MERIDA eBIG.TOUR 700 EQ in review
With the eBIG.TOUR 700 EQ, MERIDA send an ebike into the test equipped with the Shimano EP8 motor. Can this bike from the mountain bike/trekking sector convince for hard everyday commuting with its wide gear range and suspension seat post, or should it have stayed at home? You can find the answer in our test!
Go big or go home! MERIDA’s affinity for mountain bikes is recognisable in the eBIG.TOUR and it’s not surprising that this bike sits between mountain bikes and trekking bikes in the Taiwanese brand’s portfolio. Whether this category has a future is anyone’s guess. Nonetheless, a first look confirms that MERIDA value sensible off-road performance. Why shouldn’t the daily route to work take you off-road too? Many people can only truly switch off, leave their worries behind and enjoy the fresh air when they are flying across gravel, their tires greet some roots in the morning and the tread kisses a few larger rocks in the evening before going to bed.
The Shimano EP8 motor convinces with natural and beginner-friendly handling and offers a sensible alternative to Bosch’s top dog, the Performance Line CX motor.
MERIDA eBIG.TOUR 700 EQ spec in detail
Sex bomb, sex bomb, you’re a sex bomb… stop, rewind. Wrong text, wrong bike. In comparison with the Schindelhauer Arthur VI/IX or the Movea Modo 20″, the MERIDA eBIG.TOUR is the wallflower in the test and silently hopes that the test team can recognise its internal qualities – in bike jargon, we call that the spec. In this regard, the MERIDA ebike, which weighs just under 25 kg without a lock, shines with one of the best suspension forks of all the bikes and plays a trump card with both its four-piston brakes front and rear, and the 12-speed Shimano XT drivetrain with a large 10–51 t cassette. And all that for the fair price of € 4,299. We also like the metal mudguards, the mini-tool integrated under the saddle, the mounted ABUS folding lock and the MIK standard luggage rack with a load rating of 27 kg, allowing you to fit a child seat. However, the chain guide taken from the mountain bike sector could have been replaced with a cover for the chainring and chain, which would have been much more practical for everyday use. The Lezyne light system is no marvel in terms of output but is just bright enough to light your way home in the dark.
Motor Shimano EP8 85 NmBattery Shimano E8036 630 WhDisplay Shimano SC-E6100Fork SR Suntour Raidon34 100 mmSeatpost MERIDA TEAM TK 30.9 mm 100 mmBrakes Shimano M4100 180/180 mmDrivetrain Shimano XT/SLX 1x12Stem MERIDA EXPERT CT 90 mmHandlebar MERIDA EXPERT CC 720 mmWheelset MERIDA COMP CCTires Kenda Booster 29 x 2.2″
Size S M L XLWeight 24.74 kg
suspended dropper seat postmultitool integrated underneath saddleABUS frame lockLezyne / Spanninga lighting system
|Seat tube||380 mm||430 mm||480 mm||530 mm|
|Top tube||588 mm||605 mm||625 mm||645 mm|
|Head tube||115 mm||120 mm||130 mm||140 mm|
|Chainstays||465 mm||465 mm||465 mm||465 mm|
|BB Drop||63 mm||63 mm||63 mm||63 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,165 mm||1,183 mm||1,204 mm||1,225 mm|
|Reach||411 mm||427 mm||445 mm||462 mm|
|Stack||636 mm||640 mm||650 mm||659 mm|
On the throne with the Shimano EP8 motor?
The eBIG.TOUR 700 EQ is one of two bikes in this commuter bike group test to rely on the 85 Nm Shimano EP8 motor. It has nothing to hide in the face of the Bosch Performance Line CX motor fitted to four other bikes in the test. From above, the EP8 has a very narrow footprint, providing a lot of freedom of movement. However, in comparison to many other bikes, the charging port is positioned very far down, directly above the bottom bracket, meaning reaching it can be a bit fiddly. That said, the 630 Wh battery can also be removed from the bottom of the down tube for charging off the bike.
