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

Trek Marlin 6 Gen 2 Review: Beginner’s Dream Mountain Bike

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

trek marlin 6 gen 2 mountain bike

The Trek Marlin 6 2023 is the newest iteration of the entry-level XC hardtail family designed for light trail riding, gravel paths, fire roads, and mixed-terrain commuting. 

The 2023 Gen 2 model is the same as the Trek Marlin 6 2022, only with different colors and a new name. Trek overhauled its naming system for the upcoming year, referring to the models by the number of generations there have been. So the latest version of a Trek bike has the highest ‘Gen’ number.

This Trek Marlin 6 review will cover the bike’s main specs and highlights, answer some buyer questions, and provide our verdict on who should buy one. 

How Much is the Trek Marlin 6?

Trek Marlin 6 price is $850 and sits in the middle of the price range of the five Marlin models. The cheapest model costs $630, and the most expensive is $1,330. Alongside the 820, the Marlin is Trek’s most affordable mountain bike family.


  • Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain
  • Rack and kickstand mounts
  • Progressive sizing 


  • Low-performance coil fork

Trek Marlin 6 Gen 2 Full List of Specs

Frame Alpha Silver Aluminum, 135x5mm QR
Fork X-Small = SR Suntour XCT 30, 42mm offset, 80mm travel
Small = SR Suntour XCT 30, 42mm offset, 100mm travel
M-XXL = SR Suntour XCT 30, 46mm offset, 100mm travel
Rims Bontrager Connection, double-wall, 32-hole, 20mm width
Hubs Front: Formula DC-20, alloy
Rear: Formula DC-22, alloy, Shimano 8/9/10 freehub
Spokes 14g stainless steel
Tires Bontrager XR2 Comp, 30tpi (XS, S = 27.5×2.20″ / M-XXL = 29×2.20″)
Bottom Bracket Sealed cartridge, 73mm
Crankset Prowheel C10Y-NW, 30T steel narrow-wide ring, 170mm length
Shifters Shimano Deore M4100, 10 speed
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore M5120, long cage
Cassette/Freewheel Shimano Deore M4100, 11-46, 10 speed
Chain KMC X10, 10 speed
Brakes Tektro HD-M275 hydraulic disc
Rotors 160mm 
Handlebars Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 5mm rise, 720mm width (XS: 690mm)
Tape/Grips Bontrager XR Endurance Comp, lock-on
Stem Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree
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 6 Weight 31.11lbs

Trek Marlin 6 Gen 2 Full Review

In this section, we will cover the main features of the Trek Marlin 6 Gen 2 and what makes it stand out in the sub-$1,000 MTB category. 

Marlin 6 Gen 2 in dark red

Trek Marlin 6 Gen 2 is available in four modern paint jobs that will suit any type of rider.

What Type of Bike Is a Trek Marlin 6?

The Trek Marlin 6 MTB is a modern-looking cross-country hardtail with a 100mm coil suspension fork, perfect for beginner mountain bikers. Unfortunately, the rudimentary suspension limits the Marlin 6 to relatively mild trails. Nonetheless, it makes an excellent day-to-day bike for commuting, transport, and leisure.

Alpha Silver Aluminum Frame

Trek uses its Alpha Silver aluminum frame for the Marlin 6. Thanks to the company’s consistent design and materials innovations, these frames outperform the similarly-priced competition in compliance and comfort. 

Marlin 6 Gen 2 internal cable routing

Internal cable routing means Marlin 6 looks sleek and neat, while it also protects the cables from excessive wear and tear.

The frame has quick-release axles, tidy internal cable routing, and mounts for a rack and kickstand, allowing you to equip the Marlin for commuting or bikepacking. One unusual feature of this bike is the curved top tube on the smaller models (XS, S) that lowers the standover height for a better fit. 

Is the Trek Marlin 6 Good for Jumps?

No, the Trek Marlin 6 isn’t good for jumps. Unfortunately, as a cheap hardtail, this bike uses a low-performance coil-spring Suntour XCT 30 fork with 100mm of travel (80mm on XS). This fork performs poorly on bumpy trails but is adequate for day-to-day riding and light off-roading.

Thankfully, the fork has preload and hydraulic lockout settings, but the headtube isn’t tapered, meaning it will be harder to upgrade.  

Shimano Deore 10-Speed Drivetrain

The standout feature for us is the Shimano Deore M4100 10-speed drivetrain. The Trek Marlin 6 is one of the only bikes with this hardware at $850 or below. In addition, an 11-46t cassette and 30t chainring provide plenty of gearing for steep gradients. 

Trek Marlin 6 Gen 2 shimano deore drivetrain

Shimano Deore 10-speed drivetrain is a standard in this price range across the industry, as it provides plenty of gear range and smooth gear shifting.

Generally, sub-$1,000 mountain bikes have cheaper drivetrains that shift poorly and lose efficiency quickly. However, Deore M4100 is durable and smooth-shifting, and the single chainring makes it easier to maintain. 

Tektro Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Another excellent inclusion for a bike of this price is hydraulic disc brakes. Although entry-level, Tektro’s HD-M275 brakeset with 160mm rotors performs well at this price range and for a bike of this spec. 

Hydraulic discs allow you to stop safely in wet weather and with plenty of power and reliability in most situations. However, if you plan on tackling advanced trails, neither this bike nor the brakes are adequate. 

2.20″ Tires and Progressive Wheel Sizing

The Trek Marlin 6 has Bontrager XR2 Comp tires for handling hardpack trails, gravel paths, and pavement where traction is relatively predictable. These XC-style tires roll fast and provide decent grip but will slip and slide in wet trail conditions. 

Marlin 6 Gen 2 wheels and fork

Even though the tires are not tubeless-ready, they are wide enough to provide plenty of traction in varying conditions that come with modern mountain biking.

The XS and Small sizes of this bike have 27.5″ rims, while the others use 29ers. Progressive sizing makes the Marlin fit more consistently across rider heights. Unfortunately, the wheelset and tires are not tubeless-ready. 

Trek Marlin 6 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 6 Gen 2 Best Suited For?

The Marlin 6 Trek MTB is best for beginner mountain bikers who want to start learning the skills and techniques of the sport on light trails. In addition, cyclists who want a bike for comfortable day-to-day use, running errands, and mixed-terrain commutes will enjoy the Marlin 6. 

Marlin 6 Gen 2

We recommend the Marlin 6 Gen 2 to beginner to early-intermediate mountain bikers who mostly stay on light trails and rough dirt and gravel roads.

Again, this bike is limited by its cheap fork, so if you want a bike to grow into and challenge your mountain biking skills, you may want to check out one of the higher-end Trek MTBs. 

Is Marlin 6 Gen 2 a Good Buy?

We think the Trek Marlin 6 Gen 2 is a solid choice at just $850. The new-style frame and geometry make it look like the real deal, even if it can’t handle hard riding. 

Marlin 6 Gen 2 in black and yellow

Most of the Marlin 6’s components are excellent for the price range, including Shimano’s Deore drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes, durable Bontrager tires, and a quality frame with solid ride characteristics. 

Don’t miss out on this excellent deal if you’re looking for a cheap do-it-all bike that’s at home on pavement, light mountain trails, and everything in between.

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 *