Review: 2019 Marin Alpine Trail 7 - Good Performance, Great Value

Jun 19, 2019
by Richard Cunningham  

Marin's Alpine Trail 7 is a truly affordable 29er with up-to-date geometry, 150 millimeters of wheel travel in the back and a 160-millimeter fork. That's right. For less than $3,000 USD you can own a bike that approaches the features and performance of the big-wheel dream-bikes Pinkbike has been flaunting for two years running.

Marin makes that magic happen by starting with a good frame. It's aluminum, no surprise there, with top-notch welding, room for 2.6-inch rubber short chainstays, modern reach numbers, and the obligatory slack head tube angle. The suspension is devilishly simple, with a single-pivot swingarm driving a vertically oriented shock. No surprises
Alpine 7 Details:

Construction: Aluminum, single-pivot suspension
Travel: 150mm rear / 160mm fork
Wheel size: 29"
Head angle: 65º
Chainstay length: 430mm
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Weight: 32.7 lb / 14.86 kg (Med, no pedals)
Price: $2,749 USD
More info: Marin Bikes
here, but Marin's tried-and-true frame configuration trades complexity for value and durability, and it frees up a lot of storage space in the front triangle while keeping the heavy bits low in the chassis.

We expect value-priced performance bikes to brandish a handful of name brands in key places. Marin gives the Alpine Trail 7 a capable, 160-millimeter-travel RockShox Yari RC fork, paired with an X-Fusion O2 Pro RXC shock (the 150mm dropper post is also by X-Fusion). The transmission is a well-chosen mixture of very familiar items: 11-speed Shimano SLX shifting, an FSA Comet 30t crankset, and out back, e*Thirteen's wide-range 9 x 46-tooth cassette. Two items that were new on my radar were its four-piston Tekro Orion brakes and very aggressive looking Vee Flow Snap tires. All said, the $2,749 Alpine Trail 7 has all the ingredients of a good all-mountain / enduro bike, and it looks the part too.

bigquotesI was impressed that such a big feeling chassis could be maneuvered in such tight quarters. I attribute some of that goodness to the bike's 76-degree seat tube angle in addition to its compact chainstays. RC




Construction and Features

Marin's PR tells us that the Alpine Trail 7 features its top-level aluminum frame, with heavily manipulated tubes, internal hose and cable routing, and a robust, two-piece forged rocker link that is designed to be stiff enough to eliminate the traditional seat stay bridge. Without the confines of a bridge, the Trail 7 benefits doubly, with much more tire clearance (2.6-inch tires are standard fare) and more importantly, more room at full compression for a 29-inch wheel. That tidbit, in addition to Marin's curved seat tube, provides just enough wiggle room for 150-millimeters of rear wheel travel, with short, 430-millimeter chainstays.

Friends on bike
No-bridge seat stay design for better tire and mud clearance.
Friends on bike
Mission statement...

Friends on bike
Smooth, two-pass welding throughout the frame.

General fabrication is well executed, with two-pass welds creating smooth transitions at each joint. Large bearings and rigid, clevis type pivots ensure longevity and should help the bike track well. It's refreshing to see that Marin has joined smarter bike designers who have finally sealed up the "Shimano front derailleur cave" and opted to center the seat tube and widen the bearing spacing at the critical swingarm pivot. Other niceties are its internal cables, threaded bottom bracket cups and ISCG 05 guide mounts.


Geometry & Sizing

Marin Alpine Trail 7 geometry


Contemporary numbers are rare in the affordable trail bike realm, so the Marin's ample reach, 65-degree head tube angle, and 76-degree seat tube are going to make many riders happy. The Alpine Trail 7 rounds off those geometric essentials with trim, 430mm chainstays, a not-too-low, 342mm bottom bracket and reach numbers that begin at 420 and extend to 490 millimeters for the extra-large size frame. Moderating those figures is a 35-millimeter stem and Marin's house-brand 780-millimeter low-rise handlebar. The fork rake is stated at 51 millimeters, which should produce a predictable and stable steering bike.

Marin Alpine Trail Anti-squat graphic
Anti-squat line (red) in low gear looks just right. Suspension sag and pedaling in smaller cogs will reduce that value.

A cursory measurement suggests that the Marin doesn't have a huge anti-squat value, but that there should be plenty enough in the lowest gears (where you'll be needing it most) to keep your legs happy while hefting this value-priced beast uphill. On that note, the fact that the '7 is has a single-pivot suspension ensures that your Marin will feel consistent across a wide range of gearing and suspension settings. Simple is almost always better.
About Effective Seat Tube Angles

Effective seat tube angles have become a hot topic lately, Trouble is, big wheels eat up a lot of space at full compression. So, without some sort of seat tube offset, 29-inch-wheel frames would either be limited to 100 to 120 millimeters of travel, or they'd have to be made much much longer in order to achieve the Marin's 150-millimeters. Offset seat tubes keep the chainstay length manageable and offer generous reach and a slack head tube angle, without generating a wheelbase that is better suited for steam locomotives.

