When MERIDA presented the eONE-SIXTY in 2016, it not only set the benchmark in riding performance with rave reviews and awards, but it also became one of the Taiwanese brand’s most successful models. With the new MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020, the world’s second largest bike manufacturer want to build on that success and up their game once more. Will they succeed?
The new flagship MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 model costs € 9,799. With the same Shimano STEPS E8000 motor, the same 504 Wh battery capacity, the same amount of travel, the same aluminium rear triangle as the original model and only minimally updated geometry, most of the key figures have remained the same. You have to ask yourself: what’s new with the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020?
We were the only magazine in the world to be given the exclusive privilege of following the development process of the new MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020. During a visit to MERIDA’s headquarters in Taiwan as well as the German development centre in Magstadt, we gained a much deeper understanding of what goes into the creation and production of an eMTB. How is a bike made? What is the difference between a bike brand and a bike manufacturer? What are the real working conditions like in the Far East? And what makes MERIDA so special? You’ll find all the answers and the full story in our next issue.
The carbon fibre frame and integrated Shimano battery of the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020
The conclusion of our last group test showed that the MERIDA eONE Sixty, which has been on the market for three years now, is still an excellent eMTB with great all-round characteristics, but in comparison to its latest competitors, it has lost its edge on the trail and in looks. The development team of the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY, led by Reynaldo Ilagan and Benjamin Diemer, knew this too so an integrated yet removable battery without compromise was high on the list of priorities for the new eONE-SIXTY.
There was one problem though: the existing internal 8020 Shimano battery that was available when they started the project wasn’t an option for the designers due to its dimensions and limited integration potential. To overcome this hurdle the development team of new MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 partnered with Shimano to develop the new 504 Wh Shimano STEPS BT-E8035 battery that we recently saw released, featuring significantly more compact dimensions and offering greatly improved and more seamless integration. According to MERIDA, an opening in the down tube for the integrated battery can reduce stiffness by up to 70%. In order to achieve the desired stiffness without increasing the bike’s overall weight, they rely on a carbon main frame, even managing to reduce its weight compared to the previous model. The straight down tube is also claimed to offer increased stiffness compared to a curved tube. A steering block is present to prevent the fork from impacting the down tube. The rear linkage has already proven itself on the current MERIDA eONE-SIXTY, remaining unchanged on its successor so there should be no short supply of bearings and spare parts when it comes to servicing.
For the new eONE-SIXTY, MERIDA and Shimano started a development partnership, resulting in the release of Shimano’s new, compact BT-E8035 batter
Shhhhh! – designing a quiet bike was as a big goal for the team behind the development of the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020
Another important point for MERIDA was to build a bike that is as quiet as possible, i.e. reducing the noise from chain slap or rattling cables. A lot of time was invested in designing a battery cover that adequately protects the battery and doesn’t become a source of noise. They’ve achieved this by using two different plastics and replaceable O-rings at the latch to compensate for tolerances and generally achieve a tighter fit.
The internally routed cables are very neatly secured in the down tube while being easily accessible, similar to the YT DECOY. The cable guides on the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY also serve as bottle cage bosses. In order not to loosen the cables when loosening the bottle cage, MERIDA use a total of 4 screws.
There is also the large, dragon-like chainstay protector – will these measures actually work and provide for a better, quieter ride on the trail?
The design of the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020: Testarossa cooling fins or M3 grille?
Design and integration play a major role on the new MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020. The design highlight and most distinctive feature is the so-called Thermo-Gate, which looks like the grille of a sports car where the down tube meets the head tube, accomplishing three tasks: first of all, it’s an inlet for the internally routed cables. Secondly, it lets warm air escape from the interior of the down tube like a chimney – less so when riding, but rather when you’ve got the bike standing in the sun. The battery will be happy! Third task? It just looks damn good! Unfortunately, the position of the Thermo Gate only really looks cool on size medium and large, the proportions aren’t quite as harmonious on the other sizes.
The Thermo-Gate grille at the head tube is reminiscent of the air intakes of a Ferrari Testarossa.
