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Merida eONE-Sixty 9000 Showroom

Merida eONE-Sixty 9000 Showroom

30.11.20 07:01 3.348Text: Michael Oftner, Luke BiketalkerPhotos: Erwin HaidenKick-off for the long-term test of Merida's most successful (e-)mountain bike with Shimano's brand new EP8 motor and the long-range 630 Wh battery.30.11.20 07:01 3.348

Merida eONE-Sixty 9000 Showroom

30.11.20 07:01 3.348 Michael Oftner, Luke Biketalker Erwin Haiden Dieser Beitrag ist auch in Deutsch verfügbarKick-off for the long-term test of Merida's most successful (e-)mountain bike with Shimano's brand new EP8 motor and the long-range 630 Wh battery.30.11.20 07:01 3347

When the majority of e-mountain bikes were – let's be honest – really ugly and a rather sluggish ride, Merida already scored with the first generation of their eONE-Sixty that had a slim outline and, above all, was actually fun. The manifold awarded second generation, launched in 2020, made another quantum leap - both visually and technically. The battery was completely integrated into the down tube, the frame’s front triangle was made of carbon instead of aluminum in order to reduce weight and to implement more organic shapes. The bike was versatile in handling and looked great. The only reason for complaint was Shimano’s Steps E8000 system, which had become somewhat outdated in the meantime.
This is exactly where Merida made a change and specced their 2021 eONE-Sixty models with Shimano’s EP8, their new flagship e-bike system.

Since the basis the 2021 model is built on is still quite new, it underwent only minor changes, except for the electronics. These little touch-ups include optimised cable routing, a new battery cover and – what could be of interest particularly for the considerable number of SUV enthusiasts – the opportunity to mount a kickstand as well as Lezyne lighting (including rear light on the seat post) that seamlessly blends with the stem when mounted.
But what really stands out as far as changes are concerned are motor and battery.

The technology behind the looks

No, our photographer did not choose the wrong perspective for the showroom pictures. The 2021 Merida eONE-Sixty enters the trails on different sized wheels, just like the 2020 model did, too. Specified as a so-called mullet bike, the setup combines the good rollover characteristics and smooth running of a 29 x 2.5" front tyre with the agility, manoeuvrability and traction of a voluminous 27.5 x 2.6" rear tyre. All motocross, so to say.
In addition, the chassis provides 160 mm of suspension travel at the front and 150 mm of suspension travel at the rear. Merida still works with plenty of carbon when it comes to their top models. The frame's front triangle, with integrated battery and cables as well as the characteristic ventilation inlets, is made entirely of this black gold. The "radiator grille" is to help dissipate heat from the battery, but also serves as a smart cable inlet.
The slender rear end aluminum struts provide an interesting visual contrast. To ensure that the bike's system runs as noiselessly as possible, Merida protects the chain stay on the drive side with an efficient casing.

And there is “Energy Guard”, a new two-component battery cover. Its outer layer is soft and reduces noise caused by flicked stones and branches, while the inner layer is significantly harder and protects the battery from damage. The lid is secured by a (replaceable) rubber band. Underneath there is a safety catch which is opened by an Allen key and releases the battery via manually operated lever without a key needed. Smart gimmick: the 4-piece Allen key required for this also serves as a removable tension lever for the thru axle at the rear end. The tool is thus quickly at hand and yet well hidden. The battery can be charged either in the living room when removed or directly on the frame via socket.

Being an SUV bike, the 2021 Merida eONE-Sixty does not only offer a hidden mounting option for a kickstand, but also a full Lezyne lighting package. Front light (Power Pro) and rear light (Femto) are factory fitted, Power Pro gets its power directly from the main battery. Femto can be charged externally via USB and is operated via Shimano display. The front light is mounted on a special plate on the stem to keep the cockpit clean and tidy.
The Expert eTR cockpit in general aims very much for a tidy appearance after all. The electronic’s cables lead through handlebars and stem, Lezyne’s front light is securely fixed. Of course, both requires openings, but the eTR cockpit is still tested and approved for a system weight of 140 kg – like all Merida e-bike parts.

