First Impression: Marin Hawk Hill

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At $1,499 the 27.5 Hawk Hill may be the lowest-priced bike in our upcoming group test of under-$2,500 full-suspension trail bikes, but it’s far from overmatched. Judicious use of house-branded components keeps the budget tight, without cutting corners on important bits such as the Shimano Deore Shadow Plus derailleur, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and high-quality suspension bearings.

From the get go, the RockShox Recon Silver RL fork impressed me with its comfort, control and tunability. Kudos to RockShox for trickling down Motion Control damping and Solo Air technology to lower price points.

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The Hawk Hill’s geometry results in a low-slung, stable demeanor that’s de rigueur for 120 mm trail bikes these days. The bike felt confident and capable at speed, with the tradeoff being a few pedal strikes on rocky tech trails.

Marin leveraged knowledge gained while developing the IsoTrac suspension found on its flagship models when designing the MultiTrac rear suspension for the Hawk Hill. The MultiTrac kinematics are optimized for the bike’s single-ring drivetrain, and the designed-in anti-squat helps combat pedal bob.

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The stock wheelset comes with 27 mm wide (internal) Marin-branded tubeless compatible rims. The folding bead “Performance Line” Hans Dampf tires lack Schwalbe’s cut-resistant SnakeSkin sidewall and they’re not rated as tubeless compatible. However, they worked just fine on my demo bike with Stan’s NoTubes tubeless tape, valves and sealant.

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For $1,499 you don’t get dropper post, but the asking price may leave enough change in your pocket to afford to add one. Conveniently, the frame has internal dropper routing.

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That’s it for now. Look for a full review in the next issue, Dirt Rag #197, which hits newsstands on March 28. Or, better yet, subscribe and get Dirt Rag in your mailbox even sooner.