The Merida eBig-Nine XT

The Merida eBig-Nine - pedal-assist hardtails.

We tested a Merida Big Nine E-Lite 650 last year, and the XT Edition sees a few key upgrades - mostly to a far wider gear range with an 11-46 cassette, and a move fom Bosch to Shimano STePS with the E6000 motor. But at $3999 it's really good value for the versatility.

This is likely going to suit the commuter-cum-mountain biker. But I have seen people on very similar bikes on the old forestry trails way above Brisbane. And they have readily admitted they wouldn't be doing those rides without the pedal-assistance. Pedal-assist bikes are getting more people out, more often.

Interestingly, all the hardtails that are pedal-assist from Merida use the Shiman STePS E6000 motor (save for the top level Big Nine 600, at $4299). However the XT Edition and the 500 model still use the 500Wh battery. So with a motor that delivers less torque (really only an issue on super steep inclines, like 30%, where the E8000 kicks in for more torque) you get a unit that lasts longer. This makes a lot of sense for riders wanting to go further.

There are far more details online, but we really recommend dropping in to a Merida dealer for precise details.

Here at AMB we're convinced that pedal-assist bikes are a great way to expand the sport of mountain biking. We totally understand it's not for everyone. But for some people it's a good way to get back into the sport, for others it's a way to ride the trails they want to without reliance on shutle companies. But what's your view? Write in an let us know - or comment below.