Marin states the medium frame's effective seat tube angle at 76 degrees. I have a 32-inch (813mm) inseam, which puts the saddle 28.375 inches (721mm) above the center of the bottom bracket. At this ride height, my saddle is roughly level with the handlebar. Using an imaginary line from the bottom bracket center to the center-line of the seat post where it intersects the saddle, that works out to almost exactly 76 degrees (as close as it can be measured on the bike). An inch above or below that would not significantly change the effective seat tube angle, and you could adjust for a two inch (50mm) change in either direction by moving the saddle forward or back by about one centimeter. Bottom line is, if you fit the bike and you own the right Allen key, you can enjoy the '7's advertised seat tube angle.


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Suspension Design

There has been a lot of smack talk about single-pivot rear suspension in past decades. Much of that centered around braking performance, but if you learned to ride on a BMX or a hardtail mountain bike, then you'd never notice the impaired suspension action that most single pivot suspensions exhibit under hard braking. The sensation feels exactly like riding a hardtail and can be moderated as such. There's more to the equation than that, but it's a rare single-pivot that bucks the braking physics and still pedals well.

On a more positive note, one-by drivetrains put single-pivots back in the game. Focusing the chain line at one location in relationship with the chainring reduces the dramatic variations in anti-squat and suspension rise that were imposed on rear suspension by multiple chainrings during the evil front derailleur era. Also, unlike the predominant short-link four-bar designs, which are plagued by reversing leverage curves, single-pivot suspensions can be easily manipulated to produce predictable rising rate curves that produce more consistent shock damping and make tuning your suspension easy as pie. It's a win for simplicity - and for affordable trail bikes.


Standout Components

Marin spec'd some components that we don't see often, but that may change soon. Tektro Orion brakes, for instance, have four-pot calipers, a firm, very positive engagement feel, and their all aluminum lever/master cylinders are more substantially built than competing Shimano or SRAM brakes. If you can live with two-finger levers, they are definitely a step up. This is the first bike I've ridden with FSA's new modular crankset. The Comet shares FSA's new direct-mount chainring, which (like Race Face) will make switching or replacing chainrings a five-minute operation. Looks great too.

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X-Fusion 150mm-stroke dropper post.
Tektro Orion brake
Tecktro Orion 4-piston brakes.

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E-Thirteen 9 x 46-tooth cassette.


Out back, a Shimano SLX changer shifts a lightweight, wide-range e*Thirteen cassette - which solves an issue that I have with Shimano drivetrains. Shimano's smallest cog is an 11, which forces its owner to choose either an adequate climbing gear at the risk of spinning out in the 11, or a larger chainring that punishes climbing at the expense of top speed. E*Thirteen's 9 by 46-tooth spread handily solves the problem in both directions.

Specifications
Release Date 2019
Price $2749.99
Travel 150 R, 160 F
Rear Shock X-Fusion O2 PRO RXC,
Fork RockShox Yari RC 29, 160mm
Headset FSA
Cassette E*Thirteen 9 x 46 11-speed
Crankarms FSA Comet 30t
Chainguide ISCG 05 mounts
Bottom Bracket Threaded
Pedals NA
Rear Derailleur Shimano SLX 11 speed
Chain KMC X11 Extra Light
Front Derailleur NA
Shifter Pods Shimano SL iSpec
Handlebar Marin Mini-Riser 780mm wide, 28mm rise, 5° up, 9° back
Stem Marin 35mm, aluminum, 31.8 clamp
Grips Marin locking
Brakes Tektro Orian 4-piston, 180mm rotor F&R
Wheelset Marin
Hubs Marin
Spokes 14G stainless, black
Rim Marin 29mm inner width aluminum, tubeless ready
Tires Vee Tire Flow Snap 29 x 2.6" Tackee compound
Seat Marin Speed Concept
Seatpost X-Fusion Manic, 150mm travel dropper




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Getting Started

Dialing in the Alpine Trail 7 was pretty easy. Its wheels are furnished with tubeless strips in place. My test bike was already inflated with sealant, so all I had to do was get the sag set at 20 percent up front and 30 percent in the shock. Initially, the X-Fusion air-sprung shock developed a hiss on the rebound stroke, which reappeared now and then throughout the review period, but didn't seem to adversely affect performance. The Marin's long feeling wheelbase and dependable handling allowed me to run the rebound a little faster than I'd normally choose, and after my initial shakedown ride, where I upped the shock pressure from 167 to 178psi, I never felt the need to mess with the suspension.

