While MERIDA were unlikely to be the first brand you’d associate with potent E-MTBs in the past, this looks set to change in 2017 as they launch the fiery-hot new MERIDA eONE-TWENTY. You better look sharp, competition; this bike rocks some serious pedigree! Here’s our exclusive test review.

Before we come to most exciting part of this bike, there’s time to acquaint you with the spec of the eONE-TWENTY. As one of the first brands to sport the all-new Shimano E8000 system, MERIDA have even gone as far as to exclusively design a spot on their top-end bikes for this bit of kit. Our test bike brandished the P3 version of the motor, which unfortunately still had some teething problems when it came to system set-up – however, we’ve been assured that the P4 production version for next year has sufficiently tackled these issues. As confronted in our First Ride article on the Shimano Steps E8000, the levels of pedal-assist aren’t model quality; the ‘trail’ mode is on the feeble side for speed junkies, and the boost mode is just too formidable for some off-road riding.

The shiny new MERIDA eONE-TWENTY 900E with the as-yet-unfinalised spec.
The shiny new MERIDA eONE-TWENTY 900E with the as-yet-unfinalised spec.
Brand new, super compact and boasting a performance to rival the Bosch Performance CX motor – meet the Shimano Steps E8000 motor with 500 Wh battery.
Brand new, super compact and boasting a performance to rival the Bosch Performance CX motor – meet the Shimano Steps E8000 motor with 500 Wh battery.
Paired with Shimano Di2 shifters, the screen displays the current gear, charge and level of pedal-assist.
Paired with Shimano Di2 shifters, the screen displays the current gear, charge and level of pedal-assist.
Identical triggers for both sides, with the left setting the motor’s pedal-assist and the right lever for the gears.
Identical triggers for both sides, with the left setting the motor’s pedal-assist and the right lever for the gears.
The future of gear changing? Electronic shifters make total sense on E-MTBs. The series 900E top model will feature the XT Di2 (shown here is the XTR Di2 system).
The future of gear changing? Electronic shifters make total sense on E-MTBs. The series 900E top model will feature the XT Di2 (shown here is the XTR Di2 system).

While performance, behaviour, power delivery and battery running time are on a par with the well-known Bosch Performance CX motor, the design of the Shimano Steps has the edge given its much more compact design. This gave the designers the liberty to create a bike with pacier geometry, mainly through shorter chainstays and the like. The E8000 can be teamed with Shimano’s electronic Di2 shifters too, which is exactly what our top-of-the-range 900E was donning (the series bike will have XT Di2 with a bigger 11-46 cassette). The trigger lever on the left switches between the three levels of pedal-assist, and the right performs its regular shifting duty. There’s a super practical noise when you reach the end of the cassette and are still trying to shift, so keep sharp. The current gear is also visible on the display, which is super easy to read and stylishly integrated onto the bars, showing all the relevant info like the current level of support and the state of the battery. There’s also talk of a smartphone app that’ll appear shortly and will reveal even more info while also allowing you to adjust various settings.

Ever dependent, the RockShox Deluxe RT rear shock does its job inconspicuously – exactly how it should be.
Ever dependent, the RockShox Deluxe RT rear shock does its job inconspicuously – exactly how it should be.
Plus-size tires have often suffered a lack of grip, but the new Maxxis DHR II+ should deliver this in abundance to the eONE-TWENTY whatever the conditions.
Plus-size tires have often suffered a lack of grip, but the new Maxxis DHR II+ should deliver this in abundance to the eONE-TWENTY whatever the conditions.

The rest of the MERIDA eONE-TWENTY 900E’s spec is a beguiling read, seeing it rely on the proven RockShox PIKE RCT3 forks with 130 mm travel, gain traction from the brand new Deluxe RT rear shock with 125 mm travel. There are 200 mm front disc brake rotors and 180 mm ones at the rear working reliably and powerfully with Shimano XT brakes. Then there are the wide 2.8″ MAXXIS plus-size tires rolling on lightweight yet robust DT Swiss XM1501 wheels that dig in with great grip. Maneuvering freedom on the descents is permitted courtesy of a RockShox Reverb Stealth seatpost with 125 mm of adjustment. MERIDA take full responsibility for the cockpit, opting for well-chosen 760 mm-wide bars and a 60 mm stem. It’s hard to highlight any weaknesses in the spec – particularly considering that the 900E top model retails at a notch under € 5,300.

