A new take on an established classic: we ride Marin's latest Mount Vision
There are five different models in the Mount Vision range. The two entry-level bikes get aluminium frames, while the three top-tier designs switch seamlessly to carbon monocoque front ends to save weight.
It has to be said that the layout of the front triangle on the Mount Vision definitely lends itself to carbon construction, as the alloy version, with gussets above and below the top tube and a dramatically kinked seat tube, looks very piecemeal sat next to some other bikes.
Regardless of the front triangle material, all models share the same alloy rear end, with its IsoTrac suspension design. It’s a similar concept to Cannondale’s Zero Pivot set-up, where flex in the seatstay eliminates a pivot, but Marin has managed to eke 140mm of travel out of its design.
And it’s not just the suspension platform that’s consistent across the Mount Vision line. All models come with dropper posts — probably because saddle height adjustment would be nonexistent with the kinked seat tube — and they also get 1x drivetrains. It’s strange then, that the frames also have mounts for front mechs. Marin has put this to good use, however, fitting a blanking cap that doubles as a bottle opener. Cheers!
The Mount Vision 5 is the odd one out in this test as it doesn’t have a RockShox shock. Instead, it comes with the X-Fusion O2 Pro RL. It’s air-sprung and features external rebound control and a lock-out, so you’re getting all of the same features and adjustments as the other bikes in test. In the open setting, the X-Fusion shock feels smooth and controlled and in lock-out mode it’s every bit as crude as the RockShox units.
Switching back to RockShox, the 140mm travel Sektor fork has steel upper tubes and a Silver-level damper but the front end of the Marin was less easy to unsettle when you dive into the rough stuff.
It’s great that Marin hasn’t dumbed down the component specification on its entry-level bike. With a 780mm handlebar, 60mm stem and a TranzX dropper all fitted as standard, the Mount Vision is streets ahead of its rivals here. It’s worth pointing out too, that while the Marin weighs in at 15.2kg, making it the heaviest bike in test, the seatpost alone adds roughly 0.5kg to the overall weight of the bike.
Which is probably why Marin fitted the woefully narrow 2.0in Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres to save weight. Luckily for Marin, we only did one ride on the stock rubber before switching to our 2.3in Maxxis High Roller II control tyres. Unluckily for Marin, we also weighed all of the bikes with our fatter tyres fitted.
With the 2.0in Schwalbe tyres, we were clipping pedals, left right and centre. So it’s fair to say that the BB height on the Marin is super low. Still, this is much better than it being too high, and once we swapped to 2.3in tyres, the BB height was still nice and low for stability, but we weren’t dragging our heels on the ground in every corner. And boy can this bike rail corners.
The extra grip and comfort the bigger tyres provide allowed us to open up the taps on the Marin, and it wasn’t long before we were in full flow, attacking every trail. It’s quiet too, thanks to the Shadow Plus SLX rear mech and the low-slung chainstays. Yes, the gear range isn’t anything like as wide as the bikes running 2x drivetrains, but shifting with the 11-42t SunRace cassette was crisp and precise. If you’re heading to the mountains, or for massive epic rides, you’ll probably want to switch the 32t chainring for a 30t just to save your legs and lungs. Under the hardest pedalling efforts, the rear suspension squats a little, but there’s no shortage of traction when climbing, so this shouldn’t be considered as a black mark against the Marin’s otherwise clean record.
Lots of bike manufacturers sweat details like 0.5° on the head angle, or whether the bike would pedal better with five per cent more anti-squat, then go and mess up the handling with a narrow bar or overly long stem. Not Marin. The Mount Vision 5 has all the bases covered, and not just the basic ones either. With balanced handling and a cocky go-after-it attitude, the Mount Vision 5 can tackle any trail. It’s blisteringly fast, without being edgy, and it’s one of only a handful of bikes that actually delivers on its promise of being long, low and slack.