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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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Frame size number||Frame size letter||Wheel size||A — Seat tube||B — Seat tube angle||Effective seat tube angle||C — Head tube length||D — Head angle||E — Effective top tube||F — Bottom bracket height||G — Bottom bracket drop||H — Chainstay length||I — Offset||J — Trail||K — Wheelbase||L — Standover||M — Frame reach||N — Frame stack|
Now 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.
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.
My wife and I just bought 2 29 inch Lithium Gray Marlin 5 Gen 2 bikes. So far so good other than a flat tire I experienced but that’s not Treks fault by any means. We like the weight and the smooth ride it has.
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.
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.
lol “my son doesn’t abuse his bike he just broke all of the most easily abused parts of it”
Sounds like a future athlete there 😉
Very helpfull!!! , thanks dude!
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.
Have you tried getting a regular maintenance check with your local bike shop? Regular maintenance check can help prolong the life of a bike 😉
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.
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!