Marin aims high with hardtails, carbon road models

Dirt and pavement bikes from NorCal

US company Marin has bumped up its offerings for 2009, setting its sights on the lightweight hardtail market, as well as branching out into the road, cyclo-cross and commuter segments in a big way.

BikeRadar paid a visit to the Novato, California company, catching up with company founder/owner Bob Buckley and marketing manager Mark Vanek in the space formerly owned by the Grateful Dead. An autographed hollow-body guitar graces the wall outside Buckley's office, and the Dead's former recording and rehearsal space is used to stage Marin's trade show booth and samples. The bikes themselves are housed in a massive warehouse, which resembles something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark

As we've reported, the Marin Mount Vision 5.8 was voted the 2008 Bike of the Year by our sister magazine What Mountain Bike. Its monocoque carbon swingarm and Generation 2.0 Quad Link suspension platform blew the minds of our dirt editors once again. Marin was among the first companies to introduce hydroformed aluminium tubing, and is basing its entire line on the technology, while adding carbon hardtails to the mix for 2009.

A small company with a large presence (currently distributing its line in 40 countries), Marin spots trends quickly and realised the need for lightweight hardtails to complement its large full suspension stable. The company revisited the high-end hardtail market a few years ago with the Team Titanium, and for 2009 is introducing the carbon Team CXR and Scandium aluminium Team Issue.

The 2009 Marin CXR Team Issue carbon hardtail - US$3,700

The 2009 Marin Team Scandium hardtail - US$4,600

Vanek, himself an avid rider, talked about Marin's history at the high-end of the spectrum in the early days of the sport, and how the international climate has enabled the company to develop different models for different markets, at all price points. Much like Kona, Specialized and Trek, Marin feels strongly about kids bikes and the commuter market, and its value-added spec and pricing reflect Marin's refocus on the ride across the board.

The 2009 Marin Stelvio Ultegra SL carbon road bike - US$3,000

The carbon Marin Stelvio road bike, available in Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra SL, is the flagship model. No stranger to the pavement, Marin has shed its Italian steel and taken carbon and hydroformed aluminum to a new level, also adding women's fit geometry models. Its flat-bar road bike also gets a facelift for 2009, with an FSA-laden Highway One carbon model.

The 2009 Marin Cortina cyclo-cross bike - US$2,300

The Marin Cortina cyclo-cross model is specced with hydroformed aluminum tubing, carbon fork, carbon FSA SL-K Light cranks, SRAM Force/Rival shifters and drivetrain, Avid Shorty 4 cantis, Selle Italia XR Light saddle, FSA Wing Pro Compact handlebars with a 'cross-friendly shallow drop, FSA SL-K carbon seatpost, and Mavic Askium wheelset shod with Vittoria Cross XG 700 x 34c tyres.

The 2009 Marin Ignacio road fixie - US$1,000

Marin has also added the Ignacio, a 4130 cromoly steel road fixie with Sugino cranks, Nitto Keirin-approved alloy drop bars, and fine Corinthian leather saddle and matching bar tape.

"We know our history, and felt it was time to spread our engineering around all the categories," Vanek said. He also described Marin's new demo program, which ramped up during the recent Interbike Outdoor Demo, and has made stops in Moab, Utah, Fairfax, California, and plans to continue through the 'cross season. Stay tuned for pics and a complete schedule.

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