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Review of Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2

By Sam Millers   /  Last updated - November 16, 2023   /  Hardtail, Mountain Bikes, Reviews, Trek

trek marlin 5 review

Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 is an entry-level trail bike ideally suited for beginners and recreational riders who need a dependable hardtail to hit the trails or use for a daily commute.

It features Shimano Altus 2×8 components, hydraulic disc brakes, an 80-100mm travel fork, and comes in four stunning paint jobs. 

The Marlin 5 has been one of the best-selling mountain bikes in this price range for a good reason, and we expect the Gen 2 version to follow in its steps.


  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • 100 mm of front travel
  • Progressive wheel sizing


  • Heavy coil fork

Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 Full List of Specs

Frame Alpha Silver Aluminum, internal routing, chainstay disc brake mount, rack and kickstand mount, 135x5mm QR
Fork XX-Small = SR Suntour XCM 30, coil spring, lockout, preload, 100mm QR, 100mm travel
X-Small = SR Suntour XCT 30, coil spring, preload, hydraulic lockout, 42mm offset for 27.5″ wheel, 100mm QR, 80mm travel
Small = SR Suntour XCT 30, coil spring, preload, hydraulic lockout, 42mm offset for 27.5″ wheel, 100mm QR, 100mm travel
M, ML, L, XL, XXL = SR Suntour XCT 30, coil spring, preload, hydraulic lockout, 100mm QR, 100mm travel
Rims Bontrager Connection, double-wall, 32-hole, 20mm width, schrader valve (XXS = alloy)
Hubs Front: Formula DC-20, alloy, 6-bolt, 5x100mm QR
Rear: Formula DC-22, alloy, 6-bolt, Shimano 8/9/10 freehub, 135x5mm QR
Spokes 14g stainless steel
Tires Bontrager XR2 Comp, wire bead, 30 tpi (XXS = 26 x 2.20″; XS, S = 27.5 x 2.20″; M, ML, L, XL, XXL = 29 x 2.20″)
Bottom Bracket VP BC73, 73mm, threaded cartridge
Crankset XXS = Prowheel TM-CY10, 36/22, 160mm length
XS, S, M = Shimano M315, 36/22, 170mm length
ML, L, XL, XXL = Shimano M315, 36/22, 175mm length
Shifters Shimano Altus M315, 8-speed
Front Derailleur Shimano Altus M315, 34.9mm clamp, top swing, dual pull
Rear Derailleur Shimano Altus M310
Cassette/Freewheel Shimano HG200, 12-32, 8-speed
Chain KMC Z8.3, 8-speed
Brakes XXS, XS, S = Tektro HD-M276 hydraulic disc, short reach lever
M, ML, L, XL, XXL = Tektro HD-M275 hydraulic disc
Rotors Shimano RT26, 6-bolt
Handlebars Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 5mm rise, 720mm width (XXS, XS: 690mm)
Tape/Grips Bontrager XR Endurance Comp, lock-on
Stem Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree
XXS = 35mm; XS = 50mm; S = 60mm; M = 70mm; ML, L = 80mm; XL = 90mm
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 5 Gen 2 Full Review

If you’re considering buying your first mountain bike or treating yourself to a brand-new bicycle you’ll use as an everyday workhorse and commuter; the Marlin 5 Gen 2 is a solid choice.

The Trek Marlin 5 is an entry-level trail bike that has a lot to offer to trail lovers. If you want to figure out whether this bike is right for you, check out our detailed review below!

Quality Frame and Fork

The base of the Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 is the brand’s Alpha Silver aluminum frame with a sleek design and stable geometry, suitable for various rider needs. This frame features internal cable routing that protects your cables from the elements and adds to the bike’s clean look.

trek marlin 5 gen 2 mountain bike

Marlin 5’s frame is available in eight sizes, so you’re guaranteed to find the perfect one for your height. The SR Suntour fork is basic but provides 100 mm (or 80mm on the XS) of travel to take the sting off light trails. This fork has a coil spring which makes it a bit heavy, but it comes with a preload function, which is a nice plus.

Precise Hydraulic Disc Brakes

The star of the show on the Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 is its Tektro hydraulic disc brakes. We are always pleasantly surprised to see them on bikes below $1,000, as hydraulic discs are a rare find in this price range.

Thanks to these hydraulic disc brakes, the Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 is a bike that performs well in all weather conditions.

Compared to all other types, hydraulic brakes output the most power and provide the most precision. Trek has even gone so far as to install short-reach levers on the smallest frames.

2.20″ Tires and Progressive Wheel Sizing

Depending on how tall you are and which frame size end up going for, your Trek Marlin 5 will come with either 26″, 27.5″, or 29″ wheels.

Trek Marlin 5 Bontrager wheels and tires

The XXS frame has 26″ wheels, the XS and S frames come with 27.5″ wheels, and all other sizes are 29ers. Progressive wheel sizing and a curved top tube on the smaller frames decrease the standover height of the bike and ensure a much better fit for all rider heights.

