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Marin Quake AL7

Marin Quake AL7

Bluebell killer...

>THE TECH

For years Marin cut themselves a furrow in the single pivot field, but over the past few years they’ve sneaked in a few extra pivots. I say ‘sneaked’ because at first from a distance they looked almost identical to the old bikes, but there’s no mistaking what’s going on with the new Quake. At its heart is the XLT Quad-Link system, as Marin like to call it, which is in reality a four pivot, floating swingarm design. It may look completely different to bikes like the Giant and Iron Horse, but actually it’s of the same ilk. You’ve got an ultra stiff swingarm with no sign of any pivots, which is then attached to the front triangle via two short linkages. It may all be in a different place, but the effect is the same, you end up with a floating pivot point.

As we’ve already said before, once you’ve decided to go down the floating pivot point road you’ve then got to decide what you actually want to achieve. The possibilities are almost endless, and so it’s not surprising that we’ve already seen so many different takes on the design. It seems that out and out suspension performance was at the top of Marin’s wish list when they first sat down at their drawing board, but thankfully they didn’t forget that someone has actually got to pedal the thing too. They firmly believe that most other suspension systems disrupt a bikes forward momentum by moving directly upwards, or even forwards, upon impact with any form of obstacle. In simple speak, a loss in forward momentum simply means a loss in speed, which as anyone knows is not what you want. The only way that you can get around this problem is by having an axle path that moves backwards upon impact with any obstacle, and then up and over it. This means that the wheelbase of the bike increases as the suspension compresses, it’s not by a massive amount, but Marin believe it’s enough to make a difference, and they are definitely not alone in that way of thinking. If you took this idea to the extreme you’d soon end up with massive chain feedback problems due to the change in chain length, but thankfully Marin have kept it within reason. The fact that this bike comes complete with a DHX shock means that you can dial out any bobbing without much of a loss in suspension performance anyway.

The Quake is only available in two sizes, with the only difference being an extra inch of top tube on the medium. Whatever size you choose, you will have the option of tweaking both the head angle and BB height via the two different mounting positions for the rear linkage. Unlike some other adjustable frames this adjustment isn’t so course that you’re only likely to ever use one setting, it merely changes the head angle by a single degree. At the end of each of the linkages you’ll find what has become something of a Marin trademark, exceptionally high quality bearings. They have enough confidence in these to be able to offer a 10 year warranty against wear. If you’ve ever been in the unfortunate position of having to replace all the bearings on a multi-pivot bike, you’ll no doubt know that often you’ll be lucky to see much change out of £100! If you’re going to be putting in some serious miles then this bike has the potential to save you a fortune. Other welcome features include a full length seat tube, which means that this bike does at least give you a fighting chance of getting up any killer climbs, and replaceable dropouts which allow you to run either a standard QR set-up or a 150 x 12mm clamp-thru hub.

Finally, this particular model that we’ve tested comes complete with air springs all around and some sensibly weight conscious components, but if you can only ever really see yourself pointing this bike downwards, then the slightly cheaper but just as well spec’d CL7 may be more your thing with its coil springs and burlier rims. Ed.

>THE RIDE

The name Marin in Monmouthshire (and many other counties) seems to create quite a bit amusement between some riders. I’ve never quite got it because performance wise many riders have raced the brand at the highest level in both downhill and cross-country. Those were simple single pivot bikes back in the nineties and when I saw the Quad for the first time at the Megavalanche in Peru it seemed liked the company were putting renewed effort into descending.

Marin Quake AL7

Last year we were (and still are) hugely impressed with the Whyte 46, many people still see it as the ultimate long travel trail bike. You cannot really disagree with them unless heavy duty timed descending is your dap, in which case the angles needed slackening a touch and slab of beef added here and there, but it’s a brilliant all rounder. This bike has been designed by the same man who created the 46, Jon Whyte, but weighted more towards the rider spending time on descents. Sat on team rider Mike Jones’s Quad in South America it all seemed to feel just right, and so a call to ATB Sales in Brighton delivered one to our doorstep. Well it wasn’t quite like that. Paul Lasenby (the first person to win a national cross country title on a dual suspension bike) actually delivered the bike and spent the day doing shuttle runs.

