Marin’s hard-hitting, big-wheeler Alpine Trail gets a longer, slacker carbon makeover

The Californian brand’s 29in enduro bike receives a sleek carbon-fibre overhaul for 2021 and there’s still two alloy options in the line up

Pack shot of the new Marin Alpine Trail full suspension mountain bike

When Marin first launched its 29in-wheeled, 150mm travel Alpine Trail back in 2018, one of the things that stood out to us was how good value it was for such a capable bike.

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Affordable trail bikes are plentiful in the mountain bike world, but burly enduro bikes less so, and when the entry-level Alpine Trail 7 hit the shelves it came in bang-on the two grand mark.

That price may have risen a bit since then, but even though Marin’s new 2021 range of Alpine Trail ups the ante with improved geometry, better specs and, for the first time, the choice of two models with carbon frames, it’s good to see the Californian brand staying budget conscious.

All offer a solid starting platform, with cleverly chosen build kits and plenty of scope for upgrades should you want to step things up a notch.

A revised, not redesigned frame

Taking its style cues from the Rift Zone carbon that launched last year, the new Alpine Trail is a longer, slacker and sleeker beast that it once was.

Marin hasn’t ditched the metal entirely, and all the bikes still have Series-4 alloy seat and chainstays, and forged rocker links, but the two new carbon models are moulded in flowing unidirectional carbon fibre, with a visually continuous straight line from head tube to dropouts.

Fundamentally, the frame layout hasn’t changed drastically. At the heart of the bike is Marin’s MultiTrac suspension design, with an overall progressive leverage rate that’s paired to an air shock on all but the alloy-framed XR model.

Geometry changes

Frame geometry is where most of the changes occur, and it’s all the usual numbers that have been tweaked.

Reach has gone up across the size range, with a large sitting at a well-proportioned 480mm and XL a whopping 515mm. The head angle has been slackened by a degree and a half, down to 63.5 degrees and the effective seat tube has been steepened by around 2 degrees to a climbing friendly 78 degrees.

One interesting change is how short Marin has made seat-tube lengths in relation to size. For example, 425mm for a large is very low and riders wishing to upsize to a longer frame should have no issues.

In a similar way to Transition’s ‘Speed Balanced Geometry’, Marin has coupled its longer frames with shorter offset forks – 44mm on the new Alpine Trail compared to 51mm on the old model.

The only things that haven’t changed are the 430mm chainstays and the bottom bracket height, which was already low at -35mm drop.

Marin Alpine Trail geometry (size large)

L
Seat angle (degrees)78
Head angle (degrees)63.5
Chainstay (cm)43
Seat tube (cm)42.5
Head tube (cm)11.5
Bottom bracket drop (cm)3.5
Wheelbase (mm)1,256
Stack (cm)63.2
Reach (cm)48

Finishing touches

The carbon-framed Alpine Trail might be one of the slickest looking bikes Marin has made to date.

Its elegant shape is topped off with a few neat touches, such as the integrated down tube guard and chainslap protection that’s ridged for a quieter ride.

The open front triangle gives plenty of space for the essential water bottle and there’s an extra set of bosses on the underside of the top tube for mounting a pump or tube without an ugly Velcro strap.

Whether you love or loath internal cable routing, it certainly makes for a clean, uncluttered appearance, even if maintenance can be a bit more of a pain.

Marin Alpine Trail specs and pricing

Marin Alpine Trail 7

Marin Alpine Trail 7
The Alpine Trail 7 is more expensive than it once was, but it still looks like a solid, well-priced package.
Marin

Although costing a bit more than it did a few years ago, the Marin Alpine Trail 7 still looks to be a great value package. Using the same frame as its more expensive counterpart, it still comes with RockShox suspension, a 12-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain and 4-piston brakes.

