Marin Hawk Hill: A Mountain Predator That Can Fly
The folks at Mountain Bike Action take the Marin Hawk Hill for a spin.
The Hawk Hill is the newest bike to come out of the Marin factory with a few surprises that most riders won’t see coming. While the price may seem entry-level, we had to test Marin’s claim that this was a serious performance bike riders could afford without taking out a second mortgage.
Who is it made for?
Marin uses a modern, long, slack and low setup to give riders more stability on technical sections of trail. The Hawk Hill uses Marin’s MultiTrac rear suspension design that shares kinematics similar to those of the IsoTrac setup on Marin’s higher-end builds. It is essentially a dual-link system that’s built for efficiency and plushness. This is the only version in the Hawk Hill line and has a very competitive price of $1500.
Which components stand out?
There is plenty of creativity with the Hawk Hill build kit, and our test riders were impressed to say the least. The Hawk Hill comes tubeless ready with a 1×10 Shimano Deore drivetrain. The frame also has the option to run a front derailleur. Marin spec’d the Hawk Hill with an 11-42 Sun Race cassette to match the 32-tooth front chainring, giving our test riders all the gearing they needed. The RockShox Recon fork and X-Fusion shock tracked well and didn’t give us any issues during our testing.
Creative details: 1x drivetrains are often the mark of a high-performance rig. The Hawk Hill has a wide-range 11-42 cassette and 32-tooth front chainring to allow riders to step into a bike with a single-ring drivetrain at a healthy price point.
Upgrade as you go: The Hawk Hill has the ability to convert the rear axle to the beefier 12×142 spacing. This will allow riders to upgrade wheels down the road and not have to drop the extra coin on a completely new bike.
It’ll keep up: The Hawk Hill comes with a RockShox Recon Silver RL fork that will lock out when the trail starts going up. This fork uses an air spring and has plenty of high-speed rebound adjustments.
How does it perform?
We spent plenty of time on our local cross-country trails and even some of our rowdier trails to test the limits of the Hawk Hill. Out of the box, the Hawk Hill was set up tubeless, which came as a bit of a surprise to us. Most bikes in this price category require a tubeless conversion.
We played around with the suspension quite a bit, starting the shock at 20-percent sag with 15 percent in the fork. After a couple of rides, we settled at 25-percent sag for the shock but kept the fork the same. We ran the rebound a little quicker in the fork but left the shock settings in the middle.
The geometry, combined with the 780-millimeter wide bars and short stem, gives the Hawk Hill a very comfortable fit that leans heavily towards trail riding. For a size large, a couple of our test riders felt that it ran a touch small, but we were all pleased with the overall fit.
The wide bars gave us plenty of leverage, and the meaty Schwalbe Hans Dampf tires gave our test riders plenty of confidence when cornering. The tight wheelbase and short chainstays allowed the Hawk Hill to be whipped through switchbacks and narrow corners with ease. The suspension platform tracked well and maintained traction, even when we pushed hard through turns.
The Hawk Hill won’t be the first to the top of the mountain, but it will get there. The frame felt stiff and responsive when pedaling hard out of the saddle, and the fork was firm when locked out. The MultiTrac suspension gave us some support off the top of the stroke when seated on long climbs.
With the suspension open and our hands off the brakes, the Hawk Hill did all the work. The geometry felt playful, and the 120 millimeters of suspension travel felt adequate over a variety of terrain. The Hawk Hill rolled with ease on flowing singletrack and felt stable through gnarlier rock gardens. The rear suspension felt active and absorbed the big hits effectively. At high speeds, the bike felt stable.
We have tested many full-suspension bikes in this price category that were disappointing, but the Hawk Hill stands out from the crowd with a dialed frame and a suspension platform built with a parts kit that doesn’t need any immediate upgrades to be totally trail-ready, even for the serious rider. The bones of the Hawk Hill are strong and offer a solid base for riders to make strategic upgrades down the road—or enjoy the bike as it is. Either way, the Hawk Hill is a trail bike that will more than satisfy the needs of a huge cross-section of riders, whether it’s bone stock or upgraded to fit the specific needs of a pickier rider.