The 2020 Merida eONE-SIXTY is a pretty sleek looking bike. The main reason for this is the battery. Shimano has just released the BT8035 battery which they developed in cooperation with Merida. It’s quite compact and it allows for a slimmer downtube. The battery is lighter than any other internal detachable battery that I know of. To achieve this, they had to stick with the 504Wh battery. And judging by their reasoning, they may very well have made the right choice.
There is a lot of talk about bigger capacity batteries. The problem is, not much progress has been made for the lithium ion batteries the last couple of years. Not when it comes to energy density. The only way to increase battery capacity is to make a bigger and heavier battery. Not everyone does those huge long rides that require bigger batteries though. If you never go more than 50 kilometres in a ride, there are several advantages to having a smaller battery.
A smaller battery is cheaper. A smaller battery is lighter and it can lower the bike’s centre of gravity. Getting this right will have a noticeable effect on handling. You need a big hole in the downtube to insert and remove the battery. Reduce the size of the battery and you can reduce the size of the opening in the frame. A smaller opening will increase frame stiffness and therefore require less reinforcement to maintain rigidity.
Less reinforcement means lower cost and weight. But Merida do realise that the 2020 Merida eONE-SIXTY 500 watt hours battery will be a dealbreaker for some. So they decided to sell their top-of-the-line model with 2 batteries and an ebike-specific backpack that has a compartment for battery and charger. Swapping the battery is pretty quick. Once you’ve got the hang of it, it doesn’t take that much longer than swapping an external one.
The 2020 Merida eONE-SIXTY is equipped with the ebike-specific Fox Factory 36 fork and the Factory X2 shock, the DT Swiss H-XC 1200 ebike-specific carbon wheelset, the Maxxis Assegai 2,5 29er tyre up front and the 27.5 Maxxis Minion DHR ll 2.6 at the rear. Most frame sizes will get a dropper post with longer travel than previously, up to 170 millimetres. When the seat is lowered, you can lift the bike by the seat and the post won’t extend. Brakes and drivetrain is Shimano, and it’s all XTR 12-speed with a 10-51 tooth cassette. I had a more detailed look at the components of the eOne-Sixty 10K in my previous video, you’ll find a link to it at the end of the video.
There’s been a few important changes to the 2020 eONE-SIXTY frame geometry. The head angle is down to 65.5 degrees and the bottom bracket has been dropped by 5 millimetres. The seat tube is steep, measuring 75.5* and no less than 74.9 degrees with the seatpost at maximum height on an XL frame. The front end has been raised due to the bigger 29er front wheel, and Merida made adjustments to the headset to get the handlebar as low as possible.
Still, the front end is pretty tall with a Stack measurement of 638mm for a medium frame. And that can be felt while riding. The riding conditions were quite slippery. It’s dry with a lot of lose gravel over rock hard surfaces, so I needed to focus on weighing down the front wheel in the turns. The Assegai front tyre might not be ideal for these particular conditions. Why did Merida do this? The front end is about 40 millimetres taller than some competitors. It was done to make bike more aimed at descending, Jose Hermida explains. The taller front end makes it easier to lift the front wheel while descending.
That makes sense, the slacker head angle, the lower bottom bracket, the taller front end and narrower tyres make the eONE-SIXTY descend better than the old model. It’s both more nimble and more confident in the steep stuff. So how does it climb? The rather high handlebar position isn’t ideal for steep climbs, the front wheel will lift easily. And the Merida guys talked about this, that they had sacrificed a bit of climbing abilities. Well, I’m not sure it’s that big of a sacrifice. This hill is seriously steep, with the slipery lose-over-hard surface, and if you adjust your seating position it will do the climb allright. Granted, it’s not an extreme climber, but it is capable.
I think the geometry changes have worked out alright, a slight sacrifice to climbing abilities to make it a quick descender with great precision. Precision has a lot to do with the choice of tyres. The narrower 2.5 inch wide 29er front tyre improves steering precision. The front end doesn’t bounce around like the wider 27.5 plus tyre would do when riding hard on rough trails. And it’s a similar story for the rear wheel. Merida went from 2.8 to 2.6 for the rear tyre. This makes the rear end calmer on rough surfaces, so you can go faster without losing control. The eONE-SIXTY always looked like an enduro bike, and now it behaves a bit more like one too. If you want the front end lower, you could always swap for a flat handlebar and a stem with negative rise.
For the 2020 eONE-SIXTY Merida moved away from the XT Di2 found on last year’s top model and opted for the mechanical 12-speed XTR. They claim the XTR handles shifting under load better, and I would have to agree. Even with maximum motor power I could upshift in the steepest sections, the gear change would be surprisingly smooth and there were no cringing noises.
Merida has made an effort to keep the weight down on this bike. In addition to the carbon frame and compact battery, they’ve gone with carbon wheels. But they still think performance is more important than weight, so the tyres are fairly heavy with the thicker EXO + sidewalls. I weighed the bike in size Medium to 22.25 kilos, including a bottlecage and the mini fenders.
The price of the eONE-SIXTY 10 K is 9.799 euros (£9500 GBP). Cheaper models are coming, there will be a 9000, an 8000 and a 5000. Latest info is these bikes should be out by mid October 2019. And if you were wondering about the old eONE-SIXTY, as long as there is demand, they will continue to produce it.
Merida have done a lot of things right on this bike. Most of the geometry changes are perfect, and I think they made a good choice on wheel and tyre sizes. Not everyone will agree on their choice of battery, but I do. Merida had to make a choice between extended range or improved handling. And that's okay. If range is more important you either get the 10K with dual batteries or look at other manufacturers that have made different priorities. Scoring this bike was really difficult. Is it a 4.5 or a 5? To me a 5 is a bike that sets a new standard or introduces something completely new. The new eONE-SIXTY is almost that bike, but it does cost a fair bit. It's a well thought out design that incorporates the most compact integrated 500Wh battery on the market.