Merida Launches UK Influenced 140mm Big Trail Hardtail

Aug 13, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  
Photos: Ian Lean

Hardtails are being released left, right and centre at the moment with everything from 10 grand special editions from Yeti to the super-slack-and-ready-to-attack steel Kona Honzo ESD. Merida has today thrown its hat into the ring with an update to its mid-travel hardtail, the Big Trail. Rather than stealing headlines with any particular number though, Merida's hardtail looks to be an affordable workhorse of a bike that has been well thought out for a lower price bracket.

The inspiration for this bike comes from the long-standing UK hardtail scene and Merida did things a bit differently when designing this bike. Rather than picking a market segment letting their engineers loose on the project from the get-go, they gathered their British dealer network with a Weissbier or two and asked them what they wanted to see in a trail hardtail. Taking that feedback on board, the Taiwanese brand's engineers went back to their German R&D base and returned with this new Big Trail frame.
Merida Big Trail Details

Frame: Aluminium
Travel: 120-150mm
Wheel Size: 29"
Head Angle: 65.5°
Seat Tube Angle: 75.5°
Price: From £800 (€849) to £1,500 (€1,599)
More Info: merida-bikes.com

Merida's first change was to bump up the wheel size from 27.5" to 29" and position the Big Trail as an alternative to the brand's more XC focussed Big Nine hardtail. The Big Trail comes with a 140mm fork but has been designed to take anything from a 120mm to a 150mm fork giving you the option to use it for sprightly or more burly purposes. Simplicity and practicality are key with a hardtail and Merida has kept that in mind with a bike that has plenty of water bottle mounts, uses SRAM's UDH hanger and even comes with a saddle-slung multitool on the higher spec options. The bike comes with 2.4" tyres as standard but a 55mm chainline allows for up to 2.5", which should help keep the bike running through the winter muck. There's also room for a 150mm dropper on all sizes except small, which uses a 125mm dropper.

Double bottle mounts on the downtube are a big win plus there's another pair hidden under the top tube for further storage.


All models are specced with a 140mm fork as standard but you can up or down travel depending on your intentions

Merida has aimed for enduro capable geometry on the Big Trail. It's not the most progressive out there with a 65.5° head angle and 75° seat tube angle but it certainly has a dose of thrashability. Interestingly, Merida suggests that a rider can pick their size based on the kind of riding they want to do rather than their height, thanks to the low standover. They say, "The only question is if you wanna go crazy fast or super agile. If you are looking for increased stability at speed, take the longer (larger) size, if you are looking for agility, take a shorter (smaller) size." This means that riders would go up to a 475mm reach at the longest or downsize for something shorter if they want a different ride feeling.

Merida is well aware that hardtails are often the bike of choice for those on a budget and have done a good job bringing together a solid package for a new rider. The whole range makes use of features you might expect to see on more expensive bikes including tubeless ready rims, Boost front and rear and internal cable routing. There are even mounts for bike packing and a kickstand for added versatility.

The pricing of the Big Trail also reflects this with the 200 model coming in at £800 / €849 and the range topping out at £1,500 / €1,599 for the 600 that comes with a Shimano Deore 1x12 groupset and Marzocchi Z2 fork.

Big Trail 600 - £1,500 / €1,599

Big Trail 500 - £1250 / €1,299

Big Trail 400 - £1,000 / €1,099
Big Trail 200 - £800 / €849


More info, here.


103 Comments

  • 60 3
 It its influence by the uk hardtail scene it should have been steel... for real.
  • 64 0
 and be black with scuffed up graphics, a blown fork and buckled wheels with sealant pissing from em
  • 6 0
 Came here to say the very same!
  • 22 2
 Well at this price, it's quite a steel.
  • 6 2
 Obviously that was supposed to say

“If it’s influenced...”
  • 5 15
flag mutenutshell (Aug 13, 2020 at 7:52) (Below Threshold)
 UK or anywhere else, aluminum + hardtail = bad news.
  • 5 2
 Steel is now much more expensive than alu so the affordability element would be compromised. This bike looks good for a beginner or someone on a budget to me (reach is a little short). However, red and green should never be seen except with something in between.
  • 2 0
 @Richt2000: I love that this was downvoted, presumably because they thought you were being pedantic about someones spelling...your own!
  • 5 0
 @sewer-rat: Should have loads of mis-matched anodised parts from Hope and Superstar
  • 7 0
 @mutenutshell: not true... I am riding an alu hardtail now that is every bit as comfy as the steel Cotic Solaris Max I rode before it. All about how compliant the rear end is.
  • 1 0
 @mutenutshell:

There are more stiff aluminum hardtails than compliant for sure.

This one looks like its pretty vertically compliant in the rear. The small bit at the rear axle really adds a lot of flex compared to a true triangle. After riding an aluminum chameleon, I am a believer.
  • 1 0
 @tom666: and brake pads down to the metal
  • 1 0
 @Richt2000: I cant tell you how many times I tried to read that
  • 1 0
 @nordland071285:
Ha ha, it was a premptive strike as I thought the grammar / typo police would be along soon ;-)
  • 3 0
 @sewer-rat: And/or stolen
  • 1 0
 @Spark24: "Came here to say the very same!"
  • 1 0
 Every wheelie gang kids next bike right here. Most likely stolen but there'll ge that one kid whose parents bought it for him but he'll tell all his mates he nicked it.
  • 29 0
 Really surprised at the negativity in the comments. I’m personally stoked to see a full lineup of budget bikes with no SRAM SX in sight. We all know that MSRPs aside- SRAM SX is the absolute cheapest shit for manufacturers to throw on a bike. Shimano stuff actually costs a bit more to spec, even for Deore...

I’m not an expert in bike prices by any means, but I do know what parts have value. The fact that these bikes don’t come with a disposable drivetrain is a win, and should be factored in to price comparisons.
  • 3 0
 Whenever I see the newest crop of Marzocchi ((fox)) on a $1xxx hardtail or low $2xxx full sus with a decent rear shock, that alone makes me super happy, because I know the parts spec is starting off right and it'll be miles better than what's been on those for the past few years. The cheap drivetrains on the same will get bashed, crashed, and stretched beyond recognition in the first season if it's a beginner actually putting miles on it regardless. Plenty of hardtails and full sus coming with deore 12spd this year if that's what you "need."
  • 2 0
 @parkourfan:

Yeah end of the day suspension, brakes, wheels and cockpit components are all more important than drivetrains, and If you have a habit of bashing derailleurs, it doesn’t matter what it is.

But... for those riders who keep it rubber-side-down, it’s nice to have something that will stay in tune, with solid pulley wheels, and won’t bend the cage on a mis-shift.
  • 15 2
 I have never read so much bollox in all my life as some of the crap being spouted on this comments section and some recent Pinkbike insta about that Kona. Lets clear something up. Hardtails are not a fad. We were rocking DMR Trailstars with 1x drivetrains and 130mm forks over 20 years ago!!!! Hardtails are what most people need and are best suited to short muddy rides. Hardtails are not budget. Yes they can be. But equally not. I just sold mine for more than a lot of you will pay for a full susser. Agro hardtails are undoubtedly popular in the UK and for good reason. If you cant ride a hardtail well, your just smashing the living crap out of your full suspension and riding badly. Just saying.
  • 13 0
 I'm always wondering: how the hell do you get people into the sport when bikes cost what they cost these days.
This is how it's done.
These are perfect bikes for people that want to get into the sport of mountain biking.
  • 7 0
 I think there is a huge sect if mountain bikers that is totally fine riding within the limits of a hardtail to avoid spending $3k+ on a bike and all the maintenance that comes with full squish. Especially now that the dropper post is a thing. The only environment I avoid on my hardtail is the chonkiest steepest shit out there. I also think COVID has created a lot of beginners in the sport.
  • 4 0
 Your comment is spot on. I recently switched to a hardtail from FS due to budget and have found i am riding all the same trials I rode previously with the same if not more enjoyment. i question now, if i was over-biked for the last few years.

