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Review Of Trek Marlin 5 (2023)

Jeff Balton

Trek Marlin 5

Photo credits: Trekbikes.com
Trek Marlin 5 is a phenomenal, trail-ready 29er that costs little and gets the job done on different types of surfaces, including paved and unpaved roads.

Beginner riders are often faced with a tough dilemma — purchase a versatile and comfortable city bike to commute or a real MTB to have fun and embark on off-road adventures.

With Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2, you can do both. This 29er has the ruggedness of a true trail-blazer but has the ability to double as an everyday workhorse to take on short urban commutes.

One of Marlin 5’s biggest advantages is the low price. This bike costs just $720, which puts it in the budget category. Still, there’s a lot to be excited about even with such an attractive price.

 

Trek Marlin 5 Quick Overview

Marlin 5 is characterized by an excellent off-road-ready aluminum frame, cushy front suspension, burly wheels and tires, hydraulic disc brakes and a lot more.

It’s one of the best-valued models from the Marlin series, offering multiple improvements compared to the lower-priced Marlin 4. Some of these are better brakes, better hubs, and a better bottom bracket.

It’s an entry-level bicycle, most suitable for beginner riders who plan to do a little bit of everything and too much of nothing.

Key Specs:

  • Frame: Alpha Silver Aluminum
  • Fork: SR Suntour XCT 30, 100 mm
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Altus M315
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Altus M310
  • Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc, 160/160mm rotors
  • Rims: Bontrager Connection, double-wall
  • Tire Size: 27.5″ / 29″ x 2.20″
  • Weight: 13.97 kg / 30.81 lbs

 

 

Marlin 5 Main Features

If you have a budget of $740 to spend on your next trail bike, Marlin 5 is pretty much the most you can get in this category.

Trek is known for bikes that have good value to money, so this Marlin series model has some worthy components and does not make too many compromises.

 

Lightweight Alpha Silver Aluminum Frame

Trek Marlin 5

Trek Marlin 5 has the same Alpha Silver Aluminum frame seen on all bikes from this lineup. It is characterized by a versatile head tube angle of 69.5 degrees. That’s a good compromise between steep and slack geometry. That means this bike will perform well in most conditions, including climbing, descending, and cornering.

Light, durable, and comfortable Alpha Silver Aluminum frame is Marlin 5’s biggest selling point, seen on other more expensive bikes from Trek’s MTB lineup.

All cables are internally routed which makes them last longer and improves the overall appearance of the bike. Riders can add a rear rack and a rear kickstand, which would make Marlin 5 ready for daily commutes as well.

You can get Marlin 5 in four modern and attractive colors: Lithium Grey, Radioactive Red, Volt to Miami green fade, and Azure. They’re beautiful!

 

Springy SR Suntour Fork

Marlin 5's suspension

Marlin 5 is equipped with a low-ranked SR Suntour XCT 30 fork with a coil spring. This fork is quite heavy but beginner riders without too much off-road experience will like it because it provides plenty of comfort.

When it comes to adjustability, just the preload function is available, so you can dial the fork to your liking and ensure a more comfortable ride and better responsiveness.

It’s important to note that the XS frame size comes with 80 mm of travel, whereas all other frame sizes have 100 mm of travel in the fork.

 

Best Feature: Hydraulic Disc Brakes

The feature that will make all Marlin 5 owners happy is the hydraulic disc brakes. This is the biggest improvement compared to the cheaper Marlin 4 which comes with mechanical disc brakes.

Hydraulic disc brakes present a major increase in stopping power and precision. They require less strength input from your fingers but offer more braking power output.

Trek has gone a step further and equipped the smaller frame sizes with short-reach brake levers to accommodate short riders with smaller hands.

 

Delicate Shimano Derailleurs

The main points of improvement on Trek Marlin 5 are its derailleurs. Compared to the previous releases, Marlin 5 has Shimano Altus components

Depending on how you take care of them, they might last you for years and miles to come. However, if you’re not careful and you shift under tension or you fall off your bike and smash them, they might give you some headaches.

Still, that’s not something an average rider planning to take Marlin 5 out on weekend adventures and weekday commutes should worry about. Plus, updating to higher-value Altus, Acera, or Alivio groupsets is not a big investment.

 

Beefy Bontrager Wheels and Tires

Last but not least, the beefy Bontrager wheels and tires are some of the first things you will notice on your Marlin 5. The 13.5″ and 15.5″ sized frames come with 27.5″ wheels, whereas all larger frames come with 29″ wheels.

The wheels are Bontrager Connection. They have 32 spokes, so they are quite strong, and they’re double-walled which means they can withstand some beating.

The Bontrager XR2 tires are 2.20″ wide on 27.5″ wheels. However, when it comes to 29″ wheels, the rear is narrower at 2.0″.

These wheels and tires are a bit heavier than ideal, but once you get them going, they’ll take you wherever you direct the handlebars.

