Marin Mount Vision XM8 Review

Jul 8, 2013
by Mike Kazimer  
Marin Mount Vision
BY Mike Kazimer

Marin has been in the mountain biking world since the early days of the sport, beginning in Marin County, California, in the mid-80s, and launching their first full suspension bike in 1992. The Mount Vision XM8 is the company's 140mm, aluminum-framed trail bike, and uses the latest version of their Quad-Link suspension design. Featuring a full Shimano XT drivetrain and FOX suspension front and rear, the XM8 retails for $3799.99 USD. Our size medium test bike weighed in at 29 pounds without pedals.

Marin Mount Vision XM8 Details
• Intended use: trail/cross-country
• 26" wheels
• Rear wheel travel: 140mm
• Quad-Link suspension
• 12 x 142mm rear axle
• 160mm post mount rear disc
• Size: XS, S, M (tested), L, XL
• Weight: 29lbs without pedals
• MSRP: $3799.99 USD

Frame Design and Quad-Link Suspension
The XM8 is constructed from 6061 aluminum, and has the trifecta of must-have frame features for modern trail and all-mountain bikes (tapered headtube, 142x12 rear thru axle and a direct mount front derailleur), although there are no ISCG tabs for mounting a chainguide. The rear swingarm has a unique, angular shape to it on the non-drive side, a shape that allows post mounts for the rear brake caliper to be located on the chainstay. Although internal cable routing is becoming increasingly common, the XM8 sticks with external cable routing, running the dropper post and front derailleur housing run along the underside of the top tube, and the rear brake and derailleur housing underneath the downtube.

The Mount Vision XM8 features the third generation of Marin's Quad-Link suspension system. The previous two versions looked drastically different from the layout found on the XM8 – the chain and seat stays used to extend into the middle of the frame where two short links activated the shock. Now, the links have been move towards the rear of the bike, with one short link found just above the bottom bracket and a rocker link found below the top tube and seat tube junction. This new configuration allowed Marin to rework the design's leverage ratio curve to give the bike a more progressive end stroke along with reducing the initial leverage ratio, which should make for a more active suspension feel.

Marin XM8
  Marin's Quad-Link 3 is a much trimmer looking suspension design when compared to the previous two versions, using an upper rocker link along with a short link just above the bottom bracket. While the XM8 is a 26" wheeled bike, the new layout of Quad-Link 3.0 has also opened the door for Marin to use this design on 29ers.

Component Check
The XM8 has a full Shimano XT drivetrain, with a 42/32/24 triple crankset in the front and a 11-36 ten speed cassette in the rear providing plenty of gearing options. Formula's R1 brakes help slow things down, with a 7” rotor in front and a 6” rotor in the rear. A FOX Float 32 CTD front fork and a FOX Float CTD rear shock take care of the suspension duties. An X-Fusion HiLo dropper post is included, and an Easton Vice wheelset is shod with Maxxis' Ardent tires.

  The joystick-style dropper post lever makes it easy to dial in the right seat height on the fly. The XM8 also has a full Shimano XT 3x10 drivetrain.

Price $3799.99
Travel 140mm
Rear Shock Fox Float Performance CTD BV
Fork Fox 32 Float Performance CTD, 140mm Travel
Cassette Shimano XT, Direct Mount, 3x10-Speed
Crankarms Shimano XT, 42/32/24T
Bottom Bracket Shimano XT Big Pipe Billet Integrated with Crankset
Rear Derailleur Shimano XT Shadow Plus
Chain Shimano XT, 10-Speed
Front Derailleur Shimano XT, Direct Mount, 3x10-Speed
Shifter Pods Shimano XT, 2 Way and Instant Release, 3x10 Speed
Handlebar Marin 7050 Alloy, OS-31.8mm, 710mm Wide, 25mm Rise
Stem Marin OS Alloy Threadless, 31.8mm Bar Clamp
Grips Ergon GA1 EVO
Brakes Formula R1, Hydraulic
Wheelset Easton Vice
Tires Maxxis Ardent, 26" x 2.25", Folding
Seat WTB VOLT Comp
Seatpost X-Fusion HILO 125mm with remote
Marin XM8

Riding the XM8

bigquotesEven with the rear FOX CTD shock fully open in Descend mode there was minimal pedal induced suspension movement, making it possible to power the bike over rocks and roots without feeling like our energy was being wasted.