The rims on all sizes are Bontrager Connection. They’re double-walled and have 32 spokes, which means they’ll take plenty of abuse. The Bontrager XR2 2.2″ tires are not tubeless, but they will give you plenty of grip on the three different wheel diameters. The 27.5″ wheels have extra clearance for 2.4″ tires. 

Shimano Drivetrain

Another positive aspect of the Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 is that the entire drivetrain comprises Shimano parts. Sure, they are entry-level quality, but they offer more than enough performance and precision for the average beginner trail rider.

trek marlin 5 mountain bike

The Marlin 5 Gen 2 has 16 gears on a 2×8-speed drivetrain and comes with a complete Shimano Altus M315 drivetrain, which is one quality class higher than Tourney. This compares to the previous model’s more complex and heavier 3×7-speed drivetrain. 

The crankset is 36/22t with 160mm cranks on the XXS and 170mm on the other sizes. This crankset pairs with a 12-32t cassette. 

Dependable Bontrager Parts

Bontrager is Trek’s in-house brand that makes numerous parts and accessories. The Bontrager label on Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 can be seen on the saddle, seat post, handlebar, grips, and stem.

Trek makes all of these parts specifically for their bikes, which means they are 100% compatible and perform for a long time without any issues. However, one of this bike’s downsides is that the headset is not tapered, so you might have a harder time upgrading the fork if you ever decide to do that.

Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 Sizing Chart

  • XXS — 4’5″ – 4’9″ / 135 – 145 cm
  • XS — 4’9″ – 5’1″ / 145 – 155 cm
  • S —  5’1″ – 5’5″ / 155 – 165 cm
  • M —  5’5″ – 5’8″ / 165 – 173 cm
  • M/L — 5’8″ – 5’11” / 173 – 180 cm
  • L —  5’11” – 6’2″ / 180 – 188 cm
  • XL —  6’2″ – 6’5″ / 188 – 195 cm
  • 2XL — 6’5″ – 6’8″ / 195 – 203 cm

Who Is Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 Best Suited For?

Like any other bicycle, the Trek Marlin 5 will not be a good buy for everyone. It is an entry-level machine mainly intended for beginner riders and those who do not take cycling too seriously.

Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 should be shortlisted by beginner riders who are looking for their first mountain bike to commute or explore the dirt roads in their area.

If riding a bike is a weekend activity or a mode of transportation for you, then Marlin 5 will meet and exceed your expectations. You’ll be able to cover thousands of miles on it without any upgrades and explore farther than before.

However, if your idea of cycling is to hit trails as hard as possible and test your skills and limits, then you should save a bit more money and invest in a bike with slightly better components.

Is Marlin 5 Gen 2 a Good Buy?

The value for money you get out of this bike leads us to conclude that the Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2 is an excellent buy. For around $700, you get a high-grade aluminum frame that’s light, rigid, and durable (it’s even found on some more expensive Trek bikes).

trek marlin 5 gen 2 curved top tube frame

The drivetrain is entry-level, but the brakes are powered by hydraulics which is the best setup you can get right now.

For this amount of money, it’s a bargain. Therefore, if you’re the type of rider we’ve described, the Marlin 5 Gen 2 is a purchase that will put a long-lasting smile on your face if you go forward with it.

Buy from Trek Bikes

About the Author

Sam Millers

Sam Millers is the guy behind Bikexchange.com. From the early days of three wheels to conquering challenging mountain trails, Sam's love for cycling knows no bounds. With a background in web development, Sam seamlessly combined two of his greatest passions – cycling and technology. As the creative force behind Bikexchange.com, he shares insightful stories, expert tips, and engaging content for fellow cycling enthusiasts. When he's not exploring new biking routes or tweaking website codes, Alex enjoys sipping on a post-ride espresso and planning his next cycling adventure. 

6 thoughts on “Review of Trek Marlin 5 Gen 2

  1. Gwen says:

    Thank you BIKEXCHANGE for helping me to make up my mind in purchasing the Marlin 5!

    1. Editorial Team says:

      You’re welcome, Gwen! We’re happy we could help! Have fun with your new bike!

  2. David says:

    Great review. One question .. is this the old 5 or new 5 model? The new Marlin 5 design as I understand it being the old 5 plus aspects of Marlin 6 bike & otherwise that’s led to discontinuance of the Marlin 6 and only selling a Marlin 5 & 7 model going forward?

    Much appreciated!

  3. Todd Sternberg says:

    I am still riding my 2017 Marlin 6 its been too Hell and back. I live in the woods near Downtown Nashville 32 Thousand miles all pavement. riding in Hurricanes and Polor Vortex. Just got new breaks and Maxxis Hook Worm tires.I do circules around Gravel bikes.

  4. Tricycle says:

    Thinking about buying one of these and as an entry level rider seems like the best choice.

    thanks for the review! it has made my mind up

    1. Steve says:

      The trek marlin 5 is a great bike. Bought for my wife, i sneak in rides. It isnt too heavy, the bigger 29″ tires are fun to feel a little bit higher off the ground. The braking system is fantastic and was a selling point for me.

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