Marin Bikes Mount Vision 9 2019 Mountain Bike Review

Marin Bikes Mount Vision 9 2019

Reviews / Enduro Bikes

Marin Bikes 43,235

At A Glance

Marin returns once more with a Naild equipped bike aiming to create the ultimate trail bike. Marin now has two R3ACT - 2 Play bikes in the range: the Wolf Ridge, which is a 160mm fast and light trail bike; and the Mount Vision we have here, a 150mm do-it-all trail bike for harder hitting applications. That's right, travel no longer dictates application for a bike, so the shorter travel Mount Vision, in this instance, is the burlier bike.

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It’s a full carbon, unapologetically expensive superbike designed to be everything you could want from a mountain bike. 150mm travel front and rear is delivered by a Fox 36 up front and an X2, via the Naild suspension, at the rear end. Essentially the R3ACT - 2 Play system is a single pivot on a slider, which gives exceptional pedalling characteristics without compromising on sensitivity or plush travel.

The frame is full carbon and shares some similarities with the Wolf Ridge but has an added linkage to improve stiffness and runs on 650b wheels. The numbers stack up as a modern trail bike with a 65-degree head angle, short 420mm chainstays and a 75-degree effective seat tube angle.

The Mount Vision comes in three models, the 8, 9 and Pro. All feature the same frame, but receive component upgrades as you move up the numbers. The 9 featured here gets Fox suspension in Performance guise, Stan's Sentry wheels and a SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain with Descendent carbon cranks. Tyres are WTB 2.6 Trail Boss and the cockpit is the always comfortable Deity bar and stem. KS cover the dropper post at 150mm and brakes are Shimano XT 4 pots.

At $6,799.99 USD it's plenty of cash, but happily in line with other superbikes out there.

On The Trail

The first conversation to be had about one of these bikes is the look, but as far as I'm concerned, if you're riding the bike, you're not looking at it and the issue is removed. So that's where I'll leave that discussion.

More importantly, the back end is like nothing else, and with the increased stiffness of the Mount Vision it really shines through. I've been riding plenty of cross-country bikes recently and the pedalling feel and efficiency hold up to be comparable with them easily. This is a 150mm bike that accelerates better than any other trail/enduro bike I have ridden.

Technical climbs are again superb fun with the Mount Vision. I've mentioned it before, but the R3ACT - 2 Play system remains plush from below whilst providing a consistent feel through the pedals. This means that out of the seat climbing over rough ground is made easy and I consistently surprised myself with the things I was able to claw my way up.

The only issue with climbing was the slack (actual rather than effective) seat angle and dropper post. The KS post only just allowed me to get the saddle level with the ground, and the bike is so good at climbing I just wanted to drop the nose a little to fine tune my climbing position and this wasn't possible. To be clear, the seat position in relation to the pedals is good with a steep seat angle, it's just the saddle angle itself. Whilst on the subject of posts, a 170mm drop would have been a nice touch on the XL.

So climbing is where it's at for the Mount vision for sure, both in terms of efficiency and rapid acceleration into technical sections. The nimble feel of the ride allowing some pokey and imaginative lines up boulder fields whilst channelling my inner Chris Akrigg.

On flowing trails and singletrack the rapid acceleration and amazing pedalling lead to a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The bike tracks the ground beautifully and feels low slung and stable through the corners with the back end extending under load and balancing out the wheelbase.

Once things got steeper, the trail bike nature of the Mount Vision came through and reminded me that it wasn't an enduro bike. The 65-degree head angle is a great asset for when things get steep, but the bike lacks the length to give stability at speed over rough ground or super steep tracks. That being said, the low bottom bracket and good head angle allow you to attack most things with the confidence that a modern trail bike should offer.

The back end does a great job of smoothing out nearly all trail features, but get the speed up and send it through chattery terrain of endless small boulders and it struggles to keep things as composed as in other scenarios. It's not bad, but not as buttery smooth through the small and fast hits as it is elsewhere.

In terms of suspension set up, I was running maximum pressure in the X2 and I'm 95kg, so I do wonder what the solution is for those heavier than me. I also found I had to run more than recommended sag to get full travel, which further exacerbated some issues with the low slung frame.

Through rocky terrain, I was made aware of just how much frame was sticking out around the bottom bracket area. Numerous times I smacked the frame into rocks, nearly always at low speeds, and though it never caused an issue I did find it unnerving. The frame is covered and reinforced in this area, but is a consideration on very rocky trails.

Hopping and jumping the Mount Vision requires a little recalibration as the back wheel does enjoy hugging the ground and needs a little more persuasion to get airborne, but this is easily adapted to and the pop returns. It's a testament to how well the rear end follows the ground, and how different it is to other designs.

Trying to define the bike is more tricky than its travel or head angle would suggest and Marin wisely steer clear of any firm definitions. Essentially it is an exceptionally efficient and versatile modern trail bike.  The bike came with me on a recent trip to the Pyrenees, where the quality, quantity and difficulty of the trails were unknown. With that in mind, it was absolutely the best choice, able to soak up gnarly French switchbacks equally as well as long gruelling road climbs.

Overall

The Mount Vision is the continuing evolution of a truly great suspension system matched with a thoroughly modern trail bike. An incredibly versatile bike, it can turn it's hand to anything and cover the ground like nothing else.

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This review was in Issue 59 of IMB.

For more information visit Marin Bikes

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By Ewen Turner
Ewen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.

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