MARIN ALPINE TRAIL 8 - Australian Mountain Bike Magazine Trail Test

Mike Blewitt from AMB tested the Marin Alpine Trail 8 on some of Australia's finest trails and shares his experience ...

The Marin Alpine Trail 8 is Marin's answer to the need for a big-travel, big-wheeled bike that can tackle big lines in big mountains. But unlike other brands who bring out bikes with models that push well into five figures, the smart minds at Marin have specced an alloy frame with 150mm of travel and on-point modern geometry. The parts list ticks the boxes with 4-pot brakes, burly suspension, wheels with 29mm inner widths, a 12-speed drivetrain, dropper post, great cockpit setup, and short cranks. Marin state that the Alpine Trail is for the 'all-day enduro rider that earns their downhill fun.”

On The Trail

My first ride was on some local trails, with about half a dozen trails running off a ridge that has a few different fire trails to access the top, it really suits pedaling up and bombing down. And that's exactly what Marin state the Alpine Trail 8 is designed to do.

With the Fox Float DPX2 in the climb position, and the fork left open as I tend to run the front firmer, it was just a case of sitting and spinning. Traction was fine from the big tyres and the gear range was there.  The bike offered no surprises on a couple of descents, although it did skip around a little when hard under brakes into corners. Next stop – Maydena Bike Park.

Maydena Bike Park is unlike any other trail system in Australia as the hill is so big (820m drop) and wild (it's in southern Tasmania!)

The Marin Alpine Trail 8 was eating it all up. The bike held lines better than I did thanks to a stiff chassis and smart suspension spec. But thanks to the quick input through the cockpit and direct feel to the back, changes of lines were a breeze – the bike actually feels quite light on the trail when it comes to changes of line choice. The MultiTrac suspension is a linkage driven single pivot, thanks to the dropout pivot sitting on the seat stay. It was active when descending and climbed really well, even without the Fox DPX2 in the full firm setting. The middle setting was actually super fun to ride on easy traversing trails as it felt like the bike had a little more pop and wouldn't bog down in its travel.

The DPX2, dialed into the middle setting gives a super fun ride and makes it easy to traverse trails

Testing a bike at Maydena is demanding, the trails can make a solid trail bike feel like an XC rig. Maydena is steep, and even the easy trails have sharp corners that can be harder to navigate a big bike through. But the wide Deity bars and short stem meant steering input was immediate, and the shorter back end means that weighting the outside foot pretty heavily with a good lean brought the back around quite quickly – and often with a slide.

Wide Deity bars and short stem for immediate steering input

It is worth remembering that a lower bottom bracket helps drop the whole centre of gravity of a bike and rider, and is a big part of stable cornering. Some bikes have flip chips to allow for slightly higher and steeper positions which suit different riders and certainly flatter or rockier terrain. The Marin Alpine Trail did hug corners when the tyres were digging in – but there were some pedal strikes on rockier trails that needed more pedal input. 

Our Take

The Marin Alpine Trail 8 comes straight to your door with minimal fuss thanks to the Australian base of Bicycles Online. This frame was seen under at least two riders in the EWS in Tasmania, and the geometry is up to date for anyone wanting a long-travel 29er to ride. So many companies put most of their development into top-shelf carbon bikes. But Marin wanted to bring out a bike that was going to suit riders who wanted to be out in big hills all day, earning their gnarly descents. And while $4199 isn't a small amount of money, this bike offers awesome value for the features on offer.

Compared to similar offerings from big brands like Trek and Specialized, the Marin Alpine Trail 8 sneaks through keeping some money in your pocket and with arguably a better suspension setup. If you're after a bike that will hold its own on big days in the hills both up and down, with all the features you would want from a modern enduro bike – these are well worth a look and I would happily recommend it. And if your budget is tight, the $2999 Marin Alpine Trail 7 shares the same frame with a slightly more basic spec.

 

Read the full review here.



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