There are big changes for Marin in 2007, with longtime designer Jon Whyte leaving and a new chassis for their popular full suspension cross-country bikes appearing.
These new longer travel bikes are certainly in at the thick end of the do-it-all trail bike fight.
When we first saw the prototype doing laps at the Sleepless in the Saddle 24hr race in August, only the Quad linkages betrayed its Marin roots. The linkage lengths have changed to accommodate a longer stroke shock and travel has increased to a 120mm maximum.
Marin have made full use of the latest 3D hydroforming techniques on the humpbacked top tube, and the linkages now mount on to a large shoe welded on top of the shallow S-curved down tube. The symmetrical back end uses massive square-section stays for stiffness but there's still masses of mud room. Tyre clearances are tight at full travel, and there's only just room for a small bottle. The step-down head tube is pointless too because you'll hit the top tube with the shifter pods if you have less than a 5mm spacer under the stem.
Marin have done an excellent job of speccing a cracking UK trail bike. The Fox FLOAT fork is custom built with 120mm travel to match the back end, and Hope's loud clicking Pro II hubs are becoming British classics. The Mavic XM317 rims are tried and trusted while Continental's fast rolling Vapor tyres are great for high mileage riding. The Avid Juicy Carbon hydraulic disc brakes don't like being dropped (we snapped one lever) but the power and control they give is genuinely outstanding. The Shimano XTR rear mech with XT transmission is a nice touch.
The ride of the new Mount Vision is immediately different, with a real solidity replacing the skittery feel of its lighter predecessors. You can really push it hard into corners because the relatively steep 71-degree head angle and 73-degree seat angle mean the bike is perfectly weighted for plenty of front wheel grip and controlled back wheel slide.
When you stamp on the pedals, the power transfers straight to the back wheel for a real push when you need it, and the increased stiffness of the frame and oversized cockpit means no wastage of your wattage. Despite this bike being the heaviest Mount Vision we can recall (it's 12.7kg/28lb), we spent the majority of our test time hammering hard in the big ring. It'll certainly climb like a lighter bike without losing momentum.
The soft-start suspension keeps it smooth over small bumps and then provides a controlled response to mid-sized hits. You'll have to really clout it to see over 105mm (4.1in) of travel though, and the final ramp-up can pop tyres if you drop the pressure too low. You can definitely treat it more rudely than previous Marin trail bikes, 6in rigs included.
Marin told us they'd set out to return the Mount Vision to its classic UK trail bike status, and they've done an excellent job. This bike is heavier and you'll rarely get the full claimed travel, but it rides with a whole new level of purpose and authority.