Review -

Marin Attack Trail C-XT9 ENDURO 2015 Long Term Test

Back in 2013 while attending Euro Bike, I chanced across the Marin stand and on display were various versions of this bike, headlined by the big hitting Attack Trail. Back in the day Marin was the brand to have, the name every mountain biker would be very proud to have sported, but then they seemed to lose their way with weird looking suspension designs and cumbersome looks. These newer models definitely stood out as some of the prettiest bikes at the Euro Bike show, and after 18 months of production and a top podium taking UK team my Long Term Test Attack Trail C-XT9 is finally here in all it’s glory.

Jims Long Term Marin-0034

I had been donated the very similar Pro model (frame only) a couple of months prior to this bike’s arrival, so I knew I was happy with the ride, but unlike last year’s Intense Carbine 29er frame, this year it was time to test a complete bike for a much fairer and realistic review. Also having spent last season on the wagon wheels and this winter on the very long Orange Alpine 160, it really is back to the old for me with a small (27.5”) wheeled, light-weight carbon rig for racing and riding, can I get my corner flick back, well that’s what I’m hoping!

Nice neat front cable routing.
Nice neat front cable routing.
Take off the replaceable down-tube protector and there's a handy slot to access internal cable routing.
Take off the replaceable down-tube protector and there’s a handy slot to access internal cable routing.

The frame itself has that gorgeous look of the raw carbon with only certain points painted with the very striking blue. This matched with the very clean looking lines of Marin’s four bar Quad linkage makes for a very impressive looking bike indeed. The linkage itself is their third generation Quad Link and with its custom tuned progressive Monarch RC shock, it is said to feel like the 150mm of rear wheel travel is endless. The front bounce is taken care of with Rochshox’s cheaper 160mm Pike dual position forks, these come with just a single compression adjustment dial, as opposed to the twin dials of the higher end fork. With the bike weighing in at a nice sprightly 12.5kg (27lbs) and boasting nice short 435mm chain-stays and 66.5 degree head angle, she should be a very playful bike indeed, hopefully suited to the vast amount of UK tight-tracked racing I do.

Very  clever caliper mounting, out of harm's way.
Very clever caliper mounting, out of harm’s way.
Chain-stay is well protected, no need to add your own.
Chain-stay is well protected, no need to add your own.

So what exactly do you get if you were to part with £5,000.00 (around €6,750) of your hard earned cash? Well this bike does have some interesting, quirky and fantastically well thought out little features, that being one of the reasons I put my hands up for the Attack Trail as my 2015 Test Bike. Firstly you have the triple option of fully internal, semi-internal or external cable routing, the full internal starts with all cables grouping together nicely at the front of the head-tube. The down-tube inner routing will never prove to be an issue, as you can remove the (also very handy) replaceable down-tube protector to access the inside of your down-tube via a cut-out slot. Linkage bearings are held in with the much less-stripable torque bolts, as opposed to allen key bolts and the rear brake caliper has been mounted kind of inside the rear triangle, out of harms way and apparently reducing brake squeal!

Seat clamp is duel bolt and sealed too, great!
Seat clamp is duel bolt and sealed too, great!
The external cable routing option.
The external cable routing option.
The ever-reliable Rockshox Monarch Plus, I can't see that Ethirteen guide lasting long though!
The ever-reliable Rockshox Monarch Plus, I can’t see that Ethirteen guide lasting long though!

Components

Gearing is that of SRAM’s ever reliable full X01 11 speed group-set, so no worries there, although they are using the cheaper pinned 11 speed cassette, as opposed to the one piece higher end option. Dropper Post is that of the KS Lev 125mm internal cable-pull with the Southpaw lever. My only concern is that of using the SRAM Guide brakes, so far I have had one set on test that were brilliant and another on a bike which just seemed to be allergic to wet conditions, lets hope these are a good set! Wheels are comprised of the quality DT Swiss M1700, with the gorgeous looking straight-pull polished and machined hubs to match.

Very pretty hubs.
Very pretty hubs.
Lets hope these are good ones!
Lets hope these are good ones!
These KS Droppers are seeming to be pretty reliable and in favour nowadays, cable is cool!
These KS Droppers are seeming to be pretty reliable and in favour nowadays, cable is cool!

Changes

Immediate (and hopefully the only) changes are not to be vast, just that of personal preference on feel with contact points. So the 160mm Easton Haven Alloy bars and 70mm stem (I mean who puts 70mm stems on enduro bike nowadays?) these will be replaced by my preferred 50mm stem and 780mm carbon bars from Joystick. Also the Snake Skin Hans Dampf will come off the rear, to favour a less slice susceptible tyre for my pretty hard type of riding, we’ll see about the front after a few rides! Also for personal preference I shall be applying my favored Ergon shaped grips to that of Marin’s own.

Bar/stem combination, not for me, just personal though.
Bar/stem combination, not for me, just personal though.
70mm for enduro, really?
70mm for enduro, really?

GEOMETRY (large model)

Stack – 614.79mm Reach – 424.8mm Heat Tube Angle – 66.5 degrees Seat Tube Angle – 115 degrees Seat Tube Angle Virtual – 73.5 degrees Seat Tube Actual – 480mm Top Tube Actual – 541.6mm Top Tube Effective – 606.4mm BB Height – 335.5mm BB Drop – 14.5mm Fork Offset – 44mm Stand Over Height – 759.79 Wheelbase – 1167.9 Chain Stays – 435mm Seat Post – 30.0mm

The open carbon just looks fantastic
The open carbon just looks fantastic.

The Rider

At 180cm I have opted for the Large sized frame, with it being a relatively short bike the XL would have actually been more like the longer bikes I have been getting used to, but would have been far too high on the stand-over. Plus I’m now starting to think this long slack bike thing is maybe a bit of a fad and fancied a change, favoring a bike which had great throw-around-able qualities instead.

That new bike smile!
That new bike smile!

Born: 1971 | Biking Since: 1995 Job: UK Editor/Chief Tester & part time Tree Surgeon 2015 Aim: To prove my worth in UK enduro racing and never blame fitness for a poor result.

More Info: marinbikes.com

Words and Pics: Jim Buchanan