The pickings were pretty slim at Interbike’s Outdoor Demo this year, especially if you didn’t want to just ride e-bikes all day, which I didn’t (I did try one out – it was alright but didn’t offer the same satisfaction as riding a human-powered bicycle).
Luckily, Marin was around with a full fleet of non-e-bikes. Rather than gravitating towards the new Wolf Ridge (we have one of those in house that we are currently testing), I instead chose the less-talked-about B-17.
The B-17 is Marin’s aluminum-framed, 27plus trail bike and one of three offerings in that category along with the Hawk Hill 27.5 and the Rift Zone 29er.
Marin offers three different B-17 options, the 1, 2 and 3, all of which are built around Series 3 6061 aluminum frames and the 120 mm MultiTrac rear suspension system.
I rode the top-of-the-line B-17 3, which features a RockShox Pike, a RockShox Super Deluxe RCT3 Debonair rear shock, a SRAM GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain, Shimano Deore M6000 brakes and a KS LEV dropper. The size small, which I rode, sports a 100 mm dropper while all other sizes bump up to 125 mm of travel. Stans NoTubes Major S1 rims are wrapped in WTB Ranger 2.8 inch tires around Formula hubs. This build will set you back $3,700.
The B-17 2 and 1 are priced at $2,650 and $2,100, respectively. Full specs can be found here.
I scooped up a size small at Outdoor Demo and took it for a spin up the dirt road and then on a couple of the black-rated trails at Bootleg Canyon, including a double black diamond that we definitely should have gone down instead of up, so there was a good bit of hike-a-bike involved. Next time we’ll know – but we won’t be coming back here again for Interbike anytime soon so there might not be a next time.
Anyway, back to the bike.
The Marin website dubs the B-17 as an “all-terrain trail shredder” perfect for “sandy, rocky, nasty trails,” which aptly describes Bootleg Canyon. Jagged rocks sticking out of the ground and steep drop-offs combined with the fact that I was wearing no knee or elbow pads and that I definitely didn’t want to get injured at Interbike left me riding a little more cautiously than normal, but I still let loose enough to have some fun.
Overall, the B-17 is just as Marin says it is – capable, playful, confidence-inspiring – and rides as expected for a modern 27plus full-suspension trail bike. Marin mentions that the MultiTrac suspension system is “fine-tuned to have a balanced ride capable of absorbing big hits with an efficient pedaling platform” and that it “combines small bump sensitivity with the feeling of a longer travel system on larger drops.”
The suspension definitely felt efficient as I was climbing up the dirt road, even while standing, and absorbed trail chatter well once we jumped onto the singletrack. I didn’t go for any major “big hits” but I let the tires leave the ground briefly a few times. It certainly didn’t have the mega plush feel of a longer travel bike, but it did a highly satisfactory job of taking the edge off of landing a small drop.
The tires were pumped up way high leaving the demo area, but once I let air out to the appropriate pressure for my weight I felt a lot more confident descending the loose rock and sandy soil of the desert and climbing prowess on steep punches improved immensely.
I thoroughly enjoyed the B-17 in its 27plus configuration, especially in the loose, rocky conditions I was riding it in, but if plus tires aren’t really your thing, or you want the versatility of two wheelsets, the B-17 will run up to 29 x 2.5 inch tires.
If you’re looking for a well-spec’d, predictable trail bike that rides as a trail bike should, the B-17 is worth looking into. While I wouldn’t necessarily call $3,700 “affordable,” it’s a lot less dough than many other bikes in its class while still retaining great ride quality.