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Field Test: Marin Team Marin 1 - A Wallet Friendly XC Race Bike

Apr 21, 2022
by Mike Kazimer  


Marin Team Marin 1

Words by Mike Kazimer; photography by Tom Richards

The Marin Team Marin 1 (catchy name, I know) is aimed at aspiring cross-country racers, whether that's a high school NICA athlete, or someone who wants to add the occasional race into their riding schedule. It's a race bike that doesn't take itself too seriously, with modern geometry that allows it to hold its own on trail rides outside of the tape.

The aluminum frame itself is nicely finished, and there's nothing about it that gives it away as being a value priced bike. There's room for two water bottles inside the front triangle, internal cable routing, and a small amount of chainslap protection. The internal cables did rattle a bit – some foam sheathing around the housing would help with that, and the chainslap protection did start to wrinkle a little from heel rub.
Marin Team Marin 1 Details

• Travel: 120mm fork
• Aluminum frame
• Wheel size: 29"
• Head angle: 67°
• Seat tube angle: 74°
• Reach: 450mm
• Chainstay length: 425mm
• Sizes: S, M, L, XL
• Weight: 28.1 lb / 12.7 kg
• Price: $1,589 USD

The Team Marin 1 is well spec'd for the price, with a Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain and MT201 brakes, a RockShox Judy Silver TK fork with 120mm of travel, and fast rolling Vee Rail Rocco tires. There's also a 780mm wide bar mounted to a short, 35mm stem, another sign that this isn't your typical purebred race machine.


The one thing that's missing is a dropper post, something that I'd recommend adding on as soon as possible. There's a reason more XC racers are finally using dropper posts – they make descending much, much easier, and while races aren't typically won on the descents, it sure doesn't hurt to be able to stay in control rather than just hanging on for the ride.

As far as geometry goes, the Marin's numbers fall into the new-school XC realm. It has a 67-degree head angle, a 74-degree seat angle, and a reach of 450mm for a size large. The chainstays measure 425mm. Those numbers are more relaxed than what used to be the norm in order to improve the bike's handling on more technical descents.

If you're looking at the reach numbers of the hardtails in this Value Field Test and thinking, “that seems short compared to my full-suspension bike,” don't forget that on a hardtail the reach increases when you're sitting on the bike and the fork sags into its travel. Personally, I've found that comparing top tube lengths can be an easier way to figure out how a bike will feel while sitting down and pedaling. On that note, that Marin's 628mm top tube length is fairly typical for a size large.



The Team Marin 1 has that classic hardtail feel - stomp on the pedals and it’ll scoot right on up the trail. Its quick handling was an asset on tight, awkward climbs – this is a great option for riders that enjoy picking their way through puzzling sections of trail.

It’s not insanely light, but it was the lightest hardtail on test, and the weight difference between this bike and some of the other test bikes that were two or three pounds heavier was very noticeable. The Vee Rocco tires are quick rolling too, although that does come at the cost of some traction, especially on loose, sandy sections of trail.

I've long been an advocate of wide bars and short stems, but with the Marin I actually found myself wishing for a slightly longer stem in order to slow the steering down slightly. The 780mm wide bars and short stem combined with the steeper head angle make the handling really quick, almost too quick. A 50mm stem would go a long ways to dialing back some of the twitchiness.




The Marin Team 1 shines brighest on the climbs, but it's no slouch on the descents, as long as you remember that it's a cross-country bike, not a hardcore hardtail mean for bashing down the gnarliest trails. Keep those expectations in check and it'll deliver a good time – the sharp handling keeps it entertaining on mellower, rolling terrain, with a quickness that encourages standing up and sprinting whenever possible.

