Our test rider Lewis has had the Marin Alpine Trail 8 for around 4 months, putting it through its paces at home and in the Alps.
With 29″ wheels and long travel being all the rage these days, can the Marin Alpine Trail 8 stack up against the competition in this super competitive category? Lewis took it for a spin this summer to find out.
Aiming to close the gap between a trail bike and an enduro bike, the Marin Alpine Trail 8 sports 150mm rear travel, a 160mm fork , 29″ wheels and some decently aggressive geometry.
An aluminum frame combined with some great components added to the capabilities and performance of the bike, resulting in grins during every run. The SRAM GX 12 speed kit providing a great range and shifted well in all situations.
The Deity bar and stem combo was a great touch to the Alpine 8, the cockpit felt very aggressive and ready for anything. Finishing touches included a KS LEV dropper post, Vee Co. tyres, WTB seat and Marin’s own-brand wheels.
Fox Performance dampers at both ends offered plenty of control and adjustment to gets things tuned up the way you want them.
The Marin Alpine 8 boasts modern geometry without being anything ground-breaking. Starting at the front, the 65-degree headtube angle is combined with a 51mm offset fork. The 76-degree seat tube meant the bike climbed well even on longer Alpine slogs. The Alpine 8 has a shorter chainstay than other bikes in this category at 430mm giving it a lively ride.
In the Alps
I rode this bike around Europe for 2 weeks and discovered some amazing singletrack in Les Arcs, Lake Garda and Solden, Austria. The bike climbs amazingly well, it made light work of long rocky climbs and plenty of stunning singletrack high in the alps.
It handled the ‘La Varda’ trail in Les Arcs and the ‘601’ trail in Lake Garda very well, despite riding the trails almost blind. The tight switchbacks were easy to manoeuvre due to the short chainstay, while it was composed on the longer rocky sections on both trails. When it comes to the bikepark, it offered tremendous flow and it felt easy to keep speed up.
The cockpit gave enough room to move about and the geometry didn’t throw up any surprises no matter how hard you pushed. If you did want to get some airtime on the Alpine Trail 8, it wasn’t afraid to hit the big features too.
The only issue I had during the test was the tyres. The Vee Tyre setup didn’t handle the Alps very well and ripped a big hole in each tyre.
I was lucky enough to race the 3-day enduro race in the UK called the Ex Enduro. I tried to push the bike to its absolute limits while riding every stage blind, I was putting a lot of trust in the bike.
Covering over 75km and 5,000ft of climbing, the Marin Alpine Trail 8 didn’t miss a beat on each stage. I haven’t competed for over two years and I ended up in 5th position behind some of the best racers in the UK.
What do we think?
If you want an aluminium enduro bike which you can ride and race on pretty much any terrain, at home and abroad, the Marin Alpine 8 is worth considering. The mixture of performance and reliable components blends in with the aggressive geometry of the Alpine 8.
You will probably want to upgrade the wheelset if you want to race more competitively as the Marin rims are a tad soft, but the Marin wheelset are good enough for your average rider. The tyres will also benefit from an upgrade if you’re pushing the bike hard or ride rockier terrain.
The bike will handle everything you throw at it while still being a fun and nimble 29er, it is definitely a great bike from Marin which is perfect for the UK.
Confidence inspiring geometry
Could do better:
Tyres aren’t up to more aggressive riding
Wheels don’t match the bike’s abilities
For full info on the Marin Alpine Trail 8, head to Marin’s website here.
Check out all our other bike reviews over on our Bike Reviews page here.