Do you ever cast your mind back to the days when most frames were steel, when brakes squeezed on rims and when suspension travel was dependent on the length of your limbs?If that’s the case you’ll probably remember Marin’s first Pine Mountain, a twin-tone chromoly creation that encapsulated mountain biking in the '90s. This latest Pine Mountain attempts to capture some of that original magic yet combines it with some of mountain biking’s more recent developments.
It’s a very similar proposition to last year’s Pine Mountain, a bike we enjoyed a fair bit. On the surface, the US £850 / US$1,249 /AU$N/A retail price might seem steep, after all there’s no suspension at the rear, no suspension at the front, no fancy tubing or acronyms for you to work out. What you do get is a double-butted chromoly frame, with a slightly different yet still fully retro twin-tone paint job inspired by Marins of old.
Under the paint things have changed too — the quick-release back-end now sports boost spacing, but curiously retains a quick-release axle making for a weirder than weird 141x9mm size.
If Marin’s geometry charts are to be believed then things have been tweaked too. The overall sizing appears to remain unchanged, with five choices ranging from small to the gate-like XXL model we’ve called in. When compared to last year’s bikes, wheelbase lengths are up, as are head tube lengths, but probably the biggest difference is the frame’s dramatically steepened seat tube.
Yes, on this XXL version it appears Marin has taken a full 2.5 degrees out of the Pine Mountain seat tube angle for 2017. That sounds like a good change to us too, as we found last year’s bike placed you too far behind the bottom bracket, ruining climbing or sprint action.
The Pine Mountain’s suspension-corrected fork is also boost spaced and, despite what the Marin website says, it still uses a quick release axle for 2017. A very important part of this bike’s spec is its plus-sized tyres, which at this price point are still a rare sight. Marin has stuck with a 40mm internal diameter rim, this year in own-brand form. These are fitted with Schwalbe’s 2.9in Nobby Nic tyres in the hardest Pacestar compound.
The Pine Mountain’s drivetrain is still a 1x configuration although this year it pairs SRAM’s GX derailleur and shifter with a Sunrace 11-42t cassette, albeit with an improved chainline courtesy of the Boost spacing. The final piece of the drivetrain puzzle comes in the form of an own-brand hollow spindle chainset complete with a narrow/wide 32t ring.
The brakes are Shimano’s reliable if not sexy M445 models, with a 180mm rotor up front and a smaller 160mm part at the back. Like a thorny twig, the Pine Mountain is plastered with eyelets and mounts meaning full-mudguards, racks and water bottles galore can be installed for those who want to adventure.
Also changed for 2017 is the own-brand cockpit, which now sports a tree slapping 780mm bar and 60mm stem, that's a big difference from the 740mm handlebar and 90mm stem from the previous version. Our XXL sample tipped the scales at 14.32kg (31.57lbs).
It’s fair to say that this year’s Pine Mountain is more of a refinement than a redesign, but judging by the popularity and performance of the previous model it could be a very important bike indeed. We’ll be holding on to this one so stay tuned for further updates and eventually a full review.