A carbon fiber 27.5 hardtail, ready to rock and roll and pick up some podiums along the way.

Marin Team CXR Pro 27.5 Review

The 2014 Marin Team CXR Pro 27.5 is one bad bike. Dubbed as the “Ultimate Race Machine” by the Marin marketing department it is most certainly an impressive XC monster. It is loaded to the gills with great components and a firm race geometry. Let’s check out what this bike comes loaded down with.

Spec’s from Marin’s website

FrameCXR T3 Carbon with Tapered Headtube, Oversized Downtube, Disc Specific
ForkFox 32 Float Factory CTD 27.5 Kashima with Trail Adjust, 100mm Travel, Tapered Steer Tube and 15QR through-axle dropouts
ShiftersSram XX1 Type 2
Front DerailleurNone, it's XX1 bro!
Rear DerailleurSram XX1, Type 2
BrakesAvid X0 Hydraulic Disc, 7" HS-X rotor in front, 6" HS-X rotor in back
Brake LeversAvid Hydraulic, Carbon
CassetteSram XG1199, 10-42, 11 speed
ChainSram PCXX1
Crankset Sram XX1 Carbon with 36T chainring
Bottom BracketSram Giga X Pipe (GXP)
WheelsFormula Xero Carbon Rims, Formula hubs and DT Swiss Competition Spokes
TiresSchwalbe Rocket Ron Evolution, 27.5 x 2.25

The bike I rode was specced the same as the specs off of the Marin website.

How It Rides

Straight up honesty, I couldn’t be more impressed with how this bike rode. Aside from the 27.5 wheels and XO brakes this thing is an absolute champ. Podium spots will be lining up in front of you bowed on one knee if you ride this bike.

Okay, so that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but this is a d*mn good bike. I am not a big Marin enthusiast, I knew they made pretty decent bikes but I always would have put their bikes as a second tier to the big brands. My mind has changed after riding this bike though.

There are some people out there, good friends too, who may hate me for saying this… But I thought this bike was every bit as good as the Giant XTC 27.5 that I had ridden the day before. And, it’s $1,300 cheaper. Now granted, a single 3.5 mile ride that has factory bike techs on standby is massively different than owning a bike and putting it through its paces long term. But this bike is seriously a great ride.

The bike loved hitting smooth open sections and it absolutely seemed to fly up hard packed climbs. It felt a little squirrelly in loose dirt and fast downhills but that is a very common characteristic for any hardtail,  something I’ve felt on every hardtail I’ve ever rode. It is definitely a good race bike.

Aside from the Avid XO brakes (gag) this bike is amazing. Pull the brakes off, sell them on the local forum and pick up a set of Magura, Formula or Shimano brakes to replace them. You’ll be much happier if you do.

Literally everything else about this bike was first class. XX1 is rockin and the Fox fork is totally badass and rides like a dream. But what really makes any hardtail is the frame, this bike was no different. It was excellent. Very stiff and lightweight, and it had a great response in handling. I remember being able to really rail a few bermed turns and pump through a couple of whoops sections as smooth as butter. It was all around just a really great handling bike.

The only bad thing I had to say about this bike was that I still felt slightly cramped on it compared to a 29er frame. And as I have said in each review so far, I believe that to be more because of my bias towards 29ers rather than how the bike actually rides and feels.

Overall Thoughts

I don’t have a single bad thing to say about this bike aside from being unsure about the 27.5 wheels. Especially on a hardtail most people would opt for the bigger wheelsize of the 29er and personally I am no different. I am very thankful for Nathanael Goodell from Sun & Ski Sports in Grapevine for really recommending that I try this bike. It really served to change my opinion of the Marin brand and that is a good thing by all accounts. The more great bike manufacturers there are the better the products they will continue putting out.

Update: One downside that I do see to this bike is that Marin only supports a 5 year warranty with the carbon fiber frames and their full suspension frames. Since I’m not overly familiar with the brand I wanted to look into their warranty policy and that’s what I found. So this particular bike is covered for only 5 years, after that you’re out of luck. I would say that most likely if you are purchasing this bike then you probably flip bikes sooner than every 5 years, but if you don’t then it is something you should definitely consider.

2 points I want to make before concluding.

  1. I think that I have a bias towards riding 29ers because I’m so used to mine. Please take my review with a grain of salt.
  2. The trail that was used at the Interbike Dirt Demo was very open, no trees and only 1 fast-tight corner. In essence it was a 29er dream and really didn’t test the limits of the 27.5 models. I do think this played a role in my opinions on the wheelsize.

I definitely recommend you get to a local dealer or a Marin demo in your area to test ride one for yourself because your ride may be massively different from mine. In fact, I can say at this point that all but 1 person has disagreed with me on my standpoint with 27.5′s. Which means that a lot of people either really dig the way 27.5′s ride or… they’e drinking a lot of 27.5 koolaid…


What do you think?

I would love your feedback and thoughts on this review. Let’s open up a discussion in the comments below!