Jon Woodhouse reports:
For years now, the design link between Marin and Whyte bikes has been quite close. Their bikes have used the same Quad Link 2 suspension system and shared many styling cues – but for 2012 it’s all changed. Marin have decided to make their bikes decidedly different and, just as Whyte tailored their bikes to the UK market, they have decided to stamp their own image over the 2012 bikes.
Goodbye Quad Link 2, hello Quad Link 3…
The main change – and at first glance it looks like a big one – is that Quad Link 2 is out in favour of Quad Link 3. While the layout looks totally different, it’s still a four bar/virtual pivot style design and shares very similar spring rate and wheel path characteristics as before, although the design is now slightly more linear towards the end of the stroke.
The main reason for the change is that this layout is much more compact, keeps the weight lower and is easier to manufacture. As a by product the front end gains more a traditional shape which enables plenty of space for bottle cage mounts; still important for the US market.
It also enables the suspension to be scaled up for use with 29″ wheels, which would have been extremely difficult with the old design, again something extremely relevant to the US, where big wheels are widely seen as the future.
The changes are happening across the full suspension range and it’s quite a radical departure from the look of past Marin full suspension bikes. We do hope the handling remains the same as the last generation of Mount Vision, which we tested back in Issue 63, and a quick look at the geometry suggests that it will. Prices will start from £1,899 for the entry level XM6 model, although the spec pictured here is not how production bikes will be.
Also of interest is the new East Peak 5.5, which shares a similar profile to the Quad bikes but is actually a linkage driven single pivot offering 120mm of travel front and rear. It’ll cost £1,299 and will come with Tektro disks, a Fox rear shock and Rock Shox XC28 forks.
Big wheels available across hardtail and full suspension ranges
Pictured here is an early production mule of the 100mm travel Rift Zone. It’ll be getting a tapered headtube and much more mud clearance before it comes out but it does give you some idea of what the bikes will look like.
Marin have also launched a range of 29″ wheeled hardtails ranging from the carbon fibre framed Team CXR 29er at £2,999, with a tapered headtube, sleek seat stays with deep and stiff chainstays, to the more affordable aluminium framed Alpine Trail 29er at £699.
In fact there will be 29er options throughout the hardtail range, including the classic Nail Trail race hardtail. It’ll be interesting to see how these bikes go down on this side of the Atlantic, but their popularity seems to be rising quickly in the US.