There were some issues from the outset, although Lasenby didn’t seem too bothered and was pulling some quick times on the test bike that came with a long stem. At 36lbs and with seven inches of travel the stem needs to be short and low to position the rider rearwards of the bike due to a long chainstay but relatively short wheelbase. This cures any nervousness and running the bike in the lower bottom bracket setting gives a far better steering characteristic.

It would be all too easy to categorise this bike as either a long travel trail bike or a bike leaning more towards the downhill. In fact it is neither. It is simply a fun bike to go out riding on. Now having ridden both Shaums March’s bike in Fort William and Lasenby’s 33lb version it has highlighted the need for very careful set up and the fact that when done correctly it can have huge benefits. The bike is quite impressive.
It’s difficult not to compare however. Harder on the brain than the two previous six inch bikes tested, the Nomad and the Intense 6.6, in terms of set up and riding position, in the higher setting it is less unpredictable than either of those bikes or the Giant Reign in the suspension department. The longer than average rear end of the bike requires a touch of body correction on descents but to be fair the bike can be ridden pretty bloody fast. A longer wheelbase would turn the bike into a full on downhill bike. I was left wondering how it would feel with a set of triple clamps up front.

This I think highlighted what use Jon Whyte had for this bike; something great at descending but with an ability to climb with a sharp handling that enables riders to ride skinnies and other man made log articles in the woods. Lasenby is now a full on convert to such action and his more rounded build of the bike with carbon components makes for an easier bike to ride – he could go for longer rides and yet still do the big drops on the Henley shore. Makes sense.

As always it all comes down to what you do with this bike. It’s quite specialist in that respect. If you’re not in too much of a hurry then it will do everything marvellously well for you. The suspension that Whyte has designed works as good if not better than the Nomad and 6.6 and will allow you to ride over rocks as big as you like, “Fridge” sized ones as even! The capability of the rear end over rough ground is very, very good.
Overall there did not seem to be many issues with the bike, adjusting the Boost Valve is a fair old fiddle but I guess that’s a case of set and forget, or you could fit a simpler shock. There were no concerns over sizing, componentry or quality, all good stuff. The rear ride characteristic was easy and the stability of the rear was good. There were many good things, but we found it really unavoidable to compare with other bikes of similar travel and geometry and the fact that some of those bikes, including the Reign, Nomad and Enduro are not far off perfect. Which is a shame because they needed a challenger. Fit slightly bigger forks to this bike however and it becomes a different story. Steve Jones.

>SPEC

Frame: QUAKE, 6061 QUAD XLT 6.9” TRAVEL
Rear Shock: FOX DHX AIR 5.0

Fork: FOX 36 TALAS RC2

Headset: FSA PIG DH PRO

Stem: FSA FR 200, OVERSIZE

Bars: TRUVATIV HOLZFELLER, 35mm RISE

Grips: WTB WEIRWOLF

Shifters: SHIMANO XT

Rear Mech: SHIMANO XT

Front Mech: SHIMANO XT

Brakes: HAYES EL CAMINO

Hubs: WTB LASER DISC SUPER DUTY (F), LASER DISC LITE (R)

Rims: WTB DUAL DUTY FREERIDE 32h

Tyres: WTB TIMBER WOLF, 2.3”

Chainset: TRUVATIV HOLZFELLER DH, 32/22 WITH E-THIRTEEN DRS

BB: TRUVATIV HOWITZER XR

Cassette: SRAM PG-980

Chain: SHIMANO HG-73

Seatpost: FSA FR 270

Saddle: WTB PURE V RACE

Sizes: SMALL OR MEDIUM

Price: £2995 COMPLETE, £1290 FRAME ONLY

For years Marin cut themselves a furrow in the single pivot field, but over the past few years they’ve sneaked in a few extra pivots. I say ‘sneaked’ because at first from a distance they looked almost identical to the old bikes, but there’s no mistaking what’s going on with the new Quake. At its heart is the XLT Quad-Link system, as Marin like to call it, which is in reality a four pivot, floating swingarm design. It may look completely different to bikes like the Giant and Iron Horse, but actually it’s of the same ilk.

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