Trek is a well-established cycling brand with many years of engineering behind its bikes. Thanks to its large dominance in the cycling industry, Trek can offer quality bikes at an affordable price. One of their most versatile bikes that comes at a reasonable price is the Trek Marlin 4. Even at a budget price, Is the Trek Marlin 4 a Good Bike in 2022-2023?
The Trek Marlin 4 is an entry-level mountain bike that’s designed to be an all-around performer. Built on a rigid aluminum frame, the Marlin 4’s most significant features are 2.2 Inch tires, 100mm of coil spring suspension in the front, and cable disc brakes front and rear. This bike is capable of trail riding, while also feeling efficient on the road. The overall construction of the Marlin 4 is very high-quality and it is going to last many years to come.
Who it’s for
The Trek Marlin 4 is a very well-rounded bike and is suitable for new riders who want to do some trail riding while doubling as a rugged commuting bike. Not only does it have a great 21-speed gear range that is great for the road, but it also has rack and fender mount points in case you want add-ons to enhance your commute.
For mountain biking, the aluminum frame and coil spring fork may feel a little stiff, but is still a great entry point that will fit the budget better than other options. The disc brakes also provide superior performance to rim brakes and are a great feature for mountain biking.
Trek Marlin 4 Specs
- Frame: Alpha Silver Aluminum, rack & fender mounts, 135x5mm QR
- Fork: SR Suntour M-3030, coil spring, preload, 100mm QR, 75mm travel
- Wheelset: 29” (27.5 for XS & S) Bontrager Connection; Alloy hubs
- Tires: Bontrager XR2 Comp, wire bead, 30tpi
- Shifters: Shimano Altus EF500, 7 speed
- Front derailleur: Shimano Tourney TY500, 34.9mm clamp, top swing, dual pull
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Tourney TY300, long cage, 34T max cog
- Crank: Shimano Tourney TY301, 42/34/24
- Cassette: Shimano TZ500, 14-28, 7 speed
- Pedals: VP-536 nylon platform
- Saddle: Bontrager Arvada, steel rails, 138mm width
- Seatpost: Bontrager alloy, 27.2mm, 12mm offset
- Handlebar: Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 5mm rise
- Stem: Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree
- Headset: Semi-integrated, 1-1/8″
- Brakeset: Tektro MD-M280 mechanical disc, 160mm rotor
The Trek Marlin 4 is a great all-around bike. It has a wide 21-speed gear range good for road or trails, and 100 mm of suspension up front that will significantly improve your trail riding experience. The bike also comes with 2.2 Inch knobby tires that will have good traction on dirt and asphalt.
In addition, the Trek Marlin 4 comes with rack and fender mounting options which would make it a great all-weather commuter bike that doesn’t have to stay on roads. Racks will also provide extra carrying capacity for work or small groceries.
Coming on the Marlin 4 is 100mm of suspension up front and a fully rigid rear end. This is a configuration that many cross-country mountain bikers use because it maintains pedal efficiency but still gives adequate dampening to some bumps.
In addition to being efficient, this configuration is practically bomb-proof, and will rarely need maintenance compared to a full-suspension bike. If you take care of your bike, it will last you an extremely long time in good shape.
Thanks to Trek being a well-established cycling brand, they’re able to sell the Marlin 4 for a reasonable price. At $530, this is a steal of a deal that gives amazing bang for your buck. With the Trek Marlin 4 meeting modern-day standards, you won’t have to upgrade for a while (unless you get addicted to the sport). Even if you do want to upgrade, there’s plenty of room for expandability on the Trek.
In 2022-2023, the Trek Marlin 4 is an amazing gateway for new cyclists to get into the sport. One of the biggest turn-aways from mountain biking has always been the large price tags for nice bikes. The Marlin 4 lets the rider get a quality bike for a reasonable price.
One of the most significant upgrades that can be done to any bike is disc brakes. With increased power and reliability, you can ride faster with more confidence. This added confidence helps you to trust your bike more, eventually making you a more technical rider with total control of your bike.
Unfortunately, the Trek doesn’t have hydraulic disc brakes, but it does have cable-actuated disc brakes. Cable disc brakes aren’t as strong and snappy as hydraulic ones, but are still much better than rim brakes. Rim brakes are easily influenced by rain and mud, and quickly lose power if poorly adjusted. Disc brakes require less maintenance and will hold a tune-up for longer.
Coming in at just shy of 32 pounds, the Trek Marlin 4 is not lightweight. It has a very durable build that comes at the expense of weight. A huge contributor to the overall weight of the bike is the front spring fork. While it could technically be replaced, spring forks like these are used for their durability and maintenance-free use. When you have this in mind, the weight becomes more reasonable, but that doesn’t make it any easier to pedal up hills.
If you are interested in weight reduction, the best upgrades for this bike would be tubeless tires, a lighter wheelset, and an air fork. Other upgrades have diminishing returns. In most cases, 32 lbs for a bike is completely manageable and shouldn’t be too much of an issue thanks to the wide gearing range.
A lock-out system is when a bicycle’s suspension has a switch that will prevent the suspension from compressing. If you’re new to cycling this may sound confusing, but locked-out suspension absorbs less of your energy and will pedal easier on hills or flat sections. For the road, this would make a difference, but it shouldn’t be a complete deal breaker. Lock-out systems are typically found on air shocks/forks on bikes around double the price and above. This means you’ll be paying a premium if you want to get this feature.
Jack of All Trades, Master of None
The Trek Marlin 4 is a jack of all trades, but a master of none. If you like to include a variety of surfaces when you ride, this may be a good thing. Just don’t expect to be riding gnarly mountain bike trails or participating in road races.
If you’re looking for a bike that will perform well on downhill or aggressive mountain bike trails, this may not be the bike for you. A more stable option would have longer air suspension and a slacker headtube angle. However, if you’re looking to ride light community mountain bike trails, this bike will be a gateway drug to loving bikes. Not only will it be able to handle and stick to the dirt well, but it will also take almost any beating you throw at it.
In terms of road biking, this bike won’t be as efficient as a proper road bike or hybrid. Generally, road bikes have narrow tires and very rigid lightweight frames. This minimizes lost power and increases average speed on the road. The Marlin 4 is a good choice if you want to weave between both dirt paths and asphalt.
How Much is the Trek Marlin 4 Worth?
The 2022 Trek Marlin 4 retails for $530 brand new. Older models from 2017 to 2020 will likely be on the used markets for anywhere between $200 and $400.
For the number of years that the Marlin 4 is going to last you, it’s a great bike. If you are someone who wants a full-time commuter bike that will double as a light trail shredder, this is the bike for you.
Is the Trek Marlin 4 Worth buying in 2022-2023?
The Trek Marlin 4 is a durable, versatile bike designed by Trek, backed with a lifetime warranty. It’s meant for riders who want to commute daily, but also might try some trail riding. For many riders, the Marlin 4 was a gateway into the sport of mountain biking available at a friendly price point.
Coming with 100mm of travel, cable disc brakes, 2.2-inch tires, and 21 speeds, the Marlin 4 is a great value. The Trek Marlin 4 is absolutely worth buying in 2022-2023, and it will last you many years to come.