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In today's age, the majority aims to make transport as simple and convenient as possible. The modern automobile is powerful, comfortable and reliable while some other forms of it don't even require a human intervention. Technology has advanced so much so that people have forgotten or do not even know how it all started. Every great innovation has had a basic beginning and so does the field of mobility.
Hence, we decided to make a shift from our usual reviews involving cars and motorcycles, re-explore the basics of commuting — where we all started through repeated falls and getting up — or simply, the bicycle!
For this, we chose one of the basic yet premium offerings from Trek Bikes India — Trek Marlin 4.
Design & Styling
The Marlin 4 belongs to the cross-country mountain bike category of Trek's product portfolio. It has got the basic design characteristics of a conventional MTB (Mountain Terrain Bike). The example we got was finished in a neat plain black shade with orange highlights. The down tube has got a small kink at the junction of the head tube while the front set looks quite narrow, especially due to the skinny forks.
Though the overall proportions of the Marlin 4 are relatively compact compared to other high-end models from Trek, the saddle and handle positions make it ideal for riders of all sizes.
The adequately-wide riser has got a silver reflector at the middle. Flanking it are too rubber grips which offer a good grip and brilliant support to the thenar (part of the palm at the base of the thump).
The grips are ideally designed to allow the most convenient use of the trigger shifters and brake levers. The handlebar also provides decent ergonomics for daily short-distance morning or evening rides.
The seats look really good with its narrow and edgy proportions. To be honest, it has been designed to concentrate more on aesthetics rather than function.
But overall, the Marlin 4 is a good-looking bicycle, proportioned ideally for both genders.
Ride & Handling
Coming to the most important part, the Trek Marlin 4 does a good job if you wish to use it as a mode of daily exercise. The design is quite adaptable for both aggressive and relaxed riding position. Furthermore, the construction has got good weight distribution and a skilled rider can quite easily balance the Marlin 4 without having to rest it on one leg.
The bicycle is really light and can be easily lifted by even kids - one of the main highlights of the Trek Marlin 4. However, being light doesn't mean that the Marlin 4 is any fragile and it showcases class-leading fit and finish in typical Trek fashion.
The Bontrager knobby tyres offer good grip on most kinds of paths you will find in your town or city. It isn't ideal for hardcore off-roading but is just perfect to pace through the loose sand formations commonly found by the sides of roads. The wide tyre dimensions and the grippy pedals offer confidence while taking fast corners.
The preload-adjustable front suspension has got a decent 75mm travel and is ideal for most terrain conditions we encounter on a daily basis. Riding through potholes and over undulations is quite a breeze while the grips are chunky enough to manoeuvre the bike through tight spaces with ease.
Pick up speed and you will notice that the front forks could've been made a bit more sturdy. Though not critical, it does invite some vibrations to the handlebar at high speeds. But some find it to be a good sense of communication with the terrain below.
The 21-gear Shimano system is really smooth to use with the trigger shifters. Though first-time users might find it a bit confusing to use initially, trigger shifters will feel much more suited that conventional rotary shifters, once you get the hang of it.
Braking is quite decent with just the right amount of lever travel and pad bite. However, the Marlin 4 could've had at least a front disc. A lot of bicycles from other brands which are almost half the price of the Trek Marlin 4 have a disc at both the front and rear.
But to sum up, the Trek Marlin 4 doesn't excel in a specific field but performs well in all purposes; be it soft off-roading, exercising or daily commuting.
Features & Practicality
In the features department, the Trek Marlin 4 doesn't tick a lot of boxes but it does offer all the essentials. Hence, let us explain them in terms of practicality.
The lightweight alloy wheels allow you to easily lift up the front or rear and place the bicycle in any way you wish; avoiding the need to roll it. The wheels can also be removed conveniently using the dedicated levers.
While some prefer a soft suspension to ride slowly through irregular surfaces, some others opt stiffness to ride fast and planted. But on a daily-use perspective, you would need both. The perfect balance between this is achieved by adjusting the preload on the coil-spring suspension (ideally with respect to the rider's weight).
The saddle and seat post has been designed to give the best ergonomics for soft off-roading. However, the saddle is quite hard and will be uncomfortable for most first-timers, though it will be gotten used to, eventually. Still, the same characteristic makes the Marlin 4 not the best for long-distance commuting.
The Marlin 5 does not come with mudguards as standard. Though an MTB looks the best without them, riding it on a rainy day or through water puddles will bring all the dirt from the road onto your back.
The Trek Marlin 4 belongs to an unofficial classification named ‘29ers' or ‘two-niners' — implying the 29-inch wheels it comes with. Here are some other data you should know:
|Wheels & Tyres||29-Inch Off-Road Knobby|
|Gearing||Shimano 21-Speed (3x7)|
|Front Suspension||Preload, 75mm Travel|
|Max. Load Capacity||136kg|
|List Price||Rs 31,200|
The review of the Trek Marlin 4 can be put in a nutshell in just one word — adaptable. The Marlin 4 does a perfect job in being a mild off-roader, an exercise machine or a short-distance commuter. It's not for the hardcore cyclist but for those who enjoy cycling occasionally.
The Trek Marlin 4, just like any other model from the American bicycle manufacturer, is an extremely well-crafted product. The Marlin 4 is a bit short on features to justify its price tag but once you start using it, you wouldn't be much bothered; simply because it is just a good bicycle made for everyone!
(Writing by Abhinand Venugopal; Photography by Abijith Vilangil)