Merida One Sixty 2  2014 – Long term test

Merida One Sixty 2 2014 – Long term test

It’s about time I strung some words together about the Merida One Sixty 2 which I’ve had on long term test since November 2013 – and had available as a test bike here at the store.  I saw this bike at the product launch in September and knew I couldn’t go home without one on the pre-order!  Merida offer 2 models – the One Sixty 1 in yellow and blue at £3200, and the One Sixty 2 in black and grey at £2600.  There’s been talk of both the One Sixty, and the impossibly popular One Forty being imported with 3 models in each range to answer the demands of the UK market.  We’re hoping to see many more of both ranges as the enduro scene continues to flourish.

I’ve covered a lot of ground on my One Sixty since last year; from sessions at Chicksands bike park, to trail centre missions to Swinley, Cannock Chase and Coed y Brennin as well as many long local winter XC loops.  In that time I’ve fettled with some of the stock parts, had a few “teething problems” here and there and put together a list of things I loved about this bike and a scattering of things I’d like to see changed for future models (whether anyone will take heed of my preferences has yet to be seen!).

The first thing that I was pleasantly surprised to discover when this bike arrived at the store was just how light it was!  It didn’t make sense – huge fork, huge tyres, deep, wide rims and oversized everything – yet the complete build was under 27lbs!  There had to be a catch, something was going to be flimsy and I had to know!  I couldn’t wait to try it out so straight away took the One Sixty to some local trails hoping to shake something loose or find something bendy.  After an hour in the saddle all I could think about was how well this bike fitted me, it was super low slung and easy to maneuver.  The shocks were firm but plush front and rear giving me great response for pedaling out of the saddle and incredible handling on the rough stuff.  The bike ascended very very well and the 160mm of travel didn’t feel wallowy or excessive despite the terrain being relatively tame on this first ride.  Despite my best efforts through over 18km of local woods and a mix of rooty, bumpy, muddy and loose ups and downs with a few surprise drops and airs thrown in – I was pleased to report no failures or glaring weaknesses on my first ride out!

I knew I’d be hanging onto this rig for a fair while so set about making some changes to the stock kit.  I opted for a pair of Hope F20 pedals and matching FR stem in a 60mm length, I also upgraded the brakes to Shimano XT, from the stock SLX units – I literally did this just to see how much difference it made.  The braking benefit was minimal, but I did prefer the chrome fluid reserviour covers.  I liked the stock wheels and tyres, which is VERY rare for me.  Usually I’d put Hope wheels and Maxxis tyres on everything, but the Sun Ringle wheelset and Schwalbe Hans Dampf tyres performed flawlessly the whole time I had the One Sixty.  Other than that, I ran this bike with the stock specification, wishing only that I had the funds for a Rockshox Reverb Stealth – a great feature of the model up.

Over time I did have a couple of issues – firstly the Rockshox Pike RC which promised so much and started off so well after 6 weeks developed an air leak between internal chambers causing it to suck up all it’s travel and run completely flat.  When you took your weight off the bike the fork would “re-inflate” but the problem was persistent.  Luckily SRAM’s worldwide warranty had this covered and the fork was away for less than a week and returned to me in peak condition with no charge.  That’s why it’s nice to have a reliable warranty!  My next gripe was with the SRAM GXP bottom bracket which I had to replace twice in 6 months.  They’re not known for their durability and this issue was not covered under warranty, good thing they’re relatively cheap.  If I could choose I would have liked an SLX chainset as standard, for a wider choice of chainrings/bashguard options and more durable bottom brackets.  My third and final issue with the One Sixty was down to the height of the bottom bracket shell.  When cornering I often found my pedals clipping the floor – I know there’s a technique issue here admittedly BUT, I was not the only person who noticed this.  Everyone who took this test bike out mentioned the same issue, so it couldn’t just be me who forgot how to corner!!  I think when the 175mm SRAM cranks inevitably go in the scrap metal a 170mm SLX chainset will kill two birds with one stone.

In summation, the Merida One Sixty 2 is a great all rounder.  I didn’t feel limited by the 26 inch wheels, and I didn’t ever feel the 160mm travel was overkill for UK riding.  It’s light, fast, strong and compared to other bikes of it’s calibre there’s a hell of a lot of nice kit for the money.  I would recommend this bike to anyone looking for an Enduro bike, a mini-downhiller, an agressive XC rig or even a freeride bike.  It’s very rare to find a bike that you want to take everywhere with you.  Some places favour hardtails, others demand bigger suspension – this bike was more than capable anywhere, with plenty of tunability in the shocks and no limits on the range of the 2 x 10 drivetrain I’d feel equally comfortable tackling a long, emotional climb or a ravenous monster of a descent – then ride back up and do it again!

Similar bikes tested in last 12 months:

Giant Reign                                     Specialized Camber                  Transition Covert/Bandit

Mondraker Dune/Foxy                Scott Genius (various)              Nuke Proof Mega

Merida One Sixty 2 2014

Merida One Sixty 2 2014 in Merida’s showroom

Read detailed specs and view the rest of the range here: