trek marlin 5 review

Worth the Hype? Trek Marlin 5 Review

by  Grace Liang

The Trek Marlin 5 is another popular, good quality hardtail mountain bike favoured by trail riders, entry level riders, avid cyclists and off-road riding enthusiasts. Garnering a lot of hype, which comes as no surprise; following its predecessor the Marlin 4, the 5 has been described as ideal for both on and off trail cycling. Now, you may be wondering whether the 5 really is as great as it claims to be – check out our Trek Marlin 5 review on this hard-hitter from the Marlin series.

Trek Marlin 5

Buy on Trek


Frame and Frame Size Alpha Silver Aluminum Frame 135x5mm QR
Fork SR Suntour XCE 28
Front hub Formula DC20 alloy
Rear hub Formula DC27 alloy
Rims Bontrager Connection 32-hole double-walled
Tires Bontrager XR2 29×2.20˝ front, 29×2.0˝ rear
Shifters Shimano Altus M310, 7 speed
Front derailleur Shimano Tourney TY300
Rear derailleur Shimano Tourney TY300
Crank Shimano Tourney TY301, 42/34/24
Max chainring size 1x: 32T, 3x: 42T
Bottom bracket Sealed cartridge, 73mm
Cassette Shimano HG200, 12-32, 7 speed
Chain KMC Z51
Shifters Shimano Altus EF500, 7 speed
Handlebars Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, 5mm rise
Stem Bontrager alloy, 31.8mm, Blendr compatible, 7 degree
Brakes Tektro MD-M280 mechanical disc
Pedals VP-536 nylon platform
Saddle Bontrager Arvada
Seat Post Bontrager alloy, 31.6mm, 12mm offset
Weight 32.2lbs (14.5kg)
Weight Limit 300 pounds (136 kg) (Combined)

Breakdown of Main Features



Material and Routing

Like most mountain bikes in the Trek series, The frame of the 5 is durable and lightweight, made of Alpha Silver Aluminum and equipped with a semi integrated head tube. Its internal shift cabling is further protected by brake hose routing, which gives the bike a nice, sleek finish.


You will also find it equipped with chainstay brake mounts and rack and kickstand mounts which are easy to customize, so that your bike can double up as a commuter as well, serving the same purpose as most road bikes.


Our review also found that the head tube on the frame is also built at a 69.5 degree angle for better geometry, and to ensure that the bike functions effectively and comfortably in various conditions.

The Trek Marlin 5 has frames that also come in sizes S and XS, and these frames have short reach brake levers, making it ideal as an entry level bike for beginners. This would be the best bike for cyclists of smaller stature as the brakes are easier to grip, making this smaller frame a better option for children as well!

Frame Sizing

What’s more – smaller made riders will also be more comfortable, as these frames also have a curved top tube and a lower standover height, making mounting and dismounting loads easier.

The standard larger frames (M and ML) are made with a straight top tube, which would suit you just fine if you are a taller rider.

The Trek 5 is available in 7 different frame sizes to cater to riders of different builds, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding the right size for you.


Suspension and Components

Rides on slightly rougher terrain can be accommodated with the Trek Marlin 5’s Suntour XCE 28 fork with G2 geometry and a 51mm offset and a reliable coil spring. You get up to 100 mm of travel suspension on all models except the XS one, which offers up to 80mm on travel suspension.

The Trek Marlin 5’s fork also comes with a preload function so that you can easily adjust the fork to your preference for a smoother ride.

Points to Keep in Mind

One con that we found was that the coil spring on the fork made it just a bit too heavy, especially for entry level riders who might not be used to this weight and who may be more accustomed to road bikes.

It’s also good to keep in mind that since the Trek 5 is only a hardtail, and would not absorb as much shock as a full suspension would on very rough terrain.

Marlin 5 2020



Hydraulic Braking System

The Trek Marlin 5 is equipped with Formula DC20 alloy front and rear hubs and Tektro MD-M280 hydraulic disc brakes, These are not commonly seen on affordable models such as the Marlin 5, so you’re getting great value for money there, and it is a definite upgrade from the mechanical disc brakes of the Marlin 5’s predecessor: the Marlin 4.

The hydraulic disc brakes also have a better power output and better precision than other brakes used.

The disc brakes also make the bike a good performer in any weather condition, and even on rougher terrain. You will also find that with hydraulic disc brakes, you will require less finger pressure and strength for braking power.


Sizing and Rims

The larger wheel size on the 5 are wide enough to accommodate tires up to 29 inches, whereas the S and XS frames can accommodate 27 5 inch tires. The 5 comes with double walled, Bontrager Connection rims and have 32 spokes to enable it to endure bumpy riding.

Bontrager XR2 Tires

The thick, 2 inch wide Bontrager XR2 tires are built to endure bumpy terrains, with enough traction to survive well in muddy or messy conditions, acting quite well as a trail bike!

