When Merida launched their One-Sixty enduro bike
a year ago, its versatility, climbing performance and smooth ride quality impressed. Now they've cooked up a freeride version aimed at bike park rats and rental fleets - it's for riders who want something affordable, simple and reliable that can handle the biggest bike park features. The alloy frame is category five-rated for DH & bike park use and carries a five-year warranty.
The One-Sixty FR is supplied with mixed wheels in all sizes (though the frame can still accommodate 29" wheels), and this bumps up the rear travel from 162 mm to 171 mm compared to the standard One-Sixty with 29" wheels. This is paired with a 180 mm fork and a coil shock from DVO. It's the first bike we've ridden with DVO's brand-new 38 mm fork. A downhill rear tire (with an enduro casing on the front) completes the transformation.
One-Sixty FR Details
• 171mm rear travel; 180 mm fork
• Aluminum frame
• Mixed wheel size (frame is compatible with 29" wheels)
• Size S-XL
• 63.5° head angle
• 78° seat angle
• Weight: around 17 Kg / 37.5 lb
• Price: £2,800/€3,360 - £3,500/€4,200
• Five-year frame warranty
Merida use short seat tubes along with a travel-adjustable seatpost to allow most riders to choose between two or more frame sizes depending on their preference for stability versus agility. Merida call this concept "agilometer sizing". The Limotec seat post can be set
anywhere between 40 mm and 230 mm travel so riders can get the maximum dropper travel for their chosen frame size.
Compared to the enduro version with its 170 mm fork, the 180 mm fork slackens the frame angles by around half a degree.
Flex pivots are commonplace on XC bikes thanks to their simplicity and lightness, but few companies make them in aluminum and even fewer for long-travel applications. As the suspension compresses and the rocker link rotates, the One-Sixty's seatstays bend a few degrees one way and then the other. Merida designed it to minimize the flex pivot's range of motion such that it doesn't noticeably contribute to the suspension forces and it shouldn't suffer from metal fatigue
over time. Merida say it's been fatigue tested by the Zedler Institute and went "well beyond industry standards". This included a custom test where the suspension was fully cycled with a shock fitted over 100,000 times. Merida's five-year warranty suggests they believe it will stand the test of time in the real world.
Fleet operators and home mechanics probably won't like the through-headset cable routing, but Merida say that threading a cable through the frame is relatively easy thanks to the huge opening in the head tube (once you remove the fork) and a service port under the downtube. On the plus side, if you do decide to venture beyond the bike park, there is room for a full-size water bottle plus bosses for a tool holder inside the frame. There are also mounts for a bolt-on rear mudguard on the seatstay.
As the flex occurs in the seatstay and not the chainstay, it's a single-pivot affair like other bikes in Merida's range. That means the suspension stays deeper in its travel during braking than most Horst link bikes, which is no bad thing in my view.
The leverage curve is pretty progressive through most of the travel, with a linear or slightly regressive phase at the end. This shouldn't be a problem given most coil shocks have a substantial bottom-out bumper which affects the last 20-30% of the travel.
The leverage curve is size-specific, so larger frames have more progression. The idea is that bigger riders need more support while smaller people have more trouble using all the travel. The difference is achieved by moving the front shock mount; the back end and link aren't size-specific.
The overall progression (the change in leverage from 0% to 100% travel) goes from approximately 15% in XS to 25% in XL. That's about average to quite progressive, respectively, so there should be plenty of bottom-out resistance for most riders.
Merida had to make smart choices to keep the FR affordable. The top-spec bike makes use of a Shimano Deore drivetrain with TRP brakes, both of which perform solidly. A 220 mm front rotor is a nice touch. The entry-level build makes do with Shimano's ten-speed Cues drivetrain but still offers an 11-48 tooth range to keep climbing on the table.
On the top build, the new Onyx 38 D2 fork does away with DVO's adjustable coil-negative spring system (called OTT) in favor of a more conventional and user-friendly self-equalizing air spring. Low-speed compression damping is adjustable with just three settings to choose from, alongside plastic volume spacers and rebound adjustment to play with. The DVO JADE X D2 shock found on the 600 model has three compression modes: open, mid and firm. The 400 model gets the D3 shock without the three-position compression switch, along with an SR Suntour RXF 38 RC fork, with low-speed compression and rebound adjustment.
For full specs see here
I rode the One-Sixty FR for a full day of mostly uplifted riding. I did enough pedalling to get a sense of how much the mixed wheel setup, coil shock and DH rear tire compromise the climbing composure compared to the carbon-framed enduro version I rode last year. Thanks to the steep seat angle, it's still a comfortable climber - especially compared to other affordable park bikes like the Saracen Ariel 80
. However, there is a noticeable amount of pedal bob with the shock left open that wasn't present on the enduro version, but this can be eliminated if you're willing to use the shock's "firm" or "mid" mode.
On the descents, I didn't get a chance to ride it on anything that would justify a 170/180 mm park bike, but the suspension was impressively supple when riding rougher sections of trail. I couldn't get the fork to rebound fast enough, despite running 10 psi more air pressure than recommended for my 85 kg weight, so the fork slurped lazily over high-frequency bumps. But the off-the-top sensitivity is excellent (this is a real weak point of DVO's OTT forks for heavier riders), which kept the bike stuck to the ground. The flip side of that is the fork sits very low in its travel (according to my tape measure, the axle-to-crown measurement is similar to most 170 mm forks), which means the head angle isn't quite as slack as it should be, and I'd rather it sat higher on steep sections. I'm planning to do some more fettling with this fork in the near future so stay tuned.
I was impressed by the TRP brakes and long-travel dropper post - I'm using all 230 mm. Overall it's a solid-feeling package for the money that seems relatively versatile given the park bike designation. I'll have to try it on more demanding trails to say any more.