|Professional Tweaks, Tips & Reviews By "AJ" Picarello
|I hope you find my Tweaks and Tips section helpful. If there is something you want to know about, send me an email and I will try to add that to one of my upcoming articles.
Impressed with Marin bicycles 2009 line, Down Cycles will move forward into 2010 stocking the brand and testing these amazing machines. The in house support at Marin is exceptional and my outside representative is no slacker, running around the north east displaying and demoing bikes at many different events. Even though my shop is three thousand miles from Marin HQ, they take care of my shop like it’s in their backyard.
Last season I tested out both the Mount Vision 5.8 and Wolf Ridge 6.8. I reviewed the Mount Vision in a past article on the Down Cycles product tests page. My only peeve was the steepish 69 degree head angle on the 2009 Bike. I felt the HA was too steep to get the most out of the bike. This year Marin Hooked up the 2010 bike with a 68 degree HA, perfect angle for trail riding! Many other improvements were made to the 2010 Wolf Ridge that not only benefit how it rides, but also how it looks.
Marin worked hard and cleaned up the aesthetics on the 2010 Mount Vision. Smoothed out welds on the head tube and seat post tube mimic the look of a carbon frame. Nicely done, two tone paint and slick graphics do an amazing job of slimming down the look of the frames tubes. Headset stack height is lower thanks to internal headset bearings and cable guides are present under the top tube for riders who may install a remote dropper seat post. Most noticeable though is the totally revised links and swing arm. Not only is the new swing lighter compared to last year bike, it’s also stronger and much better looking. The swing arm tubing is now almost all round, looking proper on a pure XC rig.
Marin’s Quad link suspension pivot and shock function close to your calves and inside knee. The old links were fairly wide, the bolts capped off with what I called Frankenstein bolts. Occasionally the link would graze my inner leg. This wasn’t bothersome me, but even the link area has been addressed for 2010. The whole link system and end caps that cover the link bolts are now narrow and have a cleaner appearance. I didn’t feel any part of the suspension touch my legs at any point during my test.
The Mount Vision is and always has been a fun bike to ride. The 2010’s improvements are immediately noticeable when first hitting the trail. On my first day of testing, the trail was littered with downed leafs that were soaked from two days of rain. Typically most bikes spin out on climbs in these conditions. I could not believe how the Marin crawls up impossible, sketchy climbs. I cleaned sections of trail that are hard to ride in perfect conditions, even with 32 psi in the WTB DNA compound tires! The only thing that could stop this bike from inch worming up slop would be the rider’s lack of endurance.
Descending is no sweat thanks to the new slacker head angle and Quad link rear suspension. The Marin gobbles up anything in its path. It does make a ruckus as the chain hits the swing arm. A small piece of felt glued in the right spot virtually eliminated the banging. Taking flight is a breeze. The bike jumps with confidence and is plush when landing even on flats. The suspension is lively and reacts well to boosting off obstacles, bunny hopping over logs and getting through tech sections. The wheelbase is pretty standard for a medium size bike. The ride is lively, this bike is flickable and carves turns like it’s on rails. The front wheel always feels planted and never once pushed on me no matter how hard I drove into the turns.
The new Mount Vision’s weight is acceptable at 28lbs w/pedals and identical to the 5” travel trail GT Sensor that I last tested. Weight can be reduced easily by switching to 2.1” wide tires (Stock F & R are 2.25”) and ditching the 180mm front rotor to a 160mm. Marin has tweaked the leverage ratio slightly for 2010 improving the ride. Riders interested in this bike must understand that the Marin Quad Link suspension is always very active. Pro pedal on or not, you always know you’re riding a suspension bike. The 2010 Marin feels less detached to the trail compared to the 2009 model, but still feels soft compared to other 5” travel bikes. Don’t get me wrong, you can still motor around on this bike and hit mach speeds, but most riders will assume that the plush ride is robbing power even though it is not.
What would make this bike the cat’s meow? I’m nit picking here because the 2010 Mount Vision is a seriously amazing bicycle. Marin is closing in on pure perfection, but I would love to see a few tweaks to the 2011 bike. Add ¼” length to the bikes top tube length (personal preference. I prefer to ride a bike with the front wheel way out in front. Adding a bit of wheelbase will improve the bikes handling through high speed rock gardens). Offer the bike with a seat post that has no kickback what so ever (not really an issue since I was able to slide the seat forward enough on the stock post to take some weight off the rear suspension. Sliding the seat back on the rails on a lay back post brings the worst out of the Quad Link suspension). Switch up to a shorter 80mm stem (hey, it’s the DHer in me. Besides the short stem would complement the ¼” longer top tube and also add to the confidence factor).
Redesign the disc side caliper mount. Space out the two bolts that hold on the drop out or just eliminate the bolt on drop altogether and weld on a fixed disc side drop (also not an issue unless you pull trials moves were the rear brake is locked up, rocked forward and back, flexing the 2 bolts that hold on the drop out). Improve the chain line with 150mm rear hub spacing while keeping the 73mm BB shell (Climbs in 2 and 1 created some noise from the chain line. A 1mm spacer behind the cassette might help reduce the angle, but the ultimate fix would be to dump the 135 QR spacing altogether and spec a 150mm Maxel swing arm like the 6” travel Attack model bike). Lastly add compression to the rear shocks mid stroke (Push Industries could probably tweak the FOX RP 23. Adding compression to the rear shock would help rid mid stroke wallow).
All in all, the new Mount Vision looks better, is lighter, stiffer and rides better. The engineers at Marin sure put their heart and soul into this bikes makeover. This unique bike and the company behind it deserve the many years of success they have achieved with their designs. After all, the Mount Vision has been bike of the year for some time now for a reason. The suspension technology designed into this bike will save your behind from pilot error and grab and claw for some traction when you try and pedal up the wrong line. The following equations simply sum up this review: New Rider + Marin Mount Vision = Smiles. Intermediate Rider + Marin Mount Vision = Applause. Advanced Rider + Marin Mount Vision = Podium!