Words by Flow | Images by Flow

Merida’s sharpest tool in the shed makes a strong comeback for 2016, with all the mod cons, and category leading weight. The new Ninety-Six is about as dedicated to racing cross country as they come.

Recognising the recent trend to match wheelsize for frame size, the new Ninety-Six will be available in both 27.5″ and 29″ wheels, depending on the frame size. In Australia, the small size Ninety-Six will use 27.5″ wheels, and the medium, large and extra large will come with 29″ wheels. We’ve seen Trek, Liteville and Yeti take a similar approach, and we’re all about it.

At the recent launch of the 2016 Merida range we took a closer look at this new race bike, there was no chance to ride it at this stage, a full ride review is in the pipeline.

Merida Ninety-Six A 2

Jay from Taylor Cycles tips it in on the Ninety-Six.

Merida Ninety-Six 24

Multivan Merida team’s new whip.

With a claimed frame weight of 1900g for the Team frame, the Ninety-Six uses a minimal 96mm of travel on the 29″, and 108mm on the 27.5″ to get the best ride quality out of the different wheel sizes.

With a minimal suspension system that nods in favour of lightweight, this Merida is all about creating a quick accelerating bike with the stiffest frame possible. It’s a single pivot design, a swing link drives the shock with a suspension curve that is best paired with a remote lockout lever.

Many short travel race bikes opt for a suspension rate and tune that feels firm all the way through stroke to give the rider maximum pedalling efficiency, this can be to the sacrifice of suspension feel and resulting in a harsh ride.

In the case of this bike, a suspension design optimised for the use with a remote lockout can benefit from a small amount of travel that is very supple and active, but can be quickly changed with a flick of your thumb to counteract unwanted suspension bob.

The new shock mounting position under the top tube lets the remote lever connect to a fixed point at the rear shock, where the older Ninety-Six frame design used a much longer cable (or hose) that moved with the suspension.

Merida Ninety-Six 20

The $9999 Ninety-Six Team uses the RockShox RS1 inverted fork to really look fast.

Merida Ninety-Six 12

The main suspension pivot sits directly inline with the chainring.

The new frame is also optimised around single ring drivetrains, the main pivot has moved to be in line with the chainring. Back in the glory days of the triple ring on cross country bikes, we’d see designs lining the pivot up with the middle chainring, which was used the most. Now with single ring drivetrains it’s easier to find that sweet spot, it allows the rear suspension to be unaffected by chain length, as the distance between the top of the chainring and rear axle doesn’t change as the suspension compresses.

The cable routing on the new Ninety-Six is really neat thanks to the new Smart Entry System cable port, acting as a clamp securing and silencing the cables inside the frame. No rattling noises here!

With the new cable ports, the bike will also be Shimano Di2 compatible, with the wires travelling internally and snugly.

Merida Ninety-Six 14

The Merida Smart Entry System clamps and secures the cables to eliminate clashing, noise and moving internal cables.

Merida Ninety-Six A 1

Doing what the Ninety-Six loves, laying down the power.

For 2016 the frame geometry sharpens up to meet the demands set by the formidable Multivan Merida World Cup race team, a lower bottom bracket, and shorter overall in length.

Three versions of the Merida Ninety-Six in two wheel sizes will make it to Australia, with size small frames using 27.5″ wheels.

27.5″

Ninety-Six 7 Team – $9999

Ninety-Six 7 XT – $4799

Ninety-Six 7 800 – $3099

29″

Ninety-Six 9 Team – $9999

Ninety-Six 9 XT – $4799

Ninety-Six 9 800 – $3099