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MTB

Marin Attack Trail

  • Marin Attack Trail
  • £2,195
  • ATB Sales
  • 01424 753566

Marin were early off the blocks with long-travel all-round bikes, pushing the envelope of “climbable” travel up to five and six inches while most people were still debating the merits of three. For 2004 designer Jon Whyte has taken the TARA travel adjustment from last year’s single pivot bikes and combined it with a modified version of the Quad-Link suspension previously only found on Marin’s shorter travel XC bikes. The Attack Trail is the top of the resulting Quad-TARA range.

Frame

Extra gussetage increases strength

There’s an obvious family resemblance between the Attack Trail and its short-travel Mount Vision brother, but there are several important differences. The most obvious is that the whole frame is a bit pumped out. The semi-monococque two-halves-welded-together construction is the same, but the front end has deeper sections and a couple of open-ended gussets at the head tube junctions.

At the back, the swingarm’s a bit bigger and the linkages have been juggled around to yield extra travel and modify the axle path. Both linkages are one-piece forged units like the Mount Vision, but they’re longer and the front one points the other way. The changes are intended to make the suspension action more linear than the MV – with more travel to play with there’s no need for it to ramp up quite so quickly. The mounting points to the main frame are also beefed up.

The front Quad link is reversed and lengthened

Between the two halves of the frame is a Fox Float RL Pro-Pedal shock. The TARA travel-adjust gizmo is carried over from last year’s bikes, allowing you to choose anywhere from four to six inches of travel with just a flick of a lever. There are no detents in the system, so if you want five-and-a-bit inches, you can have it.

The Attack Trail is finished in a purposeful dark grey and to our eyes looks really rather splendid.

Components

Marin have got some impressively-specced bikes this year – whenever we’re looking for value comparisons we always seem to come up with a Marin as the best flash-for-cash option. The Attack Trail is no exception. Following the theme of the frame, it’s essentially the spec of the Mount Vision on steroids. The fork is an all-singing and dancing Fox TALAS RLC, transmission is Shimano XT with lovely Hollowtech II cranks. No Dual Control, though – good old RapidFire+ shifter pods drive the conventionally-sprung XT mechs. The only non-Shimano interloper in the drivetrain is a SRAM cassette, and we don’t have a problem with that.

The shifter pods make way for Hope brake levers pumping Mono 4 brakes. At least, that’s what the bikes in the shops have got – our test bike had the older M4 units. The rotors are attached to Hope hubs, which are laced to Mavic 717 rims and shod with meaty WTB Weirwolf 2.4in tyres. Other WTB bits include the headset and saddle (perched atop an anonymous but perfectly adequate seatpost). The FSA stem holds a set of Marin bars with an oversized 31.8mm bulge for extra strength and stiffness.

It’s all good stuff. Not only is there nothing on here that we’d want to change, if any of it wore out we’d be inclined just to replace it with the same thing again. You might want a more pimpy seatpost but this one holds the seat up without fuss. For the money the Attack Trail packs an excellent spec.

Ride

Fox TALAS RLC fork

Although six inches of travel might say “freeride bike” to you, the Attack Trail is very much a hard-riding XC bike rather than a freerider. The angles are pure XC sat on top of a big wodge of travel. That might sound like a dubious recipe but Marin has made it work splendidly well. If you’re into super-steep drops then you’ll find it all a bit forward and sketchy, but for everything else it’s really rather fine…

Those XCish angles make the Attack work better in the twisty stuff than we have any right to expect from a six-inch travel bike. It’s helped along by well-controlled suspension at both ends – there’s little in the way of the pitching that can unsettle some long-travel bikes in situations with lots of braking and accelerating. It’s also well-balanced in corners with the Weirwolf tyres proving valuable allies. There’s a hint of flex in the back end under the sort of cornering that this much travel and big, grippy tyres encourage, but nothing distracting.

We always used to find the old single-pivot TARA bikes a bit mushy in the six-inch setting, but the new Quad-Link setup pedals so well that we hardly used anything else. The combination of an initially-rearward axle path and the Pro-Pedal shock keeps everything super-steady even under quite choppy efforts, but the magic carpet ride that we like so much on the Mount Vision is still present and correct, letting us stay seated and keep the power on through all sorts of stuff. It’s a great climber on poor surfaces, too, with really only a bit more weight than the MV stopping it from matching the shorter-travel bike.

The revised rear suspension geometry gives the Attack a much more linear feel than the Mount Vision. It still ramps up towards the end of the travel, but with more travel to go around it’s a lot less abrupt and rarely feels over-faced by big hits. It’s a measure of how well the back end works that the excellent TALAS fork sometimes felt rather overwhelmed. We’re looking forward to trying an Attack with one of next year’s long-travel lightweight forks…

Positives: Finely balanced, well equipped, supremely capable

Negatives: Not the best choice for freeride fanatics

Verdict

You know you’re riding something a bit special when you find yourself wishing that it came with a more capable fork than, er, about the best fork money can buy. In an age of increasingly-specialised bikes the Attack Trail is a welcome return to the ethos of one bike for everything. Sure, it’s not perfect in every situation but for sheer breadth of competence it’s hard to beat. Highly recommended.

Performance: 5/5
Value: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

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