Climbing and Handling
Stand up out of the saddle to power up a climb and the XM8 quickly responds, scurrying uphill with an impressive lack of unnecessary suspension movement – this bike has one of the firmest pedaling platforms we've encountered. Even with the rear FOX CTD shock fully open in Descend mode there was minimal pedal induced suspension movement, making it possible to power the bike over rocks and roots without feeling like our energy was being wasted. On extended logging road sections we never felt the need to use the Climb position – the Trail position provided plenty of low speed compression damping for those long uphill slogs, and in reality it would have been fine to leave the shock fully open. The climbing position felt balanced, making it easy to perform weight shifts to get traction where it was needed. We didn't weigh the XM8 until after our time on it, and were surprised to see it coming in near the 30 pound mark. This isn't an unreasonable weight, but we would have pegged the bike as being in a lighter weight category given its climbing prowess and nimble feel on the trail.

  As long as the terrain didn't get too rowdy, the XM8 was a capable descender.

The XM8's 67.5 degree head tube falls in line with its intended use as a trail bike, an angle that isn't XC race steep, but also not as slack as bikes meant for more all-mountain duties. On the trail this translated into a bike that felt competent in most situations, as long as the trails didn't get too steep or chopped up. At slower speeds we had no trouble picking our way through technical mazes of rocks and roots, but at higher speeds on the same type of trails the XM8 lost a bit of its luster. While some bikes feel like they have more travel than they actually possess, encouraging riders to push harder and faster on technical terrain, the XM8 feels like it has exactly 140mm of travel and not a millimeter more. There's a definite downhill speed limit on this bike – if we opened it up too far the rear end would get bounced off line, forcing us to put on the brakes to get things back under control. The rear FOX shock did its best to keep up, and we certainly used all the travel, but the XM8 lacks that plush, bottomless feel that encourages riders to let it all hang out in the rough stuff.

  Climbing was the XM8's strong suit, providing a firm platform even when standing out of the saddle and mashing hard on the pedals.

Component Report

• Formula R1 Brakes: Good – the tool free reach adjust is quick and easy to use, with a nice positive click at each position. Bad – The lever shape of the R1's leaves a lot to be desired, and feels blockier and less ergonomic than the current offerings from Shimano and Avid. In wet conditions or on steeper trails there was a definite lack of power. When the brakes were applied there wasn't that deep stroke modulation other brakes on the market possess, and no matter how hard we squeezed there wasn't any way to eke out more braking force. Pad life was sub-par as well – we burned through a set of pads in only a few weeks, much, much quicker than we're used to.

• Ergon GA1 Evo: Good – The single bolt design makes these easy to remove. Bad – The composite locking clamp on these grips extends outward, which made it uncomfortable to ride with our hands all the way at the end of the handlebar

• Maxxis Ardent tires: Good – Fast rolling and predictable in most conditions, the Ardent fits well with the XM8's trail bike intentions. Bad – The Ardent can get a little drifty in the wet – corner too hard and things may start going sideways.

• Frame finish: The shape of the top of the upper rocker link could use a little refining, as there's a sharp edge that's positioned perfectly to hit the side of a rider's knee. On the climbs this wasn't an issue, but we hit it a few times on downhill sections required more body English. If the edge was rounded off, contacting it would be less likely to cause pain.

• Shimano XT drivetrain: While we would have preferred a 2x10 setup instead of three chainrings, we had no shifting issues, and the Shadow Plus derailleur kept chain noise to a minimum.

• X-Fusion HiLo dropper post: Good – We were skeptical at first of the seatpost's joystick style actuation lever, which looks a bit flimsy, but it survived unscathed, and we didn't run into any issues with the post itself either. The ability to use any position in the post's range of motion was also appreciated. Bad – The seatpost does extend when you lift the bike by the saddle, which isn't really an issue for us, but there are riders who prefer seatposts where this doesn't happen.

Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesIt's easy to take for granted the features that many trail bikes now come equipped with: front and rear thru axles, clutch type derailleurs, and dropper posts were almost non-existent a few years ago, but now come as standard equipment on most higher end trail and all-mountain bikes. The XM8 is no exception, featuring all of these amenities and is a good representation of a modern trail bike, with excellent pedaling characteristics and good manners as long as it isn't pushed too hard. At times, we did wish that the XM8 had a little more depth to its trail character. We've ridden a number of bikes recently that blur the lines between categories, possessing the ability to hold their own even when drafted for duty on trails more rugged than what they were designed for. The XM8 didn't seem to exhibit this versatility, and never revealed any hidden rock star characteristics that would take it to the next level. Still, the XM8 does fulfill its intended purpose quite well - Marin has created a efficient pedaling bike with a little more suspension and more relaxed geometry than an XC race bike would have, one that would suit riders who focus more on covering long distances and less on seeking out the most technical trails around. - Mike Kazimer


  • 34 1
 Nice to see a trail bike being tested, good review
  • 52 2
 This bike can't be here on pb? It has 26 inch wheels? So confused?
  • 42 1
 And costs less than $7000.00!
  • 9 11
 I have a friend started with the base build of this exact bike and slowly built it up to where it's probably worth $7000. I thought he was fast when he got it.
It climbs amazing, and with the new 160mm Pike he stuck on it it descends like a session. This thing is amazing! He has hucked some features I have only seen people on dh bikes do. Defiantly recommend it for anyone looking to upgrade to a new trail/all mountain bike.

