We here at Fun Outdoors are long-time Trek mountain bike users, so when the Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2 was announced, we were excited to try it out. After rigorous testing on various trails, we can definitively say this bike is our new favorite.
I’ve used a lot of mountain bikes over the years, and to be honest, many of them have started to blend together. I figured the Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2 would be similar to Trek 2 Gen 1, and in some ways, it is, but it’s also so much more.
For me, it’s the little things about this bike. There are so many improvements that seem minor but make a huge difference. The new air spring or 1x drivetrain, for instance.
Overall, while the Trek Marlin 8 is nothing groundbreaking, it’s clear to see how much of an improvement it is over its predecessor. It’s truly a bike for the modern rider.
Whether you are a regular mountain biker or want something a little sturdier for your commute, this bike will do the job.
If you want to know the full story behind why I find this bike so charming and why it has quickly become Trek’s most popular bike, keep reading to find out about all its nifty features.
You’ll want to check out this review if you’re looking for a new bike.
Trek Marlin 8 Overview
If you’re someone who usually scoffs when someone says: “This bike can do everything,” then get ready to scoff because this bike can do everything.
The Trek Marlin 8 is the most versatile mountain bike on the market. From winning races to getting to work, this bike can handle it.
It is a specialized mountain racing bike, yet it feels so at home on city streets. The secret to this lies in how easy the bike is to adjust. It’s a comfortable ride for any size rider, and here’s why.
While the Trek Marlin 8 has many new and interesting features, there are some standouts among them. Here are some of my favorite features of the Trek Marlin 8.
Internal Cable Routing
The internal cable routing is perhaps my favorite feature. I’ve seen other bikes do it before, but the Trek Marlin 8 does it with style.
To keep the cables clean and safe, they run inside the frame. The shift and brake cable enter the frame below the handlebar and pop back out only where they’re needed. The holes in the frame are small enough to keep out mud and dirt but large enough that they don’t choke the cables.
By running the cables through the frame, they get a longer lifespan and improve the overall look of the bike. There’s nothing to get caught on and nothing to get in the way of the sleek frame design.
If there’s one thing the Trek Marlin 8 is good at, it’s making all riders feel like pros. The extra features and easy-to-use systems allow anyone to make on-the-fly adjustments to their preference. The suspension lockout is just one example of this.
The suspension lockout allows riders to switch the fork to inactive. This means that the suspension is essentially on pause to allow for better pedaling efficiency.
This is a great feature for when you hit the straightaways and want to focus more on speed and pedaling than on bump reduction.
Easy Spring Adjustment
The Trek Marlin 8 uses the RockShox Solo air spring. Not only is this air spring lighter than a coil spring, but it’s also much simpler to use.
The RockShox Solo air spring allows the rider to perfectly balance the positive and negative for any weight and sag preference.
Through one valve, the rider can adjust the positive and negative pressure. A small dimple on the inside of the tube tells the rider when the pressure is even.
This one device reduces the amount of finicking and adjusting the rider has to do and allows riders of any size to achieve perfect balance.
The air spring is lightweight and only has one valve, meaning less can go wrong. Getting the fork tension right is a must for anyone looking to hit the trails; the RockShox Solo makes the process run more smoothly.
Streamlined 1x Drivetrain
For maximum efficiency, the Trek Marlin 8 uses a 1x drivetrain. This simplifies the overall design, reduces bulk and weight, and rids the bike of unnecessary gears.
While 1x drivetrains have fewer gears than the standard 2x or 3x, they also have much simpler designs and fewer moving parts.
The wide-range cassettes provide a comparable number of gears to 2x and 3x drivetrains, while the clutch-style rear derailleurs keep the chain steady on bumpy terrain, and the chainrings help hold the chain in place better.
This combination of technologies allows the 1x drivetrain to run smoothly through the optimal number of gears. Using fewer parts, 1x drivetrains are lighter, smaller, and less likely to break.
The Trek Marlin 8 has all the gears it needs and none of the extra weight or hassle that other bikes struggle with. The 1x system is a must for any good mountain bike.
Better Body Shape
The Trek Marlin 8 can accommodate more riders than ever with its unique new body design. This bike was made with everyone in mind, from young teens to larger adults.
The Trek Marlin 8 has seven frame size options, ranging from extra, extra small to extra, extra-large. While the regular frame’s top tube is already angled, sizes XXS-S have a curved top tube to allow for easier mounting.
The curving top tube starts in the same place but is angled down more steeply. It then curves upward to meet the seat tube in the same place as the regular frame. The curve’s plateau is lower than the straight top tube at its lowest point.
This new design feature allows even the smallest of riders to easily and comfortably mount the bike without getting caught on the top tube.
In addition to being easier to use, the Trek Marlin 8 frame also looks fabulous. The design is sleek and uniform, made from matching triangles rather than odd shapes. The frame is alpha silver aluminum to make it light yet strong. It sits perfectly between the wheels and grants tons of clearance to the front wheel.
The entire design is streamlined for maximum efficiency and style.
Trek Marlin 8 Alternatives
If, for some reason, you’re not entirely satisfied with the Trek Marlin 8, here are some other models I suggest taking a look at.
Trek X-Caliber Series
Trek’s X-Caliber series is like the Trek Marlin 8 but has a lighter, thinner frame for those riders looking to focus on speed.
These bikes are the perfect combination of a mountain bike and a racing bike; thin, sleek, yet sturdy and resilient.
Trek Roscoe Series
Trek’s Roscoe series is for riders that are looking for a burly bike that is more forgiving when handling rough terrains. These bikes had a sturdier frame and larger tires to ensure better grip and resilience.
The Trek Roscoe Series shares many features with the Trek Marlin series but works better for very rough terrains.
Specialized Rockhopper Expert
The Specialized Rockhopper Expert is comparable in price to the Trek Marlin 8 but focuses more on speed. The Specialized Rockhopper Expert also uses the RockShox Solo air spring, but there have been issues with the bike’s derailleur and shifting.
Giant Talon 2
The Giant Talon 2 is your typical mountain bike but is much more affordable. It’s made for single-track riders looking to climb faster and has better control over the downs. This bike has an ALUXX frameset and comes with an 80mm or 100mm suspension fork.
It’s more specialized than the Trek Marlin 8 and costs much less.
Shop the Marlin 8 and alternative bikes at Trek.com. Free shipping on orders of $49 or more.
The Trek Marlin 8 is the bike of champions. It is a top-tier mountain racing bike that can double as a casual expedition bike. It uses all the latest technologies like a 1x drivetrain and RockShox Solo air spring to deliver the best ride at an affordable price.
The frame comes in two variations and seven sizes to accommodate every rider, the cables run internally to keep them clean and safe, and all other bike parts have been streamlined to reduce weight and bulk.
This bike handles like a dream, and I couldn’t be happier with it. While it’s not a cheap bike, it’s very reasonably priced for the quality you’re getting. This bike is comparable to tricked-out custom rides but retails at a standard mountain bike price.
If you want a new mountain bike, I highly recommend the Trek Marlin 8. You can find it on Trek’s website or in person at Trek Bicycle stores.
Scott founded FunOutdoors to connect his professional life with his passions. When Scott isn’t working, you’ll find him on the bike trail, riding a wave, or skiing down a mountain.