Friday, 8 May 2009

Worlds Lightest Mountain Bike

Merida have unveiled a new carbon hardtail, the 0.Nine. It will be used by the Multivan Merida Biking Team this season and will be available to buy later this year.

The 0.Nine replaces the current Merida Carbon FLX hardtail, which has won five world and five European championship titles, as well as 15 World Cup victories.

With a claimed frame weight of "close to 930g" (approx 2.05lb, 18in size with regular bottom bracket), it is said to be 200g lighter and 20 percent stiffer than its predecessor.

Despite this increased stiffness, Merida say the 0.Nine is actually more comfortable than the FLX thanks to its Flex-Stays and new tapered seat tube which allows the use of a slimmer, more flexible seatpost (27.2mm).

Michael Wilkens, in charge of marketing for Merida in the UK, said this in-built flex in the stays and seatpost gives up to 40mm of 'suspension' travel. He said: "The 0.Nine is very much scratching at the ceiling of what's possible in terms of carbon technology. It's extremely lightweight, but also compliant.

"I rode it at the team launch in Majorca and I've never ridden a bike like this before. I had high expectations, because the FLX is a very compliant bike, but this is in a different league. Making a frame that's light is one thing. It's even harder to make something that's light as well as compliant but at the same time stiff in the bottom bracket."

The frame is guaranteed for five years for riders under 120kg (approx 19 stone), including for race use – something that is excluded in many companies' small print.

Versions will also be available with BB30 bottom brackets. These weigh 30g more than the standard model but are said to be 35 percent stiffer than the Carbon FLX.

The 0.Nine follows hot in the footsteps of Merida's Ninety-Six featherweight full-suspension racebike. It was designed using computer modelling and stress testing usually reserved for the performance car industry.

Prices are yet to be confirmed, but with the Ninety-Six retailing for £7,500, the 0.Nine isn't going to be cheap. Framesets should be available by late summer, with complete bikes following at the end of the year.

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