2020 merida one-twenty 9.700
17 Feb 2020

In a refreshing turn of events from all the new superbikes that have been released lately, we've just had a sub-$4k Merida One-Twenty turn up for testing that might just be one of the best value trail bikes on the market right now

Not everyone wants or needs a $10,000 mountain bike (or a $26,500 e-MTB with gold leaf graphics…), though lately it seems that that’s the only kind of bike companies have been releasing. In a thoroughly refreshing turn of events though, we’ve just received a new trail bike from Merida that is both free of a motor and entirely devoid of any carbon fibre. Indeed with its sensible parts package and alloy frameset, we reckon this is quite possibly one of the best value mountain bikes we’ve come across in some time.

2020 merida one-twenty 9.700
Merida delivers us a trail bike that doesn’t have a motor or a $10,000+ price tag.

Less Marketing Fluff, More Value For Money

If you’re not familiar with the name, we won’t blame you! Merida’s full suspension bikes do have a habit of flying under the radar, which might have something to do with the company’s distinct lack of marketing compared to ‘sexier’ brands like Santa Cruz and Yeti. That’s a shame, because Merida has been putting out some seriously good kit over the past few years.

In terms of its designation, the One-Twenty slots into Merida’s mountain bike lineup as the versatile trail speedster. Aiming to bring together the efficient climbing performance of the 96 (the 100mm travel XC race bike) with the descending fervour of the One-Forty (the burly 140mm travel All Mountain rig), the One-Twenty is a straight-up trail bike. It rolls on 29in wheels and is equipped with 120mm of rear suspension travel with a 130mm travel fork up front.

2020 merida one-twenty 9.700
Named after its rear travel, the One-Twenty is a purist’s trail bike.
2020 merida one-twenty 9.700
120mm of rear wheel travel courtesy of the proven Float Link suspension platform.

Of course the One-Twenty isn’t strictly a brand new platform. The current generation frame was released for the 2019 model year, and you might recall that we did in fact test and review a One-Twenty 8000 only about six months ago. That was one of the top-end spec levels built around a high-zoot carbon frame, and it left us thoroughly impressed with its refined suspension performance and zippy character on sinewy singletrack.

Having collected a string of awards throughout the year (including a spot in Wil’s Top 10 bikes & gear list for 2019), the One-Twenty marches on into 2020, albeit with a few key updates and spec changes that are aiming to take both performance and value to the next level.

merida one-twenty
Last year we tested the carbon One-Twenty 8000 model. Now we’ve got the alloy version in for review.

What’s On Offer For 2020?

There are seven One-Twenty models available in Australia for 2020, starting at $2,299 for the One-Twenty 400, and going up to $7,499 for the One-Twenty 8000. The cheaper models utilise an alloy frameset, while the top two models get a full carbon fibre frame.

New for 2020, all One-Twenty models that come with a RockShox fork have moved to a shorter 42mm offset, compared to the 51mm offset forks that came on last year’s bikes. At the same time, Merida has shortened the stem length to 50mm on all frame sizes, and we’re very keen to see how that plays out on the trail.

2020 merida one-twenty 9.700
Merida has changed to a shorter 42mm fork offset on most One-Twenty models. Is that a good thing?

The Merida One-Twenty 700 – All Of The Mod-Cons

The bike we’ve got on test here is the One-Twenty 700, which is the top-spec option with the alloy frame. For less than $4K, it’s a helluva package for the money, with impressive attention to detail on the areas that count.

Just like the top-end carbon models, you’re getting 120mm of rear travel via a floating link suspension design. There’s a big volume RockShox Deluxe shock with a trunnion bearing mount to aid small-bump sensitivity, while a RockShox Revelation fork up front uses the same chassis as the pricier Pike, albeit with a simpler Charger RC damper inside.

2020 merida one-twenty 9.700 xt derailleur
The drivetrain is mostly SLX, except for the XT rear mech and I-SPEC EV shifter.

Merida has spec’d our Medium test bike with a 150mm travel dropper post and the impressively powerful 4-piston Shimano SLX brakes. While you’re getting a mostly SLX-based drivetrain, the shifter is upgraded to an XT unit, which gives you a punchier feel at the triggers along with a double-upshift function – something we have missed on the SLX 1×12 groupset we recently reviewed. Nice touch!

As for the frame itself, it’s built from shapely hydroformed alloy tubing with a curved top tube to increase standover clearance. There isn’t a tonne of room around the rear tyre though, with the 2.35in Maxxis Forekaster being about the biggest size that Merida recommends for the back end. Otherwise it’s all well finished, with tidy bolt-up cable ports and thick rubber armouring under the downtube and over the drive-side chainstay.

2020 merida one-twenty 9.700
It could really do with more black on it though.

2020 Merida One-Twenty 700 Specs

  • Frame | LITE Hydroformed Alloy, Float Link Suspension Design, 120mm Travel
  • Fork | RockShox Revelation RC, 42mm Offset, 130mm Travel
  • Shock | RockShox Deluxe Select+, 185x55mm
  • Wheels | Shimano SLX 32h Hubs & Merida Expert TR Alloy rims, 29mm Inner Width, Tubeless Compatible
  • Tyres | Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 3C Maxx Terra 2.40WT Front & Forekaster EXO 2.35in Rear
  • Drivetrain | Shimano SLX/XT 1×12 w/SLX 32T Crankset & 10-51T Cassette
  • Brakes | Shimano SLX M7120 4-Piston w/180mm CenterLock Rotors
  • Bar | Merida Expert TR Alloy, 20mm Rise, 760mm Wide
  • Stem | Merida Expert TR Alloy, 35mm Diameter, 50mm Long
  • Grips | Merida Lock-On
  • Seatpost | Merida Expert TR, 30.9mm Diameter, Travel: 125mm (S), 150mm (MD), 170mm (LG, XL)
  • Saddle | Merida Expert CC
  • Available Sizes | MD, LG, XL
  • Confirmed Weight | 14.23kg (Medium size w/tubes fitted)
  • RRP | $3,799
2020 merida one-twenty 9.700
Does less money equal less performance? Looking at the One-Twenty 700’s spec sheet, we’re not so sure…

We’ll be testing the 2020 Merida One-Twenty over the coming weeks, so be sure to stay tuned to the Flow website for the upcoming review. Otherwise we’d love to hear what you think of this value-packed trail bike, and be sure to drop us any questions you might have in the meantime.


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