First Ride: Marin CXR Team SLX£2,299.00

Carbon race ride

BikeRadar score3/5

Marin’s CXR is their top-line, high-speed hardtail and it’s a cracking ride for race or trail use. Unlike with other brands, the SLX entry-level model is the only complete bike available, and it’s not cheap.

Ride & handling: Quick acceleration with trail attitude

While it might come in full team livery, the CXR is a capable all-rounder rather than a race-day rig. A 70-degree head angle and 72.5-degree seat angle give a more relaxed feel than the benchmark 71/73 angles, and slightly more stability at speed.

With less fretting about going over the front on steep or technical sections, you’re encouraged to sling the bike through singletrack, rather than mince along like a roadie.

Despite the massive monocoque carbon chassis it’s a relatively quiet and calmly controlled ride. There’s a noticeably decent amount of shock absorption to take the sting out of rocks or long days in the saddle alike.

That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of speed as soon as you hammer the pedals though, and the 11.3kg (25lb) weight is a massive bonus out of corners or up climbs. For a couple of hundred quid more though you’re looking at seriously light sub-23lb (10.4kg) bikes, which is where overall value comes into question.

Light enough to race, but controlled enough to take the fight to the trails on your terms rather than its, the CXR is great fun to ride. But there are similar bikes for a lot less, or lighter, better equipped options for only slightly more.

The massively swooping lines are reminiscent of an old school corratec: the massively swooping lines are reminiscent of an old school corratec

Frame: Smooth riding carbon race frame

For those who remember Marin’s skinny steel race bikes, this massive monocoque frame is going to be a shock. The head tube is a conventional diameter on the inside but beefed up with wrap reinforcing that blends into the main tubes.

The ‘S’ curved, flattened polygon down tube is huge, and it switches from vertically ovalised to horizontally ovalised between the head and bottom bracket. The rectangular top tube has moulded ramp braces where it meets the head and seat tubes.

The curved lines flow into a parallel ‘H’ seatstay bridge, and continue through tapering rectangular-to-square seatstays. Super-deep rectangular to square chainstays get the same twin-stay bridge behind the bottom bracket shell, with chunky CNC-machined dropouts at the hub end.

Equipment: Relatively low spec value

Marin have kept this realists’ racer cost-effective. The RockShox Reba fork is stiff, tough and dependable with remote control Poploc lockout on the bars. Mavic rims and Shimano SLX hubs provide a durable, if not light, wheelset and the Maxxis Ignitor tyres are reasonable all-weather all-rounders.

Durable, dependable SLX provides the stop/go equipment apart from the XT rear mech. Low-rise bars give enough leverage for technical work and a stiff FSA stem keeps feedback clear.

The cables are routed inside the humungous down tube: the cables are routed inside the humungous down tube

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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