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Merida Big Nine 2020 – a $999 Single Front Chainring Trail Bike

Whether you are a beginner rider looking for a new off-road commuter bike or a seasoned trail explorer, the Merida Big Nine 400 is a great mountain bike for a wide range of riders. Equipped with the latest technologies by well-known component brands, there is a lot on offer at an affordable price tag.

The 2020 Big Nine retails for $999 and attracts buyers who are looking for an affordable bike to get out on the trails with yet don’t want to compromise on quality.

  • Is it great for recreational mountain biking?
    – Yes
  • Is it great for competing?
    – Yes,
    if you are a beginner mountain biker looking for an entry-level transition to the world of one-by (1x) drivetrains.

Although $999 is at the lower price point of finding a decent MTB with a 1x drivetrain, it is a solid drivetrain that has more than enough capabilities for recreational cyclists.

merida big nine 400 2020

The geometry and build on the Big Nine 400 is best-suited for XC, but it can tackle some medium-difficulty trails as well.

Reviewer

  • 6’2″
  • 170lbs
  • Age: 31
  • Number of MTBs owned: 4
  • MTB Experience: 10 years recreationally, 5 years of Enduro Motorcycling
  • Rating: 8/10. Unbeateable value.

Must-have components on a good mountain bike vs Merida Big Nine 400:

+ Air fork
+ 1×12 speed drivetrain
+ 27.5″ or 29″ wheels
+ Internal cable routing
+ Hydro brakes

Dropper seat post
Thru-axle wheels


merida big nine 400 bike

Merida Big Nine 400 Review

PROs

  • Affordable price tag – MSRP $999
  • 1×12 drivetrain (10-50T) – Easily operated by the right thumb
  • Aesthetically pleasing – Nice matte & glossy finish on the frame & wheels
  • Air/coil fork – With a remote lockout, rebound & compression adjustability
  • 29er wheels – With Maxxis Ikon 2.2″ tires
  • Weight: ca 30 lbs (13.5 kg)

CONs

  • Quick-release hubs are not the best for heavy-duty trail riding.
    – But great for quick and easy on & off.
  • SRAM SX Eagle is the bottom-end class of the SRAM hiearchy which might require more frequent adjustability.
    – Shimano Deore is a better alternative.
  • Wheels are best suited for light trails, rather than rocks and roots. There’s a noticeable ‘frame-flex’ due to softer wheels & spokes.
    – This can be compensated by the tire pressure, and avoiding high-impact trails.

The matte finish with grey and white lines blends in well with the full-black drivetrain. Two thumbs up!

A good looking trail ready 29er XC bike. Added a few essential extras one would need on the trail – spare tube (zip-tied on the top tube), mud guard, double water bottle mounts, and a pump.


 

Suspension & Tires

merida big nine 9

Preload & pressure adjustability SR Suntour XCR32 fork, Maxxis Ikon XC 29×2.2 tires

Front suspension plays a huge role in any mountain bike, particularly a hardtail.

Luckily, the Big Nine 400 comes with an air/spring fork, an upgrade from the cheaper heavy coil forks. It is also equipped with a remote lockout which can easily be adjusted from the handlebar. You can adjust the rebound according to your body weight and riding preferences to really tailor the ride.

If you’d like to learn about optimum pressure setting for the fork, check out the SR Suntour XC-R owners manual.

SR Suntour XCR32 fork

  • Air/Spring
  • 100mm travel
  • Remote lockout
  • Preload adjustments

As a downside – The quick-release hub is not particularly suitable for heavy-duty downhill riding
Good of the bad – Quick-release is a convenient to remove the wheel when transporting the bike inside the car or on a rear rack.

Air Spring (Left) & Coil Preloader (Right)

Maxxis Ikon tires

The Maxxis Ikon tires are a good pair of middle-ground tires, and often a go-to choice for intermediate trail riding which may include soft sand and rugged roots. You can even ride down 20-step stairs without feeling anything unruly from the wheels.

The tire pattern is evenly distributed which works great for urban and gravel use.

Recommended tire pressure:

Although there’s a recommended tire range of 30-60PSI written on the sidewall, you can easily go as low as 20psi if you are lighter rider (<150lbs)

20PSI – Trail riding
25 PSI – Ideal for riders between 180-220lb
30PSI – Great for heavier trail riders, or for flat terrains for lighter riders.

merida bike cockpit

The shifters and remote suspension lock-out are easily operated by the right hand. Mind the bike bell which, although it can be unsightly, is a truly useful tool in the trails and city streets where there might be other people.


