Marin Pine Mountain 2 2020 Review
Cons: Heavy, weak tire specification
Compare to Similar Products
Marin Pine Mountain 2 2020
|Price||$2,100 List||$2,150 List||$1,899 List||$2,579 List||$2,399 List|
|Pros||Easy-going geometry, exceptionally versatile, killer drivetrain||High value, fun on a wide range of terrain, dialed geometry||Aggressive geometry, built to last, killer tires||Swift climbing, sharp handling, excellent value||High fun-factor, rails corners, very poppy|
|Cons||Heavy, weak tire specification||Poor fork specification, less compliant frame compared to outgoing model||May be overkill for riders/trails, sluggish in tight spaces||Not as fun on rough trails, 11-speed drivetrain||Narrow range of terrain where it shines, terrible rear tire specification|
|Bottom Line||A versatile bikepacking rig that has the ability to rip trails||A well-rounded hardtail that blends solid value with stellar performance in most situations||A mean and aggressive hardtail with an appetite for high speeds||A slick-climbing hardtail mountain bike that is ready for a cross country race but is happy thrashing flow trails||A very fun and versatile hardtail that is comfortable on a narrow range of terrain|
|Rating Categories||Marin Pine Mountain 2||Specialized Fuse Expert 29||Rocky Mountain Growler 50||Ibis DV9 NX||Santa Cruz Chameleon 29 R|
|Fun Factor (25%)|
|Specs||Marin Pine...||Specialized Fuse...||Rocky Mountain...||Ibis DV9 NX||Santa Cruz...|
|Weight (w/o pedals)||33 lbs 15 oz||29 lbs 14 oz||31 lbs 3 oz||26 lbs 8 oz||30 lbs 5 oz|
|Frame Size Tested||Large||Large||Large||Large||Large|
|Available Sizes||S, M, L, XL||XS, S, M, L, XL||S, M, L, XL||S, M, L, XL||S, M, L, XL|
|Fork||RockShox FS 35 120mm||RockShox 35 Gold RL, 130mm||RockShox 35 Gold RL||Fox Float Rhythm 34||Fox Rhythm 34 120mm|
|Wheelset||Alloy Doublewall rims w/ Shimano and Alloy hubs, 32mm ID||Specialized Stout Alloy SL, 29mm ID||WTB ST i30 TCS 2.0 rims with Shimano MT400 hubs||Ibis Hubs, Ibis 938 Alloy rims||SRAM MTH hubs with WTB ST i25 TCS 2.0 rims|
|Front Tire||Vee Tire Flow Snap 2.6"||Specialized Butcher Grid, Gripton, 2.6"||WTB Vigilante TCS Light High Grip 2.6"||Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.6"||Maxxis Minion DHF EXO TR 2.3"|
|Rear Tire||Vee Tire Co Flow Snap 2.6"||Specialized Purgatory Grid, Gripton, 2.6"||WTB TrailBoss TCS Light Fast Rolling 2.6"||Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.6"||Maxxis Ardent Race EXO TR 2.25"|
|Shifters||Shimano SLX 12-speed||SRAM NX Eagle||SRAM NX Eagle||SRAM NX 11-speed||SRAM NX Eagle|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano SLX 12-speed||SRAM NX Eagle||SRAM GX Eagle 12-speed||SRAM NX 11-Speed||SRAM NX Eagle|
|Crankset||FSA Grid 32T||SRAM NX Eagle DUB||SRAM SX Eagle 30T||SRAM NX 30T||SRAM NX Eagle 148 DUB 30T 175mm|
|Bottom Bracket||FSA Outboard||SRAM DUB Threaded||SRAM BSA DUB||SRAM GXP XR||SRAM DUB Threaded|
|Cassette||Shimano SLX M7100 12-speed, 10-51T||SRAM NX 11-50T||SRAM PG-1210 11-50T||SRAM PG 1130 11-42T||SRAM PG 1230 11-50T|
|Saddle||Marin Pine Mountain Trail||Specialized Bridge Comp||WTB Volt Race 142||WTB Silverado 142||WTB Silverado Race|
|Seatpost||TranzX Dropper, 150mm||TranzX dropper 150mm travel 34.9mm diameter||Rocky Mountain Toonie Drop||KS E30i Dropper||Race Face Aeffect|
|Handlebar||Marin Pine Mountain Trail Bar, 50mm rise, 780mm width||Specialized Stout Riser 780mm||Rocky Mountain AM 780mm||Ibis 780mm Alloy||Race Face Ride|
|Stem||Marin 3D Forged Alloy||Specialized Stout||Rocky Mountain 35 AM||Ibis||Race Face Ride|
|Brakes||Shimano MT520 4-piston front/MT500 2-piston rear||SRAM Level TRL||Shimano MT420 4-piston front, MT400 2-piston rear||SRAM Level||SRAM Level T|
