Merida announce all-new NINETY-SIX XC racer including a trail spec

Press Release


Originally launched in 2008, our World Cup and World Championships proven full suspension race bike has gone through a number of changes and alterations over the last decade, with probably the most significant departure from ‘the old’ coming together in the new NINETY-SIX (MY2021). We are very excited to present our take on modern XC, marathon and stage racing as well as lightweight short travel trail riding – welcome to the new NINETY-SIX – TRAIL AND TRACK AT FULL GAS.

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To bring the NINETY-SIX into the new decade, our team has created an entirely new frame that combines a long list of exciting features with a completely new modern geometry as well as an updated suspension platform. The new NINETY-SIX is available in three different level full carbon frames, with the top RC CF5 frame tipping the scale at only 1,695 g or 1,845 g for an RC CF4/CF5 medium size frame. Depending on the configuration it is either the classic 100 front/100 rear mm (NINETY-SIX RC), or the more trail orientated 120 front/100 rear mm (NINETY-SIX) version. Both bikes feature the same frame and suspension configuration but differ in specification and therefore show their strength in different riding situations and are aimed at other user groups.

 

Intended Use


The new NINETY-SIX is a super modern cross country race bike. Modern, in this case, means that it is much more downhill capable than its predecessors. The key reason for this is that cross country races have become far more demanding over the last few years. On top of that, customers are expecting much more downhill performance from a bike in this category as they did a few years ago.

 

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Worldwide the cycling press is even talking about a new category - down-country bikes. Down-country bikes are as light as possible to climb even the steepest mountains with ease, but also able to handle challenging trails with more panache as the travel numbers would suggest. Depending on the configuration, the NINETY-SIX is available in a more classic cross-country (NINETY-SIX RC) or a down-country (NINETY-SIX) setup. The RC models have a 100 mm fork in the front, super fast rolling tyres and a lighter front brake. The (non RC) NINETY-SIX models have 120 mm in the front, more grippy tyres and a more powerful front brake.

 

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However, whichever model you look at, they all have improved downhill capability due to the updated geometry and the more progressive suspension configuration. So, the range of use is even bigger as it was with the last generation. The NINETY-SIX can be used as a long-distance endurance bike, where two water bottles are always a big advantage, as a super-light trail bike, or as a classic cross-country race bike.

 

Key Components


Two versions
Our new NINETY-SIX is available in two versions. The more race-focused RC version with 100 mm fork travel and the more trail orientated version with 120 mm upfront. The longer fork does not just offer the ability to handle rough trails better, but it also slackens the head angle and gives the bike a more playful character. Both versions are based on full carbon frames.

 

P-Flex flex pivot
To save weight and further improve the frame stiffness, we have removed the seat-/chainstay pivot point. Instead of a classic bearing, the material properties of the frame allow sufficient flex without having an impact on durability.

 

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Flat mount rear brake
Due to the lack of a rear pivot point and the introduction of the ‘P-Flex’ flex pivot, we have given the seat stays as much space as possible to act as a leaf spring. To do that, we have equipped our NINETY-SIX with the smaller and less bulky flat mount rear brake. The brake is easier to adjust than the post mount brake and allows for a more straight-lines shape of the seat stays.

 

Two water bottles
One big wish from race legend José Hermida was that two water bottles could be fitted into the front triangle. To fulfil that, and without having an impact on the seat post insert depth, we are using a unique adapter on the lower part of the seat tube. This gives us the ability to fit two big water bottles into the frame without affecting the ability to use long travel dropper posts or making the bottles difficult to reach. Perfect for long marathon races and extended trail sessions.

 

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Twistlock lockout
To give the rider maximum control over the lockout function while offering the preferred paddle actuated dropper post, we have specced our NINETY-SIX with the super intuitive Twistlock lockout from Sram. A simple twist locks out the shock, while an easy to reach release button opens the shock back up again. Fast, simple and less cockpit clutter.

 

Trail mount
An additional fixing point below the top tube that offers the option to attach a spare tube, tool or small spare parts safely and securely.

 

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Longer insert depth
To allow longer dropper posts to be fitted we have created the new NINETY-SIX frame with extended insert depth. This allows us to fit a 170 mm dropper post into a size large frame on the down-country specific NINETY-SIX 8000, giving the rider maximum control and manoeuvrability on rougher terrain.

