The One Forty is the latest platform from Merida to adopt its Float Link suspension, a design first introduced on the One Twenty and One Sixty models. All three bikes take their name from the amount of suspension travel, and by bringing the 140mm-travel trail bike in line with its stablemates, the shock on the One Forty is now suspended between the upper rocker link and an extension of the chainstay yoke that protrudes forward of the main pivot.
Having a lower shock mount that migrates forward and down as the suspension compresses allows the engineers at Merida to fine-tune the progression rate of the suspension to each specific application. It’s a similar concept to the Full Floater configuration found on the Trek Fuel EX in the 29er category of this test.
The One Forty frame also benefits from Merida’s smart entry cable routing, where the internal cables are secured under tension at the point of entry to stop them rattling around inside the down tube. It’s a very effective approach, and the large entry ports make it much easier to replace a brake hose or damaged gear outer casing.
The Trunnion-mounted RockShox Deluxe RT gets external rebound adjustment and a two-position compression lever, the firmer setting approaching a full lockout. In the cold snap that engulfed the UK during testing, the firmer setting stopped working altogether and we had the exact same issue with the shock on the Canyon. Once the snow melted and temperatures returned to positive figures, the second compression setting was quickly restored. Not that the Merida needs a firmer setting, as it climbs and pedals perfectly well with the shock in the fully open position.
Unfortunately, the 150mm-travel RockShox Revelation fork felt congested in all weather conditions and required the biggest of hits to get it moving. Not even the extra cushioning of the chunky 2.6in Maxxis Minion DHF front tyre could mask its shortcomings.
Merida and Giant both fit SLX chainsets with 30t chainrings. The hollow-forged arms are stiff and lightweight, and with a two-piece design that preloads the bottom bracket just like a headset, nothing comes close to matching the SLX chainset at this price point. Merida has the upper hand with an XT rear mech, but don’t let that fool you, as this doesn’t improve shifting performance one jot. As such, we’d much rather Merida spent its budget more wisely, ideally on a seatpost with more than 125mm of drop.
The Deore brakes on the Merida have the best lever feel of any Shimano brake we’ve tested. The organic pads take a little longer to dry out when wet, but stopping power and modulation on this entry-level brake are first rate.
With a shorter wheelbase, steeper head angle, fatter 2.6in tyres and a tighter suspension response than the acclaimed Merida One Sixty endure bike, the One Forty offers a more playful and versatile ride. It’s noticeably more sluggish than the other bikes in this test however, and even though it had a harder compound, faster-rolling rear tyre than the Canyon, the Merida couldn’t match its acceleration and zip.
Point it down anything steep however, and the bike comes to life. Well, the rear end does anyway, as the Merida was the third bike in this test to have a somewhat underactive RockShox Revelation RC fork. As we found out elsewhere, tight bushings or excess assembly grease are the most likely culprits, but even when working at 100 per cent capacity, the Revelation is no match for the Charger-damped Pike fitted to the Commençal and Canyon.
The suspension and geometry improvements to the new One Forty frame are a welcome development. But while the rear suspension works very well when bombing downhill, and remains steadfast under power on the climbs, the bike is heavy and lacks sparkle, feeling sluggish on flatter, flowing trails.
The real sticking point, quite literally, was the RockShox Revelation fork, but as the bushing problem is covered under warranty, we didn’t let that influence the score.
- Frame: 6016 aluminium, 140mm
- Shock: RockShox Deluxe RL Trunnion Mount
- Fork: RockShox Revelation RC, 150mm
- Wheels: Joytech/ Shimano Deore Boost hubs, Merida Expert 29mmrims, Maxxis Minion DHR II/Rekon EXO 27.5×2.6in tyres
- Drivetrain: Shimano SLX 30t chainset, Shimano XT r-mech and SLX shifter
- Brakes: Shimano Deore MT500, 180mm
- Components: Merida Expert TR 760mm bar, Merida Expert TR 3D 40mmstem, Merida Expert 125mm dropper
- Saddle: Merida Sport
- Weight: 14.63kg (32.25lb)