BIKE REVIEW – MERIDA BIG SEVEN

Shaun George BOTS Guides

Merida is a brand name you’ve probably heard of before. They’re a Taiwanese brand that manufactures and markets bicycles globally – their R&D takes place primarily in Germany.

Merida has gained a strong foothold in India over the past 5 years, especially in the road and mountain biking segment. Well priced, feature-packed bikes are some of the USPs of Merida bikes.

We recently got our hands on a couple of the Merida Big Seven models. Looking at the specs on paper can only tell you so much about the bike. Riding the bike lets you truly understand and get a feel of the bike. Read on to find out what makes this series of bikes great.

MERIDA BIG SEVEN SERIES BIKE OVERVIEW

The Big Seven series of bikes are part of Merida’s 27.5inch wheel sized XC hardtails. The frame geometry and characteristics remain the same across the range. A few of the components vary across the model range, such as the groupset, forks, and brakes.

Retailing from a starting price point of around Rs.36,000/- the Big Seven bikes offer great value for money for those looking for a capable 27.5 hardtail. The Big Seven bikes are priced competitively when compared to its competitors in a similar category. While the frame is impressive to look at with the array of bright colors available – it’s even more impressive to ride.

All the Big Seven bikes are great all-rounders – a bit of fitness riding, cross country, and even some trail riding. The bikes provide immense comfort and off-road capability.

THE FRAMESET

The frame is the most important part of the bike as it defines the bike’s riding characteristics and components are secondary. Ironically enough, it’s the one part that riders know the least about. It’s important you choose a well-built frame and one that is of appropriate fit for your body dimensions and suits your kind of riding.

The Merida Big Seven frames are built on an aggressive and strong alloy frame. These frames have a slanting top tube which makes the standover height bigger than most standard hardtail MTB’s.

The frame has some of the finest paint quality and welding that we have ever seen on bikes in this price range. What’s even greater is the fact that Merida has been able to provide all of this whilst keeping the weight low. It’s good to see the brand is not cutting corners on the frame.

A cool feature that we noticed on the frame was the fused head tube and down tube junction. This not only looks better but also helps improve front end stiffness and vibration absorption.

The headtube may look tapered but unfortunately, it isn’t. This doesn’t matter too much for the flowy trails that this bike is meant for but it sure makes high-end fork upgrades harder. Another gripe we had with the frame was the lack of internal cable routing. While external cables are easier to service they get a lot dirtier faster.

COMPONENTS ON THE BIKE

The Big Seven 20-MD and D models come with Shimano Altus rear derailleurs and a Shimano Tourney front derailleur. It’s a simple 8×3 setup that is tried and tested – it never fails to disappoint and can always take a bit of a beating. Shifts are also quite accurate and there’s enough of a range on the bikes to climb even the steepest of slopes.

The 20 and 40 “MD” models come with mechanical disc brakes whereas the “D” models come with hydraulic models. Personally, we preferred the hydraulic disc brake models even though that feature charges a bit of a premium. Overall braking feel was great on all the models but the bite, modulation, and wet condition braking were superior on the hydraulic disc brake models.

The fork was another area we were happy with. The 100mm of travel is more than adequate for the trails that most people will be riding their Big Seven’s on. The fork was plush and absorbed everything we threw at it from small pavement hop-offs to some mild jumping. The fork had a lockout too which is super helpful while climbing and riding on smoother terrain.

The SR Suntour XCM is a popularly used budget fork that offers good performance. With experience however, we’ve seen these forks deteriorate fast. They can last a long time if taken care of well and serviced on time.

Other components such as the handlebars, cables and saddle are part of Merida’s parts bin that they use on most of their bikes. They’re well built and serve their purpose.

WHEELSET

The wheels were Merida’s own in-house branded “Merida CC” wheels that look quite burly and well built. They’re 17mm internal rim width doesn’t sound like much on paper but it’s wide enough to mount some fat tires onto. Being 27.5inch wheels, they’re fairly light and fast accelerating. These smaller wheels also make the bike feel a lot more nimble and easy to handle.

As for the tires, we found that they too were quite good. Again, in-house branded just like most of the other components – they were fast rolling too. We felt that they could have done with a slightly more aggressive tread and softer compound for better grip. For most folk, this tire will suffice just fine. Over the usually city potholes and broken roads the tires provided a good cushioning effect – we had the tires pumped up to 40psi. While off-roading we recommend dropping the pressure down to about 25-30 psi for traction.

GROUPSET

The Big Seven 20-MD and D models come with a 8-speed Shimano Altus – Tourney combination of derailleurs. The Big Seven 40-MD and D models on the other hand come with a 9-speed Acera and Altus combination of derailleurs.

Both series of models come with 11-32 cassettes out of the box which means that the gear range is exactly the same between the 8 and 9-speed models. It’s only the ratios that are different that allow for smoother shifts. It the extra cash for the 9-speed drivetrain worth it? We think so!

The gearing ratios were great on the bikes. An ideal mix between what a climber would prefer and what an endurance rider would prefer. The 11-32t cassette has become somewhat of a norm amongst bikes in this segment. The medium cage rear derailleur allows for some flexibility when it comes to cassette upgrade options.

WARRANTY

Merida offers a lifetime warranty on all their bike frames. Other bike components such as the forks have a 5-year warranty on them.

All other Merida branded components, including paint and finish, are guaranteed for 1 year from the date of purchase. It’s important to remember that any accidental damage will not be eligible for a warranty claim.

OUR VERDICT

We were quite impressed with the Merida Big Seven series of bikes – it performed better than we expected it to. It’s the perfect bike for someone looking to get into trail biking; with 8 and 9-speed drivetrains, you will be well equipped to handle all kinds of rides. The Big Seven’s are perfect all-rounders.

After some time you may want to consider making a few small upgrades here and there but the bike is pretty well equipped as is.

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