      

Geometry & Sizing Table

Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2
Frame size numberFrame size letterWheel sizeA — Seat tubeB — Seat tube angleEffective seat tube angleC — Head tube lengthD — Head angleE — Effective top tubeF — Bottom bracket heightG — Bottom bracket dropH — Chainstay lengthI — OffsetJ — TrailK — WheelbaseL — StandoverM — Frame reachN — Frame stack
13.5″XXS26″34.372.872.8968.654.6295.243.84.28.9105.265.736.957
13.5″XS27.5″34.373.5°73.5°969.3°54.429.25.843.84.28.8104.965.837.656.5
15.5″S27.5″36.873.5°73.5°969.3°55.530.24.843.84.28.8106.668.638.557.4
17.5″M29″41.971.9°73.0°969.5°60.2315.843.84.29.311074.841.860.2
18.5″ML29″44.471.9°73.0°969.5°61.8315.843.84.29.3111.675.843.460.2
19.5″L29″4771.9°73.0°1069.5°63.8315.843.84.29.3113.775.745.161.1
21.5″XL29″52.171.9°73.0°1269.5°65.9315.843.84.29.3115.976.946.663
23.0″XXL29″55.971.9°73.0°1269.5°67.331.15.843.84.29.3117.380.44863

 

Is Trek Marlin 5 the Right Choice for You?

suggestedNow you’re probably wondering if this bike will make you happy or not. If you’re purchasing it as your first mountain bike or you don’t have very high aspirations when it comes to trail riding, Trek Marlin 5 should meet your demands.

We especially like it because it’s good at more than one thing.

Trek Marlin 5 is not strictly a trail-specific bike that would feel sluggish in all other settings. It’s equally efficient on both paved roads and dirt roads.

However, its wide tires, massive wheels, and capable hydraulic disc brakes still make it more suitable for riders who plan to spend more time in forests and on mountains than on smooth city streets.

 

Other Marlin Models

Trek Marlin Series Bikes

  • Marlin 4MSRP $630 – Has a lightweight aluminum frame, 21 gears, 100 mm of front suspension, and strong mechanical disc brakes.
  • Marlin 5MSRP $740 – Combines a light aluminum frame, plush SR Suntour suspension, entry-level Shimano drivetrain, and powerful hydraulic disc brakes in a good-looking trail package. Men and women-specific models available.
  • Marlin 6MSRP $850 – This model is built with an Alpha Silver Aluminum frame, a 1×10 mid-range Shimano drivetrain, burly tires, and comes with 100 mm of front suspension travel with lockout. It’s available in men’s and women’s versions.
  • Marlin 7MSRP $1,030 – Trek’s race-worthy model with an Alloy frame, superior RockShox front suspension, quality 1×10 drivetrain, Shimano components, and improved Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.

 

Verdict: Worth the Money (or Not?)

To the right buyer, Trek Marlin 5 is definitely worth the money. This is a lot of bike for just $740, specifically when it comes to the components. The hydraulic disc brakes increase the value of the bike, as well as the high-quality aluminum frame.

However, if you value every cent and you don’t intend to tackle steep hills or ride in wet weather, you can save and get Trek Marlin 4 with mechanical disc brakes and slightly lower-ranked hubs and bottom bracket.

Or see best Trek bikes

Trek Marlin 5 (2022)

$740
8.6

Components

8.5/10

Price

9.0/10

Weight

8.0/10

Quality

8.5/10

Durability

9.0/10

Pros

  • Alpha Silver Aluminum frame
  • Powerful hydraulic disc brakes
  • Good price-to-value ratio
  • Attractive colors

Cons

  • Heavy fork

29 Comments

  • Natalie says:

    Trek 5 is my 1st Mountain Bike
    I have been riding it 3x a week
    Doing some hard bush trails.
    It really seems to handle all trails well. No one knows that my bike isnt really expensive .
    They all say “love your bike ”
    I just love my bike but will upgrade to a better Trek when I have obtained more skills.
    Thanks Natalie

    • Editor says:

      Hi Natalie,
      Well as they say, a Trek is a Trek. The brand itself speaks for itself. It also depends on the kind of ride you do.

  • BoKnows says:

    lol “my son doesn’t abuse his bike he just broke all of the most easily abused parts of it”

  • Camilo says:

    Very helpfull!!! , thanks dude!

  • Jayden Chester says:

    I am 15 and got my trek Marlin 5 a couple years ago. I have ridden some insane tracks on it and haven’t really had any issues. The only thing I’ve broken so far is the derailer hanger but apart from that nothing. I use it for riding on streets, dirt roads and mountain bike tracks of different difficulties including black diamond tracks. It is still working great and I would think of it as a good bike. I found that the seat post was originally at my good pedaling height when I got it at its lowest point but have now upgraded that to dropper.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Jayden,
      Have you tried getting a regular maintenance check with your local bike shop? Regular maintenance check can help prolong the life of a bike 😉

  • Doug Triebelhorn says:

    I bought a 29″ blue Marlin 5 for my son’s 14th birthday 16 months ago and initially I really liked it. But, it’s been a flaming pile of broken parts since then. My son doesn’t abuse this bike (no downhill or big jumps) and mainly rides a few miles into town and occasional wheelies. Since new here’s the things that have broken on it: rear shifter cable, rear axle, right pedal stripped out of crank arm, left pedal stripped out of crank arm, rear axle again, right pedal stripped out of crank arm again and the chain broke (which pulled the rear rerailer into the spokes and ruined it). Our closest Trek dealer is an hour away so running to the bike store is a real issue but they have been pretty good about helping me out. I’m a metal fabricator and part time motocross bike mechanic so I have a good background in metals and how they should operate. I honestly feel Trek has build a cheap bicycle with metal parts using allows that aren’t appropriate and as thin as materials as possible to save weight at the cost of reliability. I just called Trek directly and we’ll see where that goes.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Dough,
      Sorry to hear about your experience. It looks like your drivetrain and the whole groupset have issues. Usually these are the most abused parts of the bike and an upgrade to better parts will do better. However I am curious as to what they will tell you. Let me know about it. Cheers!

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