Would really only prefer a FS for park riding, but I do not ride a lot of park due to cost (time and money).
  • 2 0
 @riklassen: I upgraded to an old entry XC hardtail with 26x2.2 tires and a 100mm Suntour XCM fork to a far more modern hardtail with slack angles, 120mm RS Recon and 27.5x2.6 tires. Even when I lock out the fork I feel like I have more suspension than on my 26", the small bumps around here just don't register with these big wheels anymore.
Yes it made me faster, the bike is more stable on, what I consider to be, steep sections and I can ride further but the technical challenge and feedback from the trail have been noticeably cut down for me. I kinda feel like I'm over-biking a bit but especially on the steep stuff the new bike feels so much more in it's element. (Really miss the granny gear for climbing though...)
  • 7 1
 Looks like a pretty well rounded hardtail with the exception of the low BB. They say it can use a 120mm fork, but even the 140mm will leave you with a super low BB.
  • 5 3
 It's not a crazy BB for a _hardtail_. It's def not high, but comparable to trail bikes with 13" or so BBs, since there is no rear sag.
  • 4 0
 @just6979: At 20% sag with the 140mm fork, the BB drop will be ~82mm. That's really low for a bike with 29x2.4" tires.

For me, I find that 70mm of drop at sag is great for 2.4-2.5" tires and 175mm cranks. I still have plenty of pedal strikes and run my bash guard into step-ups occasionally, but nothing too bad. Going to 75mm of drop and 170mm cranks means I sit into the bike a bit more and have a similar amount of pedal strikes, but my bash guard takes a beating. At 80mm of drop, there are plenty of trails around me that get dangerous.
  • 4 0
 I don't know anything about the brand, but the geo looks spot on for a trail hardtail and the Big Trail 600 is pretty fetching (the green frame with the red Zocchi). Makes more sense than the Honzo ESD tbh.
  • 4 1
 The lines are cool, and the marzochi looks bomber, but the bike needs all black rims and some slight de-badging to look less wal-marty. Those spec maxxis white logos always dress down a bike.
  • 1 1
 Haha, my 1st thought when I saw the photo was, I hope those rim decals come off.
  • 2 0
 HARDTAIL HELP:

Looking to build up a hardtail.

I already have a long travel full-suss so it will be a 2nd bike used for less demanding trail riding where a hardtail would be more fun than my sometimes too-capable full-suss and probably a bit of pleasure riding (cycle path etc - there's something wrong to me about using a burly enduro sled for going to get icecream or cake). I'm also useless at manuals and jumping etc so something that would help with this would be great.

Will be looking for an Alu frame for budget reasons - Justifications for a 2nd bike were slightly spurious. I'm aware a built bike would be ultimately cheaper than self-build - But part of the justification was learning to put a bike together for maintenance purposes etc.

My favourites at the moment are the Ragley Marley or Mmmbop and the Nukeproof Scout. Quite like the look of the Commencal Meta HT. Anyone got any thoughts on these?
  • 1 0
 Save you pennies for a little longer and buy steel. Don't trade off ride and comfort to save a few quid, you will regret it! Ragley steel HT's are not big money in the scheme of things, wait fore CRC to have one of their end of model year clearout's and get a bargain frame! Or checkout OnOne steel HT's they are usually a similar cost to everyone else's alloy money.
  • 2 0
 I bought an NS Eccentric Evo frame from CRC this time last year for $260 USD. After all the parts like a used Fox 34 Rhythm 150, new NX Eagle drivetrain, and used Guide brakes, I spent around $1200. The frame geo is great for me, but I do wonder if I would have liked a steel frame more for a few hundred $ more.

You can also check out hardtailparty on YouTube. He’s reviewed dozens of them and often comments in these articles.
  • 3 0
 Vitus Sentier
  • 2 0
 If you copy and paste your question here,
www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/?threadid=112056&pagenum=1614#commentid6894218
you'll get some sound advice.
  • 2 0
 @wythall1: Just because it is steel doesn't mean it is better, can make good or bad frame be it steel or alloy.
  • 1 0
 Just wanted to say that I just built a Transition Throttle for just that purpose and love it.
  • 1 0
 @mtb-sf: I have the Patrol as my main bike and absolutely love it, so a Transition hardtail would be tons o'fun i imagine. They're a bit over what i was looking to pay though (not saying they're overpriced, just more than what i can justify for what is essentially just a fun project for me).

