In this Trek Marlin review the 2022 models face off in a head-to-head comparison to see which Marlin model is the best value, and best for your riding level. The Trek Marlin is a popular XC hardtail mountain bike, and it’s popular for good reason.
Trek is one of the biggest names in cycling, and their bikes are considered to be some of the highest quality in both professional and amateur cycling. It’s a reputation they back up by offering a limited lifetime warranty on their bike frames.
At the end of this Trek Marlin review is an overall rating used to determine the Riding With Ryan Mountain Bike of the Year. Spoiler Alert: The Trek Marlin didn’t win, but it is the highest rated XC hardtail on the list.
Best Trek Marlin Model
The best Trek Marlin model varies depending on budget. Beginners with low budgets will appreciate the Marlin 4 price point, while enthusiasts already in love with the sport will appreciate the high quality components on the Marlin 8. Here is a breakdown of each model in 2022, and how it differs from other models in the Trek Marlin lineup.
2022 Trek Marlin 4
This year a Trek Marlin 4 costs $619.99, and it comes in two color options. Bike prices have been increasing with most manufacturers. The price of the Marlin 4, while higher than past years, is still fair for the bike you are getting.
According to Trek, the 2022 Marlin 4 weighs 31.75 lbs. Weight on mountain bikes isn’t a worry point like it is for roadies, but XC mountain bikes need to be light and efficient. In addition, Trek markets this bike as a knobby tire commuter. The Marlin 4 weight is considered low for a bike at this price point in the commuter and XC disciplines.
2022 Trek Marlin 4 bikes are spec’d with two tire sizes, which is likely due to global supply chain issues coming into the year. XS and S frames come with 27.5 x 2.2 inch tires. Sizes medium and up come with 29 x 2.2 or 29 x 2.0 inch tires. The 2.0 tire is perfect for commuters, while a 2.2 inch tire will be better suited for the mountain bikers.
The bike looks clean thanks to internal cable routing. While Shimano Tourney is the entry-level group for Shimano MTB components, it is reliable and beginners will love it.
The front fork is also entry-level, and it’s the weak point on this bike. Owners will enjoy the 100mm of travel provided by the SR Suntour XCE 28 fork, but commuters will hate the lack of a lockout. Without a lockout on the front fork climbing will be harder than it needs to be for mountain bikers too.
2022 Trek Marlin 5
The 2022 Trek Marlin 5 costs $719.99. It’s a $100 price increase over the 4, but you definitely get some upgrades for your money. In addition to upgrades, there are double the color options. The Volt to Miami Green Fade is my personal favorite.
You shave almost a pound in weight by upgrading from the Marlin 4 to the Marlin 5. This year the weight released by Trek for Marlin 5 is 30.81 lbs.
In addition to weight savings, you get upgraded brakes. The Marlin 4 has mechanical disc brakes, while the Marlin 5 is upgraded to a smoother feeling hydraulic disc brake. It is a noticeable improvement in comfort when slowing down or stopping quickly.
The final big upgrade from Marlin 4 to Marlin 5 is the fork. The Marlin 5 comes with SR Suntour XCT 30, and it includes a hydraulic lockout. The hydraulic lockout alone makes this bike worth the extra cost over the Marlin 4. It makes a huge difference when climbing.
2022 Trek Marlin 6
The 2022 Trek Marlin 6 costs $849.99, which is a $130 increase over the Marlin 5. The Marlin 6 comes with four unique color options, with Factory Orange leading the way in style.
There is a slight increase in weight from Marlin 5 to Marlin 6. The 2022 Marlin 6, according to Trek, weighs 31.11 lbs. The weight increase likely comes from from upgrade to Deore. The rear derailleur has a built-in chain tensioner, and even though the group weighs more, its a much higher quality than the Shimano Altus on Marlin 5.
There are no other worthwhile upgrades, so the $130 price increase for a groupset-only change seems steep. The benefits to Shimano Deore in addition to the rear derailleur clutch are smoother shifting all the time, and more reliability when shifting on the bumpy stuff.
Of the four models in this 2022 Trek Marlin review, the Marlin 6 is the sweet spot balancing performance and. price. Its not the best value in the lineup, that honor goes to the Marlin 5 this year, but it gives beginners an opportunity to ride with better components.
2022 Trek Marlin 8
Top of the line in the Marlin lineup is the 2022 Trek Marlin 8. It comes with a price tag of $1,329.99. The higher price gets you sweet upgrades over lower priced models.
The 2022 Trek Marlin 8 is the lightest Marlin in the lineup at 29.1 lbs. There are many weight classifications out there, but for XC bikes 32 lbs is considered middle weight, which puts the Marlin 8 in the lightweight category.
The best upgrade on this bike from Marlin 6 to Marlin 8 is the front fork. You go from SR Suntour to a Rockshox Judy Silver, Solo Air spring. Its the same 100mm of travel included on all Marlin bikes sized small and larger. The XS and XXS bikes have 80mm of travel.
In addition to the fork upgrade, the Marlin 8 gets a huge upgrade on the drivetrain too. The bike comes with SRAM’s SX Eagle groupset, including a 1×12 drivetrain. Shifting on this bike is buttery smooth, even when the trail starts to get rough.
Trek Marlin Pros
The Marlin comes in below average for weight compared to other XC hardtails in this price range. Bike weight is not a hot topic for XC mountain bikers like it is for road cyclists, but its a feature worth paying attention to. At the end of the say, a similarly equipped bike that weighs more will be harder to pedal uphill.
With drivetrain options ranging from Shimano Tourney to Sram Eagle, there is a Marlin for every riding level. On the low end of the price spectrum you have an affordable Marlin 4, and at the top end you have a trail capable Marlin 8 spec’d with top of the line components for under $1,500. That makes the Marlin an incredible value for the price.
The key features on this bike are practical for the price. If there is room for improvement it would be on bike storage. There are plenty of mounts for racks, but Checkpoint and Domane bikes with carbon frames have downtube storage. It would be a cool add-on that would separate Marlin from all other bikes in its class.
Trek Marlin Cons
Unfortunately, a fair bike review also means bringing up features of the bike that are bad. This Trek Marlin review is no different. The front fork on the Marlin 4, 5 and 6 is from SR Suntour. It keeps the price down, but you also get what you pay for in the mountain bike world. In other words, durability may be an issue long term.
The Marlin 4 and 5 desperately need a chain tensioner added. Its a quick and easy fix thanks to this Quintessentialz Chain Guide on Amazon for less than $15 bucks. (Check Current Price on Amazon Here). It may not look like much, but a chain guide will keep your bike’s shifting performance working better for longer.
Aside from a few minor issues with lower priced models, there is not much to complain about. I’ve seen first hand the abuse these bikes take and they keep running.
Trek Marlin Overall Rating
Overall, the Marlin scores an 84/100. The lineup features something for everyone from the entry level price point of the Marlin 4, to the Rockshox Judy fork on the trail capable Marlin 8.
The 2022 Trek Marlin is rated No. 1 in the XC hardtail category of this year’s Mountain Bike of the Year rankings.
The rating criteria in this Trek Marlin review are weight in class, drivetrain, value for price and key features.
Learn more about the best way to equip the Trek Marlin from these bike accessory reviews.