Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review: In with the old

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In with the old, in with the new. That’s how Marin approached the 2016 Pine Mountain 2. We had the opportunity to thrash this steel 27.5+ adventure hardtail on southern Spain’s unyielding rocky trails. Here’s how she performed…

As you’ve probably gathered from the opening blurb and main photo above, the Pine Mountain 2 is a classic steel hard tail. But if you’ve carefully scrutinized that photo, or are simply hip to the latest in MTB tech, you may be aware that the Pine Mountain 2 is designed around the relatively new 27.5+ tire format, modern hub standards, and an efficient 1×11 drivetrain. Furthermore, if you’ve been mountain biking for a really long time, you might be reflecting on a much earlier iteration of the Pine Mountain—the steel gray and orange rigid Marin of days long past. In fact, as part their 30th anniversary bike lineup, Marin resurrected the Pine Mountain name to brand this modern take on a bygone classic. And yes, as hard as it is to believe, Marin was producing mountain bikes way back in ’86, the same year you could buy a Tandy 600 portable computer for $1600 and pick up the latest Bangles release, ‘Walk Like an Egyptian’, on cassette.

Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+

  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, Bikepacking, Revelate Bags

A Steely Revision

While Marin’s choice of steel for a modern mountain bike frame may be considered retro by some, the Pine Mountain 2’s Columbus Thron tubing, sleek bent downtube, investment cast dropouts, and detailed fixtures, takes the classic material to the next level. For those unfamiliar, Columbus Thron is a premium tubing with a notable ratio of stiffness to weight; some claim that a Thron tube set could be as much as 30% stiffer than one made from Reynolds 531, Thron’s closest competitor. At first I was slightly concerned with the relatively minimal frame, especially the seat stays. But after beating this bike to no end on over 800 miles of extremely rocky trails, Columbus Thron proved its pedigree.

Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+

  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, Bikepacking, Revelate Bags
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+

There are a few other pieces of metal worth highlighting. The rear 148mm (BOOST) spaced Naild dropouts house a 12-3-9 quick-release thru axle; the ’12-3-9’ references the hand positions of a clock in relation to the rotation of the quick release lever during the three step install process. The Naild QR is a little tricky at first, but once you get used to it, it seems like a solid component. I might add that the lug on the non-drive side, covered with a protective plastic screw cap, seemed to loosen over the first few days. But after a hearty tightening, I had no further issues. Other cast components to note are the seat stay spacer, engraved with ’86’, and the steel plate at the drive-side chain stay yoke (rather than standard tubing); this was employed to make room for 3” tires and a big chain ring.

Overall the Pine Mountain 2 frame is a nice mix of beast and beauty. The tube set is butted and formed in Asia, before a bevy of fixtures are hand-brazed into place (2 bottle cage mounts, grommets for internal cable routing, and rear rack mounts). The finished product leaves the bronze-colored brazing visible through a matte coating giving the frame a raw look. The hand-brazed grommets on the chain stays and down tube allow internal routing, while keeping the rear brake and derailleur cables neat and tidy. The steel grey color, combined with exposed brazing and blue accents, visually tell the story of the Pine Mountain 2’s fusion of old roots and modern tech. A few other shiny bits worth noting are the sculptural head tube badge, and the heritage badge on the seat tube that commemorates Marin’s 30 years in the business.

Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, Bikepacking, Revelate Bags

  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, Bikepacking, Revelate Bags
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, Bikepacking, Revelate Bags
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review

Full-suspension Hardtail

I’ve ridden quite a few hard tails, rigid bikes, and, for some time, even used a FS Ibis Mojo HD as my daily driver. But I have to say, the 27.5+ format with a suspension fork might just take the cake for trail riding and bikepacking alike. Upon receiving the bike in Madrid, I replaced the 2.8” WTB Trailblazers with the all new Trail Boss 3.0s; I think that the Trailblazers would have been fine, but a little added cushion and chunkier side knobs were more my speed. The Trail Bosses easily set up tubeless in the Scraper rims, and I kept them between 10 and 15psi throughout the trip. At lower pressures, they ate up small bumps and even larger stones, at times giving the bike a full suspension riding quality. In addition, the Float Fork performed extremely well, even when left in the more firm position on the adjustment dial. In all transparency, this is the first time I have done an extended, overseas, trip with a suspension fork. Overall I am impressed; the fork required little to no maintenance, saved my wrists, and added a new element to the riding. So, the bike did indeed seem to float over all kinds of terrain with the all the added confidence typically doled out by bigger tires.