As mentioned earlier, a dropper post will be the first thing to upgrade – that'll immediately expand its descending capabilities. With the seat lowered, the Marin held its own on the chunky downhill portion of our test lap. You'll obviously want to pay a little more attention to line choice, and the 120mm Judy will only do so much when things get rough, but overall I was impressed with its handling.
Timed Testing

Our timed lap consisted of steep, technical climbs full of ledges and hard efforts, and a rough descent littered with rocks that lead into a fast, loose section of trail. Don't forget that timing is just one of many ways to judge a bike, and fast doesn't always mean it's the best for everyone.

The Marin Team Marin 1 stayed true to its racing roots and ended up with the fastest overall time, thanks to its climing performance. It was the fastest climber, finishing four seconds in front of the Commencal Meta HT. On the descent, it tied with the Commencal for second place, finishing behind the Salsa Timberjack.

On some XC race hardtails it can feel like there's a razor thin line between control and disaster, but on the Team Marin 1 there was a little more margin for error - a botched line or a mis-timed corner didn't automatically result in doom.

The Shimano MT201 brakes aren't the absolute strongest, but the 180mm rotors do help, and they're just fine or XC / light trail duty. The Vee Rocco tires did start to show their limits during higher speed cornering – they have a very round profile, and the lack of pronounced shoulder knobs did lead to more than one unplanned two-wheeled drift. The profile isn't all that different from the Maxxis Forekaster tires that were on a different test bike, but I found the Forekasters to be much more predictable and easier to trust in loose terrain.



+ Quick and lively handling without feeling sketchy
+ Excellent way to get into XC racing
+ It's great to see a Deore 12-speed drivetrain at this pricepoint

- No dropper post, but it's still a good value even when one's added on
- Some cable rattle on rougher sections of trail

The 2022 Value Bike Field Test was made possible thanks to Visit Tucson and Norrona clothing.

Author Info:
mikekazimer avatar

Member since Feb 1, 2009
1,710 articles

  • 182 0
 Here it is folks: the gateway drug to mountain biking. Affordable, available, not too many seeds and stems.
  • 9 0
 I like this analogy.
  • 7 0
 But is the first one free?
  • 5 77
flag carlwheezer69 (Apr 21, 2022 at 15:41) (Below Threshold)
 HEy dude, not super cool bringing up drugs, leave that for your weed sites pal.
  • 4 14
flag NorCalNomad (Apr 21, 2022 at 16:54) (Below Threshold)
 So much of a drug that Levy mixed up that a longer stem would slow down steering.
  • 3 0
 @quinn3: you're joking right?
  • 2 0
 @carlwheezer69: *changes name*
  • 81 0
 So good they named it twice...
  • 12 0
 the William Carlos Williams of bikes
  • 20 0
 The Ferrari the Ferrari.
  • 57 0
 Username check out.
  • 4 0
 @Andykmn: the Del Taco Del Taco
  • 7 0
 Love me some cous cous
  • 6 4
 The Dick Pound Dick Pound
  • 4 0
 It'll double up your pleasure, like Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
  • 1 0
 @clipless03: Sirhan Sirhan, yikes.
  • 2 0
 @krka73: I'll get the papers get the papers
  • 67 1
 This bike is awesome. Got one for my son for NICA racing last fall and added a PNW dropper and can't say anything bad about it. Thinking about getting one for myself for the mellow days on the trail.
  • 20 1
 ...and for the rowdier days on the trail, being under-biked can be lots of fun (within reason)
  • 2 0
 @SATN-XC: I did Downieville on a 2007 blur, i couldnt lift my arms the next day. But it was a blast!
  • 2 0
 @asmtb: Dang dude, I've ridden Downieville on an enduro bike and that was rough. Definitely crossed the finish line with a permagrin though!
  • 57 1
 Wifey gets Marc by Marc Jacobs, I get Marin Team Marin.
  • 47 0
 Marin are so underrated, the last few years they’ve released some fantastically thought out bikes. All but one (you know “the one”) have been lookers too
  • 2 0
 is the one the Mount Vision?
Such a ugly machine
  • 30 0
 Bond, James Bond...
  • 25 0
 Someone needs to make a glue company called James Bond.
  • 27 0
 @Brodes-P: I’ve got ideas already:

