Marin Bobcat Trail 3 Bike Radar Review

Tom Marvin from Bike Radar shares his Marin Bobcat Trail 3 experience on the trails. The bike was tested on a range of loops, including fast woodland tracks with plenty of turns and jumps.

 

 

Marin bills the Bobcat Trail as a bike ideal for exploring singletrack trails. The ‘medium 29’, large and XL bikes get smoother-rolling 29in wheels, while the ‘medium 27.5’ and small sizes come with 650b wheels to suit shorter riders – a nice touch.

 

Marin Bobcat Trail 3 frame

The Bobcat Trail garnered a lot of attention thanks to its throwback looks, which are in vogue at the moment.

Its frame is neatly finished, with internal cable routing, a low standover height, a tidy chainstay-mounted rear brake and two sets of bottle bosses.

The geometry is bang on, including a decent reach (465mm on the large), 67-degree head angle, 440mm chainstays and 311mm bottom bracket height, all packaged around those bigger wheels.

On the 650b bikes, you get a steeper 67.5-degree head angle, 425mm stays and correspondingly shorter reaches.

 

 

Marin Bobcat Trail 3 ride impressions

With a shape very similar to the Vitus mentioned above, I expected a similar ride, but the Marin’s skinnier tyres and less sturdy fork (due to its lack of a thru-axle) make a noticeable difference. Not necessarily in a bad way, but they’re two very different bikes.

The Bobcat Trail’s fast-rolling tyres and flexy fork mean it’s better suited to longer rides, where getting the miles in is the focus, rather than aggressive trail riding in the woods. With stickier tyres and a superior fork, I feel it’d bridge the gap nicely.

It does have a well-balanced, nippy feel, giving crisp handling from turn to turn. The confidence afforded by the effective brakes boosts control when the trail gets more technical. It’s the best on test on the climbs too, both on and off-road, thanks to its roomy reach, steep 74.5-degree effective seat angle and those fast tyres.

The wide bar gives plenty of steering leverage, and the frame geometry stops the front wheel wandering on steeper pitches.

Despite its more noodly chassis, the fork worked better than the nominally-the-same units on the Voodoo and Saracen, with a much more active stroke over smaller bumps. (Although, as with all the coil forks on test, it suffered in the cold and stiffened up a touch.)

It helps give the Marin noticeably more control on rougher, looser trails – assisted by the big 29in wheels, which have more grip than 650b hoops, due to the larger contact patch of the tyres, and roll over bumps better too.

Overall, the Bobcat Trail is a bike that’s well-suited to riders looking to cover plenty of ground while still having fun along the way. With a swap to slightly burlier tyres and a trimmed seatpost (which could be an issue for taller riders), it’d have plenty of trail-shredding ability, so long as you avoided overloading the fork.

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