NOTE: Here are three shots above showing rear spacing with the Trailblazers. The Trail Boss 3.0s had adequate space as well with over 1/4″ on each side of the chain stays.

  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, Bikepacking, Revelate Bags
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+

Fit for Adventure?

Aside from its 2 bottle cage brazeons (the Pine Mountain 1 has 3), rack mounts, and sturdy tube set, what makes the Pine Mountain an “adventure ready” bike? Firstly, 27.5+ is quite the do-all platform for bikepacking and trail exploration. As we mentioned in the Trail Boss Review, 27.5 x 3” tires add suspension benefits to keep you comfortable during long days in the saddle. And the added floatation expands the terrain potential. However, when deciding on a wheel and tire size, 27.5+’s downfall comes in the form of tire availability. While this platform is perfect for weekend trips or week long trips alike, when picking a bike for a month long journey through a developing country, one might opt for more prevalent 29 or 26” tires. The same hypothesis can be applied to the BOOST rear hub/spacing (148mm) which may leave you stranded in a world full of 135mm OLD hubs.

That said, ‘trail adventure’ is where the Pine Mountain shines. The Pine Mountain’s geometry follows a well-rounded ‘trail geometry’ model—a [relatively] short wheel base and a somewhat slack front end (but not too slack at 69 degrees). This translates to a bike that’s nimble, but not too squirrely. Marin tampered the slack lines with just enough of a conservative stance to retain a comfortable stance for longer days. It’s also a very stable bike. I felt more control picking through slow rocky and technically challenging sections of trail than I have on a bike in a while.

In terms of fit, I did feel that the sizing was a little off. While I’ve always felt comfortable on a size “large” frame, the 19” Pine Mountain felt a bit small. The seatpost was extended past the minimum insert line and was still a tad short, which made the handlebars feel a little low. But to be fair, this could be rectified by sizing up, changing the stem, or having a slightly longer steering tube. In hindsight, I would have opted to try out the XL (21”).

An additional interesting and adventure-related feature is the three mounts on the underside of the top tube. This could be a recipe for a custom designed bolt-on frame bag.

Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+

Complete Package

To compliment its showy frame, Marin chose parts wisely. To start, the Shimano XT 1×11 drivetrain is a welcome sight. While the gearing sometimes left my knees screaming for granny, it shifted flawlessly and offered a solid gearing ratio. I should mention that my kit included a DSLR, 4 lenses, and a laptop… not to mention that much of the terrain in southern Spain is tremendously steep. That said, barring 12lbs of electronics, the 32t front chainring and 11spd cassette is a fine solution for light bikepacking. No doubt as a local trail rig and weekend bikepacker, the 1×11 system is perfect. I’d be curious to know if a 30t ring up front is possible. On first glance, there is limited space between the chain and the front of the chain stay when shifted toward the small side of the cassette. It could work, but might be pretty tight.

In addition, the SLX brakes are hard to beat, literally. In my opinion, they are some of the toughest, and best working, hydraulic brakes on the market. An important factor to consider when out in the backcountry.

Build Kit

Note that the kit below doesn’t reflect several changes I made to the setup specifically for this trip. Firstly, I swapped the WTB saddle for an ERGON SMC-3; this is just personal preference. Also, I had Marin send the bike with a rigid seatpost, vs the standard KS dropper included with the bike. As mentioned above the WTB Trailblazers were replaced with WTB’s new Trail Boss 3.0 tires. And finally, I swapped the grips with Ergon GS1s for comfort on long days in the saddle (great grips, I might add).

  • Frame: Columbus Thron Butted/Formed CrMo
  • Rear Dropouts: Boost 148x12mm Naild Locking Thru-Axle Dropouts
  • Front Fork: Fox Float 34 27.5+, 3 Position Lever, 110x15mm Thru-Axle
  • Crankset: Shimano Deore XT Hollowtech II, 32T
  • Derailleur Rear: Shimano Deore XT Shadow Plus
  • Shift Lever: Shimano Deore XT 1×11-Speed
  • Cassette: Shimano Deore XT 11-Speed, 11-42T
  • Bottom Bracket: Shimano Hollowtech II
  • Chain: KMC X11L
  • Hub Rear: Formula, 148x12mm, Alloy Axle, Quad Cartridge Sealed Bearing, Centerlock Disc, 32H
  • Hub Front: Formula, 110x15mm, Sealed Cartridge Bearing, Centerlock Disc 28H
  • Rims: WTB Scraper, 45mm Inner, Tubeless Ready
  • Spokes Nipples: 14g Black Stainless Steel
  • Tires: WTB Trail Blazer, 27.5×2.8
  • Brakes Front: Shimano SLX Hydraulic Disc, 180mm Rotor
  • Brakes Rear: Shimano SLX Hydraulic Disc, 160mm Rotor
  • Brake Levers: Shimano SLX Hydraulic
  • Handlebar: Marin Flat Top Riser
  • Grips: Marin Locking
  • Stem: Marin 3D Forged Alloy
  • Headset: FSA Orbit, Sealed Cartridge Bearing, 1 1/8
  • Seatpost: KS LEV Integra, 30.9mm
  • Saddle: WTB SLC XC