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Riding the MERIDA eONE-TWENTY

Now to the juicy bits: how does the eONE-TWENTY actually ride on the trails? First off, it’s crucial to note that it hasn’t been designed for mellow weekend rides (although it would definitely pass muster); MERIDA have designed the eONE-TWENTY as a pedigree trail bike for serious shredding. And it pulls it off! Thanks to the compact motor and subsequent design, the snappily short chainstays lend the bike a seriously lively edge, turning even the most yawn-inducing trail into a hotbed of carving and poppy turns. Its geometry and riding position make you want to go fast, but never once does it become twitchy or ruffled at high speeds. In short, it’s responsive without being reactionary and rides with great stability.

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The riding positon is really natural, and the stiff rear end makes it a really responsive bike when you make a bid to pick up the pace. In general, the suspension set-up works brilliantly, embracing every millimeter of travel without getting over familiar with its threshold. Right from the first pedal stroke, the idea of riding an actual tank – remember it tips the scales at 21.3 kg – is forgotten (or should that be forgiven?). Given its snappy geometry, we did wonder about suffering on the climbs: fortunately, MERIDA came out strong and kept up the game, with the front wheel staying firmly planted, no matter how dodgy the line choice. Chapeau, team!

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Specs of the MERIDA eONE-TWENTY

MERIDA eONE-TWENTY 900E

  • Forks: RockShox Pike RCT3
  • Rear shock: RockShox Deluxe RT
  • Shifters: Shimano XT with 11-46 Cassette
  • Brakes: Shimano XT
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss XM1501 Spline
  • Tires: Maxxis DHR 2 27.5+ 2.8 / Maxxis Recon 27.5+ 2.8 (v/h)
  • Cockpit: Merida Expert
  • Seatpost: RockShox Reverb Stealth
  • Saddle: Merida Expert
  • Price: € 5,299

Merida eONE-TWENTY 800

  • Forks: RockShox Yari
  • Rear shock: RockShox Deluxe RT
  • Shifters: Shimano XT/SLX
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX
  • Wheelset: Merida Expert with Shimano Deore hubs
  • Tires: Maxxis DHR 2 27.5+ 2.8 / Maxxis Recon 27.5+ 2.8 (v/h)
  • Cockpit: Merida Expert
  • Seatpost: Merida Expert Dropper
  • Saddle: Merida Sport
  • Price: € 4,099

Merida eONE-TWENTY 500

  • Forks: FOX Rythm 34
  • Rear shock: RockShox Deluxe R
  • Shifters: Shimano Deore
  • Brakes: Shimano M605
  • Wheelset: Merida Expert with Shimano Deore hubs
  • Tires: Maxxis DHR 2 27.5+ 2.8 / Maxxis Recon 27.5+ 2.8 (v/h)
  • Cockpit: Merida Expert
  • Seatpost: Merida Expert Dropper
  • Saddle: Merida Sport
  • Price: € 3,899

Geometry of the Merida eONE-TWENTY

Size S M L XL
Seat tube height 400 mm 440 mm 490 mm 540 mm
Top tube 583 mm 601 mm 623 mm 646 mm
Head tube 110 mm 120 mm 130 mm 140 mm
Head tube angle 67,5° 67,5° 67,5° 67,5°
Seat tube angle 75° 75° 75° 75°
Chainstay 439.5 mm 439.5 mm 439.5 mm 439.5 mm
BB drop 27,5 mm 27,5 mm 27,5 mm 27,5 mm
Reach 420 mm 435 mm 455 mm 475 mm
Stack 609 mm 619 mm 628 mm 637 mm

Primed in time for our next whooper of a Group Test in the upcoming E-MOUNTAINBIKE issue #008, we’ve just taken delivery of a virtually finalized eONE-TWENTY test model that sports the definitive paintjob. After faring exceedingly well on its own, we’re stoked to see how it’ll match up against the best of the bunch for 2017.

For more information head to merida-bikes.com

Words: Andreas Maschke Photos: Noah Haxel

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