No Time To Dry, a fast setting glue that is ready as soon as it’s applied

Liscene To Chill, a stronger glue that is stronger but takes longer to dry.
  • 6 0
 James, bonding agent
  • 22 0
 @louiefriesen: Dry another day, this one takes really long though
  • 4 0
 Holdfinger. The super glue accident waiting to happen.
  • 3 0
 @louiefriesen: sorry I accidentally clicked reply.
  • 15 0
 Flat mount brake callipers are just dumb on mountain bikes. Full stop. Smaller pad size, pain in the arse to adjust, hard to access adjustment points in frame. The only benefit is that its cheaper for the manufacturer to make and squeeze in the space between chainstay and seat stay.
  • 1 1
 wow i didn't believe you at first, but sure enough i went and looked up the rear brake caliper: shimano UR300. this is a low end flat-mount caliper.

the review probably should have mentioned this. flat mount limits the opportunity for upgrades, you are locked into 2-piston calipers and max of 160mm rotor size.
  • 5 1
 Marin's engineering reasoning behind this decision is to save every gram possible. That said I wish they hadn't done it.
  • 2 0
 Ok just watched the video and they do make mention of the flat mount caliper and how it’s a terrible choice.
  • 19 1
 Is the Marin team riding the Marin Team Marin One?
  • 30 2
 Yes, and I hear they're also riding Marin Team Marin Two, too.
  • 15 1
 For $1000 more, I can buy the FOX 34 and dropper post myself.
  • 16 0
 You probably couldn’t get the nice brakes, better drivetrain & tires etc. for that though… That Team Marin 2 is a damn nice bike for the money.
  • 10 0
 I am a bit disappointed in all the ignorant little jokes regarding the name. Google would've helped the authors, where there knowledge of MTB history failed them: Marin is a classic brand that kept its names since their first days. ”Team Marin” has always been their hardtail race bike, albeit better specced in - say - 1997, than it is these days. The model above it was the Team Issue, with all the goodies, available. For said year 1997, the Team Marin came with an excellent Tange Infinity light steel frame, a Manitou SX , full Shimano Deore XT spec with nice Mavic 217 rims and amber-wall Velociraptors. The Team Issue had the same frame, but was full XTR, with a Manitou SX Ti and otherwise just the same.

Learn your MTB history, please! Google is there to help! Gotta love Marin!
  • 1 0
 Thankfully they didn’t kill the name by taking the bike way downmarket like GT did with their Zaskar…
  • 2 0
 Gotta love Velociraptors! And the IRC Missile of course.
  • 3 1
 Sounds like they chose a silly bike name back in 1997 tbh
  • 11 0
 Bike is a looker and excellent value. Unfortunately I can’t say either of those things about the Norrona kit Kaz is wearing.
  • 7 0
 Big pro for me: It looks awesome! It looks even better than the more expensive model.
When I was looking for a XC hardtail if I had found this for sale where I live it would be a no brainer,I eventually went for a custom build on a BC Podsol frame.
  • 1 0
 I looked into the Podsol - unfortunately sold out until next year
  • 5 0
 Nice frame, decent spec for the price. Good buy now, worth upgrading as stuff wears out. This is a bang-on value "serious" mountain bike.

Some other brands are also offering these "NICA special" hardtails-and they're great!! A kid with a part-time job might actually be able to buy and maintain one of these.
  • 6 1
 Love this bike.

The stock rubber and wheels are crap, still goes like stink.

Want a forever bike? Get the team Marin 2, upgrade the wheels.
I'm old and salivate over it.
  • 4 0
 Totally incredible to an old man like me that an XC race bike today is longer and slacker than the freeride hardtails people were riding at bike parks 10+ years ago. in 2013 the "progressive" 29er hardtails had 69* HA and their wheelbase was like 5cm shorter. In the mid 2000s the pro DH racers were shredding on bikes with worse suspension and geometry than this. And despite the knobbage, the rubber quality was probably worse than this.