In use, the EP8 motor convinces with a comparatively low level of noise and truly natural and beginner-friendly handling. The Shimano motor doesn’t feel quite as punchy as the Bosch Performance Line CX but generates enough propulsion and power to get you up even steep inclines without ending up with sweat patches for your date at the highest viewpoint in town. In comparison to the Bosch motor, the differences between the assistance modes are more pronounced and our test team was a big fan of Trail mode, which reacts dynamically to rider input, always delivering the right level of assistance whether you’re riding on flats or uphill. By contrast, the Shimano SC-E1600 display feels a little old-fashioned but can be read perfectly, even in direct sunlight. Unfortunately, the Shimano E6000 remote makes a negative impression with its creaking and undefined actuation. The Shimano SW-EM800 remote from the mountain bike sector, like you’ll find on the MERIDA eONE-SIXTY 10K, is a much better choice!
MERIDA eBIG.TOUR 700 EQ on test
Even if the MERIDA eBIG.TOUR 700 EQ has a lower front than the Haibike Trekking 9, the riding position is pleasant and well-suited to tours. The large 29 x 2.2″ tires (the bike can take up to 2.35″ tires without mudguards) roll over small obstacles as easily as a tank over tree trunks. The 100 mm Suntour Raidon34 suspension fork effectively swallows up kerbs and other irregularities with its capable damping.
The combined suspension and dropper seat post is a real win – after you’ve got used to how it works.
Let’s get to the comfort elephant in the room: the suspended and droppable seat post. In comparison to the suspension fork, the seat post suspension requires a lot of force to start moving, after which it finally gives up a lot of travel suddenly. You end up asking yourself whether the seat post is working at all before it suddenly dives down in response to large bumps. That’s particularly surprising during your first few rides but in the long run, is a real benefit to you and your back. The combination of dropper post and suspension is unbeatable as regards ease of operation. The € 164.95 for the seat post upgrade is money well spent. Overall, in terms of comfort, the MERIDA exceeds the stiff Haibike Trekking 9 and falls somewhere below the comfort wonder that is the Samedi 27 Xroad FS 7 from Moustache. That makes it well-suited for all-day tours that also take you across gravel tracks and forest roads.
Tuning tip: fit chain cover to avoid oil stains on your trousers on the way to work
In comparison to sportier bikes like the Canyon Commuter:ON 7, the MERIDA responds to steering input slightly more slowly. That’s not necessarily negative as it suits the more relaxed character of the bike. The eBIG.TOUR also convinces with its big wheels and its capable, stable ride, delivering a lot of trust thanks to the increase in control offered by the wide bars and the safety of the four-piston brakes. That’s a particular bonus for beginners. Go big? With pleasure, as long as it’s not too bumpy. Go home? Only after an extended ride with a break at the beer garden.
MERIDA eBIG.TOUR 700 EQ conclusion
The MERIDA eBIG.TOUR 700 EQ is a great ebike with a coherent spec for fans of tours and outings, as well as being one of the few bikes that make it possible to mount a child seat on the luggage rack. The Shimano EP8 motor convinces with sufficient power and beginner-friendly handling. After a little familiarisation, the suspended dropper post is a real benefit. However, if you’re looking for a bike with sex appeal and charisma, you should give this wallflower a miss.
- great everyday spec for shopping and carrying kids
- beginner-friendly Shimano EP8 motor
- long-distance-worthy riding position with sufficient comfort thanks to suspension and seat post
- feeling of safety
- large gear range for hills
The trans-urban mile muncher 1 The stylish city explorer 2 The Transporter 3 The short distance whizz 4 The passionate recreational cyclist 5
You can find out more about at merida-bikes.com
- … or the regular long-distance commuters. Your usual commuting distance is more than 15 km each way and you use your bike every day. Your ebike is used as a means of transport and is a real alternative to a second car or public transport. Practicality, reliability and utility win out over the ultimate bling factor because it’s primarily a functional machine↩
- This type of ebike unites experts and early adopters from both the fashion and tech scenes. As hip trendsetters, they know exactly how to ride with style. Sci-fi, hi-fi, Wi-Fi – they know exactly what they’re talking about and can easily play the keyboard while half asleep. With a tendency to live out their passions eccentrically, emotional decisions come before rational ones.↩
- Take the kids to kindergarten, head to the weekly market and later get a crate of beer – no problem for this type of ebike, even without a car. These riders love to combine things: rational and emotional motives go hand in hand because investments are made on the basis of knowing what they want and getting a suitable vehicle that suits their vision and mission.↩
- You live in a 15-minute city like Paris. This means that all your daily needs are within a 15-minute radius by foot or ebike. For short distances of less than 2 km, you aren’t afraid to simply walk. For medium distances of up to 10 km, you get on your bike. Longer distances are easily covered with a mix of public transport and your bike. Short-distance bikers are active/sporty people who never want to commit to one thing, maintain a flexible lifestyle and like to be inspired by impulses. Due to limited space in the city, they often don’t have a car and if they do, it is mainly used for pleasure.↩
- You have significant biking experience and enjoy riding sportily. This group encompasses mountain bikers and trail shredders, road bike fans and Strava heroes, as well as touring fans who enjoy (rural) excursions into the countryside outside the city. You change into sports gear for your daily commute before showering when you get there because you enjoy working on your fitness. Your bike is used for commuting during the week as well as for tours at the weekend and is a means of transport and sports equipment all in one.↩
- Learn more about the different rider types in this article: Click here!↩
Words: Philipp Schwab Photos: Valentin Rühl
Merida e bike battery
The battery for your electric bike is typically worth about a third of the value of the entire bicycle, so it’s important to find a good quality one and take care of it.
