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Merida Matts 40-D (2013)

BikeAdvisor March 14, 2013 Bicycles, Mountain bicycles, Reviews 3 Comments
Merida Matts 40-D (2013)
Overall score:
3/5
Plus: Light frame, hydraulic disc brakes, decent price
Minus: Outdated shifter, low grip and big weight of the tires, modestly performing fork

Last year we go to know pretty well Merida’s Matts 20-MD, so it was somewhat of a natural thing to go for the Matts 40D in 2013. Currently, the differences between the two models are quite sensible, given the fact that the manufacturer changed the frames of the entry-level category. Specifications are also better in comparison to the 20-MD, but are they enough to provide you with better performance?

Frame/On the trail

With a weight of 14,26 kilograms, pedals included, it’s pretty hard to call the Matts 40-MD a light bike, with the occuring implications that it has on riding. The model was designed for leisure riding and you have to keep that in mind when dealing with it. This means that the bicycle won’t feel at home on demanding trails, that include steep descents or heavy climbing. The 3×8 drivetrain includes a 32-tooth sprocket and a 24-tooth chainring, so you will have to make do with this as a lowest gear ratio regardless of the level of climbs in your way. Personally, a 2 or 4 extra tooth sprocket may have done the Matts 40D some justice, especially considering it is an entry-level model.

Handling is ok, the bicycle been responsive enough to tackle turns at a high speed, on technical sections with a small gradient. It could have used a wider handlebar than the standard 620mm one, but this is left for you to upgrade if you wish to do so. The sit on the bike is comfortable, just like I have imagined it, with a not very forward-leaned position.

The stiffness of the frame isn’t brilliant, 97.2 Nm/degree, so the question of a high-score for this is ruled out. On the other hand, the 1.9 kilograms of the frame make the Matts 40-D to be surpassed only by the RAM HT Two. Different entry-level frames hardly go under the 2 kilograms limit. An answer to the low stiffness of the head tube maybe found in the construction method, that doesn’t presume the top tube and the down tube being welded together in the meeting area on the head tube. This allows hydroforming the down tube and offering it a certain visual, that works in favour of the bike.

Finishing touches are pleasing for such a price level, but then again this part is taken seriously by most manufacturers. The paintjob stands out, welds respect norms, while cable routing follows the lower part of the top tube so as not to interfere with anything. Further more, room can be found for two water bottle holders and a carrier.

Specifications

All trouble begins with the Suntour XCT fork, fitted with a Lock-Out. Compression is a hint better than that of the previous version, but when it comes to rebound, Suntour wasn’t capable of solving the almost-permanent issue. When compressing the fork and releasing it suddenly, you can hear a certain noise and a tap, which are far from being welcome. Although it might seem like, it isn’t a manufacturing problem or flaw, it’s just that there isn’t something to dampen the occuring noise. It’s also true you have 100mm of travel to make bumpy trails easier, but that fine tuning is something the Suntour XCT definetly lacks.

An obvious upgrade of the Matts 40D is the brake set, which is represented by the hydraulic Tektro HDC-300’s. Performance isn’t what I would call compelling, but they sure do their job far better than other Tektro models. I admit that a 180mm rotor on the front wheel wouldn’t have bothered me, especially that it would have provided superior braking power.

The drivetrain is composed of a peculiar mix of components. A Shimano Alivio 2008 derailleur does the work for the rear part, a non-series Shimano M190 front derailleur guides the chain on the rings of a Shimano M131 crankset (42-32-24) and the 8 sprockets (11-32) of the cassette complete the line-up. Forget about the 2-way release function for the  ST EF51 shifters here, so I got the picture of a recreational configuration, that won’t stand abuse very well.

As far as the wheels are concerned, they seem tough enough. With the respective weight of course, for instance a single Merida Ride tire tiping the scale at 845 grams. As I stated throughout the review, this is a recreational bike, so emphasis was put on durability, rather than on performance. Of course, weight was a collateral damage, and nothing proves this better than the 952 gram crankset and RPM bottom bracket that stacks an less than impressive 310 grams.

Conclusions

Merida Matts 40-D is a good choice in the category of recreational mountain bikes, but not further than this. Mountain trails may very well be a hat too big for the model, although you can take it for a ride on high hills or something that won’t put too much pressure on it.

A 9-speed cassette and a lighter bottom bracket would have been a better choice in my opinion, but these deficiencies are counterbalanced by the light frame and hydraulic brakes. The Matts 40-D can represent a good starting point for an upgrade-project, if you are willing to financially commit to this, of course. My personal advice is to get rid of those tires first… they weigh together 1.7 kilograms!

Price: 530 euros

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3 Comments

  1. Eddy October 3, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Hi,

    thanks for the review, I found it while looking up technical information on my bike – a Matts 40 Speed, 2013 model.

    I agree with most of the comments, and can confirm that after changin out the handlebar for a wider carbon fibre model, replacing the forks with a slightly stiffer and lighter Suntour mondel, and the tyres for a lighter set, the improvement is noticeable. Apart from the handlebars, all these changes (and a new chainset) were down to regular maintenance, as through use, I had to replace worn-out parts.

    I’ve invested in a pair of Easton wheels as well, and I’m looking forward to getting them on, and seeing how that improves the bike still further.

    On the other hand, I disagree with the classification of this bike as purely recreational. I rode 654 Km from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela across country on trails with the bike in standard trim, and the addition of a luggage rack and panniers, on the original tyres, and it performed very well indeed. It’s true, the bike is a little heavy as it comes from the factory, but I ride regularly with a friend who has the same bike, but a year older, around some very demanding trails around Andalucia, and both bikes perform adequately. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that for durability, they are outstanding, considering the rough treatment they receive!

    Obviously if you spend more money, either upgrading the existing components, or buying a more expensive bike in the first place, you will get a better ride. But that is stating the obvious. A Porsche 911 performs better than a Renault Clio, but it costs ten tiems as much.

    The bike is a bit on the heavy side, but the components are indestructible, and even after heavy abuse, the bike bears up well.

    Considering the good reviews you give to some very basic and ill-manufactured material from the budget outlet Decathlon, that certainly don’t stand up to heavy usage, I think you’ve been a bit unfair on the Merida. It is a capable bike with a good frame, and perfectly reasonable components, and held its own on the Camino de Santiago against some much more expensive competition. I won’t be getting rid of it for the forseeable future, as I can’t see anything I’d really like to replace it with.


  2. Alessandro October 7, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Hi,
    Do you know if default tyres are tubeless?
    Thank you.


  3. Eddy October 24, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Hi, I can confirm that the original spec tyres are not tubeless, and they’re pretty heavy, as mentioned in the article.

    I’ve changed out my wheels for a pair of Eastons that I picked up at a massive discount from Chain Reaction, and saved nearly a Kg of weight, and I put on a set of tubeless tyres saving even more weight – the bike is transformed. Better handling, more responsive, and although it might seem insignificant, the 1.5 Kg of weight that is saved from the mechanics of the bike translates directly into better response on the trail.

    Comparison:
    Rear original: 1220g
    Easton EA70 XCT 940g

    Front original: 1200g
    Easton EA70 XCT: 770g.

    Total difference 710g.

    Original tyre (worn, with inner tube) approx. 800g
    Rubena tubeless, 450g, with anti-puncture compound.

    Weight saving 700g.

    Hope this helps.


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