Hope you're enjoying it. If the Patrol is anything to go by, the hardtail must be a hooligan to ride (in a good way).
  • 1 0
 @wythall1: Thanks for the reply. Saving pennies to afford steel isn't so much the issue, more justifying how much i spend on something i'm building for fun really. I'll certainly keep it in mind though.

As i'm not in a rush to buy, i'll keep my eye on CRC etc to see if anything comes up on sale as per your advice.
  • 6 0
 No 27.5?
  • 3 0
 It's actually kinda hard to find a good range of HT's in 27.5.. so annoying!!
  • 12 12
 Will hardcore hardtails become the next fatbikes/plus tyres?

One question tho, the article mentions that those angles are static, but then the geometry chart seems to be based around a sagged fork length.
  • 17 0
 "Will hardcore hardtails become the next fatbikes/plus tyres?"

Not sure what you mean buy that, they were popular before either of those came around.
  • 1 0
 420mm has to be a typo. On their website the geo chart says 550mm.
  • 5 3
 @dingus: I mean niche market with over saturation of releases.
I also love hardcore hardtails, but have some doubts on the real size of the market.

2 or so years ago there were a handful of cult models, now every brand seems to be releasing one
  • 2 6
flag jeremy3220 (Aug 13, 2020 at 4:50) (Below Threshold)
 "Will hardcore hardtails become the next fatbikes/plus tyres?"

I think their popularity will wane to a degree in the next few years. Like plus tires they're a bit over hyped but do a few things well and will live on in their niche. A year or two ago you'd get the impression from fans that the hardtails are just as capable as enduro bikes and you just have to change your technique a bit. Those type of comments have faded somewhat as riders realized what should have already been obvious. So like plus tires, the hardcore hardtails kinda were viewed as a way to get full suspension performance at a lower cost.
  • 3 0
 @Arierep: If they didn't sell great, I don't think they would make them. Maybe they're selling great because they're trendy and the market is saturated with them, or maybe people are genuinely happy with these bikes and the "genuine" market is bigger than we think. Dunno.
For example some people rode randonneur bikes 50 years ago, some people rode CX bikes not long ago. But I don't think a few years ago anyone would have predicted that gravel bikes would explode. I'm sure some people buy gravel bikes because they're trendy, but for some people they actually work really good.
  • 3 0
 You're not implying that this is a hardcore hardtail, are you? The HTA would be ~67° at sag, which is pretty conservative. The reach is also on the shorter end for modern bikes. If the BB were ~10mm higher, this could be a super well rounded trail bike.
  • 7 1
 @jeremy3220: not sure you fully get the picture, heavy duty or hardcore hardtails have been around for yonks. They serve a purpose for non xc riders wanting a capable and adaptable bike with less maintenance, less servicing, less failiures, less fuss. Ideal for high attrition conditions and gung ho riders. The last couple of years this has been pushed to the extreme of angles and fork travel etc which makes the news but this is not typical at all.
Yes, its likely that cheaper fs bikes have taken a chunk out of the market, but I would say that it won't be long before people realise they don't need a fs bike that spends half it's life in the shop for bimbling about on trail centre blues and reds, or hacking about on the moors in the woods where the hardcore hardtail is at home.
  • 3 0
 hardcore hardtails aren't going anywhere and are nothing like plus tyres one of my first decent bikes was a Norco Torrent with 170mm Marzocchi Jr T back around 2003.
  • 3 0
 Actually I could use one of these bikes when I go out for a spin with my kid. I'm trailing him on the climbs and descents are slow. HT that can be used as the winter bike makes sense.
But then again I could use also one proper DH bike, one full on Enduro, one light short travel trail bike, one 24" dirt jump bike or 22" BMX, one aero racing bike, one non aero racing bike, one titanium racing bike (I always wanted one), one gravel bike, one commuter bike and several e-bikes.
For starters.
  • 1 1
 @Braindrain: Plus tires have been around for years. Even DH tires used to come in 3.0". I own a steel hardcore hardtail so you don't have to sell me on them. I expect them to remain popular in the UK for a long time.
  • 3 0
 I think the increased popularity of hardtails is a continuation of popularity of shorter travel bikes. Many people ride big beefy enduro machines on modern trails that are smooth and buffed... it's just not as fun on a beefy bike as hammering them on a hardtail. I switched back to a ti hardtail a couple years ago and am sold on them! Yes, they are more difficult on technical stuff but it's all the more challenging and just as fun. Ideally, my next bike will have heavy ply plus tires on it!
  • 2 0
 A good number of my friends who own full-sus enduro bikes have a fairly hardcore hardtail as their second bike. They might not be as fast or comfortable as a full-sus trail bike, but they're perfectly adequate for trail riding and a lot cheaper than a similarly spec'd full-sus.
  • 2 0
 @derekr: totally, Rider skill, Bike tech and trail building have improved so much in the past few years that expensive FS bikes are a luxury not a necessity to ride and have fun. I just went over to HT myself and am amazed at how well it rides and how little i miss FS.
  • 2 0
 But what if I literally have a hardcore plus HT?
  • 2 1
 @jeremy3220: the bike does not make the rider. A good rider is going to slay on whatever mtb bike they ride. Saying that X mtb bike will make one a better rider is a myth based on my experience and that of my friends. Most people opt to not ride lines, or trails because they are not comfortable or confident in their ability to ride the terrain in question, its mostly not because they didn;t bring the right aggressive MTB with them.

