In Singapore, our trails are the product of trail designers fever dreams. Our hot, steaming climate coupled with poor public responsibility on the trails conspire to make sure that our lines through the jungle are as horrible for bicycles as they could possibly be. To tackle these trails, you need a solid, reliable All-Mountain or trail-pounder that can take a significant amount of hits, and gives you maneuverability through tight quarters.
The All-Mountain bike is a delicate balance. You need the stability and pedaling power only an upright posture can offer, coupled with enough travel to cushion you over undulating terrain and punishing topography like thick secondary forest roots and jagged rock gardens.
Merida, one of the largest bicycle manufacturers in the world, surely understood this balance when they designed the One Forty – 1B. It offers a solid lineup of components, good traction profile over heavy, uneven ground, and a comfortable amount of slack to tackle fiercer lines. I tested this by taking a few quick run down a trail near my house before the weather broke, and on a few late-night urban assaults after, and it performed perfectly.
Though marketed as a trail/enduro bike, the One Forty – 1B is a beastly offering sitting atop Merida’s stable, and is more than suited for the short bursts and tragedy-avoiding hops most riders will need to traverse our trails.
Some mid-range All-Mountain bikes suffer from what I like to call overtrimming. In an effort to shed weight and/or dimensions, the manufacturer chooses to drop size and modify dimensions to make their bike seem more versatile, and less inclined towards aggressive freeride and downhill, as if shedding some size will magically make people pigeonhole the bike into a separate classification. This definitely was not the case with the One Forty – 1B.
To lean into the technical aspects of your bike run, sometimes all you need is that extra inch or two of metal. You need something to grab on to, and something that offers you enough clearance to make that jump or take the corner without losing any control. You want to feel the robustness of your setup with every pull and drop.
My test bike had confidence-inspiring proportions, with a 60mm stem and 740mm bar. This is the exact kind of control that makes me feel the most comfortable, and have the confidence to take the bike around tight corners and steep shifts in the topography without worrying about flying off into the jungle (or down a flight of stairs for that matter), or flipping off the back of my steed.
As always the FOX float gives you the kind of set-and-forget functionality they have built their name on. Of course, this was probably in large part due to the expert tuning of Gilbert from Hup Leong for my heavy weight. The Visual Pivot Kinematics suspension system made short work of pedaling uphill too.
It being the rainy season, and given my proclivities towards not snapping my neck in half in the middle of a test run, I did not get to take the bike down some of the gnarlier trails, but what runs I did get to make inspired plenty of solid rebound and good “catching” response from the bike. It was almost as if the bike was trying to tell me “I’ve got ya” every time I landed
Big drops might stumble the 150mm FOX Talas fork however, so exercise caution when considering that 1.5 meter hop down a crag. With correct landing techniques however, you will be able to navigate most challenges with ease.
Braking power is not shy on the One Forty – 1B. The Shimano Deore XT-Fin 180s with ice Discs provided enough touch to stop the bike dead in its tracks when needed, even under the stress of sudden maneuvering. These are coupled will well-spaced levers and control knobs cross the bars, which leave ample space for quick reactions.
The whole setup of course, rolls on “in-betweener” 650b (27.5”) wheels, which are a good example of the format. Clad in Schwalbe Nobby Nics, the tyres stayed grippy and stable throughout my runs.
The Merida One Forty – 1B is a hefty bike, weighing in at 13.85kg stock. People expecting a light trail-hopper should be exploring some of the other offerings, but to compare the Merida to other lighter trail bikes would be a fallacy. I would feel confident pumping this thing through a muddy singletrack or pounding a rock-strewn run, in addition to lighter duties, without sacrificing long-distance rideability vs a Hardtail.
The Merida One Forty – 1B is a very easy bike to get along with. Stock, dialing it in will prove to be intuitive to most people. It is a well-balanced amalgamation of quality components that work in relative harmony with each other.
The first time you jump on it you are going to notice that it feels burly, maybe burlier than most “All-Mountain” positioned bikes. Doing the carpark-compression test with your body weight will likely inspire plenty of confidence that its stiffness will hold up to serious beatings on the trail.
Catching air is not a problem for this beast either. As regular readers of my reviews might already know, I am very wary of subjecting test bikes to my punishing heavy load, and the bike took it like a champ, bringing itself up to meet me every single time.
The Shimano Deore XT groupset is the definition of ol’ Faithful. Things don’t become an industry standard for no reason, and I was glad to note that this iteration of the family continues to deliver impressive bang-for-buck performance driving the One-Forty 1B.
Internal cable routing is a nice touch. The look and feel of the One Forty – 1B screams functionality. You’re not going to turn any heads on the trail (and you shouldn’t be doing that anyway, your admirers might run over an errant hiker) but you will definitely not feel like any part of the bike is getting in your way on your quest to conquer that next ridge.
If I were to nitpick, I think the slack geometry of the bike is going to alienate some riders who are not used to slinging their bikes low and dirty. Other than that, I loved this bike and might have even purchased one for myself if I had a few spare Gs lying around.
I would have loved the opportunity to punish the One Forty more than I managed to. Blame the horrendous wet weather that I had to put up with during the test window. I have no doubt in my mind however that it would stand up to the rigors of the trail. This by no means a cheap bike, but for the specs you get, you are scoring a very decent deal on a bike that will be able to handle most off-road tasks you throw at it.
Good company lasts a long time, and with a partner like the Merida One Forty – 1B on your side, you should be good to go for many years to come, unless you aspire towards joining the Red Bull Rampage in the next couple of years. For the rest of us who like our spines uncompressed and our limbs unbroken, the One Forty – 1B could be a solid choice for your next All-Mountain steed.