A 150 mm dropper post (Merida Expert TR Vario) may be used with small and medium sized frames; with frames in sizes large and x-large even 170 mm dropper posts may be mounted. However, the rider’s individual leg length should be considered, as seat tubes, e.g. 470 mm for size large frames, could be too long for a combination of short legs and long post – especially if the rider’s body measurements are between two frame sizes and he or she considers opting for the longer version.
Nice feature: A small rubber bag underneath the saddle contains a smart mini tool with the most important features. And the bike also comes with two compact mudguards, one for the fork and one for the rear end.

Shimano EP8 - where the new magic happens

The eONE-Sixty models of 2020 and 2021 may be the same with regard to geometry and many details, but Shimano’s EP8 drive unit and battery are completely new. A 630 Wh battery now sits in the down tube instead of the former 504 Wh version. This is to provide an approx. 25% longer range – whatever calculation may have led to this result. Of course, the stronger battery has more cells and is therefore heavier, i.e. while the 504 Wh battery (which the 2021 S size bike is still specced with) weighs 3,150 g, it is 3,700 g for the 630 Wh version. But a longer range makes up for some additional weight, right?

The new EP8 motor cannot fully make up for the battery's additional weight, though it weighs only 2,600 grams - thanks to the generous use of magnesium materials - and hence is 300 grams lighter and 10% more compact than its predecessor.
Externally this creates more ground clearance underneath the bottom bracket, internally the torque increases from 70 to an impressive 85 Nm. In combination with a new two-part torque sensor and a newly programmed trail mode with adjusted characteristic curve this is to provide more power and even better, more natural riding characteristics. The one-way clutch which delivers smooth and direct engagement contributes to the latter, too, and provides for an up to 36 % lower internal pedalling resistance.

The four support levels "Walk”, "Eco”, "Trail” and "Boost” (whose characteristic curves may be further adjusted via "E-Tube Project” app) remain unchanged. The SW-EM800L buttons guide through the levels and activate "Walk” mode at the press of just one button.
Some time ago, Shimano's approach to position the buttons next to instead of under the grip has become more popular with manufacturers than the trigger-like Firebolt control units of early Steps times. They leave some space for dropper control levers and the like without compromising their operability. The 1.6” display remains safely and discreetly hidden next to the stem and focuses on clear information without any ado.

Tech Specs

Frame eONE-SIXTY CFA II Handlebar Merida Expert eTR
Rear Suspension Fox Float DPX2 Elite Stem Merida Expert eTR II
Front Suspension Fox 38 Elite eMTB+ Air Grips Merida Expert EC
Engine Shimano EP8 Seatpost Merida Expert TR (XS 125 mm; S/M 150 mm; L/XL 170 mm)
Battery Shimano E8036 630Wh / E8035 504Wh XS Saddle Merida Expert CC
Display Shimano SC-EM800 Wheels DT Swiss Spline HX1501 ONE 30
Crankset Shimano CRE80-12-B Tires Maxxis Assegai 29 x 2.5"/ Maxxis Agressor 27.5 x 2.6"
Rear Derailleur Shimano XT Weight 23,58 kg
Brakes Shimano XT (4 piston) Price 7,799 Euro (XS: 7,599 Euro)
Discs Shimano RT-MT900 / Shimano RT-EM910; 203 mm

Merida eONE-SIXTY 9000

Not only frame and drive system are up to date: the Merida bike's parts are definitely upper class as well. The chassis is a Fox Float DPX2 Elite shock absorber and stiff Elite 38 eMTB+ suspension fork with powerful 38 mm stanchions. Just like the fork, also DT Swiss` HX 1501 Spline One wheels with their 30 mm wide rims are explicitly designed for use on e-mountain bikes. At the front, a Maxxis Assegai (TR DD 3C MaxxGrip) in 29 x 2.5" is mounted, at the rear it is an Aggressor in 27.5 x 2.6" (TR DD Dual).

