Disclaimer: Bikexchange is reader-supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through the links on our site.

Trek Marlin 4 Gen 2 Review: A Capable Budget-Friendly XC MTB

By Jordan Grimes   /  Last updated - December 29, 2023   /  Mountain Bikes, Reviews, Trek

trek marlin 4 review

Trek Marlin 4 is the second cheapest model in Trek’s mountain bike range, at just $630. 

This stylish, modern-looking hardtail is a solid introductory bike for day-to-day riding, commuting, and leisurely weekend spins on gravel and dirt trails. 

Although it looks the part, the Marlin 4 can’t handle actual mountain trails, as the low-performance fork won’t take much abuse. 

This Trek Marlin 4 review will provide a detailed look at the bike, its strengths and weaknesses, and the type of rider who should buy it. 

What Is the Weight Limit on a Trek Marlin 4?

The weight limit on a Marlin 4 MTB is 300 lbs, which includes the bicycle, rider, and cargo. The bike weighs just under 32 lbs, leaving around 268 lbs for the rider and cargo. 


  • Sleek design with internal cable routing
  • Shimano drivetrain
  • Cheap 


  • Heavy, low-performance fork

Trek Marlin 4 2023 Full Specs

Frame Alpha Silver Aluminum, 135x5mm QR
Fork XS = SR Suntour XCE 28, coil spring, 42mm offset, 80mm travel
Small = SR Suntour XCE 28, coil spring, 42mm offset, 100mm travel
M-XXL = SR Suntour XCE 28, coil spring, 46mm offset, 100mm travel
Rims Bontrager Connection, double-wall, 32-hole, 20 mm width
Hubs Front: Formula DC-20, alloy
Rear: Formula DC-31, alloy, 6/7/8 freewheel
Spokes 14g stainless steel
Tires XS, S = Bontrager XR2 Comp 27.5×2.2”, 30tpi
M-XXL = Bontrager XR2 Comp 29×2.2″ (f) 2″(r), 30tpi
Bottom Bracket VP BC73, 73mm, threaded cartridge
Crankset Shimano Tourney TY301, 42/34/24 170mm (XS-M) 175mm (ML-XXL)
Shifters Shimano Altus EF500, 7 speed
Front Derailleur Shimano Tourney TY300, 34.9mm clamp
Rear Derailleur Shimano Tourney TY300
Cassette/Freewheel Shimano TZ500, 14-28, 7 speed
Chain KMC Z7, 7 speed
Brakes Tektro MD-M280 mechanical disc
Rotors 160mm
Handlebars Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 5mm rise, 720mm width (XS: 690mm)
Tape/Grips Bontrager Endurance Comp, lock-on
Stem Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree
Headset Semi-integrated, 1-1/8″
Seatpost Bontrager alloy, 31.6mm, 12mm offset
Saddle Bontrager Arvada, steel rails, 138mm width
Pedals VP-536 nylon platform
Trek Marlin 4 Weight 31.75lbs

Trek Marlin 4 Gen 2 Full Review

The Trek Marlin 4 2022 is the same as the 2023 model. It has a basic 3×7-speed Shimano Altus/Tourney groupset and Tektro mechanical disc brakes, a typical pairing for the price range. The SR Suntour XCE 28 isn’t worth much on mountain trails but takes the sting out of bumpy gravel trails and roads. 

This section will cover the features and components that make the bike stand out in its price category. 

Is the Trek Marlin 4 a Trail Bike?

The Trek Marlin 4 is not a trail bike. Trail mountain bikes typically have above 120mm of travel, and the majority of models are full-suspension. Instead, the Marlin 4 is a light-duty off-roader better suited to urban riding and gravel trails.

If you want a proper trial bike, check our list of the best full-suspension mountain bikes out there.

Stylish Alpha Silver Aluminum Frame

The whole Trek Marlin series uses the same Alpha Silver aluminum frame. However, at less than half the price of the premium model, this frame is a notable strength of the Marlin 4. 

Marlin 4 Gen 2 internal cable routing

Marlin 4 has full internal cable routing, which is a popular feature that not all mountain bikes in this price range offer.