 

MERIDA chain guide
Today’s demanding course push man and machine to its limits. To reduce the risk of chain drop, we have developed a MERIDA chain guide. It is extremely light and small in appearance while making sure that the chain stays perfectly in place. It is adjustable to various chainring sizes and maintains its minimalistic appearance whatever the chosen chainring size.

 

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Threaded bottom bracket BSA
For easy maintenance the NINETY-SIX comes with outbound threaded bottom brackets, making last-minute bottom bracket changes fast and straightforward.

 

Wire Port headset
All control cables like gear, brake and dropper post cable enter the frame through a specifically shaped headset cap, cleaning up the cockpit area while also keeping them out of harm's way. Only the internally routed cable for the rear shock lockout enters the frame directly into the top tube for extra smooth lockout action.

 

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Modern down-country geometry
In line with today's more demanding and aggressive XC course as well as the rising interest in light yet capable short-travel bikes of the 'down country' segment, we have slackened the head angle by 1.5° (trail version even 3°), increased the reach, lowered the bottom bracket and standover height and steepened the seat angle by 1.5 - 2°.

 

Non-Slip Tightening
‘Non-Slip Tightening’ was first introduced at our ONE-TWENTY. A big advantage of this system is that all pivot bolts can be tightened and untightened from just one side with a Torx 30 key and there is no need to fix the opposite side of the bolt either. This is just a small detail, but everybody who services their own bike knows the advantage of this time-saving system.

 

Geometry and Suspension Platform


To get the new NINETY-SIX ready for today’s XC/marathon and down-country challenges, we looked at a long list of features in the development process. Besides the ones mentioned above, we paid particular attention to the geometry and the new suspension platform.

 

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In the ‘olden days’, the main focus for an XC/marathon race machine was outstanding climbing performance. Today the downhill performance becomes more and more important as courses become more demanding not just on the way up, but even more so, on the way down. To improve the downhill performance, we have tweaked the geometry by making the head angle 1.5° slacker (in the trail version even 3°), by increasing the reach (from 449 mm to 473 mm on a size L frame) and by lowering the bottom bracket and stand over height. All these changes make the bike more stable, and there is more space to manoeuvre on the bike. Also, the rider feels more integrated into the bike. But not only the downhill related parameters have become more modern. The seat angle got at least 1.5° (and on some sizes even 2°) steeper, making it easier to put more pressure on the pedals.

 

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But a good geometry is nothing without a perfectly working suspension platform. Compared to the last generation, the new NINETY-SIX leverage ratio is more progressive. The progression is more than 7% which perfectly matches the small air chambers of cross-country shocks. The higher ratio at the beginning of the travel makes the suspension sensitive to small impacts, and the progression gives it great support in the mid-travel. On top of that, we are introducing the new P-FLEX system. The new system has no seat-/chainstay pivot point, which has a positive effect on weight as well as stiffness. The material properties of the frame and the leaf-spring-like frame design allow sufficient flex without having an impact on durability.

 

Both elements, geometry and suspension, work in perfect harmony and create the most capable, supportive and most likely fastest NINETY-SIX in our history so that you can enjoy TRAIL AND TRACK AT FULL GAS.

 

Ninety-Six Models


The following Ninety-Six models will be available in South Africa. The estimated availability is currently in January or February 2021.

 

Ninety-Six RC 9000

 

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  • CF5 frame - lightest version
  • Shimano XTR 1x12 drivetrain with Race Face carbon crank
  • Shimano XTR brakes
  • Fox Factory suspension
  • SRAM Twistlock lockout
  • Fox Factory dropper seat post
  • DT SWISS XRC 1501 carbon wheelset
  • MERIDA TEAM handlebar
  • Prologo Scratch M5 saddle
  • 29x2.25" Maxxis Recon Race TR EXO tyres
  • Estimated Retail Price: R 139,999
Ninety-Six RC XT

 