Shimano's XT four-piston brakes and the 203 mm discs reduce speed reliably, gears are changed with Shimano's XT parts as well. The FCEM900 cranks mounted at the motor shaft are 165 mm long. As already mentioned, standard lighting is provided by Lezyne. The 780 mm wide handlebars, the stem, grips, saddle and seat post are made by Merida. Last-mentioned dropper seat post comes with a stroke of 125 mm for XS frames, 150 mm for the small- and medium-sized frames, and 170 mm for large and XL frames.
Our test bike in size large weighed 23.6 kg. The Merida eONE-SIXTY 9000 is available for 7,799 Euros, except for the XS model that is offered at "only” 7,599 Euros due to weaker 504 Wh battery.

Geometry

Frame size XS S M L XL
Wheel sizes 29/27.5" 29/27.5" 29/27.5" 29/27.5" 29/27.5"
Seat tube length (mm) 405 420 440 470 500
Top tube length (mm) 563 584 605 629 652
Chain stay length (mm) 439.5 439.5 439.5 439.5 439.5
Steering angle (°) 65.5 65.5 65.5 65.5 65.5
Seat angle (°) 75.5 75.5 75.5 75.5 75.5
BB drop (mm) 17.5 17.5 17.5 17.5 17.5
Head tube length (mm) 110 115 120 135 150
Reach (mm) 400 420 440 460 480
Stack (mm) 628.5 633 637.5 651.5 665
Wheel base (mm) 1,168 1,190 1,212 1,238.5 1,265

First impression and first rides

As soon as the Merida bike is unpacked, it impresses with its quality of workmanship. There is not the slightest flaw in the coating that covers the slender design, no rattling covers, clearance is spot-on.
The E-Tube app connects the rider’s smartphone to Shimano’s EP8 in no time. The available riding profiles can be adapted to individual needs intuitively, if needed. Also, battery handling is easy. It is generally not recommended to re-charge the battery outside or in the cold garage in winter. Therefore, it comes handy that the battery can easily be dismounted and taken into the living room for charging. Merida prove their hands-on experience by providing an Allen key integrated into the rear axle for removing the battery pack. If the bike is parked in public spaces regularly, however, the keyless removal of the battery may not be the best solution, as removing it is just as easy for thieves as it is for the bike owner.

460 mm reach, 651 mm stack and 439.5 mm chain stays in size large. Plus: a 65.5° steering angle and a 75.5° seat angle. On paper Merida’s bike looks modern but does not go to extremes. Accordingly, the seating position on an L size frame turns out to be neutral and doesn’t put too much pressure on the hands of riders with a body height of 185 cm. Longer tours? Let’s do them.

Shimano’s EP8 feels as familiar from the very first meter as the neutral and comfortable riding position does. Just like its predecessor, the drive system makes for a delightfully "natural" riding experience, as trite as it may sound. This is because the drive system’s support does not "push" like many a competitor’s model, but rather deludes the rider into thinking that he or she has gained some power and endurance overnight. It feels like riding a bike not a moped, in spite of the motor in the down tube adding power. Also transition at the end of the support range at 25 km/h max is smoother than ever, with no rough starting and stopping of the motor and hardly any noticeable resistance when there is no motor support.

There is only one thing that is a bit annoying and still lacking a reason: during fast downhill rides in rough terrain a nerve-racking rattling noise is to be heard from the motor casing.

Even steep uphill passages are rideable with only little pressure on the front wheel. The wide tread of the 27.5" rear tyre somehow never loses grip. Going downhill, Merida’s bike is easy to control, smooth running and yet a little playful.
For the time being, the combination of two wheel sizes and versatile geometry with reserves seems to work. The coming weeks and months of long-term testing will show whether the first impressions on the trail will hold true.