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Review Of The Trek Marlin 5 — Hardtail Mountain Bike



October 28, 2020

If you’re looking for recommendations for a new trek bike, you’ll probably keep hearing about the Trek Marlin 5. Moreover, whether you’re just starting out as a rider, or are looking to trade in your 2nd hand used MTB for a new, more dependable one — this bike could be the perfect option for you. However, beginners in particular can be confused by all of the technical details and what they mean to you as a rider.

Trek have a number of very popular bikes, such as the Trek Marlin 7 Hardtail MTB and the Trek 3500 HardtaiL MTB.

If you’re looking for an in-depth review to help you learn all about the Trek Marlin 5 bike, and whether it’s the perfect one for you — keep reading. In this Trek Marlin 5 review, you’ll learn all about the features, benefits and specifications of the bike. Hopefully, by the end you’ll have a firm grasp of the capabilities of this bike, and whether it’s the best choice for you.

Main Features

Trek Marlin 5 is one of the more popular beginner-friendly models from the brand’s selection, as it’s known as one of the best-valued mountain bikes overall. Also, Marlin Trek bikes are some of the most popular out there for beginner riders. Marlin 5, in particular, can be a great companion for all of your riding adventures – both on and off the trail.

Some of the most conspicuous features of this bike are its hydraulic disk brakes, comfortable front suspension, as well as an alpha silver aluminium frame. Moreover, with a front suspension fork with 100mm of travel, rear kickstand mount, and 21 speeds, it’s often the bike of choice for those who prioritize a stable, comfortable riding experience. If you’re not sure what all of these features really mean, or why they make a difference in your riding experience, let’s go into more detail about each of them.

You will find similar options with the Polygon Siskiu D7 MTB.

marlin 5 in the bush

The Alpha Silver Aluminum Frame

Marlin Trek 5’s alpha silver aluminium frame provides the bike with lightness, good preloaded G2 geometry, and excellent performance on various kinds of terrains. This is a great feature as it gives the bike great versatility in addition to its smooth design. Finally, as there are multiple frame sizes, you can adjust the frame to your needs by choosing between larger frames (M, ML) and smaller frame sizes (XS, S).

The Fork

When it comes to the front suspension forks, Trek Marlin 5 features one of the more basic options. You can choose between the fork SR Suntour XCE 28 coil or the SR Suntour XC, which offers 100 mm of travel, and is perfect for most 29ers.

Although the fork may not be the strongest point of the Marlin 5, it’s more than the reasonable option at this price range. Moreover, unless you plan on embarking on considerably rough terrains, you won’t have to upgrade your Marlin 5 with a more expensive fork.

Main Specs:

  • Fork SR Suntour XCE 28, coil spring, preload,
  • G2 Geometry with 51mm offset on 29ers.

Bontrager Wheels and Tires

Trek Marlin 5’s formula DC20 alloy rear and front hubs and wheels are what gives that great riding experience on different types of terrains. A Trek Marlin 5 comes with 27.5 (for XS and S sizes) or 29-inch wheels, so you have the space to choose the perfect size for you, depending on your height. With this bike, you’ll have all of the space you need to find the ideal wheel size, as they range from M to XXL. Moreover, the Bontrager tires will surely work perfectly for all of your commutes, as well as the somewhat rougher trailing terrains.

When it comes to choosing the wheels and tires for mountain biking, most entry-level riders nowadays tend to go with a 27 5 inch wheels. However, the 29 wheels diameter can enrich your riding experience with greater stability and control — especially when it comes to the trail riding. Also, 32 double rims Bontrager connection will ensure a smooth ride on your commutes and treks. All that being said, it’s important to note that you ought to choose the wheels and tires that best fit your needs, as well as the current state of your bike.

Main Specs:

  • Come as 27.5 or 29ers,
  • Front Hub – formula DC 20, alloy,
  • Rear Hub – formula DC 27, alloy,
  • Rim – Bontrager Connection, 32 hole double walled,
  • Stainless steel spokes.

