Trek is a bike company that has consistently been one of the top brands to consider for cyclists of any discipline. From highly-specialized mountain bikes for intense off-roading to comfortable and efficient electric road bikes for your daily commute, riders all around the world have long been able to count on Trek to provide a range of options that suits them best.
If you’re looking to explore the great outdoors and experience mother nature on two wheels, you’ll need a reliable partner to be able to take you on those long off-road adventures. With its ample features, affordable price and quality construction, the Trek Marlin series is a serious contender for one of the best entry level mountain bikes on the market today.
There are currently 3 different options to choose from the Trek Marlin series - namely the 5,6 and 7 - all offering different specifications and setups. Today we’ll be comparing the Marlin 5 and 6, and hopefully this will help you decide which mountain bike you choose to start your journey with.
The frame on the Trek Marlin 5 is made out of Alpha Silver Aluminum which makes it lightweight yet strong. Cables for brakes and the gear systems are cleverly routed inside of the frame - significantly reducing the risk of dirtying or damaging the cables. This design feature is often only available on more expensive bikes on the market today so you’re effectively getting premium features at a regular price!
Shimano Tourney 21 Speed drivetrains are used on the Trek Marlin 5. These are common on bikes in this price range but for good reason - they are of high quality and made from a trustworthy brand. The 21-speed gears give you enough power to pedal through climbs with ease.
Having good brakes are an important aspect of riding, and the Tektro HD-275 Hydraulic Disc Brakes that come on the Marlin 5 are one of the best safety features available on the market today. By only using one finger, the hydraulic system translates enough power to the brakes to ensure that you stop safely at any speed. This reduces the risk of children or adult riders with weaker grip straining their hands or being thrown off their bikes while otherwise panic-grappling the brake levers on rough terrain.
The SR Suntour XCE 28 Suspension Fork provides 100mm of travel suspension. This is adequate for average to intermediate bumpy trails but not so much for technical courses which require more advanced features than the Marlin 5 can offer. The Bontrager Arvada Saddle mount on the bike provides enough comfort for both cross country rides and for daily commuting.
The Trek Marlin 6 is a bike that is ready to take out on the trails right out of the box. With a price difference of about $100 from the Marlin 5, let's look at what the key differences are between the latter and the former models.
Like the Marlin 5, Alpha Silver Aluminium is used on the Marlin 6’s frame, making it lightweight and sturdy. However the main differences between the two models lie in the drivetrain and front fork suspensions.
The drivetrain on the Marlin 6 uses a powerful 2x8 Shimano HG31 cassette, as compared to the 7-speed Shimano HG200 on the Marlin 5. This provides more power and smooth gear shifting for you as you pedal through the trails.
Unlike its predecessor, the Marlin 6’s front fork suspensions allow for lockouts - a key feature that reduces energy wasted when pedaling on flat, smooth terrain.
As both are entry-level mountain bikes, the differences in both models aren’t too major, however if you’re looking to start with a bike that is easier to customize in the future - we’d put our money on the Marlin 6. Otherwise if you don’t want to bother with customizing and just want to dive right into the world of MTB - the Marlin 5 offers just about the right amount of features that will suit beginner riders just fine.