If you can't ride this bike on anything, it ain't the bike.
  • 6 0
 Bring back the bright yellow and purple with triangle fade paint job, with the matching bright green forks and bar-stem!
  • 3 0
 if you know how to ride a bike, XC bikes are freaking fast up and down. yes, tires are not that grippy (still grippier than you d expect), but that s the point, it s just so fast rolling. have to learn to break earlier , lean the bike more, etc good practice for your big bike too.
  • 3 0
 I would really like to see this compared to a Specialized Chisel. Almost same price, similar spec, both need a dropper. Seems like a hell of a lot of bike for $1500.
  • 5 0
 Sync'r owners in shambles
  • 3 2
 I don't get how people think this is good value, I was expecting the bike to cost like £400-500 after reading the article and some of the comments...then I looked at the price. Granted inflation and bike prices in general have gone up a lot in the past 10 years...but for some perspective...for £1700 in 2010 I got a Scott Scale 20 in carbon, was probably the best xc frame on yhe market at that time, with full XT drivetrain, FOX 32 Float RLC, DT Swiss wheels and XT brakes all coming in at around 9.5kg...3kg lighter than this with a wider range triple crankset...

For the price of this bike I would just look at yhe used market and get something better, yea it doesn't cost the same as some 12k hyper carbon ebike...but it's still not worth 1.7k either imo...
  • 4 0
 I don't know about your local used market but someone in my area is probably selling a 2010 Scott Scale 20 for 1.7k right now. That makes this Marin seem like a steal simply by virtue of being... not 12 years old
  • 3 0
 Loving my Marin Rift Zone 2 27.5...upgraded to Deore M6100 from stock M200..night and day difference in braking.
  • 1 0
 Honestly a really good trail bike too. I wish the Nail Trail was still in the lineup, but this goes a pretty good job filling in that gap.
  • 4 1
 How would you compare it with Canyon Grand canyon? Has anybody riden both?
  • 25 0
 The naming strategy is comparable...
  • 3 0
 Great bike for this price point.
  • 1 0
 Alicia's eyebrow raise at 2:32 is almost on par with Levy's! Is there some kind of hidden competition going on over there at Pinkbike?
  • 1 1
 Please explain how the reach increases as the fork sags? Sure as a horizontal measurement related to an unladen chassis, but as a rider seated and holding the bars, nothing changed. Reach is over rated.
  • 2 0
 On a hardtail, the geo changes a lot as the fork goes through its travel. HTA increases, reach increases, STA increases, BB drops... All of this is because the rear wheel is staying put while the axle to crown measurement is constantly changing. As the axle to crown measurement decreases, it pulls the bars away from you.
  • 1 0
 Reach is measured parallel to the ground regardless of seating position or sag. The position of the seat or rider is irrelevant. When the fork sags and the frame rotates(because you only have front suspension), the reach measurement line of action is still horizontal, parallel to the ground. On a normal bike, the BB is located at a lower elevation than the bars. When the frame rotates the distance between the bars and BB is the same if measuring the vector distance between the two points(the shortest distance, measured along the downtube), However, when the distance is measured horizontally, parallel to the ground - like reach - the distance gets larger. Reach is is one of the determining factors of the front center measurement which makes a huge difference in balance, its not overrated.
  • 1 0
 How did you guys find the brakes? Are they 1 finger? The levers look looooong
  • 6 0
 I had the same brakes on my Marin Hawk Hill 1. They have decent power but require at least 2 fingers. I could never use only a single finger to brake. Ended up replacing them with Deore 6120 four pistons that I got on sale, and realized my 1 finger braking dreams.
  • 6 0
 I do finger squats in the offseason with Danny Hart and now all my brakes are 1 finger brakes
  • 3 0
 If you're using brakes in an XC race you're doing it wrong.
  • 1 0
 Mine are a 3 finger lock-up on a good day.
  • 1 0
 I find single finger braking absolutely fine on this bike, having said that I do plan to upgrade when possible
  • 3 0
 I bought this bike last year, found the brake levers long, switched to Deore 6120 a few weeks ago and can comfortably brake with 1 finger now.
  • 3 0
 Just to add, had to find an adapter to switch from flat mount post mount rear brake.
  • 3 2
 Does this bike come integrated with the XC fantasy league for that price? Or is it an add on?
  • 2 0
 You had me at two water bottles
  • 1 0
 It's the first time I noticed the "Nacional" tattoo on Mr. Levy's arm. Senna sempre!
  • 1 0
 Double the pleasure and double the fun while riding this chewing your Double Mint gum
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy what size T are you wearing? I'm betting I'm one size up. New PB Ts are looking sick!
  • 1 0
 Size medium
  • 1 0
 how does reach change when the fork sags on a hairtail?
  • 8 0
 As the fork compresses the whole frame rotates so the handle bars end up further away. Easier to demonstrate with a picture but all I got is text

