MERIDA 900E EONE SIXTY

£5,200 To­tally sorted elec­tri ied en­duro bomber

Mountain Biking UK - - FIRST RIDES - GUY KESTEVEN www.merida-bikes.com

Merida have com­bined full Shi­mano e-tech with proper en­duro ge­om­e­try and sus­pen­sion, then un­der­lined it with high-per­for­mance plus-size tyres, to cre­ate a bat­teryas­sisted big bike bench­mark.

The frame

While the eOne-Sixty looks sim­i­lar to Merida’s non-elec­tri­fied OneSixty, its lay­out is ac­tu­ally very di er­ent. Rather than at­tach­ing the shock to the for­ward tips of the chain­stays, as on the con­ven­tional bike, they’ve built a bridge on the frame, above the mo­tor, for the lower shock mount. The eOne-Sixty uses seat­stay, rather than chain­stay, piv­ots too, so rear wheel move­ment is a sim­ple arc, not a man­aged link­age path.

The 500Wh Shi­mano bat­tery side-swings neatly into its lock­ing po­si­tion on the down tube, so there’s no rat­tling. Thanks to the com­pact Shi­mano STePS mo­tor and the Boost rear axle, Merida have been able to keep the chain­stays su­per­short (440mm) for a pow­ered bike. Rear brake and drop­per post con­trols run in­ter­nally, along with the Di2 gear ca­bling. There’s no room for a bot­tle any­where.

The kit

Apart from an awk­ward-shaped bar, the 900E spec is to­tally on point, from the 45mm stem back­wards. The Fox 36 RC2 fork and Float X2 shock are per­fect for a bike with a lot of mass to con­trol but no need for the rider to stand up on climbs. Shi­mano’s four-cylin­der Saint DH brakes get finned 200mm ro­tors for max­i­mum heat-proof stop­ping power. The 40mm-wide DT Swiss XM 1501s are some of our favourite durable-but-dy­namic plus wheels, and triple-com­pound Maxxis DHR II 2.8in tyres add huge grip while re­main­ing sta­ble at low speeds.

Merida’s mas­ter stroke is match­ing Shi­mano’s STePS mo­tor with their Di2 elec­tric gears though. You get match­ing, app-tun­able con­trol pad­dles for the three mo­tor modes and the shift­ing, and a su­per-neat dis­play tucked safely be­tween the bar and stem. The Di2 sys­tem only shifts at the op­ti­mum pedal stroke points, which helps pre­serve the trans­mis­sion, and the STePS mo­tor adds power in a re­ally user-friendly broad torque/spin speed span. A chain guide above the proper-sized chain­ring on tough Hol­lowtech crank arms means the whole set-up is tough, mud proof, hard-wear­ing and se­cure, un­like many Bosch/Yamaha bikes.

The ride

As well as hav­ing the best mo­tor/ gear­ing combo we’ve rid­den, the Merida also han­dles its mass bet­ter than any other e-MTB we’ve tested. The sorted sus­pen­sion kine­mat­ics and pro-spec dampers com­bine with the im­pact-suck­ing, glued­trac­tion tyres and DH brakes to give out­stand­ing base­line con­trol.

It’s the 460mm reach, short stays and 66.5-de­gree head an­gle that re­ally stand out though, giv­ing mas­sive front end sta­bil­ity with­out a barge-like back end. That means you can rip, carve and send the 900E just like you would a con­ven­tional bike, but get back up for an­other go in a frac­tion of the time.

De­spite the bomber spec it’s im­pres­sively light for an e-bike too, and it’s well priced, con­sid­er­ing its pre­mium spec and elec­tric gears, at £300 less than Merida’s top OneSixty bike.

We’re big fans of the Shi­mano STePS mo­tor. The rat­tle-free bat­tery is the ic­ing on the cake

The eOne-Sixty looks a lot like Merida’s One-Sixty en­duro bike, and it’s just as fun on the de­scents

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