The Review | Marin Mount Vision C-XM9
In the late 90s and early noughties Marin was the biggest player over here on UK soil. It perhaps seemed like they lost their way for a while in the UK market, but now this California based company are back to reinstate their name with a collection of models with the looks to match any of the best selling carbon high-end US trickery available. Based over in Marin County and established in 1986, Marin really is a bike company in the heart of the best US Mountain Bike trails, where copious amounts of R&D really aren’t a problem. They sent us over one of their 27.5” latest carbon 140mm travel Mount Vision’s to test, and test it our UK rider did, could it stand the test in the shitty UK mud?
This C-XM9 is the top of the range of the Mount Vision line up, aimed at trail shredders who want a capable light-weight bike, without having to go the whole hog of its bigger-travel brother, the Attack Trail. The look of the frame is a real head turner, with a stealthy colour scheme and laquered raw carbon in places. The most interesting thing about this bike’s suspension platform is the use of minimal flex (3 degrees) in the upper and lower chain-stays to smooth things out on the start of the suspensions travel. That’s right the carbon is actually designed to flex, hence why the rear brake caliper is mounted kind-of inside the lower stay, this is also meant to avoid brake squeal.
The only parts changed for this test were the removal of the 740mm Easton Haven Bars with their 70mm stem. Our tester being of a DH background likes to test all bikes on an even keel with the use of 780 bars and a 50mm stem, these ones supplied by Joystick give the bike more of an aggressive feel. The forks are the skinnier Fox 32’s, a reminder of the bikes trail rider intentions, as opposed to an out and out racer. The rear bounce is controlled by the ever-popular Fox Float CD. The drive train is the trusty SRAM XO1 set-up with a single 32 tooth front ring (with front mech fitting option on the frame). Wheels are Easton hubs, spoked up to Easton Haven rims fitted with Shwalbe’s new Nobby Nicks (tubeless set-up) being slowed down by Sram’s Guides. A Fizik saddle sits upon the top of a 125mm KS Lev dropper post equipped with their lefty lever, so this really is a high end build.
Some great things noticed from the get-go on this bike were as follows. You have the option of fitting the cables fully internal through the head tube or they can go via the removable clamps fitted on the outside of the down-tube, also being protected by a very substantial bash plate; forward thinking indeed. Although I have to say the rubber insert for the fully internal routing does tend to look a bit crude. On close inspection of the linkage bolts, it’s great to see that these are held in with torque bolts, as opposed to the more ‘round off-able’ allan key bolts. Also the lower chain-stay is really well protected by the fitment of molded lower and upper rubber bash guards, avoiding that horrible carbon killing chain slap damage. The chain line is spot-on, with the cranks easily spinning backwards at a hefty rate up to 2nd gear without dropping down the block and fouling the drive. Finally the bike is a great weight at 27.3lbs (12.38kg) without pedals.
Our test rider comes in at 177.8 cm tall, so opted for the large frame and found this surprisingly comfortable, even with Marin having the reputation for a short frame in this day and age of longer lower bikes. This large frame felt very comfortable with the 50mm stem and 30mm riser bars fitted. The feel of the suspension travel when pushing hard down any rough trail is surprisingly active, and with its seriously linear curve it really does feel more like it’s getting towards the territory of longer travel bikes, only the occasional standard twisting flex of the skinny Fox 32’s when hitting rock sections or nailing turns can be a slight reminder of it’s lesser travel capabilities. The bike feels ridiculously nimble when being thrown in and out of turns, caused by the 67.8-degree head angle mixed with the short 611.4mm top tube. But remarkably when getting a bit of ‘lick on’ at high speed the bike retains great stability, this can only be deduced by the average lengthed 435mm chain-stays and great damping abilities of the rear end.
Going uphill and you just flick the Fox’s switch over to climb and the lack of suspension bob really is a marvel, as this lightweight little gem just seems to track and drive with the proficiency and ease of a free climber on speed! The best way to describe the handling capabilities of this bike would be flick-able and fun, with the ability to change direction in a flash. Most of the components on the bike were spot-on, the saddle was comfy and the wheels held their own after some pretty rough gnarly stuff more suited to a 160mm bike. The new Nobby Nicks were a real joy in the slop or the rocks, especially compared to the previous models, which our test rider really wasn’t a fan. There were however two things which were a bit of a disappointment, the first of which was the lack of consistency of the SRAM Guide’s braking power, get them in the muck and slop and they were less effective than required. Plus the KS dropper post’s lefty lever seems to have about as much grip on the bars as Arthritic female pensioner, slipping round whenever pressed, even though the 4mm allen bolt was tightened to within a fraction of it’s life!
This is a fantastically capable little bike, one of the most fun our tester has ever ridden on the trails when it comes to pure grin factor. Fitted with some more substantial 150mm forks and a dropper lever that stayed in place it really would be a fantastically capable good looking and very rewarding bike which would tick all the right boxes for a high-end trail shredding weapon. Although saying that, the Fox 32’s really did have to be pushed to their limits by our 82 ½ KG aggressive rider to notice them complaining, most riders would be more than happy by their refined damping capabilities, especially lighter ones. Hopefully we shall start to see more from the US brand over in the UK and worldwide in the near future, as they definitely are back on the map and a worthy competitor to any high-end brand.
Price £5000.00 ($6799.00). For more information check out www.marinbikes.com
Words: Jim Buchanan Photos: Trev Worsey, Doc Ward