Capability of a bike is wholly dependent on the rider's ability.
  • 1 0
 I don't think so because most people start on a hardtail and the more aggressive hardtails just make more sense then the XC geo of old. Whereas fat bikes are very much a niche item.
  • 6 7
 All well and nice but for example Evans sells a Norco Fluid FS 3 2020 for the exact same price and I'd take that any day of the week. I'm sure there are other similar options in the market. Marin Hawk Hill and Rift Zone are great.

I'm not sure who this Merida is for. Hardtail aficionados won't buy it, they'll splash out for that new Honzo or, idk, a Stanton or Cotic or something. For everyone else from entry level riders to more advanced but on a budget, a full sus bike for the same money is just a better choice in every way.

Those who really have to go for a hardtail because of cost are in a different price bracket and will be looking at a Vitus Nucleus or Sentier for half the price or less, or a Nukeproof Scout for a grand.

[EDIT] After looking again, the two base models of this kind of make sense. Still not exceptional value for money but at least below the minimum price of a decent FS. For the top two, I stand by the above.
  • 3 0
 Merida make some of the best value bikes out there, few others complete with price/performance of 140/160. Geo look great and lower end ones bound to be great option for people getting into sport. Could have more reach but geo looks great.
  • 1 0
 @BenSandle: I agree in general and have always like Merida for that. Absolutely not questioning the geo of these hardtails or that they will ride well.

It's just that the two higher models price-wise creep into a space where I'm not sure a hardtail will be most people's choice in the first place and for those that want a higher end HT, is Merida "cool enough"?
  • 1 0
 @bananowy: I'm not sure if Merida is "cool" now but it's super popular in central and eastern Europe. I live in Hungary and I see Meridas everywhere. I see road bikes and I see higher priced carbon Merida XC hardtails all the time here. Back in the day (think 26" wheels, like 2005 ish) they used to make dirt jumpers and "freeride" hardtails with bigger forks and chain guides. Smile Those things were everywhere here.
I'm fairly sure they're the only brand here in the entire country here that has a store where you can go and demo bikes.
  • 1 0
 @HollyBoni: I know, I'm from Poland Smile Merida is super popular there just like your way, with demo fleets and what not. Always been a great value brand and you're right their UMF bikes were good entry level dirt jumpers/FR HTs.