Size and Weight

Most Trek Marlin 5 bikes tend to weigh around 32.17 lbs(with head tubes) and come with a 13.5 -18.5-inch frame. Additionally, some parts of the Merling 5 are adjustable, so they can best fit into the rider’s style, needs, and preferences. Because the wheel and frame come in different options, the bike’s size and weight can vary.

For example, the alpha silver aluminium frame can make the bike lighter, while the wheels and tires (which tend to be on the heavier side) will add to its weight. It’s also important to note that, when it comes to the bike’s weight limit, Marling 5 can sustain around 300 pounds (126 kg) with its own weight included.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Maybe the shiniest and most significant improvements since the Marlin 4 model (which had mechanical disc brakes) are hydraulic disc brakes that the Marlin 5 features. They add immensely to the precision and control of a mountain bike and make a huge difference in the overall quality and performance of the ride. This feature isn’t usually seen in entry-level bikes, which makes the Trek Marlin 5 one of a kind.

Moreover, the Tektro HD 276 short reach lever can be connected to various frame sizes, and help adjust to a rider’s height. Thus, they will help shorter riders, and riders with smaller hands control their bike easier.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes Specs:

  • Brakes Tektro HD-275 hydraulic disc,
  • HD 276 short-reach brake levers.

close up of mountain bike disc brakes

Shimano Tourney Components

The entire Marlin 5 drivetrain is composed of Shimano parts. Moreover, along with the most prominent Shimano Tourney components, Marlin 5 also contains Shimano Altus parts which are the top level of quality when it comes to Shimano production. Additionally, both rear and front derailleurs come with Shimano Altus M310 7 speed shifters.

Another great feature of the Marlin 5 is that it comes with Shimano Tourney front components and rear derailleurs. Although these are thought of as entry-level components, rear derailleur Shimano Tourney TY300 could offer the perfect experience for all types of riders. So, whether you prefer riding on trails, or just need an excellent commute bike, you likely won’t go wrong with the Trek Marlin 5.

The Drivetrain Overview:

Shifters: Shimano Altus M310, 7 speed,

Front derailleur: Shimano Tourney TY300,

Rear derailleur: Shimano TourneyTY300,

Crank: Shimano Tourney TY301, 42/34/24,

Chain: KMC Z51,

Cassette: Shimano HG200, 12-32, 7 speed,

Bottom bracket: Sealed cartridge, 73mm,

Pedals: VP 536 nylon platform,

Frame: Alpha silver aluminum,

Tires: Bontrager XR2,

Grips: Bontrager XR endurance.

Bontrager Arvada bike saddles significantly contribute to the overall comfort and accessibility of Trek Marlin 5. Moreover, this is precisely the reason why the bike is such a great option for daily commutes.

Along with Shimano parts, Marlin Trek 5 is composed of Bontrager alloy 2 bolt head seat post, Bontrager Arvada saddle, handlebar, and grips. The combination of these Shimano and Bontrager parts will ensure an optimal riding experience, for all types of drivers and several kinds of trails.

Riding Performance

The Trek Marlin 5 is perfect for lighter trail riding, bike parks, XC, DH, and of course, daily commutes. You can ride the Trek Marlin 5 on tougher terrains, but its performance may not be what you need it to be. However, as the Trek Marlin 5 is an entry-level bike, it might not meet the criteria for technically more demanding ventures and trails. Should you want to make the most of your bike, ride the more challenging trails and make greater jumps, you could always upgrade your Marlin 5 bike.

All of that being said, the customer reviews for this bike are quite promising. Many people claim that this is the perfect bike for commuters and casual riders. Moreover, riders boast the bike’s affordability, as well as comfortable design which is partly due to the saddle Bontrager, seat post, HD 276 short reach grips, and spring preload G2 geometry.