Bikepacking Bags

New for this review, here’s a rundown of what bags were used during the test period.

  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, 27.5+, 650+, B+
  • Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, Bikepacking, Revelate Bags


  • Comfortable geometry works for long days in the saddle, but is still nimble and playful on the trail.
  • 27.5+ is a great platform for multi day exploration.
  • Full-suspension feel without the climbing penalty.
  • Choice components, including the Fox Float 34 and the XT 1×11 drivetrain.


  • No down tube bottle cage brazeons (why doesn’t every ‘adventure’ bike have these!?). Note, the Pine Mountain 1 has the third pair on the downtube.
  • 27.5 is still relatively new and tire availability may be a challenge when traveling to faraway locations.
  • The 1×11 drivetrain is perfect for lighter loads, but with a heavy load on steep terrain, an extra couple of gears might save your knees.
  • The Nalid thru axle dropout excludes the use of a Rohloff hub.
  • I am not a huge fan of the 2 bolt seat clamp; I didn’t have any problems with it, but if frequent adjustments are anticipated, this style of clamp can be a bit of a pain.

Wrap Up

First things first. As mentioned above, my only complaint is that the size large, with the setup provided, felt a tad small for me. This is something that could be fixed by tweaking components, leaving the steerer tube slightly longer, or sizing up. Still, I would have preferred a slightly longer and higher reach for our month long journey through southern Spain.

While this may not be the bike I would choose for a long romp in the developing world, due to tire availability and gearing, for bikepacking trips in the weekend to two week range, the Pine Mountain 2 is certainly impressive. My favorite routes combine a mix of interesting climbs, flowing traverses, meandering dirt roads, and technical descents that make your heart thump. The PM2 perform well in all of these conditions, and felt good on long gravel grinds to boot. Even with a somewhat slack trail geometry, it’s a stable bike. If you are on the hunt for a future proof trail bike that will double as a fine bikepacking rig, the PM2 should definitely make your list.

  • Size Tested Large (19″)
  • Sizes Available S-XXL
  • Weight (as tested) 29.2lbs/13.24kg
  • Price $2,749
  • Contact Marin Bikes
  • Recommended Uses trail riding, weekend to month long bikepacking

Marin Pine Mountain 2 Review, Bikepacking, Revelate Bags

Rider’s Background

Between big trips, I can usually be found riding my favorite trails in Pisgah, NC, or tacking together 4 or 5 day bikepacking trips throughout the eastern US and beyond. Most recently we completed a traverse across southern Spain and are currently somewhere in Uganda piecing together a Trans-Uganda bikepacking route.

Height: 6’0”
Weight: 170 lbs
Inseam: 33”


The Marin Pine Mountain was loaned to me for our month long trip through southern Spain.


  • Rob Grey

    when i first met my girlfriend she rode an early model pine mountain, fully rigid and everything. it wasn’t the first thing about her that made me think “okay” but it definitely added to the plus column.

    this newest edition looks beautiful, too; the semi raw brazing looks awesome, utilitarian but with a nod to the craftsmanship it takes to build a frame. and i’m very intrigued by all this plus sized tire business. i thought a frame with clearance for 2.4-inch tires was ample. now, with all the talk of increased traction, additional float over loose surfaces, and extra cushion without the moving parts, 3 inches looks like where i want to be.

    great looking bike. very convincing review.

  • (Logan)

    Yeah, is am sold on plus tires. And I really like the 27.5+ format. With the PM2 I was hard pressed to find any negatives on the bike, aside from my sizing issue (but as I mentioned, I have proportionally wrong long legs). Great bike.

