Sunday, September 9, 2007 11.00pm
By Cara Coolbaugh
Marin County, California, historical home of mountain biking in the early 80s, is the headquarters and namesake of the major US brand Marin. The Muirwoods takes its inspiration from Mtbs, with 26in wheels, and mixes it up with today's popular 'urban' styling. A double-butted chromoly steel frame ensures strength and longevity in the face of daily commutes, and the matt black finish has proven hard wearing. The downside of the chromoly is that it's a bit heavy compared with similarly priced aluminium frames. Along with two bottle mounts, there are rack and mudguard mounts both front and rear, which add touring to the list of possibilities, and being a compact, Mtb-style frame with wide rear stays, there's room for knobblier tyres for light off-roading too.
Mountain bikers will find the riding position quite familiar. The riser bars make it comfortable yet sporty and the steel frame helps soak up bad road conditions. The 26in rims with 1.4in wide tyres also provide cushioning - as opposed to the faster but harsher ride you get with skinny road wheels. They still roll much quicker than knobblies, have better traction on the roads and with a Kevlar lining offer greater puncture protection. To keep pace with city riding, the 48/38/28t Truvativ X-flow chainset paired with an 11-32 cassette offers slightly bigger gears than a standard Mtb, but less than a road triple. This strikes a good balance for most terrain. Shifting is reliable thanks to the Shimano Deore rear mech teamed up with Alivio/Nexave parts elsewhere. Reach-adjustable brake levers are helpful for small hands and the brakes themselves felt smooth and powerful in most conditions.
WTB Dual Duty rims are double walled and built up with 32 holes for extra strength. They have wear line indicators too. Especially practical, the front hub has a lockable quick release (requires special tool) and the seatpost QR is a doddle to tighten down.
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