We recently had a chance to check out the 2006 Marin line at Cwmcarn, South Wales. It’s a handy spot, complete with excellent XC loop and purpose-built DH track to play on. The people at Marin have been pretty busy – we’ll kick off with an all-new bike…
This is the Marin Quake. It’s a name that’s been seen on Marins before – the company’s very first full suspension bike was called Quake. The 2006 edition is a very different beast, though, and signals a serious move into the freeride/ski-area descending market for what has a reputation as an XC/enduro brand. The rear suspension is a long-travel development of the existing Quad-Link design christened Quad-XL. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll notice a distinct layout resemblance to the E-5 from sister brand Whyte, but the XL version delivers 6.9in of generally linear (it’s actually ever-so-slightly progressive) travel from a Fox DHX air shock tucked out of harm’s way inside the linkage.
Just four bolts hold the whole system together, so although it looks complicated it’s actually simpler than the popular FSR-style four-bar layout. The chunky triangulated swingarm carries bolt-on dropouts, allowing you to run either conventional QR rear axles or 10 or 12mm through-axle systems in 135 or 150mm widths. The main triangle has a proper seat tube, so you can run a post long enough to actually pedal up hills and still tuck it right down out of the way when you get to the top.
The suspension design incorporates a ride height adjuster, letting you run either a “Pedal” setting for riding about or an “Alpine” setting that drops the bottom bracket by 15mm and slackens the angles a whisker if you’re mainly going to be riding down hills.
Two models will be available. Entry level is the CL7, with a Marzocchi 66VF2 150mm fork, Fox DHX 5.0 coil shock, XT transmission, Truvativ Holzfeller dual-ring crank with E-13 chain guide and Hayes El Camino brakes. Or there’s the AL7 which gets a DHX air shock, Fox 36 RC2 forks and Hope hubs. Prices are TBA on both, but we expect them to be very competitive.
Although looking largely the same in profile, Marin’s long-travel TARA bikes have had a substantial overhaul for 2006. We’ve always got on pretty well with the Attack Trail and its 4-6in travel ilk, but there’s no denying that they’ve been something of an acquired taste. Previous year’s TARA bikes have been essentially Mount Visions with more metal, extra travel and sat further off the ground.
Now, though, they’re completely different. The geometry has had a ground-up rethink – pretty much every number is different. For a start, the bottom bracket is a substantial 14mm lower and a little further forward. The seat angle’s gone back by an equally substantial 1.5°, the idea being to put the rider more “in” the bike. Meanwhile the front end’s been steepened to sharpen up the handling and reduce the tendency for the front wheel to flop over in tight turns. A side-effect of moving the BB forward and steepening the head angle is that the front-centre distance (the measurement between the BB and front axle) has come down by a huge 31mm.
The frame’s seen a few other refinements, too. It’s now called a “Power Bulge Monococque”, with the bulges in question being found on the sides of the down tube, having a similar effect to a horizontally-ovalized tube. The front end also features indented hollows that enhance stiffness.
We took an Attack Trail for a spin, and all the changes have turned it into a completely different bike. It’s more poised, less topply at low speed and generally feels like a smaller and handier bike. It feels like there’s just a lot less of it in front and behind you, which means that weight shifts have a more immediate and pronounced effect. We like.
The TARA range still includes four bikes, with the same names as the 2005 models. The frames are the same across all of them, but the top-of-the-line Attack Trail and second-string Wolf Ridge get Fox RP3 shocks while the Rock Springs and Alpine Trail make do with a regular Float. Prices range from £1,195 for the Alpine Trail (with RockShox Tora air fork, SRAM X-7 transmission, Truvativ crank and Hayes Sole brakes) up to £2,295 for the Attack Trail (Fox TALAS RLC, Hope hubs, XT transmission, Hope Mono M4 brakes and Crank Bros Candy C pedals).
Of course, there’ll still be a sizable range of hardtails, including the popular “trail hardtails” – the Rocky Ridge, B-17 and Northside Trail. The long-forked bikes feature revised aluminium frames, with tweaked tubing cross-sections to boost stiffness and an ever-so-slightly more relaxed head angle. That hasn’t made the bikes any less fun, but it has meant that you can get away with working the bike a little less without disappearing into the undergrowth.
The entry-level (£475) Northside Trail and £675 B-17 share a frame, while the £995 Rocky Ridge gets a lighter incarnation with butted stays. Specs look pretty solid for the money in all three cases.
There’s also a full range of more conventional hardtails (also available with women-specific geometry) plus various urban/commuter/fitness bikes. Check them all out at www.marin.co.uk.