Some readers may care to cast their mind back to Autumn of last year when I publicised the release of Marin’s new Pine Mountain, an entry-level introduction to the world of semi-fat mountain bikes.
More properly of course we’re talking about 27.5+ (or Plus size) mountain bikes as this niche is being called. I’m not sure it’s a genuine niche per se as it’s an obvious creation of the bike industry rather than a roots-up adoption of a different way of building bikes, as with the 29er thing. Anecdotally I hear 29ers currently are not selling as well as they used to, so maybe Plus bikes are the next big thing. Certainly they make sense to me; basically roughly 29er diameter wheels with greater volume – for good or ill – in the tyres.
Whichever way you view it, you can’t deny that 27.5+ bikes have a certain appeal. Normally you need to invest in wheels, tyres and forks to get in to this game which is why when Marin announced a complete 27.5+ hardtail – albeit with a rigid fork – for £750 I looked at it and thought this might be a bit of a sleeper hit for this year. So, unusually for me, I bought one on spec, sight unseen and it’s taken until this past couple of weeks for it to arrive.
What a sight it’s turned out to be. The photos don’t really do much for the slightly smoke grey paintwork with the retro style orange transfers neatly applied under a layer of lacquer (they’re not just stickers). The orange fork and stem are really orange and there’s even a bit of orange on the Marin branded but very comfy saddle. All said, I’m pretty impressed.
I’m less impressed with how it arrived though from Charlie the Bikemonger, a retailer I chose from one of many mail order options because he has a very good reputation. The bike arrived needing a bit of minor assembly as you’d expect, but with the brakes and shifters already attached to the handlebars. As you can see in the pictures, the cable routing is messy and illogical. Having put the bike together I then realised it needed some adjustment to get the cables correct i.e. passing equally both sides of the head tube, not cramped around one side.
The problem was that I needed to remove the handlebar grips to move things around which is when I discovered the bolts have been rounded off on the right hand grip! Which really disappointed me – to get the gear cable moved I had to disconnect from the derailleur end and slide the outer out of the cable tie retainers. At this point I also found the gear cable had some frayed strands where it had been clamped. So, before I’ve used the bike I’ve had to buy and replace a new gear cable and will have to drill out the handlebar bolts before I can replace the grips in the future.
It’s all a bit disappointing considering I don’t often buy new bikes and I made a point of using Charlie because I’ve heard good things about him – certainly in terms of service he was great. I haven’t raised these issues with him as I’m not sure there’s much he can do about it but I will get in touch with him in the next day or so.
The rest of the bike seems fine with the gears properly indexed – my first impressions of the 11-42 Sunrace cassette seems promising as it drops into bottom gear very easily. To keep the bike looking good I’ve invested in some clear helicopter tape applied to strategic positions on the frame and some Marshguard Slapper Tape to protect against chainslap, so we’ll see how that fares.
I’ll review the bike more fully once I’ve got some miles in.
For now, the starting spec of the bike is:
|ComponentFrame||SpecificationDouble butted 4130 CroMoly|
|ComponentFork||SpecificationCroMoly rigid with tapered steerer|
|ComponentCranks||SpecificationForged alloy with 32T narrow/wide chainring and hollow spindle|
|ComponentRear derailleur||SpecificationSRAM X7 Type 2|
|ComponentShifter||SpecificationSRAM X5 10 speed|
|ComponentBottom bracket||SpecificationExternal cartridge|
|ComponentHubs||SpecificationFormula 32 hole cartridge for Centrelock discs – non Boost|
|ComponentRims||SpecificationMaddux DD40 27.5+, 40mm internal width, Tubeless Ready|
|ComponentTyres||SpecificationKenda Havoc 2.8|
|ComponentBrakes||SpecificationShimano BR-M445 hydraulic|
|ComponentDiscs||Specification180mm front, 160mm rear|
|ComponentHandlebar||Specification740mm Marin lo-rise (10mm) alloy|
|ComponentStem||SpecificationMarin 3d forged alloy|
|ComponentSeatpost||SpecificationMarin 27mm with integral frame clamp|
Visit the Marin website to read more about the Marin Pine Mountain 1.