Seize Christmas in July With an Ultra Affordable and Versatile Marlin 4 Commuter MTB

Marlin 4 Gen 2 9 photos
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
Marlin 4 Gen 2Marlin 4 Gen 2Marlin 4 Gen 2Marlin 4 Gen 2 ForkMarlin 4 Gen 2 FrameMarlin 4 Gen 2 Cargo RackMarlin 4 Gen 2Marlin 4 Gen 2
Most of us have heard of Christmas in July, and while it may just be one of those holidays designed to put a little more cash in some corporation's pockets, I may have found a little treat that you won't feel guilty about gifting to yourself or a loved one.
That gift is known as the Marlin 4 Gen 2, a hardtail from world-renowned Trek bicycles. Yet the best part isn't that Trek is the mind behind this trinket; it costs no more than $620 (€610 at current exchange rates) to own. Yes, if you're looking for a budget machine, this may just be the one for you.

Now, I'm a sucker for hardtails, and it doesn't matter much how much it costs; it'll thrash you around just the same. Yet, like any other bicycle ever created, the Marlin 4 is designed for a particular style of riding. In the case of this bike's aluminum frame and remaining components, which we'll discover shortly, the Gen 2 is meant for the all-around cycling needs of the average Joe.

What does this mean? Well, as you can expect from a bike that only costs you a tad over $600, you shouldn't be catching any airtime with this bugger; it simply isn't built for that. Instead, as Trek puts it, the Gen 2 "is the perfect gateway to trail riding. Ideal for new riders who want a mountain bike with knobby tires that can double as a rugged commuter," and with that, you should have a clear idea of what you can achieve with this machine.

Marlin 4 Gen 2
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
Imagine that it's Friday. Since it's the last day of the week, you decide to ride your Marlin to work. Because you also grabbed a cargo rack and threw it onto the rear of the bike, your afternoon plans can include a bit of sidetracking on your way home.

With the work day over, you take to the bathroom, change into your cycling outfit, and start riding towards the sunset. Along the way, you'll encounter plenty of curbs and cracks in the asphalt, but an SR Suntour XCE 28 fork will be offering up to 100 millimeters (3.9 inches) of travel, ensuring your ride is smooth and pleasant. There's no mention of lockout, but if you want a fork with this feature, it shouldn't cost you too much to buy a new one. I'm not sure this frame is worth investing in, but hey, it's your commuter vehicle; do as you please.

As for the drivetrain, don't expect to see some top-shelf gear. After all, the price should tell you a bit about what to expect from the bike. With that in mind, expect to find a Shimano Tourney drivetrain with 3x7 speeds. Sure, it's not the best out there, but it should be more than enough to help new riders get a feel for what it means to work shifters and to ride trails. In time, you can always buy up as you get better at this sport. All that and the remaining Bontrager components amount to a trinket weighing 31.75 pounds (14.4 kilograms).

Marlin 4 Gen 2 Cargo Rack
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
Continuing your journey home, you decide to take a different route, inclusive of unpaved roads, some rocks and gravel, and those ups and downs you've been looking for. After 30 minutes or so, your body should be tired and ready to wind down with a nice warm bath. May the weekend commence!

At the end of the day, if you've been looking for a bicycle that isn't limited to asphalt or trails and costs nothing more than what you saved up in your piggy bank, then the Gen 2 Marlin 4 is one cycle worth considering for a Christmas in July.
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Editor's note: Images in the gallery showcase an array of colors for the Marlin 4 Gen 2.

About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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