Full marks to Marin – it knows how to show off new bikes. While some brands have mega-glitzy launches with hundreds of attendees, Marin went for the low-key approach. Just three UK journalists flew to Marin County itself for a whole bunch of riding on some not-quite-finished (but close enough to ride meaningfully) 2008 bikes. Compared to the usual press launch scrum (endure epic presentations, fight for a bike the right size, fiddle about making the right levers drive the right brakes, ride a short test loop while simultaneously trying to steer around various Euro types…) this was a breath of fresh air. More bikes than people to ride them, no presentations, great trails, great weather and tons of riding.
We’ll be telling you lots more about the riding, the area and our early ride impressions of the bikes very soon, but to get the ball rolling here are a few shots of the stuff we rode for you to chew over…
In the “hidden depths” department we have the new Mount Vision, the second generation of the swoopy new design that debuted last year. At first glance, not much has changed, and the overall shape is unaltered. Gone, though, is the stepped head tube on the Medium frame and the top tube has dropped a little bit further. That means more standover height and cleaner looks, but there isn’t room for a bottle cage inside the main triangle any more. That doesn’t bother us, but it’s something to be aware of.
The main change, though, is that a year of bikes being in the field combined with extensive FEA work has led to some substantial weight drops. New butting profiles will be found on pretty much every tube, and the redesigned swingarm alone has lost 135g. Also helping in the weight stakes is the new F120 fork from Fox. The 2007 Mount Vision had a Fox 120 fork that was actually a shortened 140 and hence carried a bit more mass than it needed to. The F120 is engineered to be a 120mm fork and has managed to drop another chunk of weight.
Right at the back end is the Mount Vision’s other trump card, interchangeable dropouts on both sides. Not only does this give you a frame-saving safeguard without sacrificing derailleur hanger stiffness, there’s also the option of changing them for Maxle-ready through-axle versions.
And where would you get some of those? Well, they’re found on the back of Marin’s all-new Quad Trail platform, a frame that fills the gap between the Mount Vision and Quake. At 140mm it sits slightly nearer to the MV than the Quake in terms of travel, and its “robust trail bike” intent could be said to do the same.
The bikes we rode came with RockShox Pike forks – as a side note, it’s interesting that after several years in the RockShox range it’s only now that it’s suddenly exactly what product managers are looking for to kit out their not-quite-6in bikes – and mirrored the front Maxle with dropouts to take the rear version. This adds a bunch of stiffness and security to the back end, and the mounts are the same as on the MV so if you wanted to run the shorter-travel bike with the through-axle “dropouts” (they’re just holes really) you could.
The orange bike in the picture is one of the pre-production samples, but the shape and spec is all there – the only visible difference is that the big head tube plates will have some louvre-style detailing on them, as seen in the pic of the white bike at the bottom. With slightly straighter lines than the MV but a less angular style than the Quake, we reckon that the Trail frame is a real looker – the chunky wheel package and big fork certainly give it an air of purpose.
There’ll be four XC bikes using the 120mm frame for 2008 – the East Peak (£1,299), Rift Zone (£1,699), Mount Vision (£2,095) and Mount Vision Pro (£2,999). There’ll also be a pair of women-specific models at a couple of similar spec levels – the Wildcat at £1,249 and the Alpine Trail at £1,599. Over in 140mm land, the three bikes will be the £1,549 Rock Springs (that’s the white one in the pictures), the £1,899 Wolf Ridge and the £2,299 Attack Trail.
Riding impressions and all you need to know about riding in the birthplace of modern mountain biking coming up soon…