If you go back five or six years the Orange P7 and Eldridge Grade competed pretty much head-on. Both were top quality steel frames with good components and they had a strong following from racers and trail riders alike.
As alloy frames took over, Marin gradually dropped steel from its UK line-up. For a little while the name Eldridge Grade, the famous track down Mount Tamalpais in Marin county, was missing from its range.
Then back it comes, all alloy, all decked out with an impressive spec sheet. The frame is a classy piece of work and with Fox Float 100R forks you've got a solid base on which to build an ideal all-day mountain hardtail.
When you check the rest of the spec it all seems to be going well, and you do get a lot of bike for your money. The only obvious cost saving is in the wheels - the Eldridge Grade has budget rims with no eyelets and low-budget M475 Shimano hubs too (below Deore). We'd expect disc wheels to last as long as the bike they're fitted to, and these are no match for the quality of everything else on the bike.
Once you jump on board you find a lively, light and responsive ride. The high top tube gives poor standover height and the bike looks very tall for its size, but once in the saddle the fit is okay for most. Fox forks, Juicy 5 brakes, and a good overall ride shows that this is certainly a worthy expedition machine.