GUY’S MERIDA ONE -SIXTY 800 2018 £3,150
Stealth looks disguise the capability of this enjoyable enduro rig
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. www.merida-bikes.com