After years of lightweight 4-6in adjustable travel TARA XC/Trail bikes, Marin have totally transformed their mid travel line. Cross-bred somewhere between the Mount Vision XC and the Quake FR bikes, the new Quad Trail 140mm is a super aggressive all-round hooligan.
It certainly looks a lot like the FRS XC bikes but there are some big differences. The front end is 6061 not 6066/69 and gets two massive cheek gussets to cope with the Pike fork and intended abuse. The chainstays are a heavier gauge butting for increased strength and stiffness too.
The suspension architecture has also been changed, with longer linkages boosting travel up to 140mm while creating a more linear feel from the Fox air can. Handling geometry changes significantly too, as you'll see in the ride section.
Marin are one of the first mainstream manufacturers to use a RockShox Maxle back end to increase stiffness across the swingarm tips. The flowing cold forged dropouts are fully replaceable and interchangeable with the QR versions from the XC bikes too. We did manage to blow a couple of dropout fixing bolts on flat out rockery runs and drops, but it uses standard chainring bolts that you can find anywhere which is a lot handier than replacing specific dropout pieces.
Finally, all Marin's usual attention to UK detail such as lifetime guaranteed pivot bolts and masses of mud room are all present and correct.
As the top of the range bike in the Quad Trail range, the Attack gets treated to a mostly new Shimano XT spec, which we're fans of.
There's no doubts about the RockShox Pike fork, though. The Maxle screw-through axle makes it outstandingly stiff and authoritative, while simple yet effective motion control internals mean phenomenal reliability. The 454 air sprung version is relatively light too.
The 20m front and 12mm rear Hope hubs spin ultra reliably if noisily on the Maxle axles for maximum longevity and versatility. The FSA Gap crank is stiff underfoot and designed to take a beating too, while GAP gear also completes the cockpit in tough but not too heavy style.
The Marin has a fair share of snap and pop out of corners or off lips.
What is surprising is just how well it deals with the big stuff. It's super quiet, and even off big drops or through random rock sections, the swingarm would just roll round and forward to suck all the sting out of the impacts and sit the bike securely on the ground. There's much less ramp up at the end of the stroke compared to older pinch flat prone Marin's too.
There's quite a lot of pedal feedback through the start of the stroke, but a lot less down deep. This means the bike really digs down and in when you apply power, but doesn't kick back hard when you really slam it. It's impressively stable even in the granny ring too and the Pike fork is a perfect, consistently reliable match up front.
As well as impressively planted suspension, the handling is really confidence boosting too. The 71-degree seat angle and low front end keeps plenty of weight on the front tyre, while the Maxle locks the back end down rock solid. Add the stability of a mid-height bottom bracket and easy body weight compression through the first part of travel and you can rip the bike right into the belly of berms or carve it sideways without worry. It's a naturally easy manualing machine too. The light weight keeps low speed hop and drop agility high despite a long enough top tube for climbing and pedalling comfort too.
- Fantastic accuracy and intuitive 3D agility
- Combines short travel snap with long travel smoothness
- Superb value for the performance, longevity and versatility it gives
- The front end wanders a little on steep climbs
- Some people might not thing 140mm travel is enough
- We're still not sure about XT brakes yet
- Old-skool Marin owners might get a surprise!