|Grips||Marin Bear Paw Locking||Specialized Trail||Rocky Mountain Lock-on Light||Lizard Skins Charger Evo||Santa Cruz Palmdale|
|Warranty||Lifetime||Lifetime||Five Years||Seven Years||Lifetime|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Should I Buy This Bike?
This Pine Mountain 2 is an excellent option for the mountain biker with an eye for adventure and utility. If you are a rider who enjoys a nice trail ride and likes getting adventurous in the backcountry, this is the bike for you. This is not the hardest shredding hardtail mountain bike by any stretch. It is also not the lightest and zippiest climber. Instead, it is a tremendously versatile bike that can go on a week-long bike packing mission and then go rip around on the local trails the following week. The Pine Mountain never feels out of place railing a berm or slogging up a climb, but it was clearly designed for adventure riding. The steel frame delivers a comfortable and muted ride, the pedaling position is comfortable, and the geometry is neutral. It is a great choice for spending a long day in the saddle. It has a lot, and we mean a lot, of mounts for racks, bags and accessories and Marin provides measurements for custom-ordering frame bags.
Are you seeking a hardtail for general trail riding? The Specialized Fuse 29 is our Editor's Choice for Best Hardtail Mountain Bike. The Fuse offers a superior trail-riding experience compared to the Pine Mountain. It is lighter, zippier, more stable, and can be ridden harder than the Marin. The Fuse can't match the adventurous attitude and utility of the Pine Mountain. That said, the Fuse is a much better choice for those looking for a trail bike.
Are you interested in a hardtail mountain bike that gets downright radical? The Rocky Mountain Growler 50 is an absolute shredder. This bike has the DNA of an enduro bike in a simple and low-maintenance hardtail design. The Growler is insanely stable at high speeds, is confident on steep terrain, and responds very well to being ridden aggressively. It boasts solid climbing abilities thanks to a steep seat tube angle and decent uphill steering. If you value versatility or want to do some big, self-supported rides, the Pine Mountain is still the obvious choice. The Growler is a great option for the rider who wants a hardtail to push their limits.
If your idea of a fun hardtail is a light and supremely efficient bicycle, the Ibis DV9 is a great option. The DV9 is a fast and feathery climber with razor-sharp handling. This bike is zippy and efficient enough to enter into a cross country race while still having the right angles and attitude to be fun on a casual trail ride. The DV9 is a very slick climber thanks to the light carbon frame and direct power input. On the descent, this bike can slice and dice its way down the trail thanks to quick handling due to somewhat conservative geometry. If you want to get out on the trail and hammer, the DV9 is a great choice. It still is no match for the versatility and utility of the Pine Mountain. While the DV9 is a cut above in terma of speed and efficiency, the Pine Mountain 2 is a far better adventure and bikepacking bike.
The Pine Mountain 2 has a 4130 Chromoly steel frame. Steel has distinct advantages as a frame material. It offers a very compliant and damp ride compared to aluminum or carbon fiber. When riding over rough or chattery trails, steel mutes the trail surface more effectively while aluminum and carbon fiber can provide harsh feedback. This muted and damp feel has huge advantages on a bikepacking mission when you are in the saddle for nine hours at a time.