In the case of Pedego Canada, we offer a 5 Year Prorated Battery Warranty with all our electric bikes, which is one of the best in the business. Why we’re so confident in our batteries is the quality of the cells within them. If you take nothing else away from this post, remember this: do not buy an electric bike with anything less than a five year battery warranty and do your best to purchase a battery by one of the “big three” name-brand cells: Samsung, Panasonic or LG. Cheap electric bicycles like the kind you find at Costco do not have the quality of manufacturing or warranty that will ensure you can enjoy the bike for years. It’s our recommendation that you spend a bit more money up front to save you from headaches (or worse – the garbage dump or even a fire!) later.
No matter what electric bike you buy nowadays, chances are it runs on a lithium-based battery. Believe it or not lithium batteries have been around since 1912 but it’s only been in the last 15 years that they caught on and became economical in consumer applications. There are “lithium-ion” batteries and “lithium polymer” (aka “lithium-ion polymer”) batteries and the difference between them is the type of electrolyte used. Other than that, there isn’t a significant variance: Li-Polymer allows for a slight increase in energy density but is 10-30% more expensive and so manufacturers have yet to decide upon one over the other.
There is also a range of lithium chemistries available in different batteries and manufacturers might claim some are more robust than others but the single most important factor affecting the life of a battery is how well it is looked after. You should typically expect a battery to last between 3 and 5 years if it is well maintained. (A lithium-ion battery will slowly lose its capacity over time, even if it’s not used.) Below are three things you can do to ensure you get the longest usage out of your electric bike battery.
#1. Keep The Battery Cool
Environmental conditions are an important factor affecting lithium-ion batteries. For example, leaving one in your car in the hot sun will guarantee you lessen the life of your battery. In fact, that would be the worst situation: keeping a fully charged battery at elevated temperatures. It’s a good rule of thumb to store your bike out of the direct sunlight for long periods and when not in use, keep your battery in a cool place, preferably below 20°C (68°F). The chart below, provided by Battery University, shows the impacts of temperature upon recoverable capacity of a battery.
#2. Store A Battery Partially Charged – But Not Too Low!
You’ll also notice in the above chart that storing a fully-charged battery has an impact on the recoverable capacity. Even more important, storing a fully depleted battery may be disastrous because, as we mentioned above, a lithium-ion battery will slowly discharge over time even when you’re not using it. If the voltage drops below a certain point this may cause irreparable cell damage, depending on the time it’s left sitting. Ideally, when storing the battery for a long period, ensure it has a charge between about 80% and 40% of a full charge. Some chargers have a lower ‘storage’ voltage setting, so just switch to this before charging it for storage. An easy alternative is to take the bike for a ride after you’ve charged it fully and before storing.
Also, don’t leave your battery on the charger for long periods of time, as storing it at or close to 100% will reduce the life of the battery. You can also check your battery every couple of months over winter. If you notice that the battery indicator has dropped too low, you can give it a quick charge to bring it back to the ideal storage voltage (this is unlikely to be needed if the battery was at 40% or above). If you don’t have a battery indicator, it’s probably a good idea to charge the battery for half an hour every few months. Again, try not to put the battery away fully charged (but it won’t be the end of the world if this happens.)