I did have a small issue with the dropper post, however. The bent seat tube did not allow me to insert the seatpost far enough. I was left ten millimeters higher than my maximum pedaling height with the stock 150-millimeter dropper. As luck would have it, I measured a number of saddles and discovered that SQlab saddles were about 14 millimeters lower over the rails than Marin's. I switched out the seats and had room to spare - without having to switch to a shorter stroke dropper post. Note to self...

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Climbing

The Trail 7 feels very deliberate under saddle. There is enough firmness built into the suspension to climb steep pitches without soft pedaling. That's a good thing, because the Marin weighs almost 33 pounds, and a measure of that heft in its wheels and tires. No, it doesn't accelerate with anything that resembles spunk, but it's gearing is low enough to find a good zone, and it's surprisingly efficient as long as you keep the power steady. I always made it to the summit with enough left to keep my downhill game sharp.

On the paved roll to the trailhead, its spiky, 2.6-inch Vee tires feel slower than the baseline Maxxis Minions do, but they come alive once they meet the dirt. I've noticed this trait with other aggressive tires that boast sticky rubber compounds.

Technically, the bike's tail end is short enough to keep that big tire digging for traction while you make your way up some crazy stuff. I used the Alpine Trail to practice on a string of technical switchbacks with solid results. I was impressed that such a big feeling chassis could be maneuvered in such tight quarters. I attribute some of that goodness to the bike's 76-degree seat tube angle in addition to its compact chainstays.

I used the "climb switch" on the X-fusion shock for most of the longer uphills. Once the trail was at least fifty percent downhill, however, there was no point in using it. The suspension waffles a little under power, but it remains firm enough to ignore the band-aid lever most of the time.

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Descending

Half of my time aboard the Marin was a celebration of moist hero dirt which led me to the dangerous conclusion that the bike could do not wrong in the turns. If I had stopped and written the review then, I probably would have raved about the tenacity of its Vee Flow Snap tires... the evil rubber daemons who made repeated attempts to murder me after the trails dried up a month later. How could a front wheel, shod with such a capable looking tread push so badly when pressed into a turn? How could such manly looking edging blocks awkwardly slip down off-camber sections that worn out Minions could dance on?

While the Marin was running well on tacky terrain, I was able to ride the bike with abandon, as I imagined its designers intended it to be enjoyed. It's easy to jump and landings, good or bad, almost always feel composed. The '7 likes to glide around corners, and it has a balanced, predictable drift when pushed harder than available traction. It tracked a little wide unless I leaned it slightly deeper than I first anticipated I'd need to. Once you get a feel for that, though, cornering will be predictable and playful - which is probably why I was caught out when the trails became slippery. The fix was better rubber - then it was back to game on.

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I enjoyed the Marin most while descending technical pitches, especially rocky ones, where I discovered that I could huck the bike in a pinch, or trust it to roll out of awful line choices. Onlookers might be fooled that I had purposely hit the scary line, but the credit goes to good geometry and big wheels. Its RockShox Yari fork was more capable and planted than I would have predicted, and although the X-Fusion shock was no match for it, I never felt a harsh bottom out, and beyond its occasional heavy breathing, it still works fine. The surprise performer in the technical realm were its Tektro brakes. With good modulation, strong stopping and a predictable bite point, they are proving to be a step above Shimano and SRAM's entry-level fare.

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bigquotesIt's easy to jump and landings, good or bad, almost always feel composed.


How does it compare?

Searching for an apt match for this contemporary and very capable trail bike led me to the Diamondback's Release 3, one of my all-time favorite budget rippers. The Release has less travel - 130 millimeters, compared to the 150-millimeter Trail 7, and has smaller wheels. The Diamondback's components, especially its RockShox Pike fork and Monarch Plus reservoir shock are a cut above the Marin's in every corner.


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Marin Alpine Trail 7
Diamondback Release 3 review
Diamondback Release 3

Both designs were intended to bring pro-level handling to the masses and do a great job of it. The strength of this comparison is that, for its time, the Release 3 set the bar for a needs-nothing aggressive trail bike with an affordable $3,000 USD price tag. That said, it left test riders curious for larger wheels, a little bit more suspension travel and a steeper seat tube angle. Well, here it is, only the head badge says "Marin."


