GUY’S MERIDA ONE -SIXTY 800 2018 £3,150

Stealth looks dis­guise the ca­pa­bil­ity of this en­joy­able en­duro rig

Mountain Biking UK - - LONG-TERM RIDES -

With its stealth-black fin­ish and min­i­mal­ist lo­gos, the Merida has had a low-key life in our long-term fleet, with the most com­monly-asked car park ques­tion be­ing “what is that?” not “how does it ride?”. That means the first thing I want to say is that it rides great. Re­ally great.

Rel­a­tively slim, flat­tened tubes mean it’s not the stiffest or most solid-feel­ing bike through the steer­ing or ped­als. But the su­per­mo­bile rear sus­pen­sion and im­pact­dodg­ing dy­namic of the frame have saved me from beat­ings on rocky trails and kept me the right side of the han­dle­bar on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. The ge­om­e­try en­cour­ages you to push on, with­out be­ing so rad­i­cal that you have to relearn your rid­ing style and lines. It cen­tres you well and looks af­ter you, no mat­ter how lairy things get.

Apart from the fork, seat­post, wheels and cranks – which were all swapped for test­ing rea­sons, not be­cause the orig­i­nals died or did my head in – the parts spec has re­mained pretty much un­changed. That in­cludes all the head­set and sus­pen­sion bear­ings, and even the SRAM DUB bot­tom bracket has been in there long enough to re­move my ter­ror of press-fit bear­ings. I’ve had zero is­sues with the SRAM GX Ea­gle trans­mis­sion too. This im­pres­sive bill of long-term health is even more ex­em­plary when you con­sider that the One-Sixty has been an al­most daily driver.

The 800 model ba­si­cally car­ries over for 2019, but is £150 cheaper than it was this year. That makes it well worth a look if you’re af­ter a su­per-friendly, easy to set up, max-traction, long-travel floater for laugh­ing at the row­di­est trails. I’d rec­om­mend up­grad­ing the Rock­Shox Yari fork as soon as you can af­ford to though, ei­ther by swap­ping it out or retro-fit­ting it with the ‘Charger’ damper found in the pricier Lyrik. See­ing as most of the other bits of the two forks are the same, that’s the most cost-ef­fec­tive route, and un­der­lines what a solid-value bike this is even more.

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