Brisbane, you little heartbreaker! It’s always hard leaving the sunshine state mid-winter – the days up there at this time of year are just glorious. Flow just spent a couple of days up north taking a look at the 2017 range from Merida – here are the highlights!
We were lucky enough to spend a bit of time on the trails of Gap Creek while in Brisbane, putting in a few short laps on some of the 2017 bikes from Merida, Norco and Lapierre. Local yokel Mike Blewitt tips it in on board the Merida One Twenty, clearly he’s no stranger to the loose and dusty winter trails of Brissy.
We tend to underestimate Merida in Australia – maybe because it’s not a brand that necessarily resonates with ‘core’ mountain bikers. But that sure doesn’t mean we should tune out, because Merida sure as hell know their stuff. This is a brand with more manufacturing experience than any other on the face of the planet – at one stage or another, Merida have built bikes for over 70% of the ‘serious’ North American brands. They currently produce a staggering four million bikes a year across their four factories. Holy hell!
Merida have rolled out a couple of key new models for 2017, including a totally re-vamped One Sixty platform and an overdue refresh of their Big Nine and Big Seven hardtail too.
We think the new OneSixty is going to change a lot of people’s perception of Merida. Thoroughly modern Enduro geometry is combined some very sleek construction to make a bike that just looks right, before you even sling a leg over it.
The suspension system used by the OneSixty is now a variant of the Float Link arrangement that’s also found on the OneTwenty. Previously this bike used Merida’s VPK system, which had a lot of chain interference.
Other nice touches like a Trunnion mounted shock and Boost hub spacing let you know Merida are paying attention to the details with this one too. The pricing is going to seal the deal for a lot of folk too, at $4499. This is a bike we’re definitely going to be testing soon.
The cross country crew aren’t forgotten; the new Big Nine and Big Seven carbon frame is lighter than ever, at 900g, and gets geometry improvements galore with a slacker head angle, longer reach / shorter stem, shorter chain stays and Boost hub spacing.
The frame gets a BB92 pressfit bottom bracket as well, which allows for a much larger and stiffer junction at the down tube and bottom bracket. At the same time, Merida have given the frame compliant seat stays which are just 12mm deep, which is as thin as the UCI allows for racing apparently (something we didn’t know about at all).
Unlike many of the new crop of cross country race hardtails, the Big Nine / Big Seven has a 30.9mm seat post, not a skinny 27.2mm. Merida wanted their customers to be able to use a dropper post, and there are very few 27.2mm droppers on the market. They’ve preserved compliance in the post by flattening its fore/aft profile, creating kind of a funky cobra head shape. Merida’s head of design, Jurgen Falke, says it results in just as much compliance as a narrower post, but with less flex too.
Not only do we like the Bruce Wayne inspired stealth paint job on this bike, but it’s also the first bike we’d encountered to come stock with XT Di2 set up entirely for Synchro Shift mode. There’s two chain rings, but only one shifter, taking advantage of the very cool functionality that’s possible with Di2. (Learn more about Synchro Shift in our video here).