In general, the silhouette of the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 is beautifully slim. This has been achieved in part thanks to the compact design of the new Shimano STEPS BT-E8035 battery, but the flowing shapes and open design around the bottom bracket area certainly help too. The shock is mounted on a bridge that hovers over the motor, giving the frame a lighter, less bulky look. The open design should also prevent an accumulation of dirt and mud. Without an additional cover, the motor looks a lot more compact while also being cooled better. The Shimano charging socket is located just in front of the shock mount, where the down tube meets the motor.
Fork FOX 36 Factory E-Bike+ Air 160 mm
Rear shock FOX Factory FLOAT X2 150 mm
Motor Shimano STEPS E8000
Battery Shimano BT-E8035 504 Wh
Drivetrain Shimano XTR Shadow+ 12-fach
Brakes Shimano XTR 4-Piston 203/203 mm
Handlebar MERIDA Expert eTR 780 mm
Stem MERIDA Expert eTR 35 mm
Seat post MERIDA Expert TR 125 mm, 150 mm, 170 mm
Tires MAXXIS Assegai 3C EXO+ 29×2.5″/MAXXIS Minion DHR II 3C EXO+ 27.5×2.6″
Wheels DT Swiss SPLINE HXC 1200
The new MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 comes with mixed wheel sizes (MX). Up front, MERIDA have specced a 29×2.5″ MAXXIS Assegai, and the rear wheel comes fitted with a 27.5×2.6″ MAXXIS Minion DHR II offering better agility and precision.
Other clever details on the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 include the MERIDA Expert eTR cockpit, where the cables of the Shimano STEPS E7000 remote are routed through the inside of the handlebar, and the lever of MERIDA Expert TR axle on the rear wheel can be removed and used as a mini tool. The axle lever doubles as a 4mm and a 6mm Allen key, which are the two most common bolt sizes on the bike. Detaching the lever from the rear axle is easiest when you grab it in the middle, otherwise it jams.
The in-house dropper seat post offers 125mm (XS), 150mm (S / M), or 170mm (L / XL) of travel, depending on the frame size, and is easy to operate using the ergonomic Shimano SL-MT800 lever.
MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020: weight and gross weight limit
Our test bike, the size L MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K, weighs 22.3 kg. The gross weight limit (i.e. bike + rider) is only 120 kg due to the carbon rims on the flagship model. The more affordable models are cleared for 140 kg.
Geometry of the all-new eONE-SIXTY
Compared to its predecessor, the geometry of the new eONE-SIXTY has changed only slightly. The head angle has been slackened to 65.5°, and the 75.5° seat tube angle has steepened slightly for improved climbing capabilities. While the old model was optimised for 175 mm cranks, the new model has been designed around shorter 165 mm cranks. This has allowed MERIDA to lower the bottom bracket without increasing the risk of pedal strikes on the trail. Nevertheless, we did experience the occasional pedal strike in technical terrain.
|Seat tube||405 mm||420 mm||440 mm||470 mm||500 mm|
|Top tube||563 mm||584 mm||605 mm||628 mm||652 mm|
|Head tube||110 mm||115 mm||120 mm||135 mm||150 mm|
|Chainstay||440 mm||440 mm||440 mm||440 mm||440 mm|
|BB Drop||17.5 mm||17.5 mm||17.5 mm||17.5 mm||17.5 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,168 mm||1,190 mm||1,212 mm||1,238 mm||1,265 mm|
|Reach||400 mm||420 mm||440 mm||460 mm||480 mm|
|Stack||629 mm||633 mm||638 mm||651 mm||665 mm|
Exclusive first ride review: MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020
We had the privilege of reviewing the flagship model of new MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 for several weeks before the official launch, giving the bike hell on our home-trails in Stuttgart as well as on some very technically demanding terrain in the Black Forest. In short: we were blown away! The new eONE-SIXTY 2020 doesn’t have any particularly unusual features or unique innovations, convincing us rather with its brilliant performance. Thanks to the carefully specced componentry and smart details, the new MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 takes all the good bits of its predecessor and makes them even better! And believe us, we are not just talking about marginal gains here.
With independently adjustable low and high-speed compression and rebound settings, you’ve got all the options to fine-tune the high-end FOX Factory suspension, although as with all FOX suspension, there are no sag markers printed on the stanchions so you’ll have to use a ruler to adjust the sag. There is no climb switch on the shock to stiffen up the rear suspension either, but it’s not really needed!
