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Review Of Trek Marlin 7 (2020)

Jeff Balton

Trek Marlin 7

Photo credits: Trekbikes.com
Trek Marlin 7 is the flagship model from the Marlin lineup. This is a race-ready trail bike that doubles as a daily commuter or a leisure two-wheeler. Thanks to its attractive price, it will find its way into the hands of a variety of adventure-hungry riders.

Marlin 7 is the most expensive model from the beginner-friendly Trek Marlin series. However, its $800 price is more than justified.

This is an affordable cross country bike with race-ready geometry and a much better RockShox fork compared to other cheaper Marlin series models.

If you’re more serious about mountain biking and you want the key to the door of real trail riding, then you should read the rest of our detailed Trek Marlin 7 review. You’re guaranteed to like it.

 

Trek Marlin 7 Quick Overview

The secret to Marlin 7’s success on the entry-level MTB market is the fact that it combines race-ready elements to budget components to offer a versatile package that fits diametrically different needs, such as trail riding, leisure riding, and commuting.

Key Specifications:

  • Frame: Alpha Silver Aluminum
  • Fork: RockShox XC 30, 100 mm
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Altus M2020, 2-Speed
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Acera M3000, 9 speed
  • Number of Gears: 18
  • Brakes: Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes
  • Rims: Bontrager Connection, double-wall
  • Tire Size: 27.5″/29″ x 2.20″
  • Weight: 14.08 kg / 31.05 lbs
  • All specs on a product page

 

Trek Marlin 7 Main Features

Trek has obviously put a lot of effort into making Marlin 7 a gateway model to some of their higher-priced and higher-specked lineups such as Roscoe or Supercaliber.

Marlin 7 has features from both the entry-level and the mid-range world. It has excellent competition-worthy suspension, brakes, and frame, coupled with a low-level Shimano groupset and a heavier-than-ideal wheelset.

With a few smart upgrades, it can certainly become a bike that can lead you to a cross country race podium!

Trek Marlin 7 red

Marlin 7 comes in red too

 

Light and Efficient 2×9 Drivetrain

One of the highpoints on the Trek Malin 7 bike is its light and efficient 2×9 drivetrain. It’s built with a 36/22T crankset and an 11-36T cassette.

This means that it has an excellent range of gears — even better than the more expensive SRAM Eagle 1×12 drivetrain.

The smallest 22x36T combo is easier than the 32x50T, which is the smallest on a 1×12 drivetrain. Also, the highest 36x11T gear combo is faster than the largest 32x10T combination found on the more expensive 1×12 setup.

Therefore, you get more from both ends of the spectrum, as well as smaller jumps between gears thanks to 2 chainrings.

2x9 drivetrain

2×9 drivetrain (See the color!)

High-Performing 100mm RockShox Fork

The RockShox XC 30 fork on Marlin 7 is a big improvement compared to the SR Suntour forks found on other lower-priced Marlin models.

It puts 100mm of travel under your hands but also equips you with a preload function and a Turnkey lockout. Therefore, you can lock it with the flip of a switch even when you’re riding.

The coil spring might make the fork feel a bit inefficient if you are very short and light, but if you have an average weight, you’ll be happy with it.

This fork is ready for fast descents, rocky terrain, and more technical trails.

Marlin 7 greendark

It has 100mm of travel

 

Budget-Friendly Components

Some points of improvement can be found in the entry-level Shimano components. Namely, this bike combines a front Shimano Altus and a rear Shimano Acera derailleur with Shimano Altus shifters.

While these are not bad groupsets, they might not be as resistant to damage or strain as much as Shimano Deore, for example.

Average riders will find this setup more than good enough, but those with higher trail-conquering aspirations might have to upgrade to something better after a while.

 

Race-Ready Frame Geometry

By far the most important part of any bike is its frame. Trek Marlin 7 can be proud of its Alpha Silver Aluminum frame as its light, compliant, and nimble on the trails.

