Nestled among countless other Californian bike labels and with access to the best of Marin County’s trails it’s no surprise that Marin continues to thrive among the mountain biking community, both at home, throughout Europe and further afield.
“We’re certainly well placed to watch the evolution of mountain biking,” as vice president of product development Jason Faircloth puts it. “We do get compared to other brands occasionally when dealers pass feedback, but we’re not about following the pack, Marin has always been beating its own path.”
Speaking to BikeBiz during a recent press demo in Peaslake, Faircloth explained that the future looks particularly exciting for Marin, having been sold to European investment firm Minestone Limited.
“The February 1st acquisition comes as there is light at the end of the tunnel, as the economic downturn begins to stabilise, says Faircloth. “I think Marin’s founder Robert Buckley was looking to pass the torch to allow him more time with his family and ultimately allow the brand to begin the next chapter. The gentleman behind Minestone has other interests in the bicycle business too. The headquarters remains in Novato and we’re taking on plenty of new faces to boost our human resources, marketing and product development.”
Outside California, Marin now has employees in Taiwan, Canada and Switzerland, as well as distribution partners in 40 countries. The acquisition, according to Faircloth, doesn’t take any power away from Marin, though does open doors to developing new and fine tuning existing product to a greater extent than previously. So what’s new for 2012?
“The Rift Zone was a whole new package for this year. We had to test the pivot systems and Quad 3 suspension technology in real world conditions. With complex suspension designs you can often solve one problem and create a few new ones. The development timeline can’t be rushed, as problems have to be overcome in real ways, no quick fixes. It’s immensely satisfying when you get it right, so although we’re a tiny bit behind schedule with deliveries, we’re very happy with the new bikes.”
Asked what’s in the pipeline given the expanded budget, Fairloth revealed that it’s now 26 and 29-inch wheels in equal measure off-road. As for the re-emergence of the 650b wheel size, Faircloth told BikeBiz: “At present I don’t see the need for it, it seems to be a very European reaction to the 29er. However, if it proves to be a worthwhile investment, then I’m sure we could consider it.”
For now, there’s plenty to be getting on with in Marin’s product development hideaway. The brand does after all have an ever-growing commuter catalogue, something which BikeBiz is told is to expand going into 2013, though just a careful selection of these 700c models will reach the UK via UK distributor ATB Sales.
“Our 700c bikes retain a lot of the character from our mountain bikes,” says Faircloth. “The geometry isn’t massively different, they almost ride like a mountain bike, meaning they’re quite adept to covering distance quickly. We’re not too far from San Francisco either and the scene there serves as inspiration to the design team.”
Stock of Marin’s 2012 bikes has arrived with ATB Sales and is now available for order on 01424 753566. For those yet to familiarise themselves with Marin’s catalogue, the brand will also be present at Interbike and Eurobike later this year.
More photos from the Demo Day can be found on the BikeBiz Facebook page.