Trek Marlin 5 Review: A Good MTB for Beginners?

Trek Marlin 5 review: Marlin 5 on a dirt road.

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In this Trek Marlin 5 review, we take a closer look at this entry-level series mountain bike.

I interviewed one of its owners and asked her a few questions you might be interested in before buying. 

You will learn, for example, whether the price matches the quality and what are its advantages and disadvantages.

In short: The Marlin 5 is a great MTB for beginners and those who prefer a wider gear range (16 speeds) compared to the more common 1X drivetrains with 10 to 12 speeds found on modern mountain bikes. It’s perfect for cross-country or commuting but not ideal for challenging terrain because of its short 100mm fork travel.

Feel free to buy it here or continue reading for more info.

About Eva

I’m a visual designer who moved to Canada in 2022. I enjoy a few hobbies, including skiing, motorcycles, and painting, but one of my favorites is cycling. 

While cycling for about 10 years, I haven’t always done so consistently. There were even some years when I didn’t ride at all. This upcoming summer will mark my second season on my Marlin 5 bike, which has a medium frame size and 29-inch wheels.

Trek Marlin 5 Summary

Trek currently offers Marlin 4 up to Marlin 8. The higher the number, the more high-end (and expensive) the bike. Below is the summary of Marlin 5, but you can also check out my Trek Marlin comparison.

Trek Marlin 5 Main Features

  • Weight (w/o pedals): 30.81 lbs [13.97 kg]
  • Wheels: Bontrager Connection, double-wall, 26″, 27.5″ or 29″ depending on the bike size
  • Fork: SR Suntour XCM 30, coil spring (100mm travel)
  • Groupset: Shimano Altus (2×8spd)
  • Brakes: Tektro HD-M275 (hydraulic disc brakes) 
  • Tires: Bontrager XR2 Comp
  • Saddle: Bontrager Arvada

Trek Marlin 5 Pros & Cons

Below, we highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of the Trek Marlin 5 bike.

Trek Marlin 5 Pros

  • Renowned brand
  • Good price-value ratio
  • Available in 8 sizes (XXS-XL)
  • Compatible with racks 
  • Wide gear range (compared to 1X drivetrain MTBs)

Trek Marlin 5 Cons

  • Limited color options
  • Short travel front fork (only 100mm of travel)
  • “Old school” 2X gearing
  • Smaller frame sizes won’t allow storing two large water bottles

Eva’s Experience with Trek Marlin 5

What other alternatives did you consider before buying the Marlin 5, and why did the Marlin 5 win out in the end?

I was choosing between the Marlin 5, Marlin 7, and Cannondale Trail 8 (Women’s) when looking for a bike. I ended up deciding based on what was available in stores at the time. I initially wanted the Marlin 7, but unfortunately, it was sold out, so I opted for the Marlin 5 instead. I must say, I was drawn to the bike’s color scheme – it looks great!

Trek Marlin 5 mountain bike in nature.
Trek Marlin 5

For what type of riding do you use this bike the most?

I typically ride my bike for pleasure, especially on weekends with my family. We enjoy biking in parks, on bike paths, and on easy trails. However, I’ve recently started to challenge myself by trying out more difficult trails in the forest, which is where my bike is really meant to be ridden.

How would you describe its riding characteristics?

This bike is soft and lightweight, making it easy to handle. With the right skills, it can be very maneuverable. Overall, it’s a great bike for both beginners and advanced riders.

Does the front suspension work well?

I can’t complain.

Trek Marlin 5 100mm front suspension.
100mm front suspension

Would you like to have 1X drivetrain for simpler shifting, or are you ok with the 2X drivetrain?

In my opinion, the 2X drivetrain is fine but the correct shifting technique takes a little practice.

Trek Marlin 5 2X drivetrain detail.
Trek Marlin 5 2X drivetrain
Trek Marlin 5 Shimano Altus rear derailleur detail.
Trek Marlin 5 Shimano Altus rear derailleur

How comfortable is it on a scale from 1 to 10?

I would say 7-8.

What is your overall feeling from the ride?

The bike performs well on off-road terrain, as expected. However, despite having large wheels, it doesn’t quite reach the same speed on asphalt.

Is there something you don’t like about it?

The frame’s shape makes it inconvenient to place a water bottle on it. Unfortunately, a standard-sized bottle doesn’t fit, so you have to use a smaller one or place it on the side.

What do you like the most about it?

Its color! It is simply amazing (Volt to Miami Green Fade).

Trek Marlin 5 Alternatives

The Trek Marlin 5 alternatives include bikes from the same family, such as the Marlin 4 (which is cheaper) or Marlin 6 (which is more expensive), and MTBs from other brands. I recommend checking out my article on beginner mountain bikes for more inspiration. 

Trek Marlin FAQ


Would you recommend buying Trek Marlin 5? 

It depends on who is asking. If you’re an inexperienced rider looking to get into mountain biking and off-road riding, then yes, this bike would be a great choice to start with.

Eva, thank you again for your time and for sharing your experience!

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