Points to Keep in Mind

A helpful tip to consider! These wheels are not compatible with tubeless tires, however they do come with pretty strong Schrader Valve Tubes that usually don’t get worn out too easily.


Shimano Groupset

As a great entry level bike, the Marlin 5 offers compatible features for a beginner, such as its quality Shimano drivetrain and components. Its drivetrain comprises of 21 speeds on a 3×7 drivetrain, with Shimano Tourney front and rear derailleurs, and its drivetrain shifters are Shimano Altus.

Points to Keep in Mind

You could extend the lifespan of these components with proper care, although that might be a bit difficult considering this is a mountain bike meant for adventures! Its good to note that these components could wear out pretty fast and you may have to replace them if you’re heavily into off-road riding.

Additionally, these components are pretty entry level, but you’re getting an overall decent bike for a relatively low price.

That being said, if you’re buying the 5 as an entry level investment, and if you mainly take your bike out for weekend spins and everyday commutes, then you should be fine.


Trek equips its mountain bikes and road bikes with components of its own make as well, under the brand Bontrager. On the Marlin 5, you will find the Bontrager brand on the saddle, seat post, handlebars, grips and stem. The stem is Bontrager alloy, 31. 8mm 7 degree Blendr compatible.

The best part about this is that all these parts are totally compatible with Trek bikes, since they are made in-house and according to the exact specifications of their bikes, so you won’t have to worry about whether the parts are going to be right or not. This is especially helpful if you’re a entry level rider without much experience in the area.

While the Bontrager parts are great, keep in mind that the handlebars are not tapered, and as a result, you might be met with a challenge if you ever choose to upgrade the suspension fork.

Now, you may be wondering, how does the 5 measure up against the other members of the Marlin family? Let’s take a look at the features of the Marlin 5 as compared to that of the 6 and see which one would be the best bike for you.

What is the Difference Between the Marlin 5 and 6?

Having delved deep enough into our Marlin 5 review, let’s take a look at your other option; the Marlin 6. First of all, let’s look at the key differences between each model:

The 5 VS the 6

The 5 is equipped with Shimano Tourney front and rear derailleurs, whereas the 6 comes with Shimano Tourney components, which are a groupset higher than that of the 5. Unlike the 21 speeds that can be found on the 5, the 6 is a 16 speed bike.

The 6 also comes with an SR Suntour XCT 30 fork, which, due to its hydraulic lockout feature, is more superior than the SR Suntour XCE 28 found on the 5.

In terms of similarity, both bikes have fairly similar Bontrager parts.

Which One is Right for You?

The 6 falls into a slightly higher price range than the Trek Marlin 5, so if money is not a constraint, then the 6 may be a better option for you as it is a slightly more advanced mountain bike.

If your needs are entry level and this is your first buy, then read on to learn more on why the Trek Marlin 5 might be an option for you.

Is Trek Marlin 5 a Good Bike? The Final Word


The Trek Marlin 5 is a great bike, but how great it actually is would depend on your purpose for the bike. For beginner riders more used to road bikes, the Trek Marlin 5 acts as a superb first buy as an entry level bike, with its ease of use and user friendly structure.

It would be ideal for you if you are just getting into riding on tough terrain, or starting to explore mountain biking as a sport. It’s the best bike for you to test and improve your cycling skills on before exploring your options in more hardcore mountain bikes.

You can take your bike out for rides on single or double tracks and bike parks and on biking trails that don’t need excessive technical skill.

With its hydraulic disc brakes, you can easily ride down slopes and downhill terrain. It’s probably best to stay away from any slopes that are too steep or challenging, or heavy duty mountain biking!

Exercise and Leisure

It’s also perfect for anyone who cycles for leisure or exercise, and is also a great option for commute. Like electric bikes, the Treks are also great for fitness and exercise. You can explore trails with ease too, because unlike hybrid bikes, the 5 comes with sustainable suspension.

Value for Money

In addition to this, it also falls into a pretty affordable price range, so you get superb value for money with the features that the Trek Marlin 5 offers. Examples of this include the aluminium frame and hydraulic disc brakes, which are not commonly found on bikes this affordable.

The Trek Marlin 5 also comes specially designed women’s bikes with the fork and other components modified to better suit female riders.

Like all Trek bikes, the Marlin 5 also comes with a lifetime warranty.

Cons and Conditions

While the Trek Marlin 5 is a good mountain bike, you have to be aware that it is not compatible with jumps of any kind as it doesn’t have such advanced Technical Trail Features, and jumping could cause the wheels to bend. For this reason, if you are an adrenaline junkie with a lot of experience on rough terrains with mountain bikes, this may not be the best option for you.

This is also mainly because the components on the Trek Marlin 5 are more suited for beginner riders or for easy off trail riding, not heavy mountain biking.

Anything too rough could lead to the components being worn out soon or breaking, and you’ll then have a lot of upgrading and replacing to do, For that reason, it’s probably better to invest in a bike specially tailored for more challenging trails.

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