Just wanted to give a brief update on the Merida TFS 100 after about 11 months of use and during which I did 3500 km, all on road. In fact, I use it as a commuter bike. It has never stepped outside of paved roads.
The build quality and paint job is just solid. I have not had a single broken spoke (no exaggeration, never had to touch the rims or spokes) in 3500km. Considering that I am about 106 kgs in weight now, that is something!
I have not done any kind of stunts on the bike, no bunny hops and all that stuff. Am too old for such things.
The gear shift is good, though it is not silk smooth. But never had ANY problems with it though.
MY bike runs on Geax Evolutions and I had one puncture on the rear tyre after about 2000km. None after that. MY ride from RT nagar to ITPL via KR Pura takes me through some really crappy roads and this bike is absolutely at home on any kind of bad roads that Bangalore throws up. I have been very very happy on this count. You dont even have to consider slowing down for bumps or anything.
8x3 gear configuration is good enough for all apps, except speed. But then, this is not a bike made for speed. If speed is the main aim, please look at road bikes. That said, I have got better timing on this bike compared to my Hero Hawk. I think the lesser weight is the key.
Last but not the least, this is a very pretty bike. I have seen some of the models of Canondale or Bianchi in MTB segment. They dont come anywhere close in visual appeal. Though many may scoff at the mention of visual appeal for a MTB in this forum, it is an important factor for me.
At 13.5 kg on the scales, this is a light bike.
The original Merida V-Brakes are very very powerful. But they seem to have an issue with some screw falling loose and Venkatesh gives you an upgrade to Shimano V brakes for this reason when you buy. The brakes on my bike has not had any issues so far, and acts as good as new even now. Have changed brake pads though.
Most importantly, the riding posture is not for long distance riding. I get visibily uncomfortable after about 30-40km of continuous pedalling. 100 plus km commute on this bike will be a nightmare for me, though I know folks who do it.
The first month with this bike will be a little tough for folks who are used to very very relaxed positions on bikes like Hero Hawk. Upper back pain is very possible.
But that is something you get over with. The solidity and stable feel that this bike offers will far outweigh any of the so called negatives.
Original spare apart availability with Venkatesh at Wheel Sports is a slight problem. I ask for the original shimano chain and he does not have it (he has other MTB chains, but I insist on the original shimano since I am paranoid).
A definite STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for anyone who is willing to dish out 26K for a decent MTB.