#3. Don’t Regularly Fully Discharge Your Battery
It’s amazing that we still see tech sites advising regular full discharge of your battery, even when this has been proven as detrimental. The chart below, again provided by Battery University, proves that regularly discharging lithium-ion batteries to 0% is harmful and partial discharges with regular top-ups are recommended to extend the recharge-cycle lifespan of the batteries. The occasional full discharge on that extra long ride is no problem! It’s ok to top up lithium-ion batteries regularly and, as the chart below shows, it’s best to operate them in the top half of their discharge cycle; lithium-ion batteries don’t have a ‘memory effect’ that some other battery chemistries have. If you are doing short rides on a regular basis, it is slightly better to charge it every few rides rather than every ride (to avoid long periods at or close to 100% charge, as discussed above).
As an extra note for the winter season, make sure your battery is above freezing before charging, otherwise you could harm the cells. It is no problem to ride the bike in below-freezing conditions (it doesn’t harm the battery), just make sure you let the battery warm up before charging. When you are riding in very cold weather, you will notice a drop in power and range; this is normal and expected. You can help avoid this by bringing the battery inside whenever you aren’t riding to keep the temperature of the battery up. That way you will get that extra bit of power!
Correct maintenance and storage of your battery as detailed above will significantly increase its lifespan. A well-maintained lithium-ion battery will last between three to five years, whereas a poorly maintained battery can be badly damaged over just one season or sooner. For more detailed, scientific information on batteries and how to care for them, check out the excellent online resource at Battery University, where the above charts came from.
Merida’s eSilex 600 gravel bike doesn’t look like a power-assisted bike but does the Mahle motor help or hinder performance and handling?
Merida’s e-gravel bike is a surprisingly smooth and subtle ride for those who don’t need a big power boost or aggro terrain confidence. It’s loaded with practical features at a great price, too
- Super-smooth cruising manners
- Upright riding position and relaxed handling to match
- Quiet, subtle hub motor assist
- Low weight reduces riding effort
- Slim ‘secret battery’ frame
- Range extender double-capacity option
- Loads of bottle and cargo mounts
- Great value for a shop-bought bike
- Conventional width crankset
- Comprehensive ‘ebikemotion’ app
- – Limited control on rougher terrain
- – Easy to overpower the motor
- – Restricted 700c tyre space
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Merida is one of the biggest frame and bike building companies in the world, and we’ve been really impressed with the smoothness of its Silex before. Now it offers two motor-assisted versions, which retain a lot of the original’s practical and versatile features, comfortably relaxed ride, and great value, as well as added subtle assistance if you need it.
The 600 would definitely be our choice of the two eSilex bikes, but why does it deserve its spot on our list of the best electric gravel bikes? Read on to find out.
Design and geometry
There are plenty of technological advancements in the triple-butted hydro-formed alloy eSilex frame. The 1.5in head tube leaves space for the gear cable and rear brake hose to slide in under the stem and into the frame. The 252wh dealer-removable battery squeezes into a down tube that doesn’t look any bigger than an analogue bike’s, and the control is kept simple through the single ‘iWoc’ button on the top tube. Because the motor sits in the rear hub, not the frame, you get a conventional bottom bracket and seat tube setup too, with space for three bottle cage mounts and a tool/bag mount under the top tube.
A rubber-covered connector above the bottom bracket lets you plug in a bottle-cage-mounted ‘range extender’ battery, which doubles the overall capacity to just over 500Wh. The chunky chainstays are symmetrical rather than dropped on the drive side, but they still have plenty of room for 650b x 47mm tyres. It’s a bit more cramped with 700c wheels though, with Merida advising no larger than a 45mm.
There are front-and-rear mudguard and rear rack mounts, and there are even hidden fixtures for a kickstand ahead of the offside dropout. The dramatically tapering full-carbon fork is the same as used on the unpowered Silex bikes with similar tyre clearance to the frame, signature turned-back fork tips, and a bottle/cage mount on the upper legs. The geometry is slightly shorter and lower than the standard Silex bike and gives a relatively upright ride, while steering is stabilised with a 70.5-degree head angle.
Components and build
The Mahle X35 is a popular option for road and gravel, and it earned a spot in our roundup of the best e-bike motors. It puts the motor in the rear hub with only the battery, on/off switch and wiring to worry about in the frame. The latest X35 gets a bigger hub flange for shorter, stronger spokes after snapping issues with early versions.
As the motor is in the hub, Merida can fit a conventional chainset rather than motor-mounted cranks, and it has mostly gone for the mid-level 600 series of Shimano GRX, but with an 800 series mech as a highlight. It has a single-ring 11-speed setup for simplicity and neatness, but if you want a 2x system, the eSilex 400 gets GRX 400 for £2,750.00 / €2,699.00.
