The spirit of Enduro is alive and kicking with this one, from its killer spec-to-coin ratio and frame geometry that's as on-trend as a pint of IPA in a jar and a pulled pork slider. The new One-Sixty promoted some seriously rowdy riding within the Flow Crew, here's our thoughts after one month of hard shredding.
The not-so-minor details
All necessary spec for hard riding.
Sleek new frame.
Not too big, it's happy to ride not just race.
Rear shock lacks climbing lockout.
Brake fade on long descents.
Merida is one of the largest bike companies in the world; their reach spans 77 countries, and due to decades of presence in Australia, they’re found on just about every trail and road down here too. So, it’s about time they cracked open the lucrative current enduro market with a genuinely competitive offering that may well be the cause of a few sweaty brows and nervous, clammy hands amongst the big brands.
Seriously, there’s not too much to fault with Merida’s new One-Sixty 5000, especially after seeing the dramatic improvement and updates from the outgoing model.
We have spent a few fun months putting it through its paces on our local – here’s what we thought.
What is it?
The One-Sixty is a new all-mountain/enduro bike with those key components that are essential to the type riding in the fast-growing segment of big-mountain/enduro. We’re talking about 160mm (you picked it!) out the back and 170mm travel up front of RockShox travel, aggressive tyres, dropper post, wide bars, and a single-ring 11-speed drivetrain.
A total re-think from the Merida brains trust has happened since they discontinued the previously clunky-looking and old fashioned One-Sixty. The result is an all-new carbon/aluminium frame built around their ‘Floating Link’ configuration, allowing for ample water bottle space and some very sexy and clean looking lines. We received many comments that shape of the new One-Sixty resembles the vertical shock mount and kinked top tubes of bikes like the Giant Trance or Trek Remedy. But in all fairness, this is reflected across the whole industry, with bike designers from many brands seeing the benefit of mounting the rear shock down low and central to the bike’s architecture. We’re fans of the new shape.
On-trend geometry, you say?
It’s all here, don’t you worry. A 65.3-degree head angle keeps things slack and modern on this near-2.5kg frameset, and a 68.5-degree seat tube angle helps provide a seated climbing position that’s not too far behind the centre of the bike. A nice and short chainstay of 430mm keeps it laterally stiff to push sideways, precise to jump and playful through the turns.
The reach doesn’t feel as long as many of the racier 160mm bikes we’ve reviewed like the Canyon Strive or Whyte G160; the silver lining on the cloud, in this case, is that for riders who don’t necessarily race the trails flat-out a slightly shorter reach prefer to ride them cleanly and confidently. The new generations of 160mm travel bikes are becoming increasingly long, requiring trails with serious gravity on their side, certainly not for everyone’s capabilities.
Complimenting this is the new RockShox Super Deluxe with the new Trunnion Linkage mounts, allowing for extra air capacity without extra eye-to-eye length. We also can’t go past the beautifully finished graphics in a shiny candy red colour, as well as the clean little pinch sockets for the internal routing – little details that prove this isn’t any old budget frame.
Merida has jumped on the Boost hub width train, aligning itself with many other high-end brands adopting the new wider hub size standard.
What do you get for $4.5k?
Off the showroom floor, the Carbon One-Sixty 5000 comes specced with a satisfyingly sound build kit, undeniably ready to go straight off the bat. It is exceptionally good value once all aspects are taken into account.
Merida has chosen some new offerings from RockShox for this year with a trunnion mount Super Deluxe rear shock and a 170mm travel Yari. The forks look massive with the Boost hub width and the front hub also uses the Torque Cap system, when in combination with the forks provide a more positive connection between fork and axle to lift front end rigidity in a straightforward and unobtrusive way.
These both have blown us away with their performance and feel, providing smooth and supple travel, taking colossal impacts in its stride.
Shimano brakes, SRAM drivetrain.
Brakes and drivetrain are well suited to the cause, utilising SRAM’s new budget-but-almost-as-good NX 1×11 groupset and a set of Shimano 477 hydraulic brakes on massive disc rotors, both doing well to stand up to the performance of higher end gear for marginal weight gain over the parts triple the price.