PS One of Marin's 17year old riders (Erbentraut) got 5th on it in mens pro at the china peak enduro, beating out some much more famous riders. If that doesn't convince you it rips I dont know what will.
  • 23 6
 doesn't look like a session, but seriosly, it looks very much like a giant reign
  • 5 1
 You read my mind dude. Mind you at least its not overdrive 2! I wouldn't pay an extra $300 $400 just for that though hey
  • 4 3
 Overdrive 2 is far more benifitial then half the new rear axels, bb standards, and giant don't patent it so other manufactures can also use it, meaning better bikes for you in the end,
  • 7 6
 It kind of shows that all those patents are a joke... those guys with their patents are like Metallica and Napster. There are only few convenient ways pf connecting the rear wheel to the front triangle, you can't fucking own it. If something is easy to copy then maybe you should try harder or leave it to the people. Many small bike builders stay away from Full Suspension bikes because they are affraid of their ass being sued, and don't fancy inventing some 9-link contraption. If Dw-link or VPP is so unique then they should not worry, their refined designs will always be better than some YT, KHS, Merida, Ghost or Canyon who will try to mimmick it. Thank God we dont have this patent bullshit in Europe - it's not intelectual property protection, but intelectual heritage piracy
  • 2 1
 I actually have a Yt, and yes spesh's fsr is better but I can't really complain for a bike that's 1800 with good spec, ..... Does anyone know why it's called a quad link, I'm taking quad as 'four' but bar the 4 pivots I can't see why it's called that ...
  • 3 0
 4 links , frame , rear triangle , two links top and bottom.
  • 2 0
 Yup, a less polished, more expensive version of a Reign. RRP is over a grand more than I paid for my 2013 Reign 1, and there's minimal difference between SLX and XT, in fact the 2013 SLX cranks look way better. Plus they left out the XT brakes, which are awesome, and nearly identical to SLX Smile
  • 1 0
 slx brakes are identical to xt, save the kind of lever reach adjustment.
  • 1 0
 I said "nearly" because of the lever reach screw (not on SLX), plus the reservoir cover (SLX dull gray, XT shiny silver) and the pin that holds the pads in place (SLX uses cotter, XT uses threaded hex bolt + safety). But that's just bling, I own both and they perform the same.
  • 1 0
 But you can still adjust the lever reach with a tool on SLX, then as you say it has no "safety" bit. Then quite frankly SLX is that tad bit better...
  • 5 0
 I found my R1 brakes poor as well out of the box....until I replaced those fly-weight rotors (that are more holes than metal) with Shimano rotors and sintered pads. Bam, impressive brakes now. Worth a try for any formula owners that don't like the performance. I heard of stories of contaminated Formula pads on some OEM bikes as well (can't remember what bike brand).
  • 2 1
 I have to try that... I have shimano saints with formula rotors I was wondering why they felt so weak when people raved about them
  • 1 0
 I was going through a set of pads every few weeks in the winter with the R1 rotors. Shimano ice tech...nice upgrade for power and pad life
  • 1 0
 I run Formula's and agree with the above, i replaced the rotors with Avids and put sintered metallic pads in, bang on the money and i'm very happy with them
  • 9 1
 Sir, Line 3 Dave Weagle is on with his attorney. They say it is urgent.
  • 4 0
 I rode one of these for the final two stages of the Ashland Mountain Challenge / Oregon Enduro. My front wheel folded on me on the first stage and the Marin guys were kind enough to lend me a bike so I could finish the race. I haven’t ridden a Marin since a shop I worked at back in the 1990s sold them. Remember way back when they used Manitou’s design and actually put fork tubes with elastomers in place of the regular seat stays? Sorry, I digress. I rode the bike box-stock, with the exception of my pedals. They had the bike set up with the stem pointing up, on top of all the washers. I slammed it and reversed it, which greatly improved front end tracking. The bike rode extremely well, offering both solid pedaling efficiency and trail taming.
And how did my time on a borrowed bike compare? I got sixth on my first run and fourth on my second (8 second improvement), out of 20 starters. I don’t care what kind of rear suspension it has or what they call it, it works.
And a HUGE thanks to the dudes at Marin for letting me use the bike. You guys f-ing rock.
  • 5 3
 How is this a Quad Link? This looks nothing like the Quad Link 2.0, or indeed the one before it.... it looks like any other linkage on so many other bikes. The Quad Link 2.0 I dare say was unique... the shock was 'floating' between 2 links, and there was nothing else that looked like the Whyte designed Quad Link 2.0........ it looks like a 4 bar now... no reviewer says how this incarnation of the Quad Link stacks up against the previous versions?
  • 3 0
 I love my Whyte T-120. But the word is that the swing arms would be too long if you tried to fit 29 inch wheels. Shame it's cool to have a bike with genuine character this is pretty dull in comparison
  • 3 1
 dsds110 I agree, it's a 4 bar looking whatever they call it now, kinda disappointing and now with the death of the freeride and downhill Marin lineup I wonder where they're going.
  • 6 1
 If anything, it looks like Giant's Maestro.
  • 4 0
 princeofpurple yeah, Marin was on to a good thing slapping their old Quad Link on the Quake and then the DH.... now there's not a long travel bike in their lineup.... Frown
Super sad day for Marin long travel fans... I've owned Marins since 95' with a cromo hardtail and am currently on a Marin FR Quake.

Marin, bring back your long travel rigs//
  • 3 0
 Quad link 2 is not a floating shock design. The shock is mounted to the front triangle. I love my Attack Trail, it's true what they say about Marins riding like they are a couple of pounds lighter!
  • 2 2
 Quad link is the Marin name for their version of a 4 bar linkage... the Quadlink 2.0 was a 4 bar, and this Quadlink 3.0 is still a 4 bar... they look a lot different, but they are still both 4 bar... the new 3.0 version is meant to be lighter, stiffer, and tuned to have better mid stroke sensitivity...

i have an Attack Trail and love it... it climbs great, and has the "hidden rockstar talent" of being a monster down steep and rough trails... i have ridden a lot of bikes that i dont like as much... i am really happy to finally see that they are doing a new attack trail that will be essentially the same bike, just 26lbs, not 35... with the same bottom out resistance, and better mid stroke... but they dont look to be coming back with a new quake (which i also have)...
  • 1 0
 a lot of the patents on dual link design's like this are for thinks like where the virtual pivot point actually is and the rear axle path, slight differences in where the links are can make a big difference to how they ride.
  • 1 0
 Seatstays and chanstays tied together into a single swingarm. Two small links, one of which also pushes the shock. Shock anchored to main frame. In quad link 2 it was the lower link that drove the shock and the swingarm had a distinct 'swingarm' look. In quad link 3 the upper link pushes the shock and the open triangle of the SS and CS looks more like a Maestro, DW link, VPP, etc. They are all of the same family. Instant center of the virtual pivot changes. Leverage changes. Look changes. These are revisions, not revolutions.

