Marin Mount Vision 5.8 £2499

Convicted singletrack killer

BikeRadar score 4/5

The Marin Mount Vision has doggedly held its place in the hearts and minds of hardcore trail riders the world over. We loved the 2009 machine and were impressed by our first ride on the 2010 model earlier this year, so how has it fared under longer-term testing?

We’ve had a lot of smiles on the new Mount Vision; it invites you to turn pedals for fun, push the limits of your endurance and, dare we say it, push the limits of how much fun you can pack into a single Saturday morning ride. That’s got to be a good trait for any bike.

It’s not (and was never meant to be) an out-and-out cross-country race bike – a thorny area for Marin right now with the shelving of its 100mm Alchemist race bike platform – but the MV is lighter and faster feeling than in ’09.

Ride & handling: Lighter, tighter and more fun for 2010

The 2010 Mount Vision has been honed and crafted like no Marin before it: designed by people who really ride and who ride in the same places you do – they know what you’re looking for and we think they deliver it.

You sit in the new Mount Vision, rather than on it, carving round tree stumps, rocks and roots with added poise. However, there’s a feeling of pent-up ability in there too – aggression would be too strong a word; the Mount Vision isn’t there to frighten riders with any outlandish Rambo moves, but it does dare you to win.

We think it’s the retuned suspension. The custom-tuned Fox RP23 shock adds a little extra sprightliness to the rear suspension; where previous models could and would chatter over fast mid-sized hits, the new one tracks them with control, and this extra traction and control prompts you to keep applying power.

When the trail opens up you’re invited to pump the undulations, upping the speed all the while. There are still a few places where it’s not the best – granny gear climbing can feel a bit off for the first few strokes, for instance – but this is small fry in comparison with the major advances made elsewhere on the bike.

On downhills it puffs out its chest and squares up to the challenge at hand, and on climbs the Quad-Link rear suspension likes to dig in and grind it out in the middle ring.

Overall, trail riders will appreciate the Mount Vision’s feeling of stability and confidence in most technical situations where surefootedness counts at least as much as light weight.

Frame: Slimmer links mean no more knocking your knees; paintjob straightens curves

In the mid-Nineties, Marin were one of the first mainstream manufacturers to begin designing and building full-suspension cross-country bikes, and were also among the first to nail a design that actually worked.

Initially a relatively simple single pivot design, then after a few years of bagging unexpected race wins and the admiration of hardcore mile munchers, Marin’s designers switched to their current FRS Quad-Link 2.0 system to give a more sophisticated ride character.

The Quad-Link uses a pair of short rocker links to drive a lightweight Fox rear air shock to deliver 120mm of plush rear wheel travel. Over the years we’ve ridden countless miles on the MV in its previous incarnations and we’ve always loved its no-fuss attitude.

While we’re on the subject of weight, we were hoping the new Mount Vision would be lighter for 2010; while the previous incarnation wasn’t restrictively heavy, we felt there was room for a little improvement. We also secretly hoped that the new iteration might see a straightening of the 6066 alloy curved tubes – a love it/hate it detail that’s become the signature proile for all recent Marin frames.

At a glance, the 2010 Mount Vision silhouette remains largely the same as in 2009, but closer inspection reveals a hefty catalogue of small detail changes that leaves no area untouched.

In line with current thinking, Marin have knocked a full degree off the head angle to 68.5° and integrated the headset for the first time, while at the same time plumping the seat angle up to 72.5°. So, slacker and lower up front, and steeper out back for predictable and fast-paced long travel handling.

What makes this work, though, is extra length in the top tube, a shorter stem and an extra smidge on the wheelbase to keep you low between the wheels and in a position where you can influence the pedals and both tyre contact patches to maximum effect.

The width of the shock links was an issue on the older Quad-Link models and this has now been addressed – which will please those who complained about knocking knees and calves on the shock – and accessing the rear shock controls has been simplified.

Marin haven’t done a U-turn on the curvy hydroformed aesthetics of the bike for 2010, but they have attempted to woo the ‘anti-swoopy lines’ camp with camouflage. No, not olive green paint, but some cleverly painted silver grey panels that, to the eye, seem to straighten out the curvy tubes. So if that has always been your sticking point, you might well fall for the sharper lines of the new Mount Vision.

So the Mount Vision is a year older and a year wiser, with its tricks polished and some new ones learned. It may now be wearing a cheeky shade of grey in its hair, but we feel the 2010 Marin Mount Vision is still in rude health.

Tester says

Justin Loretz: "The Mount Vision was always going to descend better with a degree off the head angle, but it actually climbs better too as a result of the changes, as you’re sat more efficiently between the wheels and are more able to control the traction of both ends of the bike. The new Fox suspension really makes you want to pump the bike through the trail, eking out every last bit of speed."

Designer says

We spoke to Ian Alexander, designer at Marin...

What’s happened to the suspension on the 2010 Mount Vision?

"We’ve added Fox’s Boost Valve rear shock technology. Changing to the lightest compression tune gives even more supple small bump response. This gives the same mid-stroke stability with better control of big-hit travel deeper into the shock stroke. This new Fox rear shock has been integrated into the standard Quad-Link design and is retrofittable to all Quad-Link 2 120mm bikes."

And the geometry?

"We’ve slackened the head tube angle and put a little extra length in the frame so we can run a shorter stem. This gives a longer front centre and a longer wheelbase which boosts stability and gives a more confident and planted bike on the trail. We brought the seat tube angle in to redistribute rider weight to the centre of the bike. Riders sit ‘in’ the bike, lowering the centre of gravity which improves handling in corners, stability on fast descents, and also helps in the slow-speed technical sections like steep climbs and descents."

Anything else?

"The head tube diameter goes up 21 percent, increasing frame stiffness and weld area. The new swingarm is upgraded from premium 6061 alloy to higher grade, thinner walled 6066, dropping 200g with no loss of stiffness. It also gets 10mm narrower linkages and low-profile bearing covers; better access to the rear shock controls and air filler valve; and mounts for ‘Dropper’ style seatposts. The changes are small in magnitude, but when taken as whole the combined effect adds up to a massive improvement to the Mount Vision’s capability as an all-round trail bike."

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