Removing and installing the new Shimano STEPS BT-E8035 battery is very easy. Important: when latching the battery cover, you really have to push it down all the way before securing it with the rubber strap. We also recommend making sure the grips are properly tightened: if they slip you might damage the cable of the E7000 remote that’s routed inside the handlebar. That’s it for our tips, let’s hit the trails!
The new MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 handles superbly and is a lot of fun. Climbing to the top of the trail-head is no problem at all, the bike simply shrugs off even the steepest and most technical climbs. The steeper seat tube angle seems to have paid off, yet the riding position isn’t cramped and remains nicely centred. The sitting position is upright while feeling very integrated in the bike. Surprisingly, the MERIDA is quieter on the climbs than most Shimano E8000 equipped eMTBs we’ve ridden to date (and we’ve ridden a lot of them!). The reason? The new carbon fibre frame doesn’t resonate as much with the noise of the motor.
The MERIDA has no particularly unusual features and isn’t a firework of innovation, but its performance on the trail is absolutely brilliant!
Once at the top of the mountain, we lower the 170 mm dropper post and plunge into the descent. Here, the bike feels extremely balanced and fleet-footed, despite its 22.3 kg heft (in size L). There’s no cable rattling, no chain slapping and the very quiet freehub of the DT Swiss Hybrid wheels means that you glide down the trail almost silently, or should we say fly down the trail?!
The handling of the previous eONE-SIXTY was already good as it was, but the new version is noticeably more lively, agile and precise thanks to the narrower tires on the mixed wheel sizes (29×2.5″/27.5×2.6″) as well as the refined geometry. Flicking, whipping, and playing – whether on the trail or in the air, the bike feels right at home whatever the terrain, easily manoeuvring tight corners while staying calm and composed at higher speeds and always remaining in control with the plush and capable FOX suspension offering plenty of reserves. The Shimano XTR brakes offer all the braking power and modulation you might need, and the MAXXIS Assegai front tire digs into the forest floor and provides excellent control and plenty of grip even on off-camber corners. On hard-packed surfaces, however, there are tires out there that offer more precision.
The fact that MERIDA doesn’t include a skid-plate for the motor helps to keep the compact frame design and improves motor cooling. However, during the course of our testing, we did hit the motor once in particularly extreme terrain, which left a few small scratches. We also hit the cranks several times on (very) technical climbs, although not more often than with comparable bikes. The slightly lower bottom bracket compared to the previous model paired with the shorter 165 mm cranks is perfectly fine.
The MERIDA is the perfect all-rounder – from use as an SUV to thrashing it down the roughest trails, thanks to its balanced handling and the very central riding position, it can do it all.
The good news for those who like to play with the terrain: the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 rewards a very active riding style with a lot of agility. The good news for those who prefer to take things a little easier: the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 also allows for a more relaxed riding style. And the spec is just as suitable for the most merciless riders, except for the carbon rims of the DT Swiss XRC 1200 Hybrid wheels.
Regarding the 504 Wh battery, a lot of other bikes now offer more capacity, but you can always carry a second battery for those really long rides. The flagship model even comes with a spare battery and a custom made matching Evoc backpack. The advantages of a complete Shimano system are obvious: you’ll know who to call in case of a service or warranty issue.
All models of the new MERIDA eONE-SIXTY – from € 4,999 to € 9,799 – are available on October 2019. You’ll find all the specs on the second page.
No mercy: we didn’t go easy on the new MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 and because of the numerous accolades we’d already bestowed on the previous model over the past few years, it had no easy task living up to the very high expectations we had of it from the start. Anyone who was expecting a firework of innovation on the new eONE-SIXTY will be disappointed, but if you’re looking for excellent performance on the trail, the new MERIDA eONE Sixty is one of the hottest bikes of the new season! The MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 2020 is super versatile, featuring some cleverly thought-out details and looks absolutely stunning with its machined aluminium Thermo-Gate grille!
- outstanding handling
- very versatile, from SUV to bike park bike
- plush suspension
- no cable rattling or chain slap – extremely quiet
- smart details
- Thermo-Gate design
- top model includes spare battery
- 504 Wh is usually sufficient, but other bikes now have more capacity
- low gross weight limit of 120 kg on the 10K model due to the DT Swiss carbon wheels
For more information head to merida-bikes.com