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2021 Merida eOne-Sixty 9000 review

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We think the new eOne-Sixty 9000 is a good-looking bike. At first glance, it looks identical to the 2020 model. But there are a few important changes. It’s got the new Shimano motor. And it’s got the new, bigger and heavier 630Wh battery. So, we expected the 2021 model to feel a bit heavier and slower than last year’s model. But that wasn’t the case. The new bike wasn’t noticeably slower to handle or less nimble. We were surprised to see the eOne-Sixty 9000 weighing in at 24 kg, with pedals and tubes. That’s about one kilo heavier than the cheaper 2020 Merida eOne-Sixty 8000. The weight increase is caused by that heavier battery, heavier tyres and a burlier fork. Also the bike now has an integrated headlight. The rest is pretty much unchanged. Frame geometry is the same. Brakes and drivetrain are still Shimano. The eOne-Sixty 9000 has a complete 12-speed XT groupset.

Light

The Lezyne E115 is a new and more powerful version of the Lezyne E80 that I’ve previously tested. It’s not a powerful light for riding fast on pitch dark trails. But it’s really helpful in the fall and winter, for those evening rides that ended up taking too long. I’ve previously thought an emtb don’t need any kind of additional integrated equipment. But after riding a bike with an integrated light last year, I’m happy Merida included a light on this bike. Sure, it could be easier to operate. It takes several clicks on the Shimano-display to switch the light on and off. Shimano should improve this in a future software update. Anyway, we like the light!

We’ve come to appreciate the “integrated” light. It could be easierto operate though.

New motor

The most important change on the 2021 eOne-Sixty, and most other Merida emtbs, has to be the new Shimano EP8 motor. And it’s a great motor! We’ve got one negative thing to say about it though. It makes a rattling noise. There is a click when the motor makes contact with the chain ring. This sound can be heard when coasting over rough surfaces. Apart from that, we really like the EP8. It’s more powerful than the old E8000, most noticeably at low pedalling frequency. Also, there is little motor noise when pedalling, and the motor is smaller and lighter. Much can be said about the motor, check out our EP8 review.

And a new battery

Shimano is finally offering a bigger battery. The new one has a capacity of 630 Wh and a weight of 3,53 kg. Fitting the bigger battery was a challenge for Merida. They weren’t able to fit it in the Xtra Small frame, so the smallest size has still got the 500 Wh battery. Sizes Small and Medium get the bigger battery, but they had to sacrifice some of the downtube protection to make it fit. If you crash the bike, there is a small risk of the fork hitting the upper battery-lid attachment. Merida is aware of this; it is a compromise to fit the 630 Wh battery. They say the upper attachment can be purchased separately, the frame will not be damaged. For sizes Large and Xtra Large, there are no such issues.

To the left is a 2020 eOne-Sixty in size L. Notice how much space there is above the battery lid. To the right is the 2021 eOne-Sixty in size Medium.

More stable, still nimble

The 2021 eOne-Sixty 9000 is about as playful and manoeuvrable as the more lightweight 8000 model from 2020. The motor deserves some credit for this. The newer bike feels so quick to react to pedalling input. And the 2021 bike feels more capable and stable on the descents. Granted, it’s got a more expensive fork, the new Fox 38 Performance Elite. We really like this fork, it improves control on the descents.

The bike comes with Maxxis tyres. Just like last year, it’s an Assegai 29×2,5” up front and a Minion DHR ll 27.5×2,6” at the back. But now Merida has chosen the tyres with the heavier casing named Double Down. These are almost lightweight downhill tyres. The tyres feel composed and don’t bounce about on the trails as much as more lightweight tyres do. They add to the stability and control in the down hills.

Should you upgrade?

We found the 2020 eOne-Sixty a nimble and inspiring trailbike that was surprisingly capable on the descents. I want to describe the new bike a bit differently. The 2021 Merida eOne-Sixty is an impressive bike. This great descender is as playful as it ever was. So, should you upgrade if you already own a 2020 eOne-Sixty? Well, these are expensive bikes, most of us can’t upgrade every year. The old E8000 is still a powerful motor, and it produces no rattling noise when coasting. The new EP8 motor is easier to control at maximum power. But a lot of people use the Trail mode, then the difference between the motors is less noticeable. Du you miss more range or a bit more confidence going downhill? Then you should probably consider the 2021 model. The lighter 2020 model is still a very good bike.

Specs

Price: £7.300
Weight: 24 kg pedals included

FRAME SIZE XS, S, M, L, XL
SHOCK FOX Float DPX2 Elite
FORK FOX 38 Elite eMTB+ Air
BRAKES Shimano XT
CHAINWHEEL Shimano CRE80-12-B
DERAILLEUR (R) Shimano XT RDM8100 Shadow+ 12
SHIFTERS Shimano SL -MT800-IL / Shimano XT M8100 12
FREEWHEEL Shimano M8100
HANDLEBAR MERIDA EXPERT eTR
WHEELSET DT Swiss Spline HX1501 ONE 30 boost
TIRES Maxxis Assegai / MINION DHR II DD
DRIVE UNIT Shimano EP8
BATTERY Shimano E8036 630Wh / Shimano E8035 504Wh for XS only
DISPLAY Shimano SC-EM800

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