Technical Report

Vee Flow Snap Tires: While I'll celebrate that Vee Tires have been coming up to speed with competitive tread patterns and widths that match today's more aggressive riding styles, these were a bit of a disaster in dry, mixed terrain. If your conditions are damp and grippy, then these uber-capable looking tires will make you corner like a god. But, so will any other uber-capable looking tire. Get rid of them and treat yourself a set of Minions.
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Mix and match drivetrain: Usually, I'd recommend that you stick with one brand's drivetrain components, but Marin pulled this one off. The FSA crank never dropped a chain and looks a world better than non-series SRAM or Shimano alternatives, while the wider gearing range and better spacing of the e*thirteen cassette earns high praise. With Shimano's super reliable SLX changer joining the party, you'd be hard pressed to get a better (and lighter weight) drivetrain in this price range.
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Kinked seat tube: As seat angles become steeper, the saddle's location disproportionately encroaches into the area where you need to be in order to control the bike. Riders are already calling for longer-stroke dropper to compensate for this, so frame designers who use kinked seat tubes are going to have to figure out a way to execute this feature in a way that allows for the deeper insertion lengths that 150, 170, even 200 millimeter dropper posts require. Get on that Marin, you failed this one.
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Friends on bike


Pros

+ Good climber for a 33-pound, 150mm bike
+ Solid, we-can-do-this handling
+ Contemporary geometry
Cons

- Tires miss the mark
- Restricted seatpost insertion depth



Pinkbike's Take
bigquotesGreat geometry and contemporary handling should not be restricted to high-priced superbikes. Marin gets it. The Alpine Trail 7 hands you the keys to the kingdom hall of aggressive trail bikes for less than half of what it used to cost to join the club. Let's hope that this trend catches fire. RC









128 Comments

  • + 110
 Costs only a little more than a Trust fork.
  • + 69
 HOW THE EFF DOES THIS WEIGH ONLY A POUND AND A HALF MORE THAN MY CARBON BIKE WITH CARBON BARS, CARBON CRANK, AND CRANKS CARBON RIMS

Bikes over $3500 are a scam
  • + 9
 @hamncheez it’s 2lbs lighter than my alloy trail pistol with carbon wheels, bars and cranks! I have coil front and rear though.
  • + 3
 Are you running dh casing tires?
  • + 7
 Two and a half. Weight doesn't include pedals. Still agree, scam may be hyperbolic... but they absolutely offer diminishing returns.
  • + 4
 haha maybe I shoudl proofread my comment next time
  • + 37
 Ditch the stock tyres and replace with Minions. Sound advice for most bikes I'd say.
  • + 7
 I know companies are trying to save a few bucks, but sometimes speccing the right tire from the get go results in more sales. If it's a big trail bike get the right tires on there and wow your market demographic.
  • + 3
 I know people on the Flow Snaps that really like them, but guess tires are a personal thing. I personally prefer Schwalbe and E13 tires over Maxxis any day.
  • + 4
 @covekid: Not saying Minions are the be-all-end-all tires to spec on every bike, but the Minions, Butcher, and a few others from Schwable, Maxxis, et al are really solid performers that would be smarter and not much more to put onto a trail bike. Hell, I think people would gladly pay the additional $5-10 to have the manufacturer throw legitimately tried and true tires on instead of having to scrap a crap set of tires and shell out $120-200 for the tires of their choice.
  • + 5
 @covekid: yeh to be fair there is a lot of choice now - I remember a time when Maxxis were better than all the competition by a long way. I ran Schwalbe more recently, also tried Bontrager and Specialized in the past but have gone back to Maxxis now. Will replace with more Maxxis too but maybe it's just psychological/romantic because of history. I must be a Maxxis fanboy :-)
  • + 5
 Anything from the established companies is pretty good nowadays. Vee Rubber isn't one of them, though.....
  • + 3
 @drpheta: Does it though? I don't know how many people looking to buy an entry level FS bike are hyper particular about their tires like we are.
  • - 1
 @drpheta: Who says these are crap tires? I'd rather have them than a Maxxis single-ply single-compound in any tread. And the target audience for this bike isn't going to spend $200 on tires. They're going to grab whatever is on sale that matches the size the bike came with, which will be last year's Conti or Schwalbe "Sport" model (or whatever their cheap casing & compound combo is called) that will last forever but will also have shite grip forever.
  • + 2
 @just6979: well you see it as an entry level bike. I see it as a family friendly bike for a biking dad. And no I don't just put any tyres on sales to my bike.
  • + 3
 @just6979: > Who says these are crap tires

RC, in his review above. Did you read it?
  • + 1
 @dthomp325: Umm, no. He said in dry they are lacking (which I don't believe because their Tackee compound is very soft and will definitely stick to hardpack or rock), but used the words "corner like a god" for muddy conditions. That's definitely not a crap tire. Unless gods can't ride corners for shit.
  • + 1
 @squarewheel: Family-friendly bike? Like it doesn't use curse words or something? Maybe you just don't like the phrase "entry level" (which I didn't actually use)? Well, RC called it "value-oriented" (come on, basically the same thing), and again many riders looking for the least expensive bikes aren't going to be also looking at the most expensive tires.

