Marin Pine Mountain 1
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2018 Marin Pine Mountain 1

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae
Date Sep 20, 2017

A hardtail? Who cares about hardtails? But it's a chromoly hardtail with bike packing versatility and solid trail geometry. And it retails for US $1299. With 27.5+ wheels and tires to compensate for the lack of rear boing. Is that worthy of your attention?

If you are looking for a solid bicycle to have around when your duallie isn't feeling perky and/or you'd like to be able to do some bike packing, this is a  relatively inexpensive way to get there. You should care about hardtails. 


That is a low-slung chromoly fastback seat stay cluster... on a bike that retails for US $1298. 

SLX 11-spd drivetrain. Solid. Shimano MT500 brakes. Bound to be solid. A Rock Shox Recon fork with 120mm of travel. Entirely serviceable. The bike is adorned with bosses for everything everywhere and the geometry, while hardly modern or ground breaking, will work great for most riders. 


Bottles for miles. Three cages for all your watering and camping needs. 

pine mountain

Bosses under your top tube for your frame bag. 


Rack mounts of course. And fender mounts. This bike is made for all sorts of adventures. 


The dropouts are one spot where it's clear this is a value frame. 


But they have multiple mounts for both fenders and a rack. And a nicely integrated brake mount. 

Pine Mountain Specs

Marin is becoming known for solid spec and execution on lower-priced bikes. Quality parts where it's important with corners cut appropriately. This bike gives off the aura of a Hyundai styled by BMW. 

A solid good looking bike that will leave cash in your wallet for upgrades or sweet riding trips. Do you know of a chromoly hardtail that would challenge the Pine Mountain 1 for the belt at a fighting weight under 1.3k? If so let us know. 

For more info on the bike click here...

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+4 Cooper Quinn Andrew Major Cam McRae ZigaK
RNAYEL  - Sept. 20, 2017, 5:15 a.m.

After reading this article, I'm convinced that Andrew Major is rubbing off on you Cam.  The only buzzword that you seem to be avoiding from Mandrew's vocabulary is Max-Min.

Cam McRae  - Sept. 20, 2017, 4:52 p.m.

Considering I'm the one who edits his work that's hardly a surprise. And his eye for thoughtful and well executed value products is certainly rubbing off on me!


dtimms  - Sept. 20, 2017, 6:43 a.m.

This looks pretty sweet. I would prefer a slacker HA and 29 instead of 27+. But I am in the market for a steel hardtail


Andrew Major  - Sept. 20, 2017, 2:57 p.m.

HTA would be the deal breaker for me as well. I like the lines of the frame otherwise.

I don't know for a fact but as all the Marin 27+ Dual FS bikes can fit a 29x2.5" wheel I'd be surprised if this didn't as well.

The 141x9mm "Boost QR" wheelset could be advantageous as well for a second bike since an axle swap should make any decent hub a 148x12mm Boost.


dtimms  - Sept. 20, 2017, 3:10 p.m.

Andrew - looking at Marin's website, the Nail Trail looks like what I wanted only it is aluminum. I wish they made the Nail Trail in steel. Still looks like a nice bike for the $. Dropper, decent fork for $1800.


Andrew Major  - Sept. 20, 2017, 3:49 p.m.

I can't say I've ridden any of Marin's aluminum hardtails but as a general rule my experience with the new Santa Cruz Chameleon made me rethink the place of an alloy hardtail. Much lighter than the equivalent steel frame that bike danced. Stiff front end but lots of give in the rear. It was not less comfortable than my (admittedly quite stiff) Kona Honzo.

Looking at the super small diameter seat stays I'd want to throw a leg over the Nail Trail before assuming it has the harsh ride of old aluminum hardtails.


Velocipedestrian  - Sept. 20, 2017, 5:45 p.m.

You could drop 1-1.5° with a works components headset. Got one in my Hardball and it made a big difference.


+1 Cam McRae
rvoi  - Sept. 20, 2017, 7:39 a.m.

How does the Recon fork perform? I would add a dropper post and probably upgrade that fork. Everything else looks butch!


+1 rvoi
Andrew Major  - Sept. 20, 2017, 2:48 p.m.

There are a few models of Recon. I road the Silver on the Marin Hawk Hill.

Thanks to steel stanchions, thru-axle and tapered steerer it is stiff enough. 

It was definitely worth the 10minutes to drop the lowers and Slickoleum the crap out of the seals and ensure there was adequate oil on both sides.

The SoloAir system works well but the damper is very basic and packs up easily. The secret with setup is to run the rebound damping as fast as you can handle it with ~25% sag.

I'd say the Recon Silver is about as cheap a fork as I'd call rideable for 'real' technical trails. It was totally fine on Blue Shore trails at a reasonable clip and with judicious line choice. 

I road it regularly down Neds, Severed and 7th/Leopard/CC/Kirkfird.

I would certainly choose to ride a higher end fork  (X-Fusion Trace RL would be my personal entry point) but when you consider that a complete Recon sells for less than a replacement CSU for any of the boutique models.


+1 Cam McRae
ZigaK  - Sept. 20, 2017, 12:13 p.m.

It's not steel, but Cannondale Cujo comes pretty close.


+1 RoxLady
mjl1972  - Sept. 22, 2017, 3:55 p.m.

hmm. I'd been eyeing up one of the new 27.5+ Surly Karate Monkeys, with the intention of being able to swap in a suspension fork and a pair of 29" wheels as and when the mood took me - 27.5+ and bouncy forks for trails with my 8 year old, 29" wheels for the bikepacking I keep promising myself that I'll do. That looks like quite an expensive option compared to the Pine Mountain, being as the KM comes with rigid forks (completes are they're at $1500 USD now).  Am I missing something? Is the KM frame that much better?  Components appear to be pretty much equivalent quality..


Igor Kostirev  - Nov. 8, 2017, 9:30 a.m.

Has anybody taken this bike to a heavy loaded ride?

Looking at those thin seat stays I wonder if it can handle heavy weight.


+1 RoxLady
Bobby S  - May 25, 2018, 2:56 p.m.


RoxLady  - May 27, 2018, 10:12 a.m.

Ideal for long trails and camping. Bought one just like this, and it's been the best bike I've had so far. It can hold some serious weight. I have a backpack full of camping gear on me when I ride.


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