The race-inspired geometry makes this bike good both at tight and demanding singletracks, as well as at straight downhills attacked at high speeds.

Its 69.5-degree head tube angle combined with a 73-degree seat tube angle puts you in a good position to have maximum control.

Marlin 7 head tube

Marlin 7 head tube angle is 69.5°

 

Reliable Hydraulic Disc Brakes

The Shimano MT200 hydraulic brakes are a phenomenal mid-range choice. They are capable of providing you will all the braking power you need when attacking high-speed descents.

Combined with the aluminum Bontrager Connection double-wall wheels and knobby Bontrager XR2 Comp tires, you’ll get maximum confidence in bends and in wet conditions.

These wheels are not tubeless-ready, but they can be easily converted to a tubeless setup which would give Marlin 7 even better trail properties.

 

Does Trek Marlin 7 Fit Your Needs?

To figure out whether or not Marlin 7 is the right bike for you, you first need to define your needs. If trail riding is your hobby or you believe that it might become that, then you should definitely buy Marlin 7. This is a race-ready bike that you can enter amateur competitions with or just have fun with your friends.

But, Marlin 7 is still not too trail-specific that it cannot accomplish other tasks as well. If you can only afford one bike and you want to be able to commute on it as well, this bike can do that.

A few miles on paved roads to get to work will feel like its second nature. Best of all, on the way back home, you can hit some trails and end your day the right way.

 

Other Marlin Models

Trek Marlin Series Bikes

 

Verdict: Good Value or Not?

suggestedTrek Marlin 7 costs $800 and is worth every cent if you’re looking for a real trail bike that’s ready to rumble.

Excellent geometry ensures agile steering and the coil-spring RockShox fork provides impressive shock absorption even on rocky surfaces.

The entry-level components keep the price in check but can be upgraded if need be. However, casual riders and first-timers on the trails can enjoy the original setup for years and miles to come.

Get From TrekBikes.com
Or see the best Trek bikes

 

Trek Marlin 7

$800
8.7

Components

9.0/10

Price

8.5/10

Weight

8.5/10

Quality

9.0/10

Durability

8.5/10

Pros

  • Efficient RockShox suspension
  • Race-inspired geometry
  • Strong Shimano hydraulic brakes
  • Wide-range 2x9 drivetrain
  • Two attractive colors

Cons

  • Budget groupsets

This Article Has 28 Comments

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  • Yelinna says:

    I have a Marlin 7 since november 2019. Mine came with Tektro brakes, I don’t know the series but the are a pretty good brakes.
    On the other hand, this bike comes with a couple of issues:
    Plastic pedals. Changed to metal ones.
    Hard thin unconfortable seat. Changed it for a fat soft one.
    This bike was beyond useful during the pandemic. Since it only has front suspension, it can carry a lot of weight on a posterior rack with a double bag (like 20kg of potatoes and fruits).
    It can stand 40-50Km/hour descends on a road (my maximum speed was 40Km/h last sunday mainy because I was applying the brakes, other cyclist use to go faster*).
    other issue is that the derailleurs need calibration with some frecuency depending of the use, they gave me problems a couble of times (chain not going to place easily). I think it is because the Acera/Altus mix.
    As a MTB with wide wheels, this bike goes slower. In fact, this trek model looks fat compared with other bikes like Specialized. The frame is squared, not like a tube, and it looked funny to me at the beginning. Non-important details apart, this is a great bike, with a soft seat and in the right frame size, it is confortable and easy to ride.

    *This is the descent from Manchay to Cieneguilla in Lima-Perú.

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Yelinna,

      Any bike should be calibrated by a bike mechanic. A regular maintenance will give you more fun with your MTB. You can also upgrade to a narrower MTB tires if you want more aerodynamics.

  • Pedro raga says:

    What is the handlebar tube size of marlin 7 2020.?
    I wanna change it to Raceface bar .thanks

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Pedro,
      Their website data has this specs:
      Handlebar:Bontrager alloy, 31.8 mm, 5 mm rise, 720 mm width (13.5: 690 mm width)
      Stem: Bontrager alloy, 31.8 mm, 7-degree, Blendr compatible
      I hope this helps.

