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 DetailsFrame:
65.5°Seat Tube Angle:
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.
More info, here