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Picking up a Trek Marlin 5 tomorrow. Pretty excited about getting into the sport. It's intended use will be to gain confidence and skill, enjoy the local single-track systems, and gain knowledge of bike mechanics. Getting in better shape is also something I'm looking forward to.

I also will use it for trail patrol and response purposes, as I work as a Park Ranger and my district has recently started a bike patrol program.

As someone who likes to tinker, upgrade, and customize, what suggestions do yall have given the bikes intended purposes?

Perhaps the answer to this question could be found deep within the forums, but when I came across similar threads, I was overwhelmed with folks saying "just buy a newer, better bike instead of upgrading." While I won't write off the option, that's a long way down the road. I also think upgrading and customizing is fun and I am genuinely looking forward to sinking teeth into my new bike in the same way I've done with my other hobbies of firearms, off-roading, and prepping. (down for a good chat about those too)

Any advice and helpful comments are welcome. Looking forward to having a fun conversation about my new bike and the sport in general.

Lastly, anyone in the El Dorado County area who rides Sly Park/Flemming Meadows, I'd like to pick your brain about the trail system and your thoughts about patrolling the lake loop.

Thanks all.
 

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WillWorkForTrail
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I’m going to speak in generalities for the sake of being specific about one thing: You should really decide what you want to upgrade as you ride the bike and decide this or that could be better.

For instance, I have no idea what components are coming on this bike. But I bet the fork could be better. Especially if it’s a coil fork and you’re not within the recommend weight range for the spring in the fork. Maybe then your first thing is upgrade the fork.

Maybe the bike doesn’t feel particularly heavy when you pick it up, be pedaling it makes it seem like it’s heavier than you thought. In that case, some wheels and tires might be in order - particularly if you don’t have something on there that can be set up tubeless. Tubeless is great stuff.

Otherwise, you may decide you don’t like the brakes, especially if they’re mechanical brakes, and you might want to put some hydraulic brakes on it. Maybe with larger rotors, if you’re going to be carrying a pack that has medical supplies or something and you have any particularly long descents you need to control your speed on.

I’m sure you have a shop you’re working with to some extent, and they can probably help you out in terms of parts you’ll like when you decide what you need to upgrade, again, I’ve been very vague about parts, because it’s my opinion that you should ride the bike and decide what to do.
 

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If the Marlin 5 is what your budget allows, all I can say is just ride the bike , as is, with maybe a change of the grips and/or saddle depending on what it comes with and they feel to you. Other than that, if you start to do "serious" upgrades, you'll easily spend the cost of the entire bike in no time at all, as that's a very basic, entry level bike, with heavy parts and you pay to loose weight, big time.

Seeing as it's a 2015, I'll assume it's not new old stock, but rather used, so maybe some parts are worn out or nearly worn out and due for replacement, then that's a good time to look to upgrade components. Me personally, I started on a bike with these exact components and within not even a year, with the amount of riding I was doing had worn out a lot of them and/or they just weren't the quality I needed.

Your problem will come in the form of the fact that it's a 7spd setup, probably with a freewheel and not freehub, so if you look to upgrade say the drivetrain to 9 or 10spd, you'd also need to change the wheels and as with all those other threads you don't like, you're spending more money on that thing than it's worth, better off just riding it as is and saving and buying a better bike.
 

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Last two posts cover it pretty well.

Seems like there is something to be said for starting on a lower end bike. Makes you appreciate (or not) higher end components. And by "or not," it is quite conceivable that due to your trails or riding style or just you, some things won't wind up mattering much to you.
 
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