Review: Merida Matts Lite XT-Edition

While Merida has long been known for its manufacturing pedigree, the brand has since made a name for itself as a premium cycling brand. While its rising popularity can be attributed to the success of the Multivan Merida Biking Team, the quality of the brand’s lightweight race-winning O.Nine, Big.Nine and Ninety.Nine models are arguably the key drivers of its appeal.

Benefitting from Merida’s extensive research and development is the brand’s Matts Lite hardtail mountain bike range. An all rounded performer, Merida’s ‘Sport’ hardtail definition of its Matts Lite range is an understatement because the Matts Lite XT-edition proved to be a stellar performer when Togoparts had it for a week-long test.

Built with high-quality lightweight aluminium, the Matts XT range has been developed especially to cater to riders looking for a bike that is fast on the road (touring) and agile off it (on the trails). Inspired by geometry present in the high-end Merida O.NINE models, riders get to enjoy efficient, comfortable riding on their choice of terrain.

The Bike

Entering the 2013 model line-up, the Matts XT-Edition counts itself as one of the best value bikes available on the market, with a lightweight premium aluminium frame construction and an appealing black and white colour scheme that attracted many a covetous glance on our rides. Matching white brake calipers and fork add to the bike’s style quotient as much as they enhance performance.

Generously equipped with the latest 2013 parts from FOX, Shimano and Crank Brothers, the XT-Edition package is an excellent value buy. For its $2,236 price tag, you get an almost full Shimano XT group set with Shimano M505 brakes and a FOX 32 Float with 100mm of travel. Top up another $200 more, and the XT-M version gives you the same amount of goodness topped with a set of wheels from Mavic.

Want a ride that’s 11 kilograms, trail ready, and already ‘specced’ up? It’ll be hard to look beyond what’s on this Merida.

The Ride

But while it definitely looks good, the Matts Lite XT-Edition rides even better. For one thing, Merida got the basics right by tweaking the geometry just slightly so that the bike’s tour and trail intentions are well catered for.

The 30-speed Shimano XT drivetrain offers excellent power transmission, which means that every effort on the pedals gets translated into miles on the road. But of course, the bike’s geometry has been designed with this in mind. Stiffness in the front can also be achieved by locking out the Fox 32 Float suspension. A quick switch is all it takes to alternate between full lockout and supple trail settings.

Immediately noticeable upon first mount is just how well-balanced the Matts Lite XT-Editions is. Evenly weighted, the bike allows the rider to feel comfortable on it. Be it on the road or trail, this nuanced balance goes a long way in allowing the rider to maintain control and focus on his ride instead of struggling with handling.

Put through a mix of road and trail conditions, the Matts Lite impressed on the road with how comfortable and efficient the ride quality gets. Ridden on the trails, the Matts Lite proved itself to be an able climber that lets you do so with relative ease (fitness, of course, plays an important part here). But on the singletracks, the bike takes everything the trail has to offer in its stride.

It is only when you push the bike to its limits, especially at speed round sharp corners on sandy sections on the dirt trails that you realize how important the Shimano M505 hydraulic disc brakes are (Needless to say, they are just as crucial on the road). Enhanced stopping power lets one brake late and lean into the turn, maximizing all the traction offered by the 2.1inch Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyres.

In a Nutshell

Targeted at cyclists looking to upgrade from an entry-level mountain bike, the value of a full Shimano XT groupset, Shimano Hydraulic M505 brakes and a FOX 32 Float fork built onto Merida’s 2013 aluminium Matts Lite XT-Edition bike would prove very hard to resist. Factor in its $2,236 pricetag and Mavic wheelset option ($200 more), and the whole package becomes almost irresistible; especially so since it’s priced at a sub $2,500 sweet spot.

The Merida Matts Lite XT-Edition is available from Hup Leong Company.

Blk 51 Chin Swee Road #01-107 Singapore 160051
Tel: 6532-3700