I'd actually love to see a blind test (yes I know it's practically impossible because you can see the tread) of those tires against a comparably priced Maxxis of choice. Because the matching Maxxis will likely be a heavy and hard single-compound, maybe a dual-compound, but def not a fancy EXO 3C MaxxGrip or SuperTacky. And without the placebo of seeing Maxxis on the sidewall, I'm very sure that the results would be different. Hell, even a review of those tires right here on PB didn't dismiss them as crap tires, and in fact said the wet performance was to be desired (opposite of this review).
  • + 29
 What a bargain these are going to be when they go on sale. I can already see myself pulling out the credit card in a trance after scrolling a future Online Deals and having it show up at my doorstep for no reason that I can figure out. Sorry ahead of time, honey.
  • + 3
 Got my B17-3 half price , £1600 with eagle, Deity , Stans etc, incredible for the money, great FUN which is what it’s all about
  • + 2
 @sewer-rat: My dad is getting ready to grab a B17-1. Looks like a lot of fun and the spec looks solid for the price.
  • + 1
 @James2785: The B17 is a cool looking bike.
  • + 1
 @ninjatarian: I was pleasantly surprised how well it pedals, it pretty much does everything my enduro bike did just got a bit more armpump and you have to be “on it” all the while or the back ends loops out lol
  • + 27
 Wish Marin sold this as frame only. It'd make a great everyday beater bike. I have enough spare parts to make a halfway decent one.
  • + 5
 +100 up votes. Wouldn't say beater bike but yes to frame only option. I would also like a flip chip.
  • + 7
 At this price I would buy the complete bike and keep the spares for when stuff breaks/wears out.
  • + 3
 If they sold the San Quentin frame only I would be riding one now!!!
  • + 1
 @brncr6: I wanted a San Quentin frame as well. Ended up buying a Ragley Mmmbop instead.
  • + 2
 @PtDiddy: I want a frame only, haven't bought a complete bike in 15 yrs. Even my sons is frame up built. I just bought the ns eccentric evo aluminm hard tail.
  • + 1
 @PtDiddy: cant go wrong with a Ragley, I've got a piglet and it an awesome bike.
  • + 1
 @brncr6: the mmmbop has been amazing. I put 2.8 tires on it and it crushes all my trails. I spent about $1200 on the frame and all the components too. Great value build.
  • + 1
 @brncr6: I love building a bike up. It’s as much fun as riding them for me.
  • + 1
 @PtDiddy: folsom is perfect hard tail riding!
  • + 1
 @brncr6: yes! I just did 14 miles out there the other day and it was awesome. It did really well at hiddens falls too. Colvert and confluence are next!
  • + 26
 Excellent stuff Marin, and Pinkbike.
  • + 12
 There are bunch of bikes to be had for under $3000. They just barely get mentioned or reviewed, but they should. As good as a lot of these bikes are from YT, Commencal, DB, and Raleigh, just to name a few, its almost a crime to spend $4000 on something else.
  • + 2
 Definitely. The Capra AL Base is $2,600, and offers a comparable spec. The $3,200 version gets you a Float 36 and X2.

Say what you want about their issues, but it's criminal to not include YT in a discussion of incredible-value enduro bikes.
  • + 1
 I just got an Intense Primer Foundation for $3.4k with Rockshox Revelation RC/Monarch RL and NX Eagle. Not to mention the free carbon wheelset promotion.
  • + 3
 Which is why you buy a year old, hardly used $6500 carbon wünderbike for $3000.
  • + 1
 Propain tyee al- except they do not ship to is, but for the rest of the world they are a real bargain. You can configure it from tje getgo and get rid of the crap most pm spec.( of course you cant spec 2 ply tires, you cant have it all)
  • + 2
 Did you say Raleigh?
  • + 6
 I feel like reviews of inexpensive bikes are more of reviews of the components, not the frame itself. While reviews on expensive bikes are a lot more about the bike itself, it's pedaling characteristics, suspension kinematics, ect. Most people buy bikes like this planning on upgrading some stuff anyway.
  • + 5
 Marin is quietly doing incredible things. I got a Wolf Ridge 8 accidentally after my demo bike in Sedona wasn't available. I almost refused it due to it's looks. But they practically let me ride it for free. That thing is incredible. Ugly. But easily the most versatile bike I've ridden. Pedals great. Plays. Descends. They didn't get enough credit for it.
  • + 7
 Affordable Bikes!!! Thanks Marin!!! Take note you price gouging manufacturers... you know who you are, but feel free to call them out in the comments...
  • + 2
 No doubt. Had a Marin quake freeride bike back in the day. Incredible bang for the buck even then
  • + 4
 Seems very very close spec wise to the AL Process 153 29er, in terms of suspension design/travel, wheelsize & spec. I like what Marin's doing here; it'd be hard to choose one or the other. Especially if Jenson does their sale on the AL/DL like they did this past spring. The Process is over 34 lbs so a bit chunkier. Kona spec'd the right tire, but also spec'd guides for brakes where I think the Alpine's Tektros would win. Process runs SRAM drivetrain, but I'd prefer Shimano/e13, so Alpine wins there for me. AL/DL Process has a piggyback shock which is nice for park and long downs. Both are faux bar single pivots with rockers and vertical mounted shocks. HTA Process 66, Alpine 65. Alpine has Threaded BB, Process has PF92. Process has WTB wheels, Alpine in-house. Process 170mm dropper, Alpine 150mm. Both could easily go on sale.

