- Marin Mount Vision Pro
- All-new hydroformed design
- 120mm of travel
Marin’s Mount Vision is a classic. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the original MV was the bike that led to the idea of full suspension for cross-country riding being accepted, at least in the UK. Since those early days, the bike has been through a number of incarnations. Some years ago, the original single-pivot design was replaced by Jon Whyte’s Quad-Link system, but the general profile and appearance of the bike has been largely similar for a very long time.
It’s all change for 2007, though. Jon Whyte and Marin have parted company and the Mount Vision has had a ground-up redesign – more travel, revised suspension and a whole new look.
All dimensions based on Medium frame
- Effective top tube length (TT) 23.5in
- Seat tube, centre to top (ST) 17.25in
- Chainstay (CS) 16.5in
- Bottom bracket height 13.6in
- Head angle 71°
- Seat angle 73°
- Weight 11.8kg (26lb)
If you don’t like curvy bikes, look away now. The 2007 Mount Vision Pro shares its hydroformed 6061 aluminium frame with the other bikes in Marin’s Quad XC range, and the look is something of a departure for Marin.
The Quad-Link 2 rear suspension isn’t completely unfamiliar – it’s the same layout as found on sister brand Whyte’s E-5 and on Marin’s own Quake freeride bike. For the Mount Vision it’s been configured to deliver 120mm of travel with a progressive action so you don’t blow through all the travel. Both links run on the same hydroformed section that’s welded on to the down tube. The shock lives inside the linkage, a location that seems to keep the worst of the dirt off it but can make some shock pumps a bit of a tight fit.
There are a couple of advantages to this layout. Having everything inside the main triangle means no sticky-out pivots collecting mud behind the bottom bracket, and all the weight of the shock and linkages is concentrated in the middle of the bike (although an air shock and a couple of short links doesn’t really amount to all that much weight).
There’s certainly plenty of mud clearance at the back, helped by there being no bracing between the two sides of the swingarm behind the seat tube. The seat tube is full-length and carries a conventional front mech.
The most obvious point of difference from previous Marins is the top tube. It follows a gentle wave from seat tube to head tube, lending the frame a distinctive profile. Obviously “being distinctive” is a key design consideration in this age of bikes that nearly all work really well, but there are a couple of practical considerations to the shape. It works its way around the various constraints – maximum weld area at the front, enough room for a bottle in the middle (there are bosses just ahead of the hydroformed linkage mounts), ample standover clearance towards the back.
There’s an interesting bit of detail at the head tube/top tube join, with the upper headset race recessed into the top tube – take a look at the pictures to see what we mean. This isn’t found on the large-sized frame, and to be honest we’re not entirely sure what the point of it is. It puts the upper headset race a good bit lower than a more conventional arrangement, but then there’s a spacer directly above it and if the bars get too low the levers’ll knowck chuncks out of the top tube in a crash. It’s quite sleek-looking in a strange sort of way, though.
The top-of-the-range Mount Vision has a no-nonsense all-XTR spec, right down to the hubs and Centerlock brake rotors. The hubs are laced to Mavic XC717 rims with black DT Swiss Super Comp spokes with an interesting 14/16.5/15 butting profile. Around the outside are WTB MotoRaptor tyres. The 2.14in width gives a good weight/clearance/volume/grip compromise.
Marin has opted for separate brake levers and shifter pods rather than Dual Control. Although DC is growing on us, the separates certainly win on adjustability and we very much like the 2-way release feature on the shifters – you can operate the release lever (the one that gives you a higher gear at the back with a conventionally-sprung rear mech) either with a thumb pushing up and forwards or a finger pushing back and downwards.
The only gap in the otherwise clean XTR sweep is the pedals. The Pro comes with Crank Brothers Eggbeater pedals rather than XTR SPDs. The ‘beaters are certainly a lighter option, but pedals are one of those very subjective things – you’ll either be delighted to get Eggbeaters or you’ll swap them out straight away.
Suspension components are both from Fox. At the back there’s an RP23 air shock. The lever on it switches the ProPedal damping in our out and there’s a dial to set how much ProPedal there is when it’s on, which gives you a lot of options. The position of the shock inside the linkages means that the lever isn’t the easiest to reach, though. Flipping it on the fly is certainly possible, but you’ll need practise and it’s not the sort of thing you’re going to invoke at short notice for a last spring to the line.
Up front is a 2007 Fox 32 RLC fork. We’ve seen a number of examples of this fork in 140mm travel – it’s definitely become a popular choice for the ever-growing 5.5in rear travel crowd – but Marin has gone for 120mm to match the rear end.
Finishing kit includes Easton carbon fibre seatpost and bars, FSA stem and WTB Devo saddle. All good stuff. All-up weight of the test bike was 26lb, which is pretty respectable for a 120mm travel bike. We suspect that the keen XC racer would be after something lighter, though.
You’ll need to watch your sizing if you’re in the market for a Mount Vision. The test bike was a medium, but with a 23.5in effective top tube and a 380mm seatpost it was entirely comfortable for six-footers. You’re going to have to be really quite tall to want the large option, and we suspect that quite a few riders who think that they’re medium may end up on smalls.
Apart from perhaps not being on the frame size that you might expect, the geometry packs no huge surprises. At 71° head and 73° seat, the angles are on the steep side for this kind of bike, keeping everything pleasingly nippy in the tight stuff.
A useful benefit of the suspension design putting all the moving parts inside the front triangle is that the chainstay length can be shorter – there’s no need to leave room for any pivots or anything. At 16.5in, the Mount Vision’s rear is definitely on the pert side.
The previous Mount Vision had, on paper, just 20mm less travel than the new one, but out on the trail the difference feels considerably greater. Part of that is because the previous MV ramped up quite dramatically at the end of the travel and as a result it generally felt like a shorter-travel bike than it was.
The redesigned bike still has a progressive feel, but it’s nothing like as pronounced as the old. You certainly can’t particularly feel the leverage ratio “turning the corner” as you could on the old bike. Yes, you still have to pound it pretty hard to find the furthest reaches of the travel, but they’re in there if you need them.
Thankfully, the rejigged back end has lost none of the old Quad-Link’s magic-carpet ride over the sort of small-to-medium bumps that constitute 90% of most of the sort of rides that you’re likely to be doing on this kind of bike. It’s also perfectly happy without any ProPedal at all, although for a two-hour XC race we’d be tempted to run just a hint of it – the available settings are well-judged, with clear (but not ridiculous) differences from one to the next.
Handling is sharp but confident, and the layout means that you can get away without having to move fore and aft too much to keep things together – a handy attribute for long days in the saddle.
Positives: Great suspension performance, sharp handling, faultless spec, plenty of mud room
Negatives: Spec possibly beyond the point of diminishing returns, could be lighter
The old Mount Vision was an excellent bike, and thankfully the wholesale redesign is excellent too. It’s a rather different bike than it was, though – the longer travel and more linear action will mean that it’ll find favour with trail riders after a lightweight bike who may have found the previous incarnation a little too racy. The flipside of that, of course, is that Marin’s range now looks like it lacks a pure XC race bike. The MV is certainly race-capable, but with bikes like Scott’s Spark out there, competition in that arena is tough. It also seems to be slightly treading on the toes of Marin’s longer-travel bikes, which we kind of expect to see receiving their own redesign for 2008. But Marin set out to take the Mount Vision back to the original idea of a lightweight trail bike, and it’s certainly done that. Inevitably, the full-XTR Pro model makes the “standard” Mount Vision, at £1,000 less, look like the better value option, but if you want the top-of-the-tree parts then you’ll have to find some more money.