The Material and Make

The Trek Marlin 5 bikes are made of aluminium alloy, which allows it to stay on the lighter side while being sturdy and reliable at the same time. The material and make allow the bike to be quite durable. However, if you want your bike to last longer, you ought to consider investing in a brake mount rack. If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty of the materials and make, here’s a quick overview of the Trek Marlin 5’s components and specs.

Alloy Components:

  • Formula DC-20 front hub,
  • Formula DC-27 rear hub,
  • Bontrager seatpost,
  • Bontrager handlebar,
  • Stem Bontrager alloy 31.

Price vs. Value

When we’re talking about a mountain bike which is perfectly suited for daily commutes and some rough terrains, it doesn’t get much better than the Marlin 5. Moreover, thanks to its features and design, this is a great entry-level XR trek S mountain bike, that will likely be able to accompany you on most of your adventures.

However, even this model is not without its flaws, and some models in a similar price range may outshine it. All that being said, the Marlin 5 will give you everything you need from an entry-level bike, and you can always upgrade it if you need to.


  • Quality frame,
  • Low price,
  • Great style,
  • Versatile usability,
  • Hydraulic disc brakes,
  • 7-degree Blendr compatible,
  • Decreased standover height.


  • Tourney gears,
  • Heavy fork SR Suntour,
  • Not the best beginner frame geometry,
  • Entry-level components.

Marlin 5 vs. Marlin 6

Both of these mountain bikes would make a great purchase. Marlin 6 is $100 more expensive than its predecessor, but is it really worth the price?

Well, that depends on what you plan on using the bike for. As we mentioned, Trek Marlin 5 is an entry-level, great bike which will likely be sufficient for your daily commutes and certain trails. Also, the bike’s hydraulic disc brakes, lightweight alpha silver aluminium frame, flexible adjustment of tires and wheels make it a standout from the rest of the bikes at this level.

However, the Marlin 6 is made for off-road driving and features a suspension fork that locks out, as well as a smoother-shifting 2×8 drivetrain. It also comes with rack and kickstand mounts, perfect for the more adventurous riders. Marlin 5 does lack some customization and upgrade possibilities that come with the newer model, Marlin 6. So, if you’re looking for a bike that will allow you to go on all trails and do some crazy acrobatics, you ought to consider getting the Trek Marlin 6.

Is Marlin 5 The Perfect Bike For You?

First and foremost, knowing if a mountain bike is a good choice for you means understanding your expectations and priorities. If you want a safe, reliable entry-level bike in a reasonable price range, you truly can’t go much better than the Marlin 5. From being comfortable and stable for long daily rides to embarking on your first mountain bike off-road expeditions, the Trek Marlin 5 will likely always meet your expectations.

Also, if you don’t intend on riding it on extremely tough terrains, you will never have to worry about damaging the bike or even upgrading it. Moreover, the whole design of this bike from frame and fork, to wheels and saddle are oriented toward a perfect mix of day-to-day and adventurous expeditions.

While the Marlin 5 does have some downsides and comes with some entry-level parts, the overall make on this bike truly is superb. Moreover, the TY300 rear derailleur Shimano components are typically only seen in more expensive models and are a true rarity at this price point. Finally, the Marlin 5, unlike specialized models, is designed to suit a wide array of people, and that’s where the bike’s true beauty lies.

Final Verdict

It is time to conclude our Trek Marlin 5 review. When it comes to choosing a real mountain bike, there’s hardly a universally good choice that will work for everyone. However, Merlin 5 offers a very versatile array of features and modifications that can be beneficial to both novice and expert drivers alike.

On top of that, the quality of the Trek Marlin 5 offers the best performance you can expect at this price range. The bottom line is, if you’re a first-time buyer and have a budget of around $550, Trek Marlin 5 might be the perfect choice for you. You can also see our article on the top Trek ebikes for 2021.

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About the author 

Beastie Bikes Pete

Hi I'm Pete. I'm a passionate mountain biker in Australia. I enjoy writing about biking as much as doing it......almost!

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