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Trek Marlin 7 Gen 2 Review: Affordable, Feature-Rich XC MTB

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

trek marlin 7 mountain bike

The Trek Marlin 7 Gen 2 is the second-from-top model in this family of versatile cross-country hardtails. 

The Marlin 7 is ideal for beginner mountain bikers who want to experience light off-road riding and use their bike for mixed-terrain commuting, bikepacking, and running errands.

However, although it looks the part, entry-level components mean this bike is limited in its capability on the trail.

The 2023 model is the same as the Trek Marlin 7 2022, only with an updated ‘Gen 2’ label, a feature of the brand’s new naming system for the upcoming year.

This Trek Marlin 7 review aims to help you figure out if it’s the right bike for you and your needs. 

How Much is the Trek Marlin 7?

Trek Marlin 7’s price is $1,030. The cheaper Marlin model costs $850, so for just $180 more, this bike has an improved RockShox fork, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, and a bottom bracket and crankset from FSA. While these upgrades are modest, they easily justify the extra money. 


  • RockShox fork
  • Shimano hydraulic disc brakes
  • Progressive sizing


  • No tubeless-ready rims or tires

Trek Marlin 7 2023 Full List of Specs

Frame Alpha Silver Aluminum, 135x5mm QR
Fork X-Small = RockShox Judy, 42mm offset, 80mm travel
Small = RockShox Judy, 42mm offset, 100mm travel
M-XXL = RockShox Judy, 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 FSA,  threaded cartridge, 73mm
Crankset FSA Alpha Drive, 28T, Boost, 170mm (XS-M) 175mm (ML-XXL)
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 Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc
Rotors Shimano RT26 160mm, 180mm (L-XXL)
Handlebars Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 5mm rise, 720mm width (XS: 690mm)
Tape/Grips Bontrager XR Trail Comp, nylon 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 7 Weight 29.7lbs

Trek Marlin 7 Gen 2 Full Review

What Kind of Bike Is a Trek Marlin 7?

So is the Trek Marlin 7 a trail bike? Not quite. Trail MTBs have 130mm or more of suspension travel; this model is a cross-country hardtail mountain bike for beginners.

Trek marlin 7 in turquoise color

Marlin 7 is available in three diverse color schemes, which makes it attractive to a wide range of riders.

The Marlin 7 has entry-level components to match the affordable price and thus has limitations on its ability to handle rougher trails. However, it performs well as a day-to-day bike for recreation, transport, and commuting. 

RockShox Judy Coil Fork 

RockShox’s Judy Silver coil spring fork is a notable inclusion at the ~$1,000 price point. This fork is light for the price and provides decent ride characteristics for a coil spring. In general, mountain bikes in this price range will have SR Suntour forks, like the cheaper Marlin models. 

Marlin 7 Gen 2 rockshox judy fork

The RockShox Judy coil fork offers 100mm of travel, but is not suitable for heavy-duty trial riding. However, it can handle dirt and gravel roads with ease.

The 100mm travel (80mm on XS) Judy Silver coil fork uses TurnKey lockout, which absorbs an unexpected hit with the lockout on, so you don’t blow it out. It also has preload adjustment.

Full Shimano Groupset

The Trek Marlin 7 is the only one of the five bikes to have a complete Shimano groupset, consisting of a Deore 10-speed drivetrain and MT200 hydraulic disc brakes, a solid, reliable setup for this price. 

Trek Marlin 7 shimano deore groupset

Shimano’s Deore 10-speed groupset is a good fit for this bike as its parts are affordable to replace (such as the chain and cassette), yet it provides plenty of range and crisp shifting.

This drivetrain mixes a Deore 11-46t cassette with an FSA Alpha Drive 28t crankset, providing plenty of range for steep climbs. In addition, the Shimano shifters and derailleur can take a beating and maintain a relatively smooth shifting performance. 

Shimano hydraulic disc brakes are another noteworthy inclusion in this price range, as most brands use Tektro to keep costs down. These brakes are plenty powerful and dependable for a light-use mountain bike like the Trek Marlin 7.

Progressive Frame and Wheel Sizing

A shared design feature across the Trek Marlin family is the progressive sizing that provides a consistent fit across the wide range of rider heights.

The Marlin 7 has seven sizes spanning 4’9″ to 6’8″. For this reason, modifying the geometry and components was essential so the shortest rider gets the same experience as the tallest. To achieve this, Trek uses a curved top tube on the smaller sizes for a lower standover height, ‘Smart Wheel Sizes’ for a wheel that fits (27.5 or 29″), and short-reach brake levers and narrower handlebars for better control.

Trek Marlin 7 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 7 Gen 2 Best Suited For?

Trek’s Marlin 7 XC mountain bike is ideal for beginners who want a first bike to experience the trail and handle daily riding, such as commuting to work or school, transport around the city, or even multi-day bikepacking trips

Marlin 7 Gen 2 with a rear rack

With a rear rack fitted, Trek Marlin 7 transforms into a capable daily commuter or bikepacking companion.

The affordable price tag makes this model accessible to a wide range of budgets. In addition, the reliable Trek aluminum frame means you upgrade components as you develop your mountain biking skills. Unfortunately, the fork limits you to light off-road riding, so consider the Trek Marlin 8 if you want a more capable hardtail. 

Is Marlin 7 Gen 2 a Good Buy?

This Trek bike is another competitive choice in the $1,000 price range. Innovative frame engineering, a solid Bontrager build kit, and reliable Shimano componentry make this bike a good deal. 

Trek Marlin 7 Gen 2 in navy blue color

Marlin 7 in navy blue looks serious in elegant, which is just one of the three modern-looking paint jobs available.

Trek Marlin 7 reviews we’ve read online are overwhelmingly positive, emphasizing the value for money that it offers. Sure, it’s not very capable on bumpy terrain, but it serves its purpose as a beginner’s hardtail, giving you the opportunity to develop your technique on a bike that can do a bit of everything, on and off-road. 

Add the Marlin 7 to your shortlist if you want a stylish and affordable cross-country hardtail that’s built to last. 

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.

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