Cashing in on the success of the 2008 Mount Vision (What Mountain Bike's Bike of the Year), Marin have now given all their 120mm trail bikes the MV title. This cheaper version is still a standout, but it needs to lose some of the weight it loves to throw around.
There’s no escaping the fact that the heft of the Marin will seriously cut into your speed and energy reserves on longer, lung-busting rides. However, the ‘ﬂat-out into everything, take the trail by the scruff of the neck’ character we loved last year is even more obvious this year, making it a very good choice for more powerful, aggressive pilots.
Ride & handling: Loaded with attitude and agility, but a bit lardy
While upgradeability counts as a long-term bonus, the 29lb weight of the 5.7 makes itself felt in the ride. It’s clear on longer climbs that you’re putting more in and getting less out than you would with a faster/lighter bike. It also has more shock/pedal movement than most, which upset some testers.
That said, the Marin offsets the basic physics to an impressive extent. The exceptionally stiff frame, with its ‘tighten under torque’ suspension and generous top tube, naturally encourages hard breathing and hard riding. The tyres roll fast enough to reward a bit of a push too, so there’s little noticeable lag in responsiveness.
What really marks the Marin out though is not its speed out of sections but into them. With easy rearward sag, plus a slightly longer front end for this year, the MV feels much more anchored and stable than the static angles suggest. This makes it super-conﬁdent at speed, and the Marin also loves to wheelie and manual into, through or off the big stuff.
The initially plush rear shock feel (for comfortable, high-traction cruising) tends to ramp up signiﬁcantly towards full compression too, creating a ﬁrm but controlled catch of bigger stuff than you’d expect a 120mm bike to cope with.
Keep its nose down and the big handlebar, tight tracking and outstandingly well-damped fork will muscle their way through the most edgy, aggressive lines.
Despite back wheel twist (switching to the optional Maxle dropouts would help eradicate this), the direct trail feel through the pedals and bars gives excellent feedback
Frame: Marin play safe with 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' approach
In the ﬁne tradition of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t ﬁx it’ Marin has done little to the frame of the bike that was selling out well before summer last year. There are some micro geometry tweaks but otherwise, despite trying a lot of alternatives, they haven’t gone with anything radical.
That means a short top tube for a low, aggressive cockpit position, a long, shallow S-curved geometric cross-section top tube for a generous stretch, and a heavily hydroformed down tube with a whaleback section welded on top to hold the twin linkages that squeeze the shock between them.
Long square section stays then curve back from the frame centre, past the seat tube to replaceable forged dropouts. These chainring-bolt-secured tips can be swapped for screw-through Maxle axle mounts to reduce wheel twist.
Other practical touches include complete sealed gear cable routing, masses of mudroom, a completely spray/crash-shielded shock and bearings with a lifetime warranty.
Equipment: Great suspension, solid Shimano kit and tough Mavic rims
With the Shimano XT-equipped MV 5.8 now £460 more expensive than this bike, Marin have inevitably had to make some kit compromises. The great news is that none is made with the suspension.
Once you’re used to ﬁnding the lever, the Xtra Volume Fox RP2 shock gives plush bump action or pert pedalling with a ﬂick of the lever. The 15mm screw-through axle turns the already beautifully damped F120 fork into a proper line-chasing trail terrier too.
Shimano SLX shifters are a bit plasticky but work ﬁne, and the Deore/XT mix and Deore chainset are plenty durable. Mavic XM 317 rims are a real bonus in terms of longevity, and the WTB Prowler tyres work well most of the time. A wide bar gives the front end the extra power assist you need to really help you to exploit the MV’s aggressive character.
This kit does all pile a lot of weight onto an already lardy chassis, but there’s a lot of excess fat you could lose quickly and cost effectively with some astute upgrading – the saddle and seatpost weigh almost 700g alone.