Through the Mill….. Merida BIG.TRAIL 900. Short term test.

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Nov 162016
 

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Merida BIG.TRAIL 900 27.5+

£2600

 

 

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Here at HTN not so secret test facility we get the chance to try out new bits and bobs. But sometimes we get a whole bike. Which is always nice. Well I got to play for a short time on Merida’s Hardcore Hardtail the BIG.TRAIL. 27.5+. So what is it aimed at? Well as the name suggests. Trails or more accurately BIG Trials. It’ll be quite happy on bike parks too within reason. So the brief is simple. but what was it like?merida-ttm-nov-012

 

Well Exmoor is pretty diverse to say the least and a ideal test ground for bikes and gear. So in theory the Big Trail should fit right in. And by eck does it ever. The first surprise is how light it feels. It’s not heavy to start with but you tend to think that with the +size wheels it’ll be a bit portly. It’s not. Not even close, and it rides light too. Climbing is a breeze and even with a high front end compared to some bikes I have tested it rather well. Only in the real steep stuff does the high front end hinder. But not so much as to take away from it’s main aim. The small rear triangle is stiff and I didn’t notice and loss of power. In fact one of the key things with this bike is, it just wants to go. I mean really go. The lightweight and smooth running DT Swiss XM1501 One 40 Boost wheelset and Maxxis Rekon+ tyres only helped the climbing. They are minimalist and work really well. I would however upgrade the rear tyre to a tougher version for peace of mind as I did puncture. But grip wise they are pretty good in the mixed conditions we have here.

 

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So we know it climbs well. But what about everywhere else. On the flatter sections it’s well mannered and lively, but in a good way. Like I said it does tend to want to push on and this only adds to the fun factor. I think I could get a bit carried away on this little orange bike. The 17″ version fitted me nicely and with a 35 mm long Merida Stem and Merida’s own bars it’s very responsive. The Rockshox Pike’s were set at 130mm travel and to be honest that was pretty ideal for what this bike is for. At no point did I find it lacking in travel.

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The singletrack that I managed to get out on were great fun on the Big Trail and you just wanted to go find more. It’s quick as if you hadn’t worked that out. It does have a low bottom bracket height which caught me out more than once and did result in a unscheduled off. But no real harm done. It does take a bit of getting use to but it means it’s is stable at speed and low centre of gravity. So climbing and flat(ish) trails it’s good on.

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N Stopping issues here.

 

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Merida cockpit felt spot on with the 35mm long stem

Descending. Well, that’s what it really likes. It goes from being all well behaved and nice into a “Full on go like feck give it plenty of welly Hooligan”. I’m not kidding. It’s so much fun. It’s stupid quick and will definitely put a crazed Cheshire cat grin on your face. It did me. No matter what I took it down it just took it in it’s stride and wanted more. Fast tight long singletrack? Loves it. Rocky stuff? Yep likes that too. loamy steep off camber? Extra helpings please. It’s just crackers. It’s a good job the stopping duties are done by Avids Guide brakes. It needs them.  By now you will of gathered this bike is fun. It certainly is.

Plenty of tyre and mud clearance..

Plenty of tyre and mud clearance..

This is the top end model and comes with Sram 11spd set up. It shifted flawlessly and was super smooth. The Rockshox Reverb dropper post works well as you imagine. The whole package is just excellent. But at this price you wouldn’t expect anything else. The Stopping duties were dealt with by Avid’s Guide R 4 pot brakes, so slowing was not a problem. The power or rather drivetrain duties fall to the ever so light feeling and smooth shifting Sram X1, 1-11. merida-ttm-nov-011

For the short time i had the Big trail it was a load of fun. It climbed well and descended well and at not point felt it was out of it’s depth. A cracking bike if you have the bucks to spend on it. If you don’t then don’t panic. The BIG.TRAIL 800 could be just the ticket at £1700 which has lower spec but still a cracking good set up, and if your budget isn’t high there is a BIG.TRAIL 600 which comes in at £1250. All in all I like this bike and once I got use to the low Bottom bracket it was great. You just have to watch those cranks and pedals…

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Rockshox Reverb stealth post and surprising Prologo saddle.

 

 Geometry for Med:
Top tube [mm]          616
Head tube angle [°]  67.5
Seat tube angle [°]    73.5
Chainstays [mm]      427.5
Wheel base [mm]     1146

Who are you?……………..It’s all about hip hop with Ben Travis

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Nov 122016
 

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  Here’s a question. How do you see the world around you? Well as you lot will be into bikes, you probably see it from a rider POV. Right? Thought so. However, have you really looked at the streets around you. That wall, that rail or ledge, that bank? No doubt some of you will see beyond the plain and ordinary. 

Well this time we catch up with someone who does see possibility in the every day. Project engineer by day but Street shredding, wall hopping, rail riding rider by night ( and just about any other time opportune I imagine – Ed). He has  a smooth style and that ability to defy gravity and the laws of conventional physics when riding the streets and sometimes landscape around him. It seems there is something in the water up there in Scotland. But is there? Well we may never know the answer to that but we can ask the question.

Who are you?

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Through the mill……………Sun Race

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Nov 102016
 

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Sun Race MX3 Cassette 11-40

£64.99

ison-distribution.com & All good bike shops

 

As you may well be aware by now 1 by systems are all the rage. It’s been the case for a couple of years now, but the cassettes have been a little spicy when it comes to replacing them. If you are one for keeping on top of your drivetrain this soon gets a bit heavy on the pocket. However there is a sensible and affordable solution. Sun Race have a range of cassettes to suit your riding needs. As i was running 1 x 10 I opted for the 11-40 MX3. They do a 11-42 too and it comes in Black to keep your beast stealth… So How has it fared?

