Marin B17 3

Cycling Plus (Malaysia) - - BIKE OF THE YEAR 2018 -

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.

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