Quad 2 looked like it had something different going on because the pivot axles were cleverly(?) reused for both swingarm and shock mounting points resulting in 4 axles/pivots. Quad 3 has 6.
  • 3 0
 Here's a nice little video my buddy did in the bike park on that bike. It was his first time on a non DH bike and he shredded the shit out of it!
  • 8 4
 Holy crap bike companies I thought you would have learned by now... NO CABLES ON THE BOTTOM OF THE DOWN TUBE!!!!!
  • 9 4
 under the down tube is far superior and will never cause any problems, I work at a shop and have literally seen thousands of bikes with downtube routing and have NEVER seen a single problem
  • 3 1
 I know its rare, but I have had a rock split a brake line leaving me brakeless, and have heard similar stories from others as well. Just a preference I guess...
  • 3 1
 @Enduro I ride in a volcanic island full of rock gardens and I can tell you, rocks fly and will hit the down tube, and yes they have ruined few dh days destroying rear plastic brake hoses. Even on enduro bikes, cant recall the brand, but sure that guy was pissed
  • 7 3
 Better to lose a couple of cables or hoses than to dent or crack your downtube.
  • 1 0
 I can only imagine you ride down the canal maybe. I've split brake hoses, knackered gear cables and coated them in enough shit that they freeze up in winter.
  • 2 0
 Glad you're having fun. Maybe if you run full length housing they won't freeze up in winter, and maybe you need braided brake hose?
  • 1 0
 Got all that and use a frame that has mounting in the correct locations so I needn't worry.
  • 1 0
 i want one. it just looks awesome. and has so much potential too. i would have to think long and hard about whether to get a whyte 146 s or this xm8... tough call. would get rid of the shite ardents though and stick der kaisers on instead.
  • 1 0
 I have been looking at this bike on eBay for a while now. I've heard lots of good things from other reviews, this is the first one I came across that had much negative perspective on it. Would it be worth it to purchase this bike ? The price is significantly marked down and it's got some great components.
  • 3 3
 I guess x-fusion have upped their game then. I bought a hi-lo a few years ago and it was the biggest POS ever. Tightening the seat clamp enough to stop the post slipping caused it to return slowly so you had you up the air pressure to compensate which just blew the seal and covered my bike in oil.
  • 14 0
 should've used grip paste as advised by all dropper post manufacturers...
  • 1 7
flag petehaddock (Jul 8, 2013 at 9:47) (Below Threshold)
 I doubt paste would make up for the extra 5~6nM needed to get the post to stay put.
  • 13 0
 Yeah, actually, it would.
  • 4 0
 5-6nm? you mean you tightened it more then that in the first place????
  • 2 0
 it makes a massive difference
  • 1 0
 I tightened it to 5 and it slipped like hell and it took around 10 before it stopped moving. My guess is the manufacturing tolerance on the shaft was a bit slack
  • 3 0
 As a shop mechanic who's answered this question many times: get some friction paste and stop over-torquing and over-inflating your expensive bike parts. Why would you expect these things work well when you don't install them right?
  • 1 0
 Because it didnt work well after following the instructions to the letter (with no mention of grip paste)
  • 1 0
 Test rode this myself for a few weeks!! Don't like the older version of the mount vision but this one was actually awesome specially on the DH for a xc/trails even Freeride jumping took the beat.
  • 1 0
 Mmm bike suspension - the more things change the more they stay the same. And it may have a 4 bar dw link/maestro clone but looks not a jot like my Reign 1 -its far uglier and more expensive, and it has less suspension.
  • 2 0
 I wanted the review of the 650b carbon Mount Vision that we saw at Sea Otter 8.1.14 stay tuned
  • 2 0
 Same here, it's a strong contender for my next bike.
  • 3 0
 I'm gonna take a wild stab here, they'll say it has a good pedaling platform along with great dh capabilities and sharp handling...apparently there are no bad bikes