The "cool" remark was a bit tongue in cheek, but IMHO these days people who buy more expensive hardcore HTs for the price of entry level FS bikes tend to go for different brands and often steel frames. A £1500 HT will rarely be someone's first/only bike. As I said before, different story with the £800 and £1000 models because that won't get you a proper full squish.
  • 2 0
 @bananowy: who cares if a brand is "cool" or not, to many bike snobs out there, as long as rides well and doesn't break that's all that matters.
People with more money than skill on 10k yetis etc just don't like it when a 3k Merida or Giant beats them down the trail.
  • 1 0
 @bananowy: cool enough for Gunn-Rita
  • 2 0
 When it said 120mm-150mm I was thinking it was a dual position fork. Haven't used one of those but they are intriguing.
  • 2 0
 Nah, you'll use it a few times, then forget it exists, until it comes time for air spring maintenance and you remember you have to deal with the dual-pos stuff.
  • 1 0
 @just6979: but thats like, your opinion, bruh.
  • 1 1
 @Bustacrimes: Sure is. And everyone I know personally who has owned a dual-pos fork has the same opinion.
  • 2 0
 Looks fun. I'd definitely size up on this one. Fortunately they kept the seat tube length short for their size L.
  • 1 1
 Seat tube seems straight, I'll bet there is "room for a 150mm dropper" even on the small. Though there may not be room for the rider, depending on where they fall in the size range.
  • 1 0
 I wish they had a $2k spec. That would open up the doors to better wheels and breaks which would be so nice on a rowdier hardtail like this one.
  • 3 0
 Good stuff Merida.
  • 5 3
 Watch everyone start riding better as hardtails take off
  • 1 0
 Best comment of the thread...! He, he
  • 3 0
 Watch heavy casing tires and/or tire insert sales take off as hardtails "take-off" (get marketed as cool, again).
  • 2 1
 I see it's also taken influence from handmade, hardcore steel hardtails in the price department as well.
  • 2 1
 This looks good (the top version) but a Whyte 905 is only a touch more expensive and looks like a much better deal.
  • 1 0
 Is there a crack in the welding? 3rd picture...
  • 4 0
 Nah looks more like a shadow
  • 2 3
 Looks like a crack
  • 2 0
 It’s a flange
  • 1 1
 @enduroNZ: its a female bike then lol
  • 3 4
 10-Speed for 849€?
11-Speed for 1299€?
12-Speed Deore for 1599€?
No-Group Shimano brakes?

This is a really, really bad joke...
  • 2 1
 I also don't see the claimed high value.
  • 4 0
 "No-group" Shimano brakes are surprisingly good.
Sure, they don't have the snoot factor, but they work, and work very well.
You'd be surprised
  • 1 0
 @eric32-20: The problem isn't that they're "no group". You can get "no group" 4 pistons from Shimano. The problem is that they're the third cheapest hydros that Shimano makes, and they have those horrible long levers. And that's on a €1600 bike.
I tried them and honestly it feels like the TRP Spyres on my gravel bike have better power.
  • 5 4
 This aint it folks, its not the Grim Donut :/
  • 1 0
 Had merida matts tfs trail 10 years ago. Still remember the bike ????
  • 2 1
 455 for a large? Meh.
  • 2 0
 XL has a 450 seattube though, maybe the XL is too short but traditional large riders should not have a problem upsizing.
  • 1 3
 You can tell they don't ride roots and rocks in the UK. A 11.6" bottom bracket height - won't work here on the east coast or midwest.
  • 1 0
 so they ride in the south of England on green trails then. Scotland it full of rocks and roots
  • 1 0
 Remember there is no rear suspension sag. 25% of 150mm is ~35mm, almost 1.5 inches, so you'd compare this geo to a trail bike with a ~13" (~330mm) BB height, so it's not as insane as it seems. Still on the low side, though. I'd personally run 165mm cranks on this: with 144mm travel, ~335mm BB height, and 170mm cranks, it only took 3 months for my pedals to change from black to silver on pretty much the entire outside edge
  • 2 0
 Try riding in the Lake District! It’s all rocks with extra rocks and a layer of large rocky rocks to cover up the extra rocks they leave lying around.

Oh and then they go and cover everything in running water.

So rocky waterfall riding. It’s a thing.
  • 4 0
 Low BB gives better handling for railing corners. Low BB is not a problem if you time your pedals right.
  • 1 0
 @BenSandle: Having to do work by thinking when it's safe to pedal makes riding so much fun. "Oops, can't pedal here." "Looks like it's fine if I pedal here." Yeah, tons of fun.
  • 2 0
 @zerort: you ride flat trails don't you.
  • 1 2
 475mm of reach on an XL with a 75.5' seat angle is very small.
  • 1 0
 Although on a hardtail doesn't the reach grow with sag? So won't it get a bit longer when sag is taken into account? Although having looked at their geo chart these figures may have been measured at sag - it doesn't say whether they are static or sagged
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