Trek’s Alpha Silver frame comes from years of materials innovations and design expertise, resulting in a balanced ride quality that balances stiffness and compliance compared to the overly stiff aluminum frames typical of this price range. 

This frame also has sleek internal cable routing that gives the bike a higher-priced finish and mounts for a rack and kickstand for commuting or even light bikepacking. 

What Is the Difference Between Trek Marlin 4 and 5?

There isn’t a big difference between the performance of the Trek Marlin 4 vs. 5. The Marlin 5 has a slightly more robust fork, improved 2×8-speed gearing and hydraulic disc brakes, and a slightly lower weight. However, the Trek Marlin 4’s price is $110 lower than the Marlin 5

Progressive Sizing

The Trek Marlin 4 2023 comes in seven different sizes, with almost two feet in between the shortest and tallest recommended heights. The company uses progressively sized wheels and components and a modified top tube for the smaller bikes to deliver the same performance for each rider

The XS and Small sizes both have a curved top tube which lowers the standover height, which shorter riders have issues with, and ‘Smart Wheel Sizes’ means the smaller sizes get 27.5″ wheels instead of 29ers. In addition, the brake levers, handlebars, stems, and cranks all change throughout the size range. 

Reliable Bontrager Componentry 

Trek Bikes’ in-house brand Bontrager provides the whole build kit aside from the groupset and fork. These are well-made components that will stand the test of time. In addition, they are easy to replace by visiting the Trek online store. 

Marlin 4 top view

Premium all-black finish and quality Bontrager parts help Trek Marlin 4 look good and provide better value for the money.

It’s worth noting that the saddle, handlebars, seatpost, and stem are the same across the five Marlin bikes, which benefits the Marlin 4 and increases its value as it is the cheapest. 

Trek Marlin 4 Gen 2 Sizing Chart

  • XS — 4’9″-5’1″ / 145-155cm
  • S —  5’1″-5’5″ / 155-165cm
  • M —  5’5″-5’8″ / 165-173cm
  • M/L — 5’8″-5’11” / 173-180cm
  • L —  5’11”-6’2″ / 180-188cm
  • XL —  6’2″-6’5″ / 188-195cm
  • 2XL — 6’5″-6’8″ / 195-203cm

Who Is Trek Marlin 4 Gen 2 Best Suited For?

The Trek Marlin 4 mountain bike is suitable for urban riders, commuters, and anyone who enjoys riding on light off-road paths, fire roads, and gravel trails. 

trek marlin 4 with accessories

By equipping Trek Marlin 4 with a rear rack and kickstand, you can use it for commuting, running errands, or even bikepacking.

The level of components is typical for this price point, and they perform as expected. However, there are clear limitations to this bike’s capabilities off-road. So if you’re looking for a capable XC mountain bike, this isn’t it. 

Anyone looking for a cheap, reliable run around that doesn’t sacrifice style will appreciate the Trek’s Marlin 4. 

Is Marlin 4 Gen 2 a Good Buy?

We believe the Trek Marlin 4 Gen 2 is an excellent buy in the ~$600 price range, easily competing with similarly-priced hardtails like the Cannondale Trail 8 or Co-op Cycles DRT 1.0. 

Trek Marlin 4 Gen 2 xc mountain bike

Trek bikes are renowned for their reliability, and with the Marlin 4, you’re getting this reliability at an unbeatable price. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s got a sleek modern design that makes it look more expensive than it is. 

Consider the Marlin 4 if you want a Trek mountain bike that doesn’t break the bank and will get you from A to B in comfort and style.  

Buy from Trek Bikes

About the Author

Jordan Grimes

Jordan Grimes is an avid cyclist who loves to travel and has found his bike to be perfect company on road trips in the USA, through national parks, and in countries such as Canada, Ireland, and Spain.
His passion for travel and work in the tourism and hospitality sector has allowed him to live in incredible places like Ireland, Canada, the USA, and the Cayman Islands. He has since relocated to southern Spain, where he works as a freelance writer, practicing Spanish and cycling in the famous Sierra Nevada mountains. He specializes in writing cycling blog articles, health and performance-related topics, and other informative pieces. You can contact him on Linkedin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *