Marin B17 3
This is the only 650b+ bike in BOTY this year – a sign that plus-size rubber hasn’t taken off in the way the industry expected. And indeed, it’s the tyres that hold the Marin back, as otherwise it’s a fairly sorted package.
The frame shape is pretty much bob on, in terms of tube lengths and angles. It sits you nicely between the wheels, relatively low down, for a confident, stable feel. This is combined with a linkage that delivers just the sort of suspension we look for from a trail bike. At the start of the stroke it’s soft and supple, which allows the bike to track the ground well, giving good traction and control on less lumpy terrain. It then ramps up nicely through the mid stroke to provide a progressive finish that deals confidently with bigger hits. Controlling things is a Rockshox Super Deluxe shock, which remains consistent in feel on longer descents, thanks to its piggyback design.
Marin have generally nailed the component package. Rockshox’s
Pike RC fork delivers good control up front, while SRAM’S GX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain is as good as you could wish for on a bike at this price. While the Shimano Deore brakes feel a touch wooden, they’re reliable stoppers. The Deity cockpit looks good, although the Skyline bar has a slightly odd-feeling sweep and the boxy stem makes the front end feel a touch harsh.
There’s just one issue with the spec – the tyres. Our early sample was fitted with 2.8in VEE Crown Gems, which added bulk and killed the lively feeling of the bike, without providing much benefit in terms of grip. Later B17 3s will come with 2.8in WTB Rangers, which aren’t much better. We’d suggest you budget for a set of 2.8in Maxxis Minions to get the most from this plus package – or sling in a pair of 29in wheels, as we did during testing. This meant we still had the improved rollover of bigger wheels, but without the sluggish feel of the chunky rubber. If the Marin came equipped like this out of the box (as the brand’s Rift Zone 29er does, albeit with a cheaper spec), it would be challenging for a higher position.