  • Frame: Marin Alpine Trail, Series 4 6061 alloy frame, 150mm suspension travel
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore 12-speed with FSA Comet crankset
  • Brakes: Shimano MT420 4-piston, MT4100 levers
  • Fork: RockShox Yari RC, 160mm travel
  • Shock: RockShox Select+ RT
  • Dropper seatpost: TranzX YSP23JL – 125mm (S), 150mm (M/L), 170mm (XL)
  • Wheelset: Marin double wall alloy rims on Shimano H-MT410B hubs
  • Tyres: 29 x 2.6in Vee Tire Flow Snap Tackee compound
  • Price: £2,495 / €2,699 / $2,499

Marin Alpine Trail XR

Marin Alpine Trail XR
If higher spec suspension is more important to you than a carbon frame, the Alpine Trail XR could be the answer.
Marin

Jumping out as the burliest Alpine Trail in the range with its RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate UCT shock, the XR is worth considering if you value top-level suspension over a carbon frame. The RockShox Lyrik Ultimate, Maxxis Assegai tyres and Deity bar/stem highlight this as a bike for charging hard, but it still features the same budget Shimano MT-4100 brake levers.

  • Frame: Marin Alpine Trail, Series 4 6061 alloy frame, 150mm suspension travel
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT/SLX 12-speed with FSA Gradient crankset
  • Brakes: Shimano MT420 4-piston, MT4100 levers
  • Fork: RockShox Lyrik Ultimate, 160mm travel
  • Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Coil Ultimate UCT
  • Dropper seatpost: X-Fusion Manic – 125mm (S), 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL)
  • Wheelset: Marin double wall alloy rims on Shimano HB-MT410B and HF-MT510B hubs
  • Handlebar: Deity Ridgeline, 800mm
  • Stem: Deity Copperhead, 35mm
  • Tyres: 29 x 2.5in Maxxis Assegai MAXXTERRA EXO+ (f), MAXXGRIP Double Down (r)
  • Price: £3,395 / €3,799 / $3,499

Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 1

Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 1
With a more affordable spec, the Alpine Trail Carbon 1 is the entry level carbon model.
Marin

The entry-level carbon bike is sprung with RockShox dampers at both ends. The inclusion of Maxxis Assegai rubber in sensible casings and grippy compounds is a nice touch, as is Shimano’s wide range Deore 12-speed drivetrain. Costs are saved with the choice of Shimano’s cheaper MT-420 brakes, though.

  • Frame: Marin Alpine Trail, unidirectional carbon fibre front triangle, Series 4 alloy rear end, 150mm suspension travel
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore 12-speed with FSA Comet crankset
  • Brakes: Shimano MT420 4-piston, MT4100 levers
  • Fork: RockShox Yari RC, 160mm travel
  • Shock: RockShox Select+ RC
  • Dropper seatpost: TranzX YSP23JL – 125mm (S), 150mm (M/L), 170mm (XL)
  • Wheelset: Marin double wall alloy rims on Shimano H-MT410B hubs
  • Tyres: 29 x 2.5in Maxxis Assegai MAXXTERRA EXO+ (f), MAXXGRIP Double Down (r)
  • Price: £2,995 / €3,659 / $3,099

Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 2

Marin Alpine Trail Carbon 2
The top level Alpine Trail Carbon 2.
Marin

Stepping things up a notch is the Carbon 2, which gets you Fox suspension and higher specced Shimano kit. There’s SLX brakes and the same wide range drivetrain, but this time using a mix of SLX and XT range kit. You also get upgraded to an X-Fusion dropper post and a Deity cockpit.

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  • Frame: Marin Alpine Trail, unidirectional carbon fibre front triangle, Series 4 alloy rear end, 150mm suspension travel
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT/SLX 12-speed with FSA Gradient crankset
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX 4-piston
  • Fork: Fox 38 Performance Elite, 160mm travel
  • Shock: Fox Float DPX Performance
  • Dropper seatpost: X-Fusion Manic – 125mm (S), 150mm (M), 170mm (L/XL)
  • Wheelset: Marin double wall alloy rims on Shimano HB-MT410B and HF-MT510B hubs
  • Handlebar: Deity Ridgeline, 800mm
  • Stem: Deity Copperhead, 35mm
  • Tyres: 29 x 2.5in Maxxis Assegai MAXXTERRA EXO+ (f), MAXXGRIP Double Down (r)
  • Price: £3,995 / €4,359 / $3,999