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Marin has been making bikes since the early days of our sport, but kind of lost their way in the earlier 2000s. Their bikes, were, uh, “unique looking,” to put it mildly. Thankfully, Marin has really cleaned up their line and re-focused on mountain bikes over the past couple years.

A face only a mother could love (photo: Rocky666)

A face only a mother could love (photo: Rocky666)

Gone is the elevated chain stay rear triangle seen above. In its place is a dual-link suspension design, which Marin dubbed QUAD 3. With the more conventional shock placement, Marin has designed their frames with lots of sharp angles to set them apart from the crowd. It’s a much less polarizing look than their previous bikes. To top it all off, Marin is offering some great paint schemes across the line, with plenty of color-matched decals on components.

Ahhh, that's better

Ahhh, that’s better

I was excited to get out on the Marin Attack Trail 9 Carbon, because for one, I hadn’t been on a Marin before, and because it was spec’d with BOS Suspension. The French company’s products have only recently become available in the US, and word on the street is that they’re the bees knees.

The rest of the build on the Attack Trail 9 is what you’d expect on a $6,600 bike. It sports a SRAM XO1 drivetrain, Guide brakes, 27.5″ DT Swiss E1700 wheels, WTB Vigilante and Breakout tires, and a KS LEV Integra dropper post. In a nice custom touch, Marin specs a Deity Blacklabel 25 bar (787mm wide), and a Gamut Cillos stem.

SRAM's XO1 drivetrain

SRAM’s XO1 drivetrain

As with the Rocky Mountain Altitude Rally Edition that I tested, I opted for an XL frame for the Marin. The Attack Trail 9 is their “enduro” bike, with 160mm of travel up front, 150mm in the back, a 66.5-degree head angle, short chain stays–everything you’d assume it would have. But, its top tube is well on the short end of the spectrum. Reach for the XL size was only 434.5mm. For comparison, the reach on the XL Rocky was adjustable between 443-461mm; an XL Giant Reign is a whopping 480mm; and Yeti’s SB6c is 466mm.

Deity Blacklabel bar and Gamut Cillos stem

Deity Blacklabel bar and Gamut Cillos stem

What does all that mean? Well, it’s a long-travel trail bike with tighter geometry than you may expect given the current trend towards looooooooooonger wheelbases. If you like a more nimble, quicker-handling feel, the Marin might be a good fit. If you spend a lot of time at top speed, you may prefer more stability.

Once dialed in, I jumped on the shuttle and headed to the top of the mountain. I decided to try the Skyline trail, which was no joke. Like many of the trails in Bootleg Canyon, there’s a lot of rock and slow-speed tech, but there’s the added challenge of exposure on Skyline. There were numerous no-fall zones on that trail. The Marin was a joy to pilot through these sections–probably because of its relatively-short wheelbase.

Some of the chunk on Inner Caldera

Some of the chunk on Inner Caldera

The rear Kirk shock from BOS was excellent–extremely supple. The BOS Deville AM fork left a lot to be desired, though. It was harsh on small to medium hits, and provided too much feedback through the bars. I think the fork may have been a bad apple, because in addition to its lack of suppleness, it was also noisy. There seemed to be a rattle coming from inside the fork, and the rebound stroke was noticeably loud. It’s a shame because it put a damper (get it?) on an otherwise great ride.

This BOS Suspension Kirk shock was smooth, supple, and quiet

This BOS Suspension Kirk shock was smooth, supple, and quiet

After the Skyline trail ended, I rode the Inner Caldera trail, and while it was awesome, it took me to the middle of nowhere. I ended having my own mini vision quest, wandering around lost in the desert for about an hour. I had a great time on the bike, but I couldn’t help but think of how good it could have been if the fork was as dialed as the shock.

Signs of life in the desert. I ran across this baby tortoise on the Inner Caldera trail.

Signs of life in the desert. I came across this baby tortoise on the Inner Caldera trail.

The noisy and harsh BOS Deville AM

The noisy and harsh BOS Deville AM

The Attack Trail 9 is obviously a very capable bike. Just take a look at the North American Enduro Tour rankings, and you’ll see that the top three men overall (Kyle Warner, Cody Kelley, and Craig Harvey) and the third overall female Anne Galyean, were all on Marins. It says a lot about the bike that even a bad fork didn’t totally sour my ride.

There are three other models in the Attack Trail line, as well as a frame and shock option. The Attack Trail 7 and 8 both use an aluminum frame ($2,749 and $3,959 respectively), and the top-level Attack Trail Pro adds goodies like an XTR drivetrain and carbon wheels for $9,349.

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