On a full suspension the front and rear both compress so you dont get the same effect (assume same travel front/rear and that they actually compress equally)
  • 4 0
 Reach is an horizontal dimension, with sag the top of the headtube rotates down on the axis of the rear wheel, therefore there is an increase in reach, seat angle and head tube angle. This also introduces a few uncertainties, because some brands are publishing their geometries taking sag into account, and others aren't.
  • 9 0
 @mtmc99: wave your hands in front of your computer to get the point across
  • 3 0
 @mtmc99: Oh that explains why overforking one of my old bikes made my knees almost hit the bars, thanks!
  • 7 0
 The wheelbase of the Medium Marin Medium 1 frame is 1144.30mm.
The fork is 120mm, and 25% sag is 36mm.

When the fork is compressed that far, the frame moves down 1.802 degrees.

Now, after leaning forward 1.802 degrees, the reach jumps from 430.00000 millimeters, all the way to 430.21276 millimeters!

Now, Levy has to go find a 49.78724 stem to compensate to satisfy PinkBike Engineer Squad.

All work has been calculated to 8 sig figs. Now go ride your bike.
  • 2 0
 @hellanorcal: I think you need to check your math.

Based on the stack and reach numbers from Marin, the angle of the imaginary line between the BB and top of head tube is 55.17 degrees, measured from the horizontal. (I assume this is measured in the un-sagged state. Stack is 618mm, reach is 430mm.)

When you sag the fork by 36 mm, this angle falls by about 1.8 degrees, as you correctly calculated. So the new angle is 53.37 degrees.

Simple trigonometry shows that this lowers the stack from 618 to 604, and increases the reach from 430 to 449.
  • 2 0
 so what im gathering is, nobody knows and the number is really pretty arbitrary in the grand scheme of things (riding your bike).
  • 1 0
 @sideshowmel: @hellanorcal one quick note: 25% of 120 mm is 30 mm. Not 36 mm (which corresponds to 30% sag, so it's a perfectly good number to use).
  • 1 0
 @sideshowmel: I was measuring reach horizontal. I got "ETT" and "reach" mixed up. I blame Britney Spears.
  • 1 0
 @sideshowmel: New edit to Sideshow Mel and PM Hobson. I looked at Marin page and they label reach "horizontal" at 430. The stack doesn't pivot on the BB, it pivots on the rear axle at 1144 or whatever that number is.

The angle of sagging the fork can only rotate around the rear axle. 25% or 30% sag math in head notwithstanding.

Thanks for triple checking me.
  • 2 2
 So that's what they did with all those left over Bear Valley frames from the 90s...
  • 1 0
 I am recycling those for the Vintage MTB Festival: Join the FB group "Marin Bikes: The Early Years 1986-1996", there are plenty of those old Bear Valleys for sale
  • 1 0
 Made in Indonesia by Poligon?
  • 1 0
 looks good
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