First of is how well it’s made. 2 sets of 3 cogs are on aluminium carriers which helps reduce any damage/wear to Alu freehubs. This also has the benefit of being lighter too and at 387 g that’s not a bad weight. The last 4 cog/sprockets are separate but that’s no big deal. The finish as I said is spot on and for the money is just crackers. The spacing between the sprockets is spot on too. No big gaps which is always nice. Shifting is on par with any high end cass from the big S companies. wear is pretty good too as of yet and 100’s of miles later it’s still running a treat. There are minimal signs of wear and it look as if it has a good few miles left. however Winter is coming and that is the real test. However I have used it in some rather unpleasant conditions too as anyone who rides bike parks or Trail centers will know.

Well what more can I say. It’s affordable, efficient and looks the dogs do daas. If you are thinking of going 1 by or replacing your current set up, give this a look. If it can survive Exmoor it’ll probably be just fine around your neck of the woods. If you have the legs 11-40 is good if not go for the 11-42, and yes even you 11 speed kids are catered for.

Through the Mill…….. Vee Tyres ( Tires!!)

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Nov 022016
 

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Vee Tire Co

Bulldozer Silca 27.5+ – 2.8

£68.99 ( Syn version)

£58.99 (Std version)

www.upgradebikes.co.uk

As you know if you have been following HTN over the last 10 months, we have had the all new DMR Bikes Trailstar to play with. The handy thing about this steed is that it’s Plus size compatible. But is it worth the punt? Well early on this year we got a pair of the VEE Tire Co Bulldozer 27.5+ -2.8 to put through the er Mill. So how have we got on so far?

First thing you notice is the sheer size. But on a Hardtail this does become a interesting improvement. Well for one a bigger volume means lower pressures, more grip and a bit more “give”. The downside is they are as you can expect a bit heavier. Now it took me awhile to get the “just right” pressures. Put anywhere near 30 psi in these and it’s going to be a hard ride. So down to 25, then 20. It was about 20 PSI it felt pretty good. More grip than you imagine possible on pretty much everything. The “give” in the tyres was more noticeable and took the edge off of small bumps and lumps and the edge off of harder and larger hits. Also they run pretty well speed wise. In fact they are a quick tyre given their size. They do make it closer to a 29er and that is as you know handy for speed.

Rolling wise they are not bad. Certainly not as bad as I imagined. Which was nice. The grip is just nuts and you can really lean these fellas over. The tough side walls have taken a bit of a beating but so far are still spot on. No punctures either. What’s more they went straight up on a standard track pump too. It’s worth running them tubeless too. They have been great fun and we’ll be seeing how they get on a bit in the Winter months. A few drawbacks are bound to occur. They do flatten out some parts of the trail so that little bit you use to pop off are a bit harder, they are a heavy tyre compared to a more standard 27.5 but the tradeoff is worth it  for the most part. Wheelies and jumps are a bit more effort mind. I did find it was a bit of a head game on real narrow singletrack where the trail drops on one side or is a bit of a gully as they are wider and you ride a bit wider than normal.

However even with these rather minor drawbacks these are good tyres. I did end up one ride with a bit of a dilemma. On the rough off road sections the tyres were running really  well. Tons of grip and rocks were simply laughed at. But on the road it felt like the bike was a bit drunk. It took me a while to suss it. Tight headset? Nope. Something untoward with the forks and frame? Nope. Maybe just not liking the camber on the road? Nope. No it was not until I put my pump on the to check the pressures I discovered they were down to 15PSI. Crumbs. It was great off road but rather strange on the road. A good tyre but how will it fair in the wet? Ah well….

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More grip than a grippy thing even if some of the treads look like they maybe better the other way around.

Who are you? …………..South West She-redder – Heather Kay

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Oct 272016
 

 

 

 

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 In the gate of a World Cup 4x Race. On the side of a Alpine Mountain about to descend. The sound of a bike being propelled at speed through technical wooded sections of a BES Stage. In the van that probably suggests a long weekend in the saddle. Or simply just enjoying the great outdoors. These are things that are not just a dream but are events to be remembered and lived. There will be plenty more no doubt. But who could be living this dream? Well it’s a reality for a lass from down Devon way. She has put her hand to some pretty spectacular and tough forms of racing. Not only that but she will show the youngsters a thing or two. Whats more it’s all done on a Hardtail. What’s not too like? But who is she? Well if you follow us you’ll know the question. 

Who are you?
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TTM Just landed……….Cerebral saviours. Red Bull, Cranked, POC

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Oct 252016
 

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The latest edition of  Cranked came today. A more in depth magazine than some. So more of a take your time kind as opposed to quick fix. This month looks to be another superbe read with an article all or two I’m sure you will enjoy. Yes it is £10 but with very few adds it’s a good quality read that you will want to keep or lend to others of like mind.

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Also this came today care of that splendid fellow from Dartmoor Cycles none other than Mr Andy Boyle.

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This is a rather unusual read as it covers a wide range of sports and lifestyles that as you can imagine are connected in some way to Red Bull. In this issue there’s a good article about that young Scots land who is a bit handy on a pushbike and made a few films too. Yes Skye’s own superstar Danny Macaskill.

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Of course with all that reading there’s a good chance you might be inspired to go ride your bike. Or in my case have a go at a bit of this Street/trials lark. Well I’m bound to come a cropper so a new hat to keep what little brains i have seemed a good idea. This is the POC Crane Pure Danny Macaskill  edition. Unfortunately it won’t make you into a YouTube star overnight. I got mine care of www.kustombikes.co.uk .

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