  • Doug says:

    Hi Jeff I’m 75 and thinking of getting the marlin 7 ,plan to do more pavement riding would this be a good bike to start out with .

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Dough,
      An MTB for pavement riding? There is nothing wrong with that. There are many people who prefer using MTB on paved roads especially when you live in an environment where there are lots of potholes. The Marlin 7 is a decent bike for someone who is just getting into MTB. Just make sure it is the right size for you.

  • Andre Marques says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I’m looking to buy a a marlin 7 2021, the prices today in UK are above £660. My question is: there is anything out there below that price that is worth to buy instead of a marlin7?

  • Nav says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I will be getting my Marlin 7 2021 sometime this week. I know this is a Cross Country bike, but since it is so hard to get a hold of the Roscoe models, i figured I’ll just upgrade this Marlin 7 to make it more suitable for aggressive trail rides. Here are the parts that I’ve purchased so far:

    Race Face 25mm riser bar (740mm length)
    Race Face 50mm Stem (stock came with 60mm)
    29′ Maxxis Minion EXO Dual Compound tires (2.3 rear, and 2.5 front)I will also convert to tubeless
    TranzX JD-YSP18 Dropper post
    Race Face Chester pedals and Grips

    I’m still new to Mountain Biking, so I still have a lot to learn. But in the future I want to be able to learn how to do jumps and ride aggressive trails. Do you think the upgrades above will be acceptable for what I’m trying to accomplish?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Nav,
      They all look great. But remember, the more aggressive the ride, the more you need to get a shorter stem length. But, for now I think 50mm will do. 29′ is also not friendly for dirt jumps and other aggressive mtb rides. 27.5 is more acceptable(just my opinion).

  • Jatinder says:

    Such a detailed review
    And valuable from every aspect
    Could u plz suggest about the performance of cube aim sl in comparison to marlin 7

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Jatinder,
      I will keep that in mind in my future review. For now you can check this

  • Tom says:

    Hi Jeff,
    I have recently purchased a Marlin 7 and would like to go tubeless, I would like to ride some jumps and trails as well as the weekly commute
    What wheels and tyres would you recommend?
    Thanks

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Hi Jeff,

      Note that most MTB today have 27.5˝ (also know as 650b) or 29˝ (called 29ers). The 27.5 is still the most popular wheel of choice. You can get a 2.5″ wide tire size if you are more into jumps and trails because they can take abuse. 2.25″ to 2.4″ are good for casual offroad riding.

  • joe says:

    Hi jeff is the marlin 7 dropper post ready and does it have a clutch to prevent the chain falling off.

  • So the wheels and tires that come with the Marlin 7 can be converted to tubeless?

  • Marcus says:

    Great review! I really like this bike but what you you recommend for an intermediate rider?

  • Logy Aviles says:

    Great review Jeff. I’ve had my Marlin 7 for about 4 months now and just love the bike.

    What upgraded wheels and tires would you recommend?

    Thx

    • Jeff Balton says:

      Thanks, Logy, glad you like the bike! As for the wheels and tires, there’s sooo much choice out there that depends on too many factors for me to just recommend one. First set your budget and then start the research.

  • Khaled Quwaider says:

    Thanks for the info Jeff. Just got my marlin 7 yesterday. Can’t wait to ride it

  • Austin says:

    What would be your first upgrade on the Marlin 7?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      The wheels and tires would go first. That’s always the most significant upgrade you can do to a bike. 🙂

  • Alejandro Soto says:

    Hi, is the marlin 7 better than cannondale trail 5? What do you think?

    • Jeff Balton says:

      They are very similar, but I’d go with Marlin 7 because of a slightly better RockShox fork. Plus, it’s one pound lighter, according to Trek, if that matters to you.