Marin’s Hard-hitting, Big-wheeler Alpine Trail gets a longer, slacker Carbon makeover

The Californian brand’s 29in enduro bike receives a sleek carbon-fibre overhaul for 2021 and there’s still two alloy options in the line up.


 

When Marin first launched its 29in-wheeled, 150mm travel Alpine Trail back in 2018, one of the things that stood out to us was how good value it was for such a capable bike.

Affordable trail bikes are plentiful in the mountain bike world, but burly enduro bikes less so, and when the entry-level Alpine Trail 7 hit the shelves it came in bang-on the two grand mark.

That price may have risen a bit since then, but even though Marin’s new 2021 range of Alpine Trail ups the ante with improved geometry, better specs and, for the first time, the choice of two models with carbon frames, it’s good to see the Californian brand staying budget conscious.

All offer a solid starting platform, with cleverly chosen build kits and plenty of scope for upgrades should you want to step things up a notch.


Maxxis Aseggai tyres can be found front and rear on all but the entry-level Alpine Trail 7. Andy Lloyd /Immediate Media



Twin bottle cage mounts are a neat addition for securely carrying water and tools/spares. Andy Lloyd /Immediate Media



Shimano four-piston stoppers should provide the power needed to match the bike’s descending ability. Andy Lloyd /Immediate Media
 


12-speed Shimano drivetrains are a fixture across the range. Andy Lloyd /Immediate Media


12-speed Shimano drivetrains are a fixture across the range. Andy Lloyd /Immediate Media



The Carbon 1 and Carbon 2 models feature unidirectional carbon fibre front triangles, matched to Series 4 6061 alloy rear ends. Andy Lloyd /Immediate Media



The geometry has been tweaked, but Marin’s MultiTrac suspension platform still takes care of the hits. Andy Lloyd /Immediate Media

A revised, Not Redesigned Frame

Taking its style cues from the Rift Zone carbon that launched last year, the new Alpine Trail is a longer, slacker and sleeker beast that it once was.

Marin hasn’t ditched the metal entirely, and all the bikes still have Series-4 alloy seat and chainstays, and forged rocker links, but the two new carbon models are moulded in flowing unidirectional carbon fibre, with a visually continuous straight line from head tube to dropouts.

Fundamentally, the frame layout hasn’t changed drastically. At the heart of the bike is Marin’s MultiTrac suspension design, with an overall progressive leverage rate that’s paired to an air shock on all but the alloy-framed XR model.

Geometry changes

Frame geometry is where most of the changes occur, and it’s all the usual numbers that have been tweaked.

Reach has gone up across the size range, with a large sitting at a well-proportioned 480mm and XL a whopping 515mm. The head angle has been slackened by a degree and a half, down to 63.5 degrees and the effective seat tube has been steepened by around 2 degrees to a climbing friendly 78 degrees.

One interesting change is how short Marin has made seat-tube lengths in relation to size. For example, 425mm for a large is very low and riders wishing to upsize to a longer frame should have no issues.

In a similar way to Transition’s ‘Speed Balanced Geometry’, Marin has coupled its longer frames with shorter offset forks – 44mm on the new Alpine Trail compared to 51mm on the old model.

The only things that haven’t changed are the 430mm chainstays and the bottom bracket height, which was already low at -35mm drop.

Marin Alpine Trail geometry (size large)

Finishing touches

The carbon-framed Alpine Trail might be one of the slickest looking bikes Marin has made to date.

Its elegant shape is topped off with a few neat touches, such as the integrated down tube guard and chainslap protection that’s ridged for a quieter ride.

The open front triangle gives plenty of space for the essential water bottle and there’s an extra set of bosses on the underside of the top tube for mounting a pump or tube without an ugly Velcro strap.

Whether you love or loath internal cable routing, it certainly makes for a clean, uncluttered appearance, even if maintenance can be a bit more of a pain.

Read the full review here.

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