Tough choice to make.
  • + 3
 This was my first thought as well (and, then thinking more about it, the Whyte S150 is super similar as well).

I picked up the Process 153 AL 29'er during that Jenson deal, and feel like it was the best deal I've seen in months. My buddy who didn't jump on it (and is still on an older hardtail) missed it, and now I pointed him to the Marin to keep an eye on it.

I'll be honest though even though this is a good deal, the first thought I had was "oh, I wonder if chain reaction has a deal on this Marin" (no, no they don't).

Would love to see another round of "affordable" bike reviews from pinkbike.

I'm a new rider, and am actively getting more people into the sport (5 so far Big Grin ), so more affordable options I can recommend is a good thing.
  • + 1
 @ocnlogan: Nice! I'm pretty jealous. I have a 134 and was very close to pulling the trigger on the AL/DL. But (sheepishly) I like the '19 color schemes better and I had already upgraded my 134 for the season, before the deals came up.

Getting more riders into the sport is a good thing! Keep em coming!
  • + 1
 I rode the Process Al/dl 29er for a year before picking up a Ripmo. It’s a really capable all around bike. The frame is overbuilt, but it’s so rigid and responsive on the downhills. I believe Kona made it a bit lighter for ‘19...

I agree either one of those bikes would be a great choice for a big 29er on a budget. I like a lot of the spec choices on the Marin... they really know how to mix and match parts for performance and value.

Note- that e-13 cassette saves over 1/2lb compared to Nx-eagle.
  • + 1
 I have the Alpine Trail, Whyte S150 and Bird Aeris AM9 on my short list. Not easy. Any input of riders would be appreciated.
  • + 2
 @vaedwards: Agreed, I demoed the '19 AL/DL 29 and loved it. Felt heavy lifting it but it climbed, jumped, and tracked well, and had a super stiff linkage and frame. A hair slower to accelerate but once it was rolling it was a beast... Supportive beamer platform and poppy playful suspension w/ the 425mm chainstays. The '19 has a carbon rocker vs 18's aluminium, and perhaps a few other lightened areas. Nice that it comes with a Super Deluxe Piggyback as well. Yari Charger leaves room for upgrades.

Marin usually does have a smart spec for the money, cheers to them!

Agreed that NX cassette is a boat anchor. Fortunately there are lots of options to choose from.

@squarewheel Can't go wrong with any of those. That Bird Aeris is going to be hard to beat. I would also recommend (if you're riding more than a few hours or 2kft) a piggyback rear shock and (for Rockshox) a fork with Charger 2 or at least a Charger 1 (RC) damper so you can upgrade w/ a Luftkappe piston during your 50 hr service. Either of those you can also go all in with an Avalanche damper.
  • + 5
 Great review, I'd point my friends towards this bike if they were looking to get a intro full suspension bike. It weighs 68 Big Macs, but that's not too bad honestly, compared my commencal that weighs 71 Big Macs.
  • + 4
 I have the Alpine trail 8 and so far it's been really great. I did get rid of the Vee rubber on the front for a nice tacky minion and I am also impressed with the TRP brakes. It's not a light bike (but neither is the pilot) but it climbs well for it's girth. Overall, pretty stoked on the bike!
  • + 5
 Thats what i like to see. Great value metal bikes that ride how they should, awesome stuff!
  • + 2
 I don't get why people keep complaining about kinked seat tubes to fit their dropper. My 150mm Fox Transfer dropper collar sticks out 10cm above the kinked seat tube of my Radon and it can be slammed if I want to.
I have a 92cm (36") inseam, would that have anything to do with it?
  • + 2
 That kink is a pain in the arse, for a couple of years at least now. Friend of mine has a 2017 Rift Zone, and as a 6ft guy on a Large he's limited to 125mm of drop. Meanwhile I'm on a Large 2014 Mega, and just put on one with 170mm of drop no trouble at all.
  • + 1
 actually i didnt realize this. Ive got a Drossiger XMA (Pics on my profile) with also that kink. Currently i dont use a dropper but i cant just put any dropper in there.
  • + 2
 @RecklessJack: Your kink looks like it's closer to the bottom bracket, so dropper posts might be fine. You need about 250mm at least, to fit a longer one.
  • + 5
 @RichardCunningham: How would you compare the Whyte S-150 to the Marin Alpine Trail?
  • + 2
 Seems like the progression of trail bikes is heading towards 35lbs below4k price.add your camelback, toolset, pbj sandwich and you have a 50lb weight to drag uphill. Skip tubeless, add big knob "enduro" tires, a cheep 29 wheelset and these things will go backwards when you pedal...
  • + 1
 So, I ordered this bike in February after checking the usual geo figures and finding that every single review (and there were plenty) raved about it.

However, they were out of stock and I had to wait until it arrived on Monday.

Two days later, the only review that even mentioned a possible post insertion depth issue was released by Pinkbike.

Today, as I hoped to complete my build with upgrade parts in time for the weekend, I realised that full extension of my new 150mm post has me reaching six inches more than my inseam to reach the pedal at the lowest point of the stroke.

About a month too late, Pinkbike!

Looks like I might have to make do with a 100mm post... Frown
  • + 1
 This sucks.
I was close to just buy one because of all the reviews out in the web like you. But this droper post issue is real let down (pun intendet). Now I want to testride befor I buy one.
  • + 2
 wonder how much weight can be reduced by changing to 2.3 minion/ aggressor tires and lighter wheels. (don't know these wheel's weight and even the tires weight is on clear on Vee tires site.
15 kg is too much for me.
  • + 1
 Overall this sounds like a capable bike in a wallet-friendly price. The Tektro brakes sound like they're pretty happening. As does the drive combo of SLX derailleur and e16 cassette. I don't ride as aggressively as what is shown in the pics here, not worried about the amount of seat drop noted by the reviewer, plenty for me. But a large with pedals will weigh at least 34 lbs, more than I prefer. Unfortunately it'd cost quite a bit to get the bike's weight below 30 lbs.
  • + 1
 @PtDiddy #2 for the mmmbop hardtail cant beat it for the price. Perfect for steep up/down rocky trails on the frontrange of colorado. Also looked at Marin but I just wanted a frame..
  • + 1
 Marin has been nailing it of late. My next bike will almost certainly be one whether it be an upgrade for my kids ( Hawk Hill JR) or a short travel ripper for me ( Rift Zone).
  • + 1
 My first full suspension was a hawk hill. It was a really great entry level bike. Marin is always my go to for people getting into mountain biking. You can always find a deal on them.
  • + 3
 Affordable bikes rule! Thanks Marin and PB.
  • + 2
 I think this frame looks slightly better in that green color that Kona uses... ????
  • + 2
 @RichardCunningham I didn't catch what size you were on. Trying to figure out if an XL would fit OneUp's longer dropper(s).
  • + 1
 Size medium
  • + 2
 I ride an XL w/ a PNW 170mm. I’m about 6 foot and still have about an inch to go down into the frame w/ that 170mm.
  • + 3
 Doesn't look like the pricier Mount Vision. And that's a good thing.
  • + 3
 2.6" tires - 19mm ID rim width?
  • + 3
 Looks like typo: 29mm ID
  • + 1
 @Klainmeister: Thanks! Thought that was off, glad I was wrong.
  • + 3
 @Klainmeister: Thanks for the catch. Fixed: 29mm inner width
  • + 3
 Finally, I was waiting a long time for this review.
  • + 2
 Boom! That’s the sound of RC dropping the mic on effective seat tube angle whiners.
  • + 2
 That rock drop picture though...
  • + 1
 A $250 Cassette that requires an XD hub? That'll suck when it comes time to replace.
  • + 1
 Two comments about the e13 cassette. The largest three cogs can be bought seperately ($150 but I've seen them on sale for $ 100). They're the ones which wear the most often; so that's a smart cost-management strategy.

Speaking of cost - management I replace my chain at 0.5 on the Park wear tool and have gone 5 seasons on a XX1 cassette (please don't hate me for getting XX1) and 3 seasons on a e13.

However an observation per RC's comment - "Shimano's smallest cog is an 11, which forces its owner to choose either an adequate climbing gear at the risk of spinning out in the 11, or a larger chainring that punishes climbing at the expense of top speed.". This is, of course highly dependent on personal circumstances. I don't have flat or downhill road rides to trailhead and don't have the high speed trails to even come close to using the 11t smallest Shimano cog let alone the e13's smallest 9th cog.

