Stable 29er wheels and great contact points
One of only two 29ers in the £500 category, the Marin Bobcat Trail 9.3 benefits from the improved rollover and traction of bigger wheels.
Jumping between the Marin and the less capable 27.5in bikes on test, it was striking just how much more momentum the 29in wheels retained on fast, flowing singletrack. This bike wants to motor.
It’s no featherweight and at 14.67kg it’s the heaviest bike profiled here. Thanks to the longer chainstays (needed for the 29in wheels) rider weight is shifted more forward, so the Marin makes surprisingly light work of the steepest ascents.
It was on the climbs, however, that it became apparent just how much shorter the frame is compared with the Ghost, Saracen and Vitus. This is why we wouldn’t recommend ditching the 90mm stem, as it would make the bike feel too cramped for long days.
To make those a little easier on your body, the contact points are all really good, the bar is nice and wide and the saddle comfortable. Marin also fits a slender 27.2mm seatpost, with more flex, just like the Cube. And, like the Cube, the bottle bosses on the seat tube prevent the post from going all of the way into the frame.
If Marin is really to challenge the best 27.5in bikes in this test, it needs to stretch the proportions of the Bobcat Trail 9.3 by making the frame longer.
Maybe that was never the goal as Marin also makes the Bobcat Trail 7.3 with 27.5in wheels. Both come in five frame sizes from S through to XXL, so you really can choose your poison.