Merida gunning for short travel revolution with NINETY-SIX

Merida have placed an emphasis on downhill performance with their new XC race bike, the NINETY-SIX. The short travel model has been re-designed for 2021, partly in response to the evolution in cross-country racing, specifically technical downhill sections. 

What’s emerged from that re-think is a modern XC model, as comfortable in race stages as it is on weekend trails. 

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Modern racing machine 

Merida set one goal above the rest with the new NINETY-SIX, increased downhill capability. This has resulted in a ‘down-country’ model (NINETY-SIX) with 120mm of front-end travel compared to 100mm on the classic XC model (NINETY-SIX RC). The NINETY-SIX models also come with gripper tyres and a stronger front brake. The RC models meanwhile come favour faster rolling tyres and a light front brake. 

Geometry has been updated with a head angle that is slacker by 1.5”, a new Medium size that has a longer reach than the previous Large size (449 mm to 473 mm) as well as a lower bottom bracket and standover height. 

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Sleek design 

The German design is where the NINETY-SIX really shines through. Working with the likes of Jose Hermida, they’ve produced models that are as sleek as they are functional. Riders are now able to fit two drink bottles in the front triangle (perfect for race days) and if not using bottle cages, can use it as a second trail mount. 

Cable routing has been taken to task by designers as well. They’ve developed a new headset (the WIRE PORT) in order for cables to enter the frame via a specially designed headset cap. As well as reducing cable rattling, this new design also provides better protection. 

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What's available in Australia?

  • NINETY SIX RC 9000 | RRP $9,999 | Colour: Anthracite (Black/Titan) – available from mid Jan 2021
  • NINETY SIX 8000 (120mm fork) | RRP $8,699 | Colour: Anthracite (Black/Titan) – a late addition to AU range and available from July 2021
  • NINETY SIX RC XT | RRP 6,399 | Colour: Silk Golden Red (Black) – available from Feb 2021
  • NINETY SIX RC 5000 | RRP $5,599 | Colour: Orange (Black) – available from Feb 2021

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Geometry

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Bicycling Australia

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