Merida’s enduro-focused ONE-SIXTY platform received the e-treatment for the 2021 model year, and with Shimano’s release of its EP8 motor got the updated hardware too, along with the E8036 630Wh battery.
The EP8 and its battery have been merged into a carbon front triangle, while an alloy rear triangle takes control of the 160mm single pivot, linkage-actuated rear suspension.
As is common on e-MTBs, the bike rolls on mixed wheel sizes, with a larger 29in wheel up front and smaller 650b at the back, commonly referred to as a ‘mullet bike‘.
Merida says this has been done to benefit from the roll-over capability of the bigger front wheel while retaining a shorter back end for nippy handling.
The Merida eONE-SIXTY 10k frame
Integration is the name of the game here and the Shimano battery has been sleekly integrated into the down tube.
The battery is accessed via an easily removable door under the tube – simply release a rubber tag, slide the door towards the head tube and the door comes away.
The battery is then released with a 4mm Allen key and clip — handily there’s a key secreted neatly into the rear axle.
The battery can be charged in situ, and the on/off button is located on the top tube for ease of use.
A small reset button is accessed via the underside of the down tube, should the battery need it.
Shimano’s display sits tidily at the bar and while it’s really easy to read, it would be good to have more than five battery capacity bars.
Around the head tube/down tube junction is what Merida calls the Thermo Gate, which is effectively venting for the battery in the down tube, to help prevent overheating.
There’s also an Internal Block System to prevent the fork from rotating too much in a crash.
Steering blocks, such as this, prevent the fork from spinning too far to protect the frame. They make storing a bike with the front wheel off a little more annoying, though, because the bar can’t turn 90 degrees.
Merida’s system has a little more freedom of movement than Trek’s Knock Block, but it’s worth bearing in mind if storage space is tight.
The frame’s geometry is very middle of the road, and whether that bothers you or not is down to personal preference. The size Large I tested has a reach of 460mm, a head angle of 65.5 degrees, seat angle of 75.5 degrees, a 651mm stack and 1,238mm wheelbase.
Riders looking to size up, in order to get a longer reach, will need to check seat tube lengths because at 470mm (L) and 500mm (XL) they’re relatively long, compromising the ability to get the saddle height right.
During testing I pushed the saddle further forward in the dropper, to steepen the effective seat angle.
Merida eONE-SIXTY 10k kit
This top-end 10K model understandably comes kitted out with some high-spec parts.
Suspension is handled by Fox, with a 160mm ebike-specific Fox Factory 38 fork. This has the GRIP2 damper and a stiffer chassis to cope with the extra loads an electric bike can potentially bring.
At the back, there’s an X2 shock, again in Factory flavour and with a custom tune for Merida. Both fork and shock offer high- and low-speed compression and rebound damping.
Shimano’s new 12-speed XTR groupset comes with the 10-51t cassette at the back, mounted to DT Swiss hubs at the centre of the XHC 1250 Hybrid carbon wheelset.
These are wrapped in Maxxis tyres with a 29×2.5in Assegai up front and a 650b×2.6in Minion DHR II at the back. The Assegai gets a full DoubleDown casing for maximum puncture protection and sticky MaxxGrip compound, while the Minion gets the DoubleDown casing and dual-compound rubber.
Braking is taken care of by a pair of Shimano XTR four-pot brakes, with 203mm rotors front and back.
Befitting a bike of this price, RockShox’ excellent Reverb AXS dropper is fitted. Its wireless system works fantastically, with a light lever (or button!) feel and instant reactions when pressing the lever.
Large and XL size bikes get a 170mm drop dropper, S and M size bikes get a 150mm version, while the XS receives a 125mm dropper.
The bulk of the finishing kit, from cockpit to saddle, comes from Merida.
Up front, a Lezyne light is wired straight into the battery. It’s probably more useful as a ‘be seen’ light rather than a ‘to see’ light, though.
Merida eONE-SIXTY 10k ride impressions
When the previous eONE-SIXTY was launched in 2016 it gained plenty of fans, largely thanks to its excellent rear suspension and, to an extent, the shape of the bike. It was one of the best e-enduro bikes around at the time.
This generation’s rear suspension is largely the same and maintains its excellent performance.
Merida eONE-SIXTY 10k climbing performance
Early in its stroke, the suspension is supple, helping the Minion DHR II to maintain plenty of traction on loose, rough climbs.
The rear wheel seems glued to the ground, generating traction in places where you wouldn’t think traction was possible. With its stout carcass, the rear tyre can be run with relatively low tyre pressures, further boosting grip.
The 440mm chainstays aren’t overly long for an ebike and this helps the eONE-SIXTY 10k navigate tighter uphill twists and turns.
It’s easy enough to get the front wheel picked up over steps and obstacles. The front wheel doesn’t feel lazy or sloppy on steep pitches either, though you have to remember to consciously weight the front wheel more than on some bikes because the front end is a little high.
With super-sticky rubber and suspension that moves under pedalling loads, the eONE-SIXTY isn’t going to win any uphill drag races, but with Shimano’s excellent EP8 motor doing the donkey work, it’s hard to complain too much. If you want to get the most out of it, the X2 shock does have a compression switch you can turn to lock the shock.
The EP8 performs well on climbs, with a very natural feeling power delivery across its varying modes. That said, while it’s been boosted to 85Nm of torque, it doesn’t feel quite as punchy as Brose or Bosch’s motors at the top end.
The motor is exceptionally quiet when compared to the competition, but it does have an annoying rattle when coasting.
Merida eONE-SIXTY 10k descending performance
That supple suspension feel, which helps the bike create grip on marginal climbs, also helps smooth the way when firing over matted roots or scurrying over rocky hardpack.
This helps keep the rear wheel planted on the ground, making the most of the power on offer from the XTR brakes when needed and the grip provided by Maxxis’ rubber.
It’s a similar feeling at the front, with the Fox 38’s GRIP2 damper offering supple insulation from small- to mid-sized impacts.
While it doesn’t wallow, the eONE-SIXTY does feel happy dipping into its midstroke, and holding itself in a fairly active portion of its travel when pressing on and riding aggressively. It recovers quickly from medium-sized hits and encourages you to pump through dips and rolls.
As such, it’s an incredibly smooth bike on fast, choppy tracks where the bike seems more than happy holding speed, separating you from the minor details of the track and allowing you to concentrate on the bigger picture – turns, drops and jumps.
While it is happy to enter into the middle phase of its suspension, it does ramp up later on in its stroke and, as such, copes well with bigger impacts when needed. It may not quite have a ‘bottomless’ feel, but it’s not harsh or undignified when it’s pushed towards its full 160mm of travel.
The bike is nice and agile. It’s happy changing direction on twisty routes, thanks partly to the smaller rear wheel, and also a nice, low-slung bottom bracket that gives you the confidence to push the limits of the tyres. It’s also happy being popped up into a bunny hop, making it a really fun and intuitive bike to ride.
Push the bike harder into a corner and the big wheel up front holds its line well and the tyres, with their stout sidewalls, don’t crease and collapse.
In modern terms, the 460mm reach is relatively short though, and a longer reach would help with high-speed confidence when things get really rowdy or steep.
Despite this, the low-slung Shimano motor, low bottom bracket, slack head angle and monster truck tyres certainly help with stability, but compared to the latest e-MTBs hitting the market, the reach figure for a large looks a little ungenerous.