Marin, a company steeped in mountain bike history, have breathed new life into many of their key models for 2014. The Attack Trail comes in three different guises, two of which include full carbon frames while the cheapest model uses an alloy front triangle.
We hit the trail on the flagship Attack Trail Quad Carbon XT Pro to see what these changes mean for riders.
Video: Marin Attack Trail Quad Carbon XT Pro – First Ride
Frame and equipment: Fox and RockShox suspension highlights
The brand new CXR 60T carbon frame may well split opinion when it comes to aesthetics, but we're big fans of the clean lines and chunky tube junctions, which that really do bolster stiffness on the trail. In case you were worried about trail debris battering the bike's carbon underside, Marin have included a chunky, replaceable down tube protector to help ward off the worst of the hits. Internal cable routing helps keep things clutter-free and includes routing for a stealth dropper post.
The Quad-Link 3.0 suspension system uses two cold forged, CNC-finished links to dictate changes in the shock's leverage ratio and the rear wheel's axle path by creating a floating or Instantaneous Pivot Centre (IPC) in a bid to make the most of the Attack Trail's 150mm (5.9in) of travel. This little lot all pivots on Enduro bearings (which come with a lifetime warranty), while Fox's new Float X shock deals with the bumps admirably.
The Fox Float X shock was a spec highlight. The down tube protector is replaceable
Although the Attack Trail is designed around 650b wheels, Marin have still opted to go reasonably slack with the 66.5 degree head angle, while the 435mm chainstays are on trend with pretty much every other 150/160mm, 650b bike out there.
Unusually, although Marin specify their top-end Mount Vision with a single ring, 1x11 setup, there's no such option available on any of the Attack Trail offerings. Our Quad Carbon XT Pro came with e*thirteen's TRSr double crankset, which seemed an odd choice considering the bike's more aggressive, gravity-orientated intentions.
While on that note, at just 711mm it's likely that Easton's Haven bar will be a touch narrow for most riders on this sort of machine. RockShox' Pike fork and Stealth Reverb dropper post are certainly highlights though.
Ride and handling: straight down to business
Plough head-on into fast, loose, rock-infested trails and it doesn't take long for the Attack Trail to come into its own. The balance and control created between the supple Pike fork and Float X shock mean confidence and traction are delivered in impressive measures - it's a bike you really do feel at ease with very quickly.
The Quad-Link 3.0 is responsive enough to hug the trails' curves and maintain grip when things get dicey, but supportive enough when the hits become more repetitive and harsher. Although we used all 150mm of the travel, we never once felt any harsh bottom out, even when pushing the bike hard on some really rough terrain.
The instantly reactive, super stiff rear end makes throwing the bike from hard-fast-turn to hard-fast-turn an accurate and positive affair, while stamping hard on the pedals offers a stiff and efficient response when getting the power down out of slower, more awkward turns. Hit a climb and the fully integrated RockShox Reverb Stealth remote is just a push away from launching the saddle up to optimal pedalling height with minimal fuss, time and time again.
Size-wise, our medium sample offered just enough standover height for our 5ft 8in test pilot, but an extra 10mm on the top tube would have given us a bit more stretch in the cockpit area. That said, the claimed 591mm effective top tube length coupled with 435mm chainstay certainly gives a very chuckable, fun and playful ride on the trail, especially when there are jumps involved.
The Attack Trail Quad Carbon XT Pro is balanced, agile and fun to ride
Thanks partly to the stiff, responsive frame and the 29lb weight, it's easy to loft the Attack Trail over trail obstacles or really stretch out those landings when you're after that extra bit of distance. It also makes popping the front wheel up extremely easy.
While testing the Marin, we did encounter one problem in the bottom bracket area. Unfortunately the e*thirteen bottom bracket had a tendency to loosen itself off while pedalling, leaving the crankset to slide from side to side on the axle and screw up shifting at the front.
A big niggle, but it still couldn't detract from the fun we had onboard the Attack Trail. We've been impressed with what Marin have done with the bike for 2014, producing a solid, agile and well-balanced bike that's a pleasure to ride.