Taiwanese entrepreneur Ike Tseng harboured the ambition of proving to the world that Taiwan’s bikes could be high quality. Years later, his efforts all surround the brand name MERIDA. With a development centre in Germany, they’re still on the quest for perfection, and the promising MERIDA eONE-TWENTY 900E is definitely going in the right direction.

MERIDA eONE-TWENTY 900 E | 5,299 € | 21.34 kg | Shimano
MERIDA eONE-TWENTY 900 E | 5.299 € | 21,34 kg | Shimano

It has taken a while. but the full-suspension E-MTB market can now welcome the arrival of MERIDA, who has made a grand entry with two trail-specific rigs. The MERIDA eONE-TWENTY is the shorter-travel bike of the duo, producing 125 mm of travel at the rear through a RockShox Deluxe RT shock. The top model, which retails at € 5,299, also has a RockShox PIKE RCT3 fork with 130 mm of travel. The bike is powered by the all-new Shimano STEPS E8000 MTB motor, fed by a 500 Wh battery. Our test bike still featured the P3 prototype version of the motor, which had a fairly significant jump between the trail and boost mode – we’re hoping that this glaring gap will be reduced for the series model. The Shimano drivetrain brings XT Di2 shifters, which are precise and quick to shift. There’s a chainguide to keep the chain secure when the going gets rough too. The grippy MAXXIS plus-size tires are a wise choice, with tons of grip and predictability.

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The first thing that struck us was the eONE-TWENTY’s agile handling, and it’s not surprising: even on paper, its geometry is virtually identical to a conventional mountain bike. On flat, flowy trails, the MERIDA is unbridled roll-and-ride fun, happily taking tight turns and responding to your steering – in fact, the quicker you tear along the trails, the wider the grin. But this agility has its drawbacks, and obvious disadvantages when you hit some gnarliness, where the MERIDA just can’t hack it against the competition. There’s too little in reserve, and even a slacker head angle wouldn’t have helped enough (right now it’s 67.5°) – it needs a plusher and more forgiving rear end. It’s not a question of inefficiency, just over-damping and the inability to track hits in quick succession.

Helmet Specialized Ambush | Jersey ION TEE_HELIX_LS | Shorts ION BIKESHORTS_TRAZE_AMP | Backpack EVOC STAGE 18L
Helmet Troy Lee A1 MIPS | Jersey VAUDE Moab LS | Shorts Alpinestars Pathfinder Short | Backpack EVOC STAGE 18L

The MERIDA eONE-TWENTY 900 E in detail

Forks RockShox Pike RCT3 130 mm
Rear shock RockShox Super Deluxe RT 125 mm
Motor / battery Shimano DU-E8000 500 Wh
Brakes Shimano XT
Drivetrain Shimano XT Di2
Seatpost RockShox Reverb Stealth
Stem MERIDA Expert SS 55 mm
Bars MERIDA Expert 35 760 mm
Tires MAXXIS Minion DHR 2,8″ / MAXXIS Rekon+ 2,8″
Wheels DT Swiss XM1501 Spline One

Cable chaos no more Internally routed cables are ace, providing they don’t clatter around inside the tubes. MERIDA has attached them at the cable entrances, which gives a tidy look and creates a more peaceful ride.
Cable chaos no more
Internally routed cables are ace, providing they don’t clatter around inside the tubes. MERIDA has attached them at the cable entrances, which gives a tidy look and creates a more peaceful ride.
Not-so-ergo
Chaos reigns on the bars, and it’s tricky to find a good spot for the RockShox Reverb dropper post’s remote lever given the presence of the Shimano shifters and brakes.
Not-so-ergo
Chaos reigns on the bars, and it’s tricky to find a good spot for the RockShox Reverb dropper post’s remote lever given the presence of the Shimano shifters and brakes.
Over-damped
The RockShox Deluxe rear shock on the MERIDA can’t track hits in quick succession. The reason: the shock’s internals are tuned too firmly.
Over-damped
The RockShox Deluxe rear shock on the MERIDA can’t track hits in quick succession. The reason: the shock’s internals are tuned too firmly.
Well guided
MERIDA has not only kitted the eONE-TWENTY with neurosurgeon-precision shifting thanks to the electronic XT Di2, but also added a chainguide.
Well guided
MERIDA has not only kitted the eONE-TWENTY with neurosurgeon-precision shifting thanks to the electronic XT Di2, but also added a chainguide.

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Conclusion

The wait has been worth it! The all-new MERIDA eONE-TWENTY strolls onto the scene with super-agile handling and a hot-to-trot spec that’ll plaster a grin on your face. If you’re more into plummeting downhill, then you might be better served with its big brother, the eONE-SIXTY.

Strengths:

– Cohesive spec
– Agile handling
– Stylish frame

Weaknesses:

– Over-damped rear
– Skittish at high speeds

For more information head to merida-bikes.com!

For an overview of the test fleet head to the main article: What are the most exciting E-MTBs of 2017? 10 bikes in comparison

All bikes in test: Bulls Six50 E FS3 | Cannondale Moterra 1 | CUBE Stereo Hybrid 140 HPA 27.5 SLT | Moustache Samedi 27 Race 9 | ROTWILD R.X+ FS EVO | SCOTT E-Genius 700 Tuned | Specialized Turbo Levo FSR ST Comp 29 | Stevens E-Whaka+ ES | Trek Powerfly 9 FS Plus

Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer