Marin Quake, many of you have probably heard of the bike and seen pictures of it on the internet, but there aren't that many people riding them. So what does it ride like? How good is it? Is it worth the cash? How does it compare to top end DH bikes? read on to find out...First off I don't think this bike gets the respect it deserves. I've raced a whole season of Downhill on a 07 7.1 and it has taken it all in its stride, coming out of the season with only a few dents from crashes and various uplift scratches. It still performs flawlessly, the bearings are buttery smooth, and there are no creaks or noises as it compresses. Although it only has 6.8 inches of travel, the Quad Link linkage makes it feel like a much bigger bike. The rearward axle path absorbs all the small bumps superbly, yet doesn't harshly bottom on the big hits.
Head tube and gusset detail
The Quake utilizes a 1.5 head tube with a 1.5 totem sitting in it for rock eating stiffness. The totem coil performed flawlessly throughout the test, with its high/low speed compression, floodgate and rebound adjustability it can be fine tuned to suit the course in hand. Strategically placed gussets sit on the join between down tube/top tube and head tube to increase the strength of the already strong front end. Sleek cable routers help keep the cables from flapping around and out of the way.
The Quake 7.9 comes with a full Saint groupset, and as expected every component worked flawlessly. The cranks are super stiff and smooth, the brakes having an awesome amount of power on tap, yet superb modulation for when you just want to scrub off a bit of speed. The rear mech shifts smoothly and quickly, though the b-tension pin does make a loud crack when the mech body hits it going through rough terrain, but that is a small price to pay for precise and smooth shifting. Now, something that is often overlooked, the shifter. On my 7.1 i had a SLX shifter paired with a Saint mech, and on the 7.9 there is a saint shifter and mech combo. Now I really like my SLX, it provides precise shifting and has great adjustability, but the saint just blew it out of the water. They have obviously had some serious time put into their design because the trigger is just where you want it to be, and the shift is almost instant. With the SLX I was having to wait till smoother sections to shift, but with the saint I was able to shift in-between corners, and even in the air over small jumps so I was ready to pedal into the next corner.
With maxles front and rear the Quake is super stiff, you can chuck it into the berms and not feel a single bit of flex. It also makes wheel removal, and therefore tire changing so much quicker, something that I really appreciated after putting wetscreams on thinking it would be a wet race, turning up and finding the track bone dry. The Saint hub on the rear was awesome, with no maintenance needed thought the weekend. It has a very quiet tick, something I personally like because I like to hear the nice sound of tire on dirt, and it also means I can hear any sounds that shouldn't be there. The replaceable drop-outs and different types (135mm QR and 150x12 Maxle) mean that if you have a bad off and bent the drop-outs, you don't have to replace the frame, just the drop-outs. It also future-proofs the bike to any change in axle technology.
Down tube logo
So how does it compare to a full on Downhill bike??? well I have been lucky enough to test ride both an empire AP-1 and a Trek Session 88 and to be honest with you I prefer the quake. Now I know this will not be the case with everyone, but I found the Trek's bottom Bracket was too low, making me clip rocks and subsequently crash. I also found the empire harder to manoeuvre due to its increased weight. I also found the suspension to be much more to my liking on the Marin than on both the Session and the AP-1.
So there you have it, my opinion on the 09 Marin Quake 7.9, thanks for reading (:Notes.
Huge thanks (and I mean HUGE) to John at Zero G cycles in downend and Finlay of Marin UK for being so kind and understanding and lending me this bike for the weekend to race on as mine has been stolen.
I came 8th in my category (youth) being only 5 seconds off the leading youths time, and 12 seconds off the fastest time of the day.