California-based Marin Bikes continues to grow and improve their many lines of bikes, with their Nail Trail hardtail 2017 series bringing versatility and quality without breaking the bank.
With the 2016 ‘all-adventure-bike’ craze behind us (now that everyone has perfected their adventure bikes), we wanted to test a model different from the Marin Four Corners Elite we profiled last year. The FCE was one of the industry’s pioneering models in the all tour category, built-up for maximal durability and loading. The Nail Trail series takes a different look than the FCE; it’s built for speed and maneuverability while maintaining the same Marin attitude of versatility and consideration to detail. The Nail Trail 7 comes with Shimano SLX Shadow rear derailleur, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, RockShox fork with 120mm of travel, and internal cable routed dropper post installed. The more affordable Nail Trail 6 uses the same internal cable routing 6061 frame, and is similarly equipped but with Sram NX rear derailleur and doesn’t include the dropper post.
With the great quality of even entry-level components, the biggest consideration when getting a new bike is finding a good frame. The Nail Trail frames are built from butted aluminum with a lower bottom bracket and angled headtube, leading an industry shift toward longer, more stable hardtails. Wider rear axle spacing (142x12mm) and chainstay shape and length lead to a compliant rear-end, getting you slightly closer to full-suspension rear traction while maintaining the light weight of a hardtail. Full internal cable routing for shifting and braking come stock on both models and wide-range 11-42t 11-speed cassettes provide all the gears you need to tackle any local doubletrack (or singletrack!). Marin double-wall aluminum wheels provide 27mm or 29mm inner rim width, helping the Schwalbe 2.25 Nobby tires provide plenty of traction.
We tested the Nail Trail 6 out at Whiting Ranch and Harding Truck Trail in Orange County and had an awesome experience on steep climbs and winding descents. Right out of the box, these bikes are ready for any adventure and provide an excellent platform for future component upgrades. This is one of my favorite bikes for trails, and I definitely recommend it for long cross-country, short day trail rides, gravel grinders, and even as an entry-level bike for XC racing around SoCal.