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  • Shimano XT 1x12 drivetrain
  • Shimano XT brakes
  • Fox Performance 32 Float SC fork
  • Performance Elite Float custom shock
  • SRAM Twistlock lockout
  • MERIDA EXPERT TR LIGHT dropper seat post
  • MERIDA EXPERT CC saddle with MERIDA multitool
  • 29x2.25" Maxxis Recon Race TR EXO tyres
  • Estimated Retail Price: R79,999
Ninety-Six RC 5000

 

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  • Shimano Deore/XT 1x12 drivetrain
  • Shimano SLX brakes
  • RockShox suspension
  • Sram Twistlock lockout
  • MERIDA EXPERT TR LIGHT dropper seat post
  • MERIDA COMP CC saddle with MERIDA multitool
  • 29x2.25" Maxxis Recon Race TR EXO tyres
  • Estimated Retail Price: R 69,999
Ninety-Six 8000

 

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  • SRAM GX Eagle 1x12 drivetrain (10-52 cassette & Carbon crank)
  • Shimano XT brakes (4 piston in the front / 2 in the rear)
  • New SID fork - lightest 35 mm stanchion fork
  • New SIDLuxe shock - very compact and light
  • Sram Twistlock lockout
  • MERIDA EXPERT TR dropper seat post with Shimano lever - 170mm travel in size L
  • Reynolds TR 309 carbon wheelset
  • MERIDA TEAM handlebar
  • Prologo Scratch M5 PAS saddle
  • 29x2.3" Maxxis Minion DHR TR EXO 3C MaxxTerra tyres
  • Estimated Retail Price: R 114,999




31 Comments

Schnavel, Nov 12 2020 11:14

Nice looking bikes at a reasonable price compared to other brands.

 

That brake caliper is going to be a nightmare - one post mount and one flat mount...

JohanDiv, Nov 12 2020 11:24

Nice bike.. but I'll wait until after the Olympics for the "Super Duper Modern" version.

babse, Nov 12 2020 11:27

that is some naaaaaice looking machines  

DieselnDust, Nov 12 2020 12:10

great  looking bikes .

R115K for a GX bike!!!!! 

Headshot, Nov 12 2020 12:26

Have XC races become more technical suddenly, or is that just a marketing excuse for turning XC bikes into light #enduro bikes? Those prices are jaw droppingly huge. We really are victims of our *** kurrency on top of the premium prices bike manufacturers are now demanding. 

s14phoenix, Nov 12 2020 12:53

Looks like they copied a lot from my SC Blur... especially the first few photos and the colour...

 

Would still rather ride my Blur but these are OK  :thumbup:

Furbz, Nov 12 2020 01:09

Nice looking bikes at a reasonable price compared to other brands.

 

That brake caliper is going to be a nightmare - one post mount and one flat mount...

that legit?

babse, Nov 12 2020 02:33

great  looking bikes .

R115K for a GX bike!!!!! 

I don't even bother looking at RPP anymore...

Joe Soap, Nov 12 2020 02:48

This bike ticks a lot of boxes

I've never been a Merida fan but this bike (and the new long travel HT) I'm starting to reconsider.

Some really useful innovation (twist lock/chain guide/top cap/mounting points/seat tube/2 bottles) on this bike not like other new brands that just did a copy and paste exercise

 

Can't justify the price yet (of any new bike)

WrightJnr, Nov 12 2020 06:12

I don't even bother looking at RPP anymore...


Unless it’s a Spez. Then everyone does and loses their marbles.

dseenya, Nov 13 2020 07:36

Nice looking bike. Looks like a more angular version of the carbon Kona Hei Hei 

 

https://konaworld.com/hei_hei_cr.cfm

Rocket-Boy, Nov 13 2020 08:22

It looks a bit like the lovechild of a Santa Cruz and a Yeti.

Mawbs, Nov 13 2020 08:55

Not exactly up to date with Geo compared to other brands  

DR ◣◢, Nov 13 2020 09:00

great  looking bikes .

R115K for a GX bike!!!!! 

 

Agree 199% with you there 

 

R117k buys you a 2021 Cannondale Scalpel Si Limited with X01 bits. The rest is pretty much on point with the carbon wheels etc. 

 

R109k buys you a 2021 Scott Spark RC900 TM Issue Prism with a mix of GX and AXS.

 

If you want a full GX bike with carbon wheels and you're willing to settle for a 2020 model then look at a 2020 Cannondale Scalpel Si Carbon 3 29 at R85k. R30k is a lot of change. 

