470 mm||498 mm||525 mm|
|Stack||615 mm||615 mm||615 mm||625 mm||638 mm|
The MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 on the trail
Although the MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 has the longest reach in the entire test field, it puts you in a rather compact pedalling position. This is due to both the steep seat angle and the position of the seat tube, which is drawn far forward. While on level ground, the position puts a fair amount of pressure on your hands, but this improves as the climb gets steeper, making the MERIDA a pleasant climbing companion. The suspension is pleasantly firm, allowing you to negotiate your way to the trailhead without having to reach for the climb switch. Considering the generous amounts of travel it generates, the ONE-SIXTY pedals extremely well, proving itself as the second-best analogue climber in this test right behind the Mondraker.
The excellent suspension and intuitive handling make the ONE-SIXTY 8000 a great all-rounder.
Turn its nose into the valley, and the MERIDA immediately puts you at ease with predictable and easy handling, allowing you to shred your way back to the car park safely and confidently even after a long day in the saddle. Together with the Canyon Strive, the ONE-SIXTY 8000 offers the best handling in the entire test field. Due to the steep seat angle and the long-travel dropper post, the saddle is positioned quite far forward between your legs, which feels a little weird at first but only takes a little getting used to. The riding position is central and nicely integrated, with the weight evenly distributed between the front and rear. As a result, you don’t have to constantly shift your weight to generate traction and the front wheel always tracks reliably, even when you slam into an open corner at Mach 10. Even downhill, the suspension is very stiff, providing tons of support and allowing you to generate speed when pumping through rollers and berms. However, we recommend cranking the compression knob wide open to improve small bump sensitivity. With that taken care of, the suspension will still offer enough support but at the same time generate sufficient traction for last-second braking manoeuvres on bombed-out tracks with nasty brake bumps. At the same time, the suspension provides enough reserves to deal with nasty huck-to-flats and harsh landings, preventing your ankles from exploding.
Tuning tip: Back off the compression damping for small-bump sensitivity
The MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 takes on the competition with a cool sizing concept, combining a short seat tube and long-travel adjustable dropper post in all frame sizes and thus allowing you to choose the frame size based on your personal preferences and riding style. The spec does full justice to the intended use of the bike and is rounded off by practical features. Together with the strong suspension and intuitive handling, this makes the ONE-SIXTY an excellent and fun all-rounder for all types of rider, both up and downhill.
- Excellent spec
- Cool suspension provides tons of traction, support and reserves
- Harmonious concept
- Front-heavy pedalling position on level ground
You can find out more about at merida-bikes.com
The test field
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best enduro bike of 2023 – 14 models in review
All bikes in test: Canyon Strive CFR 8 (Click for review) | Deviate Claymore (Click for review) | Hope HB916 (Click for review) | Intense Tracer 279 S (Click for review) | MERIDA ONE-SIXTY 8000 | Mondraker Carbon Foxy RR (Click for review) | Norco Range C1 (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Megatower X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | Santa Cruz Nomad X01 AXS RSV (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon 170/165 (Click for review) | SIMPLON Rapcon Pmax TQ 170/165 (Click for review) | Specialized Stumpjumper EVO Elite Alloy (Click for review) | Yeti 160E T1 (Click for review) | Yeti SB160 T3 (Click for review)
This scale indicates how efficiently the bike climbs. It refers to both simple and technical climbs. Along with the suspension, the riding position and the weight of the bike all play a crucial role.↩
How does the bike ride and descend? How spritely is the bike, how agile is it through corners, how much fun is it in tight sections and how quickly can it change direction?↩
Is the bike stable at high speeds? Is it easy to stay in control in demanding terrain? How composed is it on rough trails? Stability is a combination of balanced geometry, good suspension and the right spec.↩
This is all about how balanced the bike is and particularly about how well it corners. Balanced bikes require little physical effort from the rider and are very predictable. If a bike is unbalanced, the rider has to work hard to weight the front wheel to generate enough grip. However, experienced riders can have a lot of fun even with unbalanced bikes.↩
How sensitive is the suspension over small bumps? Can it absorb hard impacts and does it soak up repeated hits? Plush suspension not only provides comfort and makes a bike more capable, but it also generates traction. The rating includes the fork and the rear suspension.↩
This aspect mainly comes down to the suspension. How much pop does it have, does it suck up the rider’s input or is it supportive, and how agile and direct is the bike?↩
We don’t calculate value for money in an excel spreadsheet or based on how high-end a bike is specced. We are more concerned with how a bike performs on the trail and how the bike benefits the rider. What good are the best components if the bike doesn’t perform well on the trail? Expensive bikes with a lower-end spec can offer very good value for money – provided they excel where it matters. Just as supposedly cheap bikes with good components can get a bad rating if they don’t deliver on the trail.↩
No, it’s not about racing, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along flowy singletrack and gravel roads need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret XC more like the Americans do: big back-country rides instead of a marathon or XC World Cup with the ultimate in lightweight construction! Uphill-downhill ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
...also known as mountain biking. Classic singletrack with roots, rocks and ledges – sometimes flowy, sometimes rough. For this, you need a bike with good all-round qualities, whether climbing or descending. Uphill-downhill ratio: 50:50↩
Even more extreme and challenging compared to Trail riding, riddled with every kind of obstacle: jumps, gaps, nasty rock gardens, ruts and roots. For this, you need (race)proven equipment that forgives mistakes and wouldn’t look out of place on a stage of the Enduro World Series. Climbing is just a means to an end. Uphill-downhill ratio: 30:70↩
Strictly speaking, a 200 mm travel downhill bike is the best choice for merciless tracks with big jumps, drops and the roughest terrain. Those would be the black or double-black-diamond tracks in a bike park. But as some of the EWS pros (including Sam Hill) have proven, it’s the riding skills and not the bike that define what you can ride with it. Climbing? On foot or with a shuttle, please! Uphill-downhill ratio: 10:90↩
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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Peter Walker, Mike Hunger