This frame is designed around 29-inch wheels with clearance for a 2.6-inch tire. Also, it has Boost 12x148 spacing and lots of frame mounts in the front triangle for bikepacking gear. Yes, we mean a lot of mounts. Marin provides information about the mounts and front triangle measurements to allow users to have frame bags custom made to the perfect size.
We measured our large test bike and found a 66.5-degree head tube angle paired with a 74.5-degree seat tube angle. The effective top tube measurement is 620mm, and the reach is 460mm. The Pine Mountain has 430mm chainstays, a 315mm bottom bracket height, and a wheelbase of 1188mm. It tipped the scales at a portly 33-pounds 15-ounces setup tubeless and without pedals.
- Loads of mounts
- Bikepacking-friendly handlebars
- Boost Spacing
- 29 x 2.6-inch tires
- Chromoly steel frame
- Modern, yet reserved geometry
The Pine Mountain 2 delivers solid and predictable downhill performance. This isn't the kind of bike that is going to inspire manuals and boosts all over the trail. It also isn't necessarily a hard-charging bicycle that inspires reckless speed. Instead, it is a sensible downhill experience with sharp handling and a comfortable feel.
Marin hit somewhat of a sweet spot with the Pine Mountain's geometry. The numbers may not be flashy on paper and don't follow the long and low trend of slack head tube angles. That said, it is an easy-riding bike that is intuitive. It doesn't require an aggressive pilot or top speeds to be fun. When you are cruising down the trail, the bike feels slack and long enough to be confident on a steep pitch or a fast section of trail. At the same time, the Pine Mountain feels pretty responsive at all speeds thanks to the direct steering and reasonable wheelbase. Cornering is pretty sharp and it is easy to work through awkward lines. This direct steering and easy-going feel make the Marin a very user-friendly bike. No, this isn't the bike for pushing your limits on the descent, but anyone can jump on it and have a great ride.
Both testers noted that despite the manageable wheelbase and short-ish chainstays, this bike wasn't particularly playful. This isn't the bike that makes you want to raise the front wheel skyward and manual through dips and rolls in the trail or boost every possible hit. Even if the geometry looks playful, this stout, 34-pound, bike prefers life on the ground.
We were impressed by the Pine Mountain's steel frame. Here at OutdoorGearLab, we ride plenty of fantastic plastic carbon fiber bikes as well as reliable aluminum ones. Immediately upon jumping on this steel frame, the difference in the quality of the ride was apparent, this manifested itself in a major way on the descents. When you are pointing down a fast and chattery downhill, the Chromoly frame does do a good job of taking some of the edge off. To be clear, it was still obviously a hardtail, and you could feel the rocks and roots. However, it did have a more muted and damp feel than an aluminum or carbon fiber hardtail. It was particularly noticeable on the high-frequency, small, chattery stuff that would be less pleasant on a carbon frame. The steel just takes the edge off a little better.
The components were a bit of a mixed bag in terms of descending abilities. Let's start with the good. The four-piston Shimano MT-520/500 brakes provided ample power and confidence in all conditions. These binders are a nice specification at this price point. All of that power could definitely come in handy when loaded up with bikepacking gear and screaming downhill. The wheels were fine, and the bikepacking handlebars were a non-issue. The RockShox FS 35 fork is underwhelming but reliable. The chassis is stiff and up for the challenge, but the fork developed a very sticky feel after only a few rides and required service. This is a budget-friendly fork that works just fine but never feels particularly good.
