Trek's Marlin 7 Gives New Riders All They Need, Want, and More: Priced at Just $1,300

Marlin 7 Gen 3 9 photos
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
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I get it; not everyone is a gold medal-winning athlete or made of money in order to afford some pocket-draining mountain bike. That said, my hunt for a sweet deal has led me to Trek. It's here that we lock eyes with the Marlin 7 Gen 3, a hardtail selling for no more than $1,300.
According to Trek, the beast before you today is nothing more than an entry-level hardtail designed to find "the perfect balance between price and performance," and honestly, I feel they hit the nail on the head with this one. So, balance those checkbooks, grab a helmet, and get ready to call up your local bicycle shop for one of these babies; if you're looking to get out there today and even keep up with some of the bigger kids, this one may just be for you.

Now, the magic behind the freshest Marlin 7 Trek has in its lineup starts with nothing more than an aluminum frame. But a neat little feature of all that tubing is the slightly curved top tube, giving the Marlin 7 a rather nice stance and demeanor. All that's then supported with internal cable routing, so it's clean-cut and snagproof.

Marlin 7 Gen 3
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
While most of the cables are for braking and control over your drivetrain, one cable is reserved for nothing more than a dropper post. That's right; this one is set to give you a taste of all the goodies experienced riders use to optimize their rides, and now, they're accessible to you, too.

Moving forward with the Marlin 7, Trek also gives us some rather solid secondary components to work with. First off, a RockShox Judy Silver fork is in place, offering up to 100 mm of travel and rigged with lockout for climbs and smooth flats. This also unlocks a solid city-riding experience, as you'll lose no energy due to pedal bob; we'll talk more about that shortly. If you do have another fork in mind, the 7 can accommodate up to 120 mm of travel, so there's some room to play with.

With some of the goodies out of the way, allow me to shed some light on this bike's drivetrain. To my surprise, I found that SRAM is the chosen brand for the magic here. Yes, for $1,300 (€1,200 at current exchange rates), you'll be feeling an SX Eagle working its magic with a 30T chainring and a 12-speed PG-1210 cassette.

Marlin 7 Gen 3
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
The latter also has a range of 11-50T, and once doubled with the simplicity of that one-speed crankset, you'll be able to find the right gear every time. Need I mention that this setup will help you prepare yourself for bigger, better, more efficient gear as your abilities progress? Oh, and if you want to, a 2X crank chainring setup can be accommodated by the 7's frame; find your sweet spot.

Funny enough, Shimano does show its teeth a bit on the Marlin 7 in the shape of the braking setup. MT200 hydraulic brakes clamp down on rotors with a diameter of up to 180 mm; the XXS frame size uses 160 mm discs.

The remainder of the bike is, as you'd expect from Trek, tattered in all things Bontrager. The handlebar is from this in-house brand, and so are the grips, stem, and rims. Tires are about the only ones that break the Bontrager spell; Maxxis is the brand here, with a pair of Tubeless Ardent rubbers. The frame size will also dictate just how large of tires you can run on the 7 but sizes M through XXL all sport 29-inch tires.

Marlin 7 Gen 3
Photo: Trek Bicycle Corporation
Now, I mentioned that the 7's fork would prove to be a lifesaver while riding around town, and that's true, but Trek went a step beyond just riding around in an urban setting and readied the 7 with cargo rack mounts all over the frame. The down tube has them, and so does the seat tube, and the seat stays as well.

This means a couple of things. The first is that you can use the Marlin 7 for your typical workweek rides, and you can even grab some groceries on the way home every night. But, come weekend, the very same racks are now to be used for carrying goods like a tent, tools, food, drinks, and anything else you might need on your longer rides beyond the edges of town. Once you finally set up camp, ditch the racks and bags and take the 7 out for a spin as it's meant to be ridden, with nothing but some water bottles along for the ride.

All that and a bag of potato chips later, and we're looking at a two-wheeler that weighs no more than 33 lbs (15.03 kg) for a size M frame with sealant and no tubes in the tires. Pretty dang good if you ask me, and a weight that's sure to please any new rider. Find one in your local shop, take it out for a spin, but be prepared to go home with a new bike.
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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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