Monday, June 17, 2024


HomeZA LifestyleLifestyle FeaturesGetting back into bicycling...

Getting back into bicycling…

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Having grown up in the ’80s riding all kinds of bicycles, including MTBs of that era, I first got back into bicycling as an adult around 2018 when I bought a Trek Fuel EX 5.

Back then, I would ride my bike frequently around the trails near to where I lived and enjoyed getting out into the fresh air as often as possible.

Photo credit: Simon Morton / ZA Lifestyle

In 2020 when the world was turned upside down and the news broke about the global lockdown, I frantically phoned around to see who still had stock of Wahoo indoor trainers, the only place I could find within reach was Sportsman’s Warehouse in Middleberg, Mpumalanga (approximately 2-hours drive away), so I rushed off, literally the day before lockdown and bought the last one that they had left in stock.

During the lockdown, I was so happy that I’d put in this effort as I used it every day and found that when linked up to Zwift, you’d log in to this online world where thousands of cyclists from all over the planet, who were in the same situation as we all were back then, would be happily going about there daily lives, this helped me stay structured and mentally strong during this difficult time.

Image source: Zwift

Then in 2021, in an attempt to kickstart my business after the tail-end of the Covid era, I relocated to Parkhurst, Johannesburg, to be closer to the industry that I work in. At this stage, everything was new and different, and the landscape around me was unfamiliar, so I decided to sell my cycling stuff as I was more focused on my work at this point, which in hindsight, was a very silly decision.

Fasttrack to 2024, and I’ve been living now in Jo’burg for coming-up 3 years, after doing some online research, I’ve discovered that there are a few riding trails right on my doorstep, with the closest being Delta Park.

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I’d had such good experiences with my previous Trek and great customer service from my local Trek store back then in Pretoria, that I decided to go straight to the Trek store in Fourways, Johannesburg to see what new products were on the market these days…

The salesman at the store (Ehren Berry) knows his stuff, he took me through all the different bikes that they had available and asked me what kind of riding I would be doing, very quickly we honed in on the Marlin 8, which was on sale for R19k as it was last years model (usually R23k).

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

What caught my eye was the stunning red paint job, with cables that are routed in the frame, decals that are clear-coated over, and on the headstock, there’s a Trek emblem that looks to be laser cut—giving the bike an overall sleek look.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

I don’t remember seeing entry-level hardtails back in 2018 with such premium components. Talking components, the Marlin 8 comes fitted with a full (apart from the bottom bracket) SRAM SX Eagle 1×12 simple and lightweight drive train.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

The front forks are by RockShox (Judy Silver), which is a Solo Air spring, with 100mm travel and are rebound adjustable.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

To offset the lack of rear suspension, the Marlin 8 comes standard with a dropper post, so that when the terrain gets bumpy and the trail gets flowy you drop the post and then your legs become the rear suspension.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Moving away from a full suspension bike almost sounds like a downgrade in a sense, but in another, you are getting a fast-rolling bike that can be ridden on the road more often with ease and you get to save money on both the purchase price and ongoing maintenance costs.

With its 29-inch rims, tubeless-ready Maxxis Ardent tyres and hardtail set-up, the Marlin 8 is built to be a fast roller, both on and off-road.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

I couldn’t justify spending R45k and upwards on one of their latest full-suspension bikes, especially with the kind of riding that I would be doing, and when in 2024 you can buy a sleek-looking hardtail with such premium components for around the 20k mark.

It seemed like a no-brainer to me, so I made my decision right there to buy the MY23 Marlin 8. Ehren assisted me with the bike setup using the suspension calculator that is on Trek’s website, he then very quickly dialled in the correct amount of air into the forks and fitted a set of red Crankbrothers Double Shot 1 pedals to finish off the bike.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Since getting home with my Marlin 8, I can’t stop riding my local trails. The gearing is superb when grinding up hills, it shifts instantly, without looking for gears. The bike is very light and easy to manoeuvre, combined with good feel and travel from the front forks, making it confidence-inspiring when riding down my local flowing pump course. Brakes are relatively entry-level from Shimano (MT200), however, they work just fine.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Overall I am very pleased with my purchase, I couldn’t be happier, it takes me back to riding bicycles as a kid, simple yet fun. I am now looking forward to logging lots of trail kilometres with my new Marlin 8.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Shout out to Ehren and the team at Trek Johannesburg for your great advice and service—you guys rock!

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Simon Morton
Simon Morton
Online Editor at ZA Bikers.