We started our Merida review row two days ago, first on the road with the Reacto 907 and then headed towards the forest with the Cyclo Cross 4 Disc. Now we head deep in to the bush, where you need bigger tires and larger suspension to make it alive, also the first Merida review to be something really new: The Twenty Nine.
Merida is known for its mountain bike range and they still have a large model range available, still, they have been tweaking their 29 inch models until they come out in the spring of 2011. We were lucky enough to take them out for a spin and our resident 29er freak was a happy little monkey.
We will review the 29er from two angles, from Markus’ “I haven’t ridden an MTB in 6 years” and Maarten’s “I rode Cape Epic in South Africa blindfolded” – that should give you some feeling on what the bike is like for a commuter and a more serious rider. Tomorrow is Maarten’s turn.
In a way, a 29 inch mountain bike is not very different from a traditional 26 inch version: It has bigger wheels. This allows a lower rolling resistance, but it makes agility in technical tracks less optimal. Apart from the frame, the fork or the wheels, the other parts are identical in all mountain bikes.
Merida will come out with two Twenty Nine models (1000 D and 1800 D), we tried the cheaper 1000 D version that comes with Shimano SLX groupset with an XT 10-speed (11-36) derailleur. With a triple 42-32-24 crankset it means that this XC/Marathon beast has 30 speeds in its drivetrain and there probably isn’t a hill that you would need a smaller gear for.
The fun thing we noticed is that thanks to the increased size of the bike, it’s sometimes hard to really see the sizes of things. For example we thought that the Shimano M505 brake discs were 160mm, even though they actually are 180mm. Since the wheels are larger, but the whole setup looks so well balanced it’s hard to understand.
The front of the Twenty Nine has a Rock Shox Recon Gold 29er fork with a 80mm travel, which is not a bad selection with its light weight (1805 g) and decent travel. Together with Racing Ralph 29″ 2.1 tires from Schwalbe, you could say that the starting from 29er model from Merida comes with a decent setup.
Ride-wise the bike was a solid hit with both urban environments to singletracks, and it seemed like Maarten seemed to like the bike more after every minute. Speaking of which, he will do an article about the noticed differences of riding with a 29er compared to a traditionally sized bike.
Merida is also planning to build a full-suspension twenty-niner together with a carbon framed version to complete the model range. Can we expect these already next spring when the beginning of the Twenty-Nine range comes out, we can’t say, but eventually they will come.
It will cost over 2000 euros, the other models even more, but I’m getting one. I think my colleague is thinking the same thing.