I got the e13 because it's light and had the 46t largest cog and was on sale ($150 on their website - just subscribe to emails) but even that price is higher than a Shimano SLX cog especially when those go on sale. So your comment about price is still bang on even when comparing deals for deals
  • + 1
 Just for comparisons sake:
Just released brand spanking new Shimano M7100 11-50 470g cassette - $99
SRAM's cheapest XD Cassette is "only" 10-42 and weighs 390g - $120
SRAM's cheapest "wide range" 10-50 is 450g and is roughly twice the cost of the M7100 11-50 at $200.

What's sad is that you can get a wide range 11-50 cassette from SRAM for $90...but it's made to fit Shimano's HG freehub. Proof that all XD has done is increase the cost of replacement for the poor souls who buy bikes with it.

I've got an XD driver for my DT Swiss that needs swapped for a HG driver...but I may just go for MicroSpline and save myself the headache years down the road. I kinda wish someone made a steel 46t to somehow add to the XG1150 10-42 cassette, that might be the only way I'd keep this XD driver.
  • + 1
 Is anyone shopping for this bike really going to regularly spin out a 30x11 high gear on trail?
  • + 1
 I have a couple of friends that work for Marin. That's all i have to say.
  • + 1
 I would sincerely hope it doesn't accelerate like spunk.
  • + 1
 For being a budget bike... it sure looks mean! I dig it!
  • + 1
 Looks like the perfect home for a Marz Bomber CR coil shock
  • + 1
 Why does it look like there's too much room in the rocker-seatstay pivot?
  • + 1
 A Marin bike with a Suspension design I can relate to.
  • + 1
 "adjust for a two inch (100mm)"
2 inches is 51mm
  • + 1
 Yeah, was looking at that too. I suppose he meant to say it can go two inches to the front and two inches to the back from center. So that adds up to about 10cm of adjustment. That said, mind you this is bike metrics. In a business an Orange Four has about five inches of travel, an Orange Five has about six inches of travel, a Marzocchi 55 has about six inches of travel and a Marzocchi 66 has about seven inches of travel, it is fully acceptable to say two inch somehow relates to 100mm. Most 8" brake rotors are actually 203mm. But they usually have a wavy circumference to compensate for the accuracy.
  • + 1
 @vinay: 8" is is exactly 203.2mm

Naming conventions of bikes don't need to reflect accurately as they're just names, but 1" is 25.4mm, and theres no two ways about it.

4" is a rough approximate to 100mm. I'm not sure if he was trying to say you can maintain your seat angle within 100mm above and 100mm below the handlebar height, or 50mm above and 50mm below by sliding your saddle on the rails.

If I had to take a guess, I'd say 50mm above and 50mm below as he's American and Americans tend to use imperial measurements.

All of the above is moot though, because your seat should always be slammed forward to get the steepest effective seat angle you can.

Oh, and I guess this discussion is due an "I'm an Engineer" comment too! :3
  • + 2
 50mm (round off)
  • + 1
 @Konda: Yeah, my point was that the 8" disc brake rotor is one of the few (in most cases) where imperial and metric match. Superstarcomponents had the yardstick (a one yard handlebar) and Santa Cruz bikes had a V10 with an actual 10" or rear suspension, but that's from years gone by.

Biggest point though is though, don't take these measurements too accurate. I've got a recipe that was translated from English to Dutch. It said I needed to roll a piece of dough until it is ABOUT 25.4cm long. Sometimes accuracy is good but you need to know where to stop. When people talk in whole inches, a conversion to whole centimeters is more than accurate enough.
  • + 0
 This will be awesome with some 650B wheels!
  • + 1
 Looks like a winner
  • - 2
 Hey Marin why don't you knock at Tantrum bike designer's door (you've got it near you) instead of that so old "design". Then you'll have the best suspension systems at home.
  • + 3
 Because then it would not be a complete package for under 3 grand.
  • - 1
 Trek Slash 8 is the only other challenger to this value.
  • + 4
 Are you serious??? Trek has some of the worst value for bikes in the industry (excluding boutique brands). Try commencal, canyon, yt, calibre or whyte
  • + 0
 @CullenHerring:

Nahh. I like bike shops. I take it you haven't ridden the new slash 8. Steeper seat tube than the carbon builds and climbs better. I've ridden several of the above. Not just shooting off.
  • + 1
 @victorlatimer: A friend of mine has the slash 8 and he loves it. Another friend has the capra 27 and he loves that. I have the meta am 27 and I think it rides better than both of their bikes. Personal preference I guess
  • + 1
 @CullenHerring: I just picked up a Slash 8... Upgraded the brakes to some TRP Quadiems and just dropped a Charger 2.1 cartridge into the fork... Bang for the buck, its been pretty good... A little more expensive than the Marin, but some solid parts on it... I bought it as my one do it all bike, and it hasn't disappointed me yet..
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