Trek Marlin vs Giant Talon – Making the right selection

Different bike brands could sometimes share similar features and benefits in their various models. This is the case of Trek Marlin and Giant Talon. We take a look at what’s important when making the right selection.

I came across the Giant Talon bike a few years ago when my cousin received it as a gift for her 17th birthday. I thought it was quite stellar and she even let me take a few trips around the block on it. It felt great!

It wasn’t planned but as it turns out, that one ride piqued my interest in cycling and I started to research more about the bike and others like it.

That’s how I came across the Trek Marlin. It appeared to be similar to the Talon with very minor tweaks on either side. So, I dug deeper and uncovered just how different they were.

What is the difference between Trek Marlin and Giant Talon?

Trek Marlin
Giant Talon
Aluminum Bontrager Connection
Aluminum Giant GXOV3
Altus Shimano
Shimano Acera
Shimano Hydraulic disc
Tektro hydraulic disc
Bontrager XR2 Comp
Maxxis Ikon
Bontrager Arvada
Aluminum Bontrager, Blendr Compatible
Giant Sport

Trek Marlin vs Giant Talon – How do they compare?


Trek Marlin is built for racers but that doesn’t mean it cannot be used for casual rides to the park. On the Trek XL bike, the seat tube is at an angle of 73 degrees and it is paired with a head tube at a 69.5-degree angle and a 1159mm wheelbase. 

The Talon family has model 1,2 and 3 in their catalog. They all have an aluminum frame the difference lies in the size of their wheels and the value of some of their components. With Talon 3 you get 29†wheels while on the Talon 2 and 1 you get a 27.5†wheel.

Talon drives a hard bargain as a cross country bike with the 73.5-degree seat angle that maximizes your power to the pedals and keeps your tire traction firm. 

The head angle is slightly slacking at a 69-degree angle which is a bit more relaxed than on the Marlin. Reach and stack are either short or high across all models to give riders a more upright riding position.


Trek Marlin provides riders with a 2×9-speed drivetrain that is a combination of the Shimano Altus shifters, front derailleur, and the rear derailleur controlled by the Shimano Acera system. 

This setup is done like so because Acera is the better derailleur and because most of the shifting is handled by the rear, it makes more sense practically and economically to boost the rear and pair it with cheaper shifters.

The Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes are unbeatably the best control system any bike could have because they are great all year round regardless of the season.

Although the Bontrager Connection wheels are not tubeless-ready, they wrap snuggly around the Bontrager XR2Comp tires and are tied to aluminum quick-release hubs.

The Giant Talon offers a similar type and speed drivetrain, chainring and cassette set up. A difference in mechanism is obvious in Talon’s brake choice which is the TRP hydraulic disc brakes.  

In riding experience, this difference in the brand name is not quite significant other than the matter of lower value that TRP disc brakes are in the face of Shimano.

On the plus side, Talon’s Giant GXOV3 wheels are tubeless-ready but the Maxxis Ikon tires are not which means that if you want the full benefits of a tubeless set-up, you need to buy tubeless-compatible tires, the valves, and sealant to install successfully.

Riding Experience 

The aggressive geometry of the Marlin bike makes for a bike that does as you wish when riding hard. With the coil-spring fork and agile steering, this bike can conquer technical and extra rugged terrain. 

On sharp and sudden turns, the bike displays good tracking. However, because the wheels are not tubeless, the tires suffer from high tire pressure in extremely rocky terrain which makes it hard to hold the line.

Thankfully, there is a process you can follow to have the tubeless wheel option installed.

The Talon 2 seems to achieve a balance between a commuter, fitness, and experimental racing bike. With its light and fast tires, it breezes through dry trails and paths without any lag on paved roads. 

It is capable of steering sharply and responding quickly to pedal rotations and can see you through some rough and rocky terrain effortlessly.

Trek Marlin vs Giant Talon – A Comparison Overview 

Trek Marlin Review  

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This bike is available in seven sizes starting from XS to XXL. It features two chainrings in compromise for the smaller number of gear cogs in the 9-speed drivetrain.

These chainrings create smaller jumps between gears which makes the bike perfect for beginners in the world of mountain biking.

The 22/36 gears on Marlin 7’s XS bike are easier to control and the 36×11 on the XXL are more expansive compared to other bike brands and they offer faster rides.

The Marlin bike brand offers two women-specific bikes featuring lower heights in standover, shorter cranks, short-reach brake levers, narrower handlebars, and saddles designed with women in mind.


  • Rack mounts provided
  • Fork lockout
  • 2×9 drivetrain is a fast and effective uphill
  • Gear display on the rear shifters
  • Internal routing


  • Wheels and tires not tubeless-ready

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Giant Talon Review 

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This bike is hailed as a great all-terrain commuter, fitness, and experimental racing bike because of the 100mm fork, 2×9-speed drivetrain, and the tubeless-ready wheels.

The coil spring fork suspension offered by RockShox XC30 may not feel as refined as an air spring fork, and may also be heavier but it doesn’t weigh down the front end and you can go over high obstacles almost effortlessly.

There is a preload adjustment offered to make customizable changes to suit your specific riding style and weight. Another plus to the suspension features is the lockout lever that can be used to turn suspension on or off based on the terrain.


  • Internal cabling
  • RockShox Suspension
  • 2×9 drivetrain
  • Quick-release wheel levers
  • Gear indicator


  • Tread pattern not as aggressive

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Verdict: So, which is better – Trek Marlin or Giant Talon?

The Giant Talon is better than the Trek Marlin. The Giant Talon takes the biscuit Partly because it offers more features and benefits in terms of the quick-release levers, gear indicators, and the option to customize and upgrade parts of it.

Another large factor that led to this conclusion is the ability of the bike to fit the needs of various types of cyclists and their riding styles.

Although Trek Marlin drives a hard bargain, they don’t elicit as much excitement as the Talon.


Is the trek Marlin a good gift for my 13-year-old son?

Unless your child weighs more than 150 pounds, I would discourage you from making that purchase. This is because the RockShox Suspension on the Trek Marlin is spring-coil which your child is not heavy enough to weigh down. This will create vigorous bounce on the front wheel and lead to discouragement because he won’t get to use it out on the rugged terrain.

I just bought my talon 2, any suggestions on what to upgrade first?

The dropper post was my first upgrade. Solely because it comes in handy in the event of a race.