While the Shimano 477 brakes do feel great and consistent under the finger, they don’t quite have the power on the long descents like the slightly more expensive Shimano SLX, perhaps an area worthy of an upgrade if your hills are big.
Seatpost, cockpit, and grips are all covered by some impressive stock in-house Merida parts delivering no-nonsense function and strength. While we had initial interest about the Merida branded Tranz-X dropper post, as it was our first experience with one, but it held up to a month of hard riding just fine. And the wheels held up to solid abuse too.
The inclusion of a genuine SRAM XD driver and cassette, as well as an NX cranks, proves quality doesn’t have to be cut with the cost in a perfect example of technology trickling down the range.
Tyres are usually something that gets under-specced on new bikes – but not this one. Maxxis Minion DHR II’s front and back mean full-on downhill reliability and grip straight away. The bike came to us with inner tubes; we’d suggest a tubeless conversion before going anywhere.
Anything we’d change before riding?
Nope, just ditch the tubes in favour of a tubeless setup.
What about the model up from this one?
There are only two One-Sixty models available in Australia, the 5000 at $4500 and the model above – the 7000 – for $5999.
Spend an extra $1500 on the model above and the major upgrades come in the way of a RockShox Lyrik fork which uses their fantastic Charger Damper for a more controlled suspension performance, the rear shock gets a climbing lockout too. Brakes jump up to the Shimano XTs, and drivetrain to SRAM’s XO. Wheels are from DT-Swiss and the dropper post is a RockShox Reverb too.
But from a distance the vitals of the 5000 and 7000 are pretty close; the suspension adjustability, XT brakes and lighter wheels are the key differences.
How did it handle on the trail?
The One-Sixty hits its mark beautifully, providing everything you would want from a long travel trail bike; It’s slack and stable, responsive to steer quickly and playful to jump around on.
Throwing it into rough stuff wasn’t anywhere near as hard as it should have been, with the indestructible RockShox Yari and wide bars letting you drive the bike hard into G-outs and through rough sections. The rear end held its own too superbly; the linkage system felt laterally rigid, and the suspension action was very supple. The fork and shock do forgo the low-speed compression adjustment and the rear shock any lockout control, so be warned it is a little bouncy on the climbs.
The bike stayed surprisingly quiet almost the whole time, which makes a huge difference in the ride quality of the Merida, a quiet riding bike just feels more polished in our opinion.
What does it have, that others don’t at this price?
The best part is that you won’t be missing out on just about anything with the amount of all the trickle-down tech on this bike. With the beefy forks leading the way, a sturdy and lively feeling composite frame, piggyback Super Deluxe shock, wide aluminium rims and robust tyres you shouldn’t have much in the way of excuses when the trails become fast and rough.
One big defining factor is how much you get for such a price. It was not too long ago that you had to spend 150% more than the One-Sixty to get all the same features – dropper post, big RockShox fork, 1×11 drivetrain, tubeless tyres, wide rims – it’s all there.
Is it ‘Enduro’ enough?
Does a bear s%&t in the woods? Of course, it is enduro enough. Every aspect of the structure of this bike is ready to take on the toughest riding you could throw at it. With the beefy forks leading the way, a sturdy and lively feeling composite frame, piggyback Super Deluxe shock, wide aluminium rims and robust tyres you shouldn’t have much in the way of excuses when the trails become fast and rough.
One of the best little details we appreciate is the adjustable MRP micro chain guide – a simple addition that denotes the need for an expensive aftermarket purchase and just makes rides safer, quieter and hassle-free and certainly a must have item for enduro racing.
Would we recommend it?
If you are either looking to tap into the unlimited fun a long travel bike provides, or upgrade to something to take it even further, the One-Sixty 5000 is a legitimate contender in the competitive and rapidly growing segment of 160/170mm travel bikes where the needs of descending and climbing abilities need to meet in a light and durable package.
It’s a bike that wouldn’t be afraid of all racing gravity enduro or even the odd downhill with enough travel and beefy spec and construction.
With a huge global brand like Merida joining the Knights of the Enduro Table, it’s easier now than ever to pick up yourself a top performing ride at a price point that would not usually have all the necessary bases covered.