We recently had the opportunity to have a good look and a bit of a ride of next year’s Marin bikes. We’ve already told you about the new “trail hardtail” range, but what’s happening with Marin’s ubiquitous full suspension line?
At a casual glance, Marins don’t appear to change much from year to year. The general profile of the 2004 bikes looks pretty much like the 2003 bikes. But there are a number of changes. The most significant development is the introduction of Jon Whyte’s Quad-Link rear suspension design on the long-travel TARA bikes. The system is fundamentally similar to that already seen on Marin’s lightweight XC bikes, but revised to allow for up to six inches of travel. It’s also been combined with the TARA travel-adjust system, offering rapid adjustment between 4 and 6 inches. There’s no stops on the adjuster for 2004, so if you happen to want 5.4in of travel it’s in there somewhere.
The shock leverage ratio has been tweaked a bit, with the TARA bikes having a more linear action than the XCs – they’ve got more travel to play with so they might as well get all of it. On the top two bikes, the Attack Trail (£2,145) and Wolf Ridge (£1,695) the adjustable back end is complemented by a Fox TALAS fork up front – an RLC on the Attack and an R on the Wolf. The two bikes also feature Hope brakes, with the Attack getting M4s and the Wolf Ridge getting Minis. Transmission is handled by full XT on the Attack Trail and an LX/XT/Truvativ crank mix on the Wolf Ridge.
Entry level in the TARA range is the £1,075 Alpine Trail. The frame is a single pivot design like the 2003 bikes, with an X-Fusion shock. You’ll have to do without an adjustable fork too, although the 120mm Marzocchi MX Comp should be more than capable. Elsewhere you’re getting a Shimano Alivio/Deore transmission and Magura Julie discs. Not a bad package for a whisker over a grand.
Next up in line is the Rock Springs. It’s also a single pivot, but the extra £220 gets you an MX Pro fork with ETA lock-down, a Fox shock and Deore/LX transmission mix.
There’re no changes to the rear end on the lightweight XC bikes, but the frame geometry has been tweaked to work better with 100mm travel forks. Plenty of people are running around with longer forks on the earlier bikes but they tend to get a bit kicked out – the revised geometry should sharpen things up a little. The whole range is equipped with 100mm travel forks, with the entry-level East Peak (£1,199) getting a RockShox Pilot SL, the £1,595 Rift Zone an Answer Skareb Elite Air, the £2,095 Mount Vision a Fox Float RLC and the top of the tree Mount Vision Pro (a mighty £3,445) a Pace RC-38. Component spec follows a logical progression from Magura Julie/Alivio/Deore on the East Peak up to full XTR on the MV Pro. The middle two bikes both get Hope discs, with the Mount Vision teaming them with an XT transmission.
There’s also a full range of more conventional hardtails running alongside the new “aggressive XC” designs. They play the lightweight card, with heavily manipulated aluminium frames and not a disc brake in sight (although they’ve all got the mounts). And steel fans should take a look at the Pine Mountain – it’s a frame-only deal in Columbus Thron tubing at a very reasonable £339.
More Marins at www.marin.co.uk.