  • Todd Bertram

    Hey Logan just curious to see how you are carrying all that camera gear ? DSLR front handlebar bag ? I’ve been looking at different options lately like the cotton carrier vest, peak design capture pro clip etc. have you had any experience with these types of carriers ?
    Thanks. Todd.

  • (Logan)

    Hi Todd. I’ve never used a pro-clip. I use Porcelain Rocket’s camera slinger. A great product; check it out…

  • Conor Phelan

    You didn’t happen to get a chance to throw a leg over the Pine Mountain 1 as well did you? Being a <$1000 little brother of this bike, it seems like it might compete for the greatest budget bikepacking rig. I would love to know how people have felt about it. Great review!

  • NDN

    SOLD. I have been on the fence for this bike for quite sometime now. could not find any real reviews on the pine mountain but this review sums it up . and I agree about the extra water bottle cage mount on the down tube. the price tag is kind of steep, so probably stick with pine mountain 1. would love to read a real review of the pine mountain 1. thanks for the review.

  • Rob Grey

    that pine mountain 1 really caught my attention, too. looks like a great value.

  • Eugeneius

    You have experience with both, how does the Pine Mtn compare to the Krampus? Do you miss the 29+ format? I’m really curious what 27.5 offers over 29+, and if it’s even worth it. Beautiful bike and great write up btw.

  • Rob Grey

    a buddy of mine just got a trek stache and watching him disappear in front of me on the trail (even without suspension) seemed like an indication of the benefit of fatter tires. that, and the fact he can pedal up stairs with that thing…

    i’m 6’3 and usually fit a large with a couple headset spacers just fine with my (probably normal?) 32″ inseam. but i sometimes consider sizing up for frame bag space.

    i keep looking, and those pictures keep telling me to open my wallet.

  • (Logan)

    That’s a tough comparison; they are different bikes, and formats. I have always ridden the Krampus rigid, so that adds another distinction. Overall, the short wheelbase of the PM2 feels a bit more nimble, while the Krampus has that long. And fast feel I must say, I really like 27.5+; it has all the perks that plus size tires offer, but allows a little more agility. That said, there is slightly less of that ‘bowl over anything’ feel that 29+ has…

  • (Logan)

    Cool, let me know how you like it!

  • (Logan)

    I didn’t, but it does look good (I saw one at Interbike). The spec is definitely not as nice, and I wish they put bottle mounts on the fork. I do have to say that I loved the Float 34 on the PM2. It saved the wrists and worked really well with a load on the stiff trail setting…

  • Thomas Snow

    Nice read…and a Bangles drop!

  • Conor Phelan

    Thanks for the feedback. Was the suspension fork beneficial enough that you will be using consistently moving forward, or was this a particularly rough trip?

  • (Logan)

    Both. I wouldn’t use on on big trips to places like Uganda (where we are now), but back in the US, I think so…

  • mikeetheviking

    Great write up on the PM2 Logan!
    Seems there’s a bit of controversy out there that suspension is not good for bikepacking bikes. While I’m sure you may loose a bit of the suspensions maximum potential, I’m sure that there are still great benefits to running suspension while loaded down. Can others chime in here with thoughts and experience? FWIW I have gone back and forth between running rigid and a sus fork on my Krampus, and I have settled on the suspension fork. I modified a rockshox TK 30 fork to fit 29+ (shown below) I can’t really recommending doing this mod though considering how much time I spent making this happen, However I’d be glad to share how I did it if anyone is interested, FWIW I’m 250 lbs and I installed the “black” spring in this fork. I also only have just over 1/8″ clearance at the arch.

  • Mark Neuman

    What straps are being used to secure the camp shoes?

  • (Logan)

    Revelate Washboard Straps … Check out Plog > Holiday Gift Guide; there’s a link there.

  • Mark Neuman


  • (Logan)


  • Domingo Varni

    Nice review.

    Really interested in the 27.5+ models – PM1, PM2, Hayduke, and Jamis Dragonslayer

    Will you be commenting on the Jamis Dragonslayer that accompanied your trek as well?



  • Brian

    Logan- Great write up and this is right on time for me(looking to make a purchas on a new bike). Just like most of the other post on here I am liking the 27.5+ platform. I have been using a 2.35tire on my Bontrager with Waltworks fork this past year and I can see what a + size tire could do for you.
    I like the price and the 3rd water bottle and the classic look of the PM1 but would like to have seen that they had spec it a little better.