SRAM SX Eagle Derailleur

Besides the fork, it is the drivetrain that makes or breaks a mountain bike. A 1x drivetrain is a nice addition which also happens to be the main selling point for the Big Nine 400. The gear ratio is great for technical sections, steep climbs, and fast flowy sections alike.

sram sx eagle on merida big nine 400

*The pictured Big Nine 400 comes stock with SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain, while the original bike is equipped with the Shimano Deore Shadow+ derailleur and a Shimano Deore cassette.

Pedals

The stock VP pedals are quite small in size which might be an issue if you are used to larger flat pedals. The VP pedals are good enough for recreational use but you might struggle for grip on jumps or more technical trails.

Small pedals are great if you prefer flat pedals to clip-on pedals as the small pedal size is sometimes better on sharp corners and rock gardens as the risk of pedal striking is reduced.

mountain bike by a car

16″ vs 29″

The finishing details and paint are spotless. A quick-release option is great for beginner cyclists, but if you are looking for a heavy-duty trail machine, you are better off looking at a different set-up with thru-axle wheels.

The saddle is stiff but good enough for technical trails.


Big Nine 400 Full Specs

Head Tube Angle: 70º
Seat Tube Angle: 73º
Chainstay length: 440mm

FRAME – BIG.NINE TFS 6061 Alloy
FRAME SIZES – S, M, L, XL, XXL

COLOR: MATT-BLACK – (SILVER/WHITE), (DARK BROWN/BLUE)
FORK – Suntour XCR 32 RL-R
BRAKES – Shimano MT-200
ROTORS – Shimano RT10
BRAKE LEVER – Shimano MT-200
TIRES – Maxxis Ikon 2.2″

HEADSET – MERIDA – M4455
HANDLEBAR – MERIDA Expert CC
HANDLEBAR STEM – MERIDA Comp CC
GRIP – MERIDA Comp EC

DERAILLEUR – (R) Shimano Deore Shadow+
SHIFTERS – (L) N/A / (R) Shimano Deore

SEAT POST – MERIDA Comp CC
SEAT CLAMP – MERIDA Comp QR
SADDLE – MERIDA Comp CC

PEDAL – VP (flat)
CHAIN – KMC X10
CHAINWHEEL – FSA Alpha Drive 1x
FREEWHEEL – Sunrace CSMS2
BOTTOM BRAKET – FSA Catridge BB

dub crank

HUBS – Shimano TX505
RIM – MERIDA Comp CC
SPOKES – Black stainless


 

Merida Big Nine Size Recommendations

XS < 5’4″ / <163cm
S 5’2″ – 5’8″ / 157 – 173cm
M 5’8″ – 6′ /  173 – 183cm
L 5’10” – 6’3″ /  178 – 191cm
XL 6’2″ – 6’5″ / 188 – 196cm
XXL 6’4″ + / 193cm +


 

FAQs

Is the Merida Big Nine 400 overpriced?

It is definitely worth the price. Compared to other MTBs between the $1,000 to $1,500 range, it is a great buy because of the 1×12 drivetrain, air fork and hydraulic disc brakes, which are not commonly seen on bikes at this price point.

Will it stand the test of time?

Merida is a well-known bike brand, and the Big Nine 400 resides at the entry/mid price category. For recreational users, there’s nothing to worry about regarding the geometry as the more progressive geometry changes generally occur in the higher-end and more racey type of mountain bikes.

What should I upgrade on it?

The good thing about the Merida Big Nine 400 is that it is great for both recreational riding and XC events. As much as we’d like to come up with anything to upgrade – there’s really nothing to change about what it is originally built for.

If you are looking for a bike to advance your skills to a high degree, you should be looking at a bike with dropper seat-post which helps a ton of ascends.

If you’d like to do some heavy trail riding, it is the wheels that need their game to be stepped up.

Related: Should you pay more upfront or upgrade later?

Where to buy?

Check out your the closest Merida dealer to your location.

Alternatives to Merida Big Nine 400

If you are looking for a trail-ready XC bike for competing, you’d have to add around $1,000 to get a next-level bike with thru-axle wheels and fork, and a dropper seat post.

Here are some examples:

  • Co-op Cycles – DRT 1.2
  • Cannondale – Trail 5

Is it trail ready?

Best for XC riding, the Big Nine 400 is a great bike to try some technical trail riding on. Once you’ve got the tire pressure, bike fit and fork settings right, this bike can be used for all sorts of technical riding. It handles well and offers a super comfortable ride even on really demanding terrain.

The derailleur is not suited for competing where you’d expect the gears to be changed as fast and smooth as possible. Although, it is great for recreational exploring and training purposes. The cheaper the bike derailleur, the more it needs tuning.

sram eagle drivetrain

Best for trails and XC – the 11-50t range works wonders on really steep climbs. The lower gear ratio has super options to choose from. Highest sprocket with 10t is standard among high-end mountain bikes.


 

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