Merida One-sixty 800
With an impressive spec and decent geometry, the One-sixty looks appealing, but in the hills it’s a tale of two halves. On flatter trails, where carrying speed is key, its super-supple suspension keeps the rear wheel stuck to the trail, dulling some of the liveliness and fun we want from a bike like this. It also bobs quite a bit when you’re mashing the pedals on steep climbs, making us thankful for the compression lever on the shock. But get the Merida to the top of a steep, rocky trail littered with square-edged hits and awkward turns, and the control and speed it conjures up on the way down is quite astounding. With a tweak to the shock tune, it could be more of an all-round threat.