Weighing in at 22lbs out of the box, courtesy of a carbon fibre frame, full Shimano XTR groupset, Fulcrum Red Power 29 wheels and a 100mm Fox Float fork, Merida’s Big.Nine CF 5000 looks like an absolute race-ready weapon, a scorchingly fast singletrack bike that will devour climbs. Provided your legs are up to the task.
The Big.Nine CF 5000 packs the latest carbon fibre technology to produce a frame with a claimed weight of just 2.42lb (1.1kg). To put that in perspective, that’s as light as, and in some cases lighter than, some jolly expensive road frames. What makes it so light is the Nano Matrix Carbon used in the layup and the Double Chamber Technology that allows them to eke out plenty of stiffness without adding too much extra carbon. Double what? Basically they add a reinforcing rib through the middle of the down tube which adds the desired increased stiffness with only a smidgen of extra weight.
There is a BB30 bottom bracket too, the larger shell size allows the down tube, seat tube and chainstays to take advantage of the extra real estate and be appropriately oversized. Out back the rear axle is a 12x142 thru-axle, something we’re starting to gradually see more on hardtails, where the extra stiffness is welcomed. The head tube is tapered with a 1.5in lower bearing and 1 1/8in upper bearing. All the cables are internally routed.
Merida have considered that comfort might be no bad thing, and have engineered the seatstays and chainstays to offer a small degree of flex. They call this Flex-Stay. The tubes are slim in diameter and there’s no brake bridge on the seat stays. They’ve also use bio flax fibres in the carbon layup to increase the vibration damping qualities of the rear triangle. It'll be interesting to see how this works when we hit the trail.
The bike was developed by and for the Merida World Cup race team. The company has long been backing a cross country race team and that is reflected in the Big.Nine. The angles are aggressive, the head tube is short, the top tube is long and low, all to promote an aggressive head-down riding position. Fast is its remit.
The Big.Nine CF 5000 costs £3,750. That gets you a full Shimano XTR groupset, with a Shadow+ rear mech to stop the chain slapping about and a triple chainset (42/34/24). Brakes are XTR too with 180/160mm IceTech rotors. Fulcrum Red Power 29 XL wheels are fitted to the frame with a 15mm front axle and 12x142mm rear axle. Tyres are Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo 29 2.25in.
Slotting into the short head tube is a Fox Float Float 29 CTD FIT fork. It provides 100mm travel and the FIT damper can be operated by the remote handlebar operated lever. The silver lever switches into trail or climb setting, the black lever switches back into fully open descend mode. It’s an ergonomic lever and one we imagine being very useful on some racecourses, where the lockout would be handy on steep and smooth climbs.
The carbon theme continues into the finishing kit, it’s a splendidly light FSA K-Force Flat 685mm handlebar with a matching FSA stem and seatpost. A Prologo Nago Evo X10 Tirox saddle completes the build kit. The bike weighs a nats whisker over 22lbs (9.9kg), which ever way you look at it, that's seriously and impressively light.
Merida Big.Nine CF 5000 Vitals
Merida Big.Nine Carbon Comp R12
Fork: Fox 32 Float 29 CTD FIT Remote - 100 15 mm taper
Derailleur: Front Shimano XTR HD triple; Rear Shimano XTR Shadow+
Shifter: Front Shimano XTR; Rear Shimano XTR
Brake: Front Shimano XTR-Fin 180 mm ice Disc; Rear Shimano XTR-Fin 160 mm ice Disc
Chainwheel: Shimano XTR 42-34-24
Chain: KMC X10 10s
Rim: Fulcrum Red Power 29 XL F15-R12
Tyres: Schwalbe Racing Ralph Evo 29 2.25 fold
Stem: FSA carbon OS -6°
Handlebar: FSA K-Force Flat 685
Headset: Big Conoid A-Bearing
Seatpost: FSA K-Force Lite SB0 27.2 mm
Saddle: ProLogo Nago Evo X10 TiroX
More information: Merida Big.Nine CF 5000