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Bicycle Review: Marin Mount Vision Pro

By MBT Staff

Sharing the Vision

Do all and end all, including your wallet.

Long Way from Home

We donít know about you but when the spec sheet of our next test rig lists the frame color as flat black, we canít help but get a little anxious. And while Marin may not be the first brand to come to mind when considering a new bike here on the east coast, the Mount Vision Pro was surprisingly adept. Would we make it our next do-it-all mountain bike? Read on to find out.

Lets Talk Specs

Our Element 18 inch Easton aluminum frame came equipped with Marzocchiís Grand Fondo Race 3 (105mm) of frontal squish and a (100mm) Fox Float R (rebound adjust) in the rear. Like the frame, Easton is responsible for the bar, stem, and seatpost. Shimano Deore shifters and front derailleur mate with an XT rear. Braking is accomplished via Hayes Sole hydraulic discs front and rear. Finally IRC Serac XC tires come wrapped around sturdy Alex DP17 rims. Total weight was a tad over 29 lbs.

Spilling the Specs

Our test unit still wore a showroom sticker indicating a four and a half thousand dollar price tag and came equipped as follows: Suspension duties at 4 inches on each end were handled by a Fox Forx Float F100RLT (3.9 in) and a Fox Float RL (4 in) riding on Marinís Quad-link linkage. Braking was accomplished by Shimanoís XTR group (levers on down to hydraulic discs), with both derailleurs, chain rings, cassette, and cranks all coming from the XTR component bin as well. Easton provided such components as the Monkey Lite SL Carbon riser bar and EC 70 Carbon post. WTB Rocket V Ti saddle and Crank Brothers Eggbeaters rounded out the package. Mavic X717 wheels came wrapped in WTB Moto Raptors and our 6061 aluminum frame came in the medium (17.5 inch) size.

Quad-What?

The first thing that has likely snagged your attention (after the beautiful flat black color scheme) is likely the rear suspension design. It looks, well, too simple and clean to be anything other than a single pivot design, right? Wrong. A closer look reveals a hidden surprise; the axle itself has the ability to pop free of its holds and fully extend the shock with aggressive pedaling. Whatís really keeping the rear of the Marin suspended is a cleverly crafted (and well disguised) virtual pivot point 4-bar (parallel) linkage with an on-the-fly-adjusting wheel to shock ratio. Confused? Donít be, weíll get to all of this later.

Marin Mount Vision Pro
Frame 6061 Hydroformed Aluminum
Fork Fox Float 100RLT (100mm)
Shock Fox Float RL (4 in) riding on Marinís Quad-link linkage.
Wheels DT 240s/Mavic 717
Tires WTB MotoRaptor
Brakes/Brake Levers Shimano XTR
Crankset/BB Shimano XTR M960
Cassette Shimano XTR 9sp
Shifters Shimano XTR
Derailleurs (F&R) Shimano XTR
Handlebars Easton Monkeylite SL
Seatpost Easton Ec70
Contact Marin Bicycle Company - (800) 222-7557

Initial Impressions

Climbing into the Mount Vision Proís cockpit revealed a lot of what was to follow out on the trails. The bike feels light initially, so much so that our test riders found themselves bouncing the top tube between their thighs after stepping over. At 24 and a half pounds the Mount Vision is much lighter then its beefy exterior would indicate at a glance. Standing on the ground while looking over the Eastonís riser bar makes the Marin feel a bit more All Mountain in nature; wide bars, slack head angle, and some pretty mean looking tire tread. It isnít until sliding back onto the saddle that the bike begins to reveal itís more cross country inspired heritage; Eggbeater pedals, a rearward (1.5 in) offset seat post and long reach to the bars. We set up the suspension (which despite following Foxís explicit recommendations, still felt soft in the rear) and hit the trails.

Trail Talking

The Marinís light weight and flickable mannerisms made tossing it around the singletrack an absolute joy. Perhaps it was just us, but thanks to the rearwardly offsetting seat post, the reach to the bars felt a bit longer then necessary. Two test riders had commented that they found themselves compensating for this sensation by pedaling out of the saddle more often than theyíre used to. Other than those complaints, everyone reported enjoying the bikeís trail manners on the twisting hard pack. Technical terrain also favored the Fox Float suspension balance. A soft feeling rear end absorbed all but the largest boulders without pulling the fork too far into the top of its travel. In fact four inch combination surprised even our veteran All Mountain aficionados by offering a pretty progressive package.

Braking was spot on, although initial burn in gave the bike a few episodes of squeal. Just as we were about to check the alignment of the disc within the caliper, the noise mysteriously vanished and never resurfaced. Shifting was clean and precise (as weíre accustomed to with the Shimano XTR group) and even inspired an afternoonís worth of water crossings with our usually happy-to-be-dry testers.

So what about that Quad Link rear suspension we talked about earlier? As much as we wanted to write the system off as a sales gimmick, the reality is that it worked for us quite well. In plain English the system equates to a bike thatís wheelbase fluctuates instantaneously as the rear wheel passes over obstacles. On the trails this results in the feeling of rolling over square-edge surfaces rather than slamming into them. If you ride in the technical stuff, this system will pay dividends. The system also proved very valuable on both climbs and descents. Out of the saddle hammering never caused the Fox Float to bob and weave yet the suspension remained active (especially on high speed g-outs that usually gobble up all of the travel of our air sprung shocks). The only detectable downside to the Quad Link is that there is a slight tugging sensation that appears out on the flats. According to our research this is common and caused by the axleís ability to shift within its hold. Apparently when pedaling forces arenít severe enough to keep the axle centered, rearward motion of the axle causes the chain to slightly tug on the cranks. A small trade-off for all of the gains offered by the set-up? Absolutely.

What Do We Really Think?

We would be lying if we said that the Marin Mount Vision Pro didnít excite our staffers. Considering that the companyís name refers to Marin County California, there is a good deal of East Coast spunk alive in this shadowy sprinter. We have no malfunctions to report or equipment failures, even after forcing the Mount Vision down along a rock laden cliff face a dozen consecutive times. About the only complaint voiced by all of our testers was the pretty steep sticker price. We believe one test rider put it best: ďAt close to five grand, this beast is definitely beyond my budget, but it has got me considering the much more budget friendly Marin East Peak when it comes time to go shopping. The great functioning Fox Float/Quad Link system and less than half the price ($1,899). Who can argue with that?Ē
Certainly not us.