 

Many options out there but I think Merida lost it a little bit with their pricing. 

Great looking bikes but again it just shows that shopping around is extremely important these days. 

DJuice, Nov 13 2020 01:35

Agree 199% with you there 

 

R117k buys you a 2021 Cannondale Scalpel Si Limited with X01 bits. The rest is pretty much on point with the carbon wheels etc. 

 

R109k buys you a 2021 Scott Spark RC900 TM Issue Prism with a mix of GX and AXS.

 

If you want a full GX bike with carbon wheels and you're willing to settle for a 2020 model then look at a 2020 Cannondale Scalpel Si Carbon 3 29 at R85k. R30k is a lot of change. 

 

Many options out there but I think Merida lost it a little bit with their pricing. 

Great looking bikes but again it just shows that shopping around is extremely important these days. 

I do like the bikes.

Value for money the bikes loose out on the Titan Racing Cypher range.

Both Merida and Titan has same distributor.

Merida1s for some reason unknown to me never sell high volumes in SA.

Buying a new bike with these prices is not an option for me.

 

However holding out to see if their is specials late in 2021.

 

To be honest, this bike is now my number 1 shortly followed by the Cypher.

JasperNel, Nov 13 2020 01:40

I do like the bikes.
Value for money the bikes loose out on the Titan Racing Cypher range.
Both Merida and Titan has same distributor.
Merida1s for some reason unknown to me never sell high volumes in SA.
Buying a new bike with these prices is not an option for me.

However holding out to see if their is specials late in 2021.

To be honest, this bike is now my number 1 shortly followed by the Cypher.


Same here, it's crazy to think one would need to fork out R70k on their entry level carbon bike. New bike prices aren't affordable any more

dasilvarsa, Nov 13 2020 02:01

BSA Bottom Bracket

DieselnDust, Nov 13 2020 02:27

Same here, it's crazy to think one would need to fork out R70k on their entry level carbon bike. New bike prices aren't affordable any more

 

 

i think what they're banking on is the expected high demand of components and bikes from the bigger brands that rely of outsourced manufacturing whilst supply is constrained by lack factory capacity.

The bike industry is pricing itself into financed territory which is going to be just another bubble

DR ◣◢, Nov 13 2020 03:43

It's weird how that R115k they want for the GX bike can actually put you on a boutique brand if you shop around carefully. 

 

I spent less than that on my latest build. Yes I run SLX on the derailleur side but it is purely because a wrecked high end derailleur is an expensive replacement. 

sirmoun10goat, Nov 16 2020 11:39

Well 140k could have bought you Wanyemol's spec'd to the max sub 10kg 'dale, with AXS, Trickstuff, custom built wheels, and a bunch of other stuff. The difference between AXS (be it XX1 or XO1) and GX components is worth 25k alone.

 

I'm not sure about the total cost of the 'dale, but if you buy carefully you can definitely do a better build than what this Merida is.

Waynemol, Nov 17 2020 06:50

Seems the best way to get a new bike now is collect parts and transfer parts and buy the frame you want - 115k builds you a better bike than this GX Merida with a bit of shopping around

DR ◣◢, Nov 17 2020 07:07

Seems the best way to get a new bike now is collect parts and transfer parts and buy the frame you want - 115k builds you a better bike than this GX Merida with a bit of shopping around


That’s how I built my Evil. Careful shopping and collecting of parts.

Spent a fair bit less than R115k.

CAAD4, Nov 17 2020 07:10

It narrows it down a helluva lot, with limited frame only options.

Hilton., Nov 17 2020 08:59

So it's not that nowadays you get a discount by buying the whole bike complete (since the manufacturer gets all sorts of OEM bulk pricing.
 
Seems to be that you now pay a premium for the privilege having a manufacturer put it all together for you.
 
Reminds me of that article about that S-works Epic Evo custom build, where it came out lighter, more aggressive and cheaper than the full-fat S-works on retail for R199k.

Nick, Nov 17 2020 09:39

Component prices will likely catch up to the new bike prices as soon as the old stock flushes out and the new stuff starts arriving.

Always deals in the classifieds though  :thumbup: