Marin’s Nail Trail was one of our surprise stars of last year, with smart speccing giving it a lightweight single ring advantage to match its addictively lively ride. They rushed us the latest version to prove that it looks set to be a technical trail benchmark bike for 2017 too.
Keen pricing is obvious straight away with the latest Shimano SLX 11 speed gears, SunRace 11-42T cassette and Samox single ring chainset and an internally routed TranzX dropper post as standard. A 780mm bar and 60mm stem gives serious power steering control and the smoke fade frame is suitably stretched, slackened and lowered for rowdy combat confidence.
Its hell raising intent is backed up by a stout legged, smooth stroking RockShox Yari RC fork that’s simply in a different class to the Sektor or Suntour opposition. The back end is kept tight and secure with a simple, quick to operate Naild 142x12mm thru-axle, while slender seat stays and a subtly curved seat tube keep the back-end tight without beating your arse into a pulp.
While many brands have discontinued their bigger diameter options (or ‘reinvented’ them as plus- bikes), Marin still offers the option of lighter, faster accelerating or 27.5in wheels or bigger 29in wheels on otherwise identical bikes. Given how impressively smooth and sure-footed our wide 33mm rimmed, Nobby Nic front, Racing Ralph rear, Schwalbe tyred 29er sample felt even flat out on sketchy trails, that’s definitely the way our preference would go too.
At 12.58kg for a large it’s still impressively light, making it fast mileage as well as frantic-ride compatible and putting the Nail Trail near the top of our favourite budget bikes list for this year.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.