The rest of the kit is Merida, including the distinctive paired spoke laced Expert CX wheels. On these wheels, the relatively narrow 19mm internal rims pinch the 47mm Continental tyres, so it’s good to see they’re the reinforced ShieldWall carcass version of the Terra Trails (Continental’s best gravel tyres) to cope with the extra hub and battery weight, and we rimmed them out several times without a flat. We’d still definitely recommend converting them to tubeless as soon as you can though, and when you do, set aside plenty of time, because in our experience they are far from the easiest.
The saddle is well padded, and the seatpost is carbon fibre, helping to suck out some of the vibrations from the trail, but together with the 75-degree seat angle, the zero offset saddle clamp does push you forwards and shorten the position.
The 420mm bar can also feel cramped in terms of width when you’re trying to lever the increased e-bike weight into and out of corners, and all sizes of the bike come with the same 80mm stem, rather than being proportionately fitted. However, unlike some internally routed headset systems, the cable and hose enter through a scoop-fronted headset spacer rather than the stem, so you can easily swap to a shorter one if you want to liven or lighten up handling.
Ride, handling and performance
The upright, relatively compact position of the eSilex is what makes the immediate first impression, and it’s a bike that definitely encourages cruising rather than cracking on. That suits the Mahle motor, too, as while it can max out at 40Nm (Bosch and other frame-mounted motors can double that), it’s easy to overpower it with too much of your own torque if you stamp on the pedals hard on climbs or trying to accelerate.
Keep the pedal pressure relatively light though and it quietly helps ease your spin up to speed or puts a gentle tailwind permanently behind you on climbs or flat sections, and the way it comes off and on power around the 25km/h speed limiter is unobtrusively jerk-free, even in full-power mode. The much lighter overall system weight than a ‘full fat’ e-bike also reduces pedalling effort when at speeds above the limiter.
All-round agility and responsiveness are significantly better too, and you’ll really appreciate that 14kg weight if you have to heave it over a locked gate or up steps. Having the motor out back in the hub keeps your feet the normal distance apart (some bike motors add noticeable stance width) and it means no extra gear or chain noise resonating through the frame so it’s a really stealthy, subtle and natural feeling system overall.
While the top tube controller is basic and not as easy to operate as a bar-mounted remote, the Mahle ‘ebikemotion’ app adds a lot of functionality in terms of ride, motor, and battery feedback and motor manipulation. The motor can also connect to most of the best cycling computers, too.
What really surprised us was that the big motor at the back doesn’t massively upset handling or ride feel either. There’s a bit of a clunk on rougher terrain, and you’ll want to take steps, or rocky/rooty sections more gently. especially if you’re still using innertubes. but on back roads and light off-roads, the eSilex scoots along very smoothly.
The tapered front fork, plump saddle, carbon seat post and large-volume tyres also help smooth out the ride over less aggressive terrain, but again they are less happy if you try and get lairy. Bigger hits tend to twang the fork about, and higher cornering/impact loads make the pinched tyres roll and ricochet more than a broader footprint set up. As we’ve said previously, the narrow bars and longish stem don’t have the muscle to add extra control either.
While that’s obviously a downside if you’re after an e-gravel bike for more dynamic riding on more testing terrain, the fact that the whole character of the bike is clearly not up for that sort of use also makes it much less of an issue for us than if it was sending mixed messages. The extensive cargo capacity and extra battery option let you exploit the way the smooth, near-silent and subtly power-assisted ride for long-distance cruising and bikepacking, too.
Merida has taken its excellent Silex gravel bike and somehow fitted a big motor hub at the back without noticeably compromising handling or comfort.
Slim lines hide a lot of practical features too, and the price is comparable with online direct options making it a real bargain with shop assistance included. The Mahle motor only gives a gentle breeze of assistance rather than a serious boost though, and it’s definitely a relaxed cruiser, not an MTB chasing raver when it comes to more aggressive terrain.
Merida PowerCycle 500 12V 9Ah Electric Bicycle Replacement Battery
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About Electric Bicycle Batteries
Sealed Lead Acid Battery Care
- Recharge batteries after each use to prevent performance decline.
- Avoid complete discharges.
- Periodically check terminals for signs of corrosion or other wear which might cause failure.
- Always store battery fully charged.
- Store battery in cool, dry place (~68°F).
- Recycle batteries, do not dispose.
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