With a few simple mods, the Marlin 6 could easily up its rating
The first of two 29er to make it into the sub 500 category, the Trek Marlin 6 certainly didn’t behave like a fish out of water.
With a sleek new frame that offers stacks of standover clearance, its seat mast extending up like a dorsal fin, the Marlin is remarkably compact for a big wheeler. The quality of the Alpha Silver alloy frame is first rate too, where bridge less stays offer stacks of tyre clearance and a very forgiving ride.
With all of that real estate out back we wish Trek had occupied it with something meatier than the 2.0in Bontrager tyre. In fact, fitting the same 2.2in front tyre to the rear would do the trick.
Trek also missed a trick with the gearing on the Marlin 6. When you increase the wheel size you need to down size the chain rings to compensate. With the Trek’s close ratio 8-speed cassette the easiest gear on the Marlin was 24/32t, which is four teeth smaller on the rear and two teeth bigger up front than the Caliber 29er. If those numbers make your head spin, the takeaway message is that the gearing on the Trek will leave you light headed, gassed out and walking up steeper climbs on longer rides.
So the rear tyre and gears are both focused on towpath hacking and commuting to work. But the Marlin frame is so much more capable than that. It has pace and agility, and it really smoothes out the chatter. There are no real red flags in the overall build either, so with a few simple mods, the Marlin 6 could easily up its rating.