    Would love to see a write up on the Dragon Slayer

  • Andrew Wade

    Great seeing a well tested review of the B+ format on the site. I would also like to see one for the Dragonslayer. Although they are almost identical, the Dragonslayer has two things you list as cons for the PM2. A down tube cage mount and a double crank. I’m still on the fence between the two models but pretty set on the B+ format for my next bike. I would like to hear about any noticeable ride performance from the Boost spacing, negative effects of low pressure high volume tires acting against float from a suspension fork, and any sluggish feelings in general from the wheels. The price is a little high for me, but not unreasonable with the high end build both bikes offer. In other words, I can justify making the purchase and getting my moneys worth in usage. I think with a second 29er wheelset the bike is well rounded for play at home and bikepacking tours out in rough terrain.

  • (Logan)

    It’s hard to discern any ride performance from the BOOST rear. But, one thing that’s nice is that it pushes the chain away from the tire. I’m not sure if you’ve ridden 29+ with a 15mm hub, but one issue is that in wet situations, mud from the tire can actually hit the chain… it’s that close when at the top of the cassette. The BOOST spacing definitely helps this. Also, I ran the front tire with a little higher pressure to compensate for the suspension fork. It was dialed in perfectly. Overall the PM2 feels super solid and stiff, even with the fork and lower rear pressure. Regarding the crankset, I don’t think the 1x is necessarily a con for lighter loads (I was carrying a macbook, DSLR, heavy lenses, and all the cords that go along with it). Without these, the 1×11 would have been perfect. It’s a really great drivetrain as well… I want one!

  • (Logan)

    Thanks! Yeah, for 1k, the PM1 is pretty awesome!

  • (Logan)

    Thanks Mark. Yes, stay tuned.

  • (Logan)

    Personally, I really liked having a fork. Keep in mind it’s ideal for a ‘slim’ load in the handlebar roll or harness….

  • simon kirk

    Excellent review Logan, I have been torn between this and the Genesis Tarn20 which does have the extra down tube mount.

  • (Logan)

    Thanks Simon! The Tarn20 looks interesting. I’d be kind of bummed by the small framebag capacity though…

  • Jason Stover

    What size lenses were you packing? Anything as a big as a 150-500mm?

  • Manley Nelson

    Thanks for another review well done. I especially enjoyed this Marin flashback…my first ‘real mtn bike” was purchased in 1986 from this dude named Rearview in Harrisonburg Va. It was a Marin titanium. Coincidentally it was too small but it did carry me for a while. Thanks for the memories

  • adbirds

    I’m ready to receive :)

  • Adrian Hatton

    Test rode one todsy,Buying on Monday for my next trip from Scotland through the heart of England, thanks for the review!

  • (Logan)

    Nice, glad to hear! Enjoy…

  • Krkk

    the Pine Mountain 2 is kind of out of my price range but I’m really close to buying a Pine Mountain 1 !
    a specifiic Review would be great though !

  • adbirds

    I received my Pine Pountain 2 the other day and LOVE it. We set it up tubeless. I’ve ordered bags for bikepacking and am ready to go. Join is on adventures around Central Texas Hill Country, Big Bend, and Colorado – Utah with

  • adbirds

    Do you have any trail maps for Spain btw?

  • (Logan)

    There are 2 in the bikepacking routes section; I should have a third ready soon…

  • Graham Dunn

    I’ve just got a Pine Mountain 1 and love it ! Those frame bag bosses though, what frame bags are they to be used with? All frame bags are strapped to the frame as far as I can see (including yours?)??!!!

  • (Logan)

    You can get a custom framebag made to fit without straps. Porcelain Rocket and Oveja Negra both do it.

  • Graham Dunn

    Thx. Might just get a cheaper top tube one and doctor it myself. A custom bag is gonna be half the price of the bike lol

  • Sinartus S.

    Great review on the MP2, Logan! I have always found your site to have a thorough reporting that’s just pleasant to read. I am currently riding a fully rigid Bridgestone MB Zip and am thinking that it might it might be worthwhile to upgrade to at least a front suspension bike and disc brakes as I am starting to do some rides on multiple types of terrains here in Indonesia. From your reporting, it looks like the MP2 might be a good fit as it has a relaxed seat angle and looks like the MP2 will do just fine for casual single track rides. Was there any concerns over the rear tire rubbing against the chainstay when is set at a lower pressure? Thanks!

  • Ben Handrich

    Having put a few hundred miles on my own PM2, I agree with much of what Logan said in this post. To add to the discussion, here’s a review I wrote of my own impressions of the bike:

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