Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2 Review
Trek Marlin 8 is the premium build from Trek’s family of cross-country hardtail mountain bikes.
The Trek Marlin 8’s price is $1,330, a significant increase on the 7, but this is justified by air suspension, a tubeless-ready wheelset, and wide-range gearing, making it far more capable than the other Marlins.
Beginner and intermediate riders can be confident aboard this bike, taking advantage of its race-ready characteristics. Alternatively, load it up with a rack and kickstand and use it as a mixed-terrain commuter.
Our Trek Marlin 8 review will examine the bike’s strengths and weaknesses and offer a verdict on who should buy it.
How Heavy Is the Trek Marlin 8?
The Trek Marlin 8’s weight is 29.1 lbs, almost three pounds lighter than the cheapest model. In addition, this bike is two to three pounds lighter than similarly-priced hardtails, which makes it notably faster going uphill.
- Air suspension fork
- Tubeless-ready wheelset
- Lightweight for the price
- SRAM SX Eagle is a step down from the Marlin 7’s Deore M4100
Trek Marlin 8 Specs
|Frame||Alpha Silver Aluminum, 135x5mm QR|
|Fork||XXS, XS = RockShox Judy Silver, Solo Air spring, 42mm offset, 80mm travel
Small = RockShox Judy Silver, Solo Air spring, 42mm offset, 100mm travel
M-XXL = RockShox Judy Silver, Solo Air spring, 46mm offset, 100mm travel
|Rims||Bontrager Kovee, double-wall, 28-hole (M-XXL:32-hole rear), 23mm width|
|Hubs||Front: Formula DC-20LW, alloy
Rear: Formula DC-22LW, alloy, Shimano 8/9/10 freehub
|Spokes||14g stainless steel|
|Tires||XXS = Maxxis Ardent 26×2.4″, tubeless, EXO Casing, 60tpi
XS, S = Maxxis Ardent Race 27.5×2.35”, tubeless, EXO casing, 60tpi
M-XXL = Maxxis Ardent Race 29×2.35”, tubeless, EXO casing, 60tpi
|Bottom Bracket||Truvativ Powerspline, 73mm, threaded cartridge, 118mm spindle|
|Crankset||SRAM SX Eagle, 30T, 155mm (XXS) 170mm (XS-M) 175mm (ML-XXL)|
|Shifters||SRAM SX Eagle, 12 speed|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM SX Eagle|
|Cassette/Freewheel||SRAM PG-1210 Eagle, 11-50, 12 speed|
|Chain||SRAM SX Eagle 12-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|
|Seatpost||Bontrager alloy, 31.6mm, 12mm offset|
|Saddle||Bontrager Arvada, steel rails, 138mm width|
|Pedals||VP-536 nylon platform|
Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2 Full Review
Next, we’ll dive deeper into the components and features that make this bike stand out. But first, note the Trek Marlin 8 2022 is the same as the Marlin 8 Gen 2.
Is the Trek Marlin 8 a Trail Bike?
When comparing the Trek Marlin 7 vs. Marlin 8, there’s a discernable difference in the ability to handle chunkier terrain. However, the Marlin 8 is still considered a cross-country bike, given the 100mm of suspension and XC-specific components. Most trail bikes have 130mm or more suspension travel.
RockShox Judy Silver Solo Air Fork
Trek Bikes went for RockShox’s Judy Silver Solo Air suspension fork, which is the standout component of this bike’s setup. It’s relatively light, moves smoothly through the travel, and has decent small bump sensitivity.
Of course, it’s not going to handle big hits on rough trails with only 30mm stanchions and 100mm of travel (80mm on XXS, XS), but it’s plenty capable on fast, flowy XC trails. It also has basic TurnKey lockout and preload adjustments.
Can You Add a Dropper Post to a Trek Marlin 8?
Yes, you can add some of the best dropper posts to a Trek Marlin 8. There is a hole to run the dropper internally through the top tube, but you will have to run the wire externally through the seat tube, as there is no hole at the bottom.
12-speed Gearing and Shimano Brakes
The Trek Marlin 8 mountain bike uses a modern 1×12-speed SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain, comprising a 30t steel chainring and an 11-50t cassette. This combination provides tons of range for the steepest climbs you’ll encounter.
Although the gear range is better than the Marlin 7, we’re disappointed with the switch to SX Eagle, as it is a step down from Deore M4100 in performance and durability.
Thankfully, Trek maintained the Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes on this bike, ensuring reliable stopping power in all conditions.
Tubeless-ready Maxxis Ardent Tires and Bontrager Kovee Rims
The Trek Marlin 8 takes a huge step up with XC-specific Maxxis Ardent EXO tubeless-ready tires. These are fast-rolling, race-ready tires for dry to mixed trail conditions. The three-compound design reduces rolling resistance and optimizes traction, while the EXO layer provides cut and abrasion protection.
Running a tubeless setup gives the Marlin 8 MTB a massive boost in capability and comfort. Riders can run lower tire pressure to enhance traction, shock absorption, and control, opening up more trail opportunities. In addition, the risk of puncturing is greatly reduced.
Likewise, the Bontrager Kovee tubeless-ready rims are a marked improvement over the Connection rims on the other four models. They’re lighter, more durable, and designed specifically for cross-country riding.
Trek Marlin 8 Gen 2 Sizing Chart
- XXS — 4’5″-4’9″ / 135-145cm
- 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 8 Gen 2 Best Suited For?
The Trek Marlin 8 is a proper XC bike for cross-country cycling, ideal for beginner or intermediate mountain bikers who want an affordable yet capable option to hit the trails. Likewise, this bike can double as a comfortable mixed-terrain commuter or bikepacking machine, thanks to the rack and kickstand mounts.
The Marlin 8 is a broadly-appealing option as its versatility, reasonable price, and durability make it a great bike to develop your mountain biking skills on and even upgrade in the future.
Is Marlin 8 Gen 2 a Good Buy?
The Marlin 8 is an excellent buy at this price. You get Trek’s renowned reliability, air suspension, a tubeless-ready wheelset, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, and a lightweight, compliant frame.
It isn’t easy to find a hardtail at this price that handles cross-country racing, but this bike can put it up to the more expensive models. Trek Marlin 8 reviews online also paint an overwhelmingly positive picture, a testament to the quality and the value this bike offers in the sub-$1,500 price range.
Choose Trek’s Marlin 8 if you’re looking for an affordable, race-ready XC hardtail that’s equally at home in the city.