We love the specification of a 2.6-inch tire, especially on a hardtail. The problem is the Vee Tire Flow Snap tires have flimsy and unsupportive sidewalls. The tread is aggressive, and this bike would have the ability to corner pretty darn hard if not for the thinner and less durable sidewalls. Part of the appeal of a 2.6-inch tire is the ability to run a lower tire pressure to add an element of damping. The problem is if you run 21-22-PSI in these tires, they feel exceptionally washy, vague, and it provides the sensation that you are about to rip the tire off the rim. It almost made us want to run tubes to gain a bit of extra stiffness in the sidewall. Luckily, tires are a relatively inexpensive upgrade with the potential of a huge performance gain.
The Pine Mountain 2 is a smooth and efficient climber. This is a bikepacking rig, and Marin did a great job providing a comfortable feel that would work well for those full-day rides. The components worked quite well with the geometry to deliver an impressive climbing experience.
While spinning away in the saddle, the geometry feels conducive to long and burly climbs. While a 74.5-degree seat tube angle doesn't seem particularly steep on paper, it is a decent number on a hardtail. Both testers agreed, the seated climbing position felt quite direct, and it was easy to put the power down. This bike weighs nearly 34-pounds without pedals, which is undoubtedly hefty. That said, the weight isn't all that noticeable when you are grinding away on a climb. Sure, if you stood up and tried to sprint up the hill, you're going to feel the lag of the extra weight, but on a casual climb, the Pine Mountain never felt unusually heavy or clunky. Much of the weight is in the steel frame, which, unlike super heavy wheels, isn't all that noticeable of a location to hide some extra pounds.
The relatively airy cockpit provides enough space without stretching the rider out. It didn't feel cramped or too long for the two testers who stand at 6'1" and 6'0". The bike worked uphill through switchbacks effectively. The short-ish wheelbase and moderate head tube angle work well to help riders navigate tricky sections of trail. Super-long bikes can feel cumbersome and difficult to work through awkward lines. The Pine Mountain felt easy to steer and adaptable.
We mentioned the damp and muted nature of the steel frame in the section discussing this bicycle's descending abilities. Much of the same characteristics manifest themselves on the uphill as well. When you are seated on a long climb, the extra comfort of the steel frame is apparent. Pedaling up and over a choppy section of trail on a hardtail can be downright uncomfortable. When seated, your butt is almost on top of the rear axle, and some bikes make it feel as if the forces are translated right to your body. The Chromoly frame seems to mask some of those unpleasant bumps. It should be noted that we were still fully aware we were riding a hardtail bicycle. There was no mistaking the Pine Mountain for a full-suspension bike, but it was absolutely more comfortable than carbon fiber.
The 2.6-inch tires fared better on the climb than they did on the descent. We did have to somewhat over-inflate them to stiffen the sidewalls, but they hooked up well on the climbs. Damp, loose, hardpack, they delivered a decent amount of grip and rolled reasonably well. The Shimano SLX 12-speed drivetrain is a tremendous specification at this price. It shifted well under load and delivered a huge gear range. This will no doubt come in handy if you are grinding this bike uphill loaded with bikepacking gear.
At $2,099, it is easy to call the Pine Mountain 2 a strong value. This bicycle performs very well within its intended application. It is an adventure/bikepacking bike that also works pretty well as a trail bike and could even double as a commuter. The build kit is largely impressive, and the bike has a built-to-last feel to it. We love it.
Marin knocked it out of the park with the all-new Pine Mountain 2. This bike is tremendously versatile, and it delivers a strong value. This is true bikepacking and adventure rig that also delivers rock-solid trail-riding performance. It is a perfect option for the rider who lives for adventure riding but also wants to go out on an after-work trail ride here and there. Marin paid attention to the details and delivered an easy-riding and intuitive bike that a lot of people can enjoy.
Marin makes two versions of the Pine Mountain , including the 2 reviewed here, which is the higher-end build.The Pine Mountain 1 retails for $1,350 and comes with a Series 2 Chromoly frame with the same geometry. It comes with a 120mm RockShox Recon RL fork, an 11-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain, Shimano Mt420/400 brakes, and a rigid alloy seatpost.
— Pat Donahue, Jeremy Benson