  • 1 0
 The older MV was a better looking bike, and a better riding bike. Quad link 2.0 is superior and you can put 650b wheels in that frame.
  • 11 12
 "the XM8 feels like it has exactly 140mm of travel and not a millimeter more. There's a definite downhill speed limit on this bike"
...a highly skilled rider can ride a hard tail faster than most riders can ride their DH bike. If you're having trouble descending with 140mm of travel, I think it's a matter of your skill level/ line choice and not the bike
  • 9 9
 Agreed, i've never read such garbage in my life. Saying a certain amount of travel definitively limits how fast you can go over terrain is utter crap. It's skill not suspension that allows you to ride faster.
  • 4 4
 I agree with both of you. I went from a 5in 650b full suspension bike to a fully rigid 29er a few months back. A local trail I ride has a pretty gnarly downhill run that I would bomb on the trail bike, after a few weeks of getting comfy on the fully rigid I was able to ride the downhill run at about the same speed and in some places even faster.
  • 11 2
 Brilliant then guys. I'll be waiting for the apperance of fully rigid 17lb 29ers on the World cup DH and Enduro circut if bikes dont have Downhill speed limits. In fact, Im selling my DH bike and ripping Highland with a unicycle for the rest of the season. Two wheels are a crutch!
  • 8 1
 @brandonf - You omitted a key portion of that quote - "There's a definite downhill speed limit on this bike – if we opened it up too far the rear end would get bounced off line, forcing us to put on the brakes to get things back under control." This has nothing to do with rider skill level - it's regarding the handling characteristics of the bike being reviewed. The amount of travel isn't the limiting factor, but rather the way the XM8 feels at those higher speeds.
  • 3 0
 brandonf I believe if you take that same "highly skilled rider" off his hardtail and place him on a DH rig he would be faster on a DH trail. Or else why have a DH rig? There is a limit to how fast this thing can go under any rider before a larger rig is needed to go even faster. Because that is the larger rigs job. Bennet346 your saying that a hardtail can go down a DH trail just as fast as a DH rig? You're kidding right because I haven't seen a hardtail win a WC race in a long time. All the skill in the world wont make up for being on the wrong rig. I will say though that a pro like Atherton would whoop my ass on a hardtail, but he definitely isn't going to be faster on one over his DH rig. Also, Kazimer did not say even once that this can not be quick or that you couldn't be quick on it given its 140mm of travel. Also, he never once said he had trouble riding it downhill other that the rear end gets swappy because its blowing through its travel. What Kazimer was trying to convey, as I understand it, was how the bike doesn't have the plush limitless feel of other trail rigs. That's it, nothing more.
  • 2 0
 Isn't having a QR collar for the seatpost redundant if you have a dropper post?
  • 2 0
 I dont know about that bike, but those blue shorts look like the new Troy Lee Designs RUCKUS trail shorts.
  • 2 0
 f-ing hell. 3x10 is a lot of gears.
  • 2 1
 yeah.. looks like several of the cables are running wild
  • 2 0
 you can hang your socks on them....
  • 2 0
 I have a pet hate of messy cables, In my opinion all cable should run along the same tube as far as possible (preferably under the top tube to help hide them)
  • 2 1
 How does this not count as DW?
  • 1 1
 it looks like DW...
  • 3 1
 26" wheels yeepeeeeeee
  • 1 0
 Wait.... they still make bikes with 3x set ups??? Obsolescence be damned.
  • 1 0
 Very happy to see a 26"er. How could that happen?
  • 1 1
 current quad link=DW link=Maestro
  • 6 0
 = none of which should have been granted a US patent in the first place
  • 2 1
 NEW Marin design AGIAN!
  • 1 1
 24.25" top tube in XL? What is this a bike for ants?
  • 6 0
  • 3 3
 marins ain't been the same since john whyte left the fold.
  • 2 2
 good to see a non ugly marin for once Wink
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