While there’s a range of decent trail bikes on the market for about the price of a Pine Mountain, by sticking a rigid fork on the front Marin has been able to build a nicely specced, beautifully simple and fun to ride hardtail that won’t break the bank.
Roughly does it
Rigid forks may put people off the bike, and the forks definitely transmit far more feedback to the bars than a sprung one would, but the deep Schwalbe PaceStar Nobby Nic treads do a fair job of muting the worst of the chatter, while providing almost as much grip as the softer compound TrailStar versions. That said, it’s definitely a bike that rewards smart line choice and the odd bunnyhop.
Aiding the front end is a 740mm bar/stem combo that’s not overly stiff, and the QR wheels, which although adding a bit of twist into the system, mean there’s more give than there might have been.
Shimano M445 brakes are basic but reliable performers
Elsewhere on the bike, it’s good to see dependable but basic Shimano M445 brakes and a 10-speed 11-42t SunRace cassette matched with a 32t single ring, giving plenty of gear range. SRAM’s X5 shifter drives the X7 derailleur across the cassette.
With a reach of 441mm (size large) and head angle of 69 degrees, the Pine Mountain is neither super long nor super slack, but these factors help keep the ride active and lively at slower speeds. At higher speeds it benefits from the deep 55mm BB drop, which adds stability lost from the steeper head angle. Unfortunately the 70 degree seat angle is pretty slack, which puts your hips back and behind the BB – less than ideal for climbing and putting the power down.
A 69-degree head angle helps keep the handling reasonably sprightly
To get the Pine Mountain really up to speed takes commitment and skill – with no suspension back-up, reactions have to be pin sharp and the fine line between full-bore speed and crashing is atom-thin. You’ll need to rely on really fine-tuning the pressures to get the most out of your mechanical tyre grip.
While you’ll almost definitely be going slower on this than most other bikes, and the geometry has its quirks (seat angle and stem length), it’s not the whole picture. The involvement required means you’ll still have fun – for as long as you can hold on.
The back-to-basics Marin excels for adventuring on
And if you’re not pressing on, the Pine Mountain is ideal for cross country rides where the scenery is as much of the enjoyment as the trail. Here, the easy riding nature of the big-volume rubber means less technical trails can be covered in comfort and efficiency.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.