What Is Marin MultiTrac Suspension, Dude?
What do Marin’s MultiTrac suspension and 1998 cinematic masterpiece The Big Lebowski have in common? Read on and let’s find out - all while learning why we absolutely love MultiTrac suspension for our full suspension mountain bikes.
So What Is Marin’s MultiTrac?
MultiTrac is the name we give to the suspension platform on many of Marin’s full suspension mountain bikes and is a big ingredient in the secret sauce that makes our bikes so dreamy on the trails.
A suspension ‘platform’ is, simply put, the design and configuration of a bike’s rear suspension. It’s the moving parts of your mountain bike’s frame and is what dictates how the suspension extends and compresses when it moves along the trail.
Certain suspension platforms are very complex with lots of pivots and bearings, others are more simple with fewer moving parts. There are hundreds of different designs and variations, and almost endless debate as to which is best for what.
Our favorite design, and the one we used on many of Marin’s bikes is called MultiTrac. It appeared first on the much-loved Marin Hawk Hill and you’ll find it throughout our range, on all full-suspension mountain bikes with less than 150mm travel.
Now, a note for the tech heads. MultiTrac, if you’re wondering, is what’s called a single pivot, 4-bar design. That means that it combines the benefits of both single pivot and 4-bar suspension designs, and makes for a setup that’s simple and reliable but with the improved suspension performance 4-bar allows.
If you take just one thing from reading this, it’s that MultiTrac is designed to make our bikes ride damn well. You’ll experience loads of grip, your bike will feel smooth through the travel and your suspension will work effortlessly up, along and down.
It’s confidence-inspiring, it’s predictable and it ‘feels’ exactly the way it should throughout your whole ride, whatever the conditions. To quote that cinematic masterpiece we introduced at the start - there’s ‘no funny stuff’.
And that’s what The Big Lebowski and our suspension have in common.
See, you didn’t even have to read 'til the end.
The Many Zones Of MultiTrac
To dive a little deeper, we love MultiTrac because it allows us to really control how our bike’s suspension feels. We can really dive into the way it performs, tuning it in minute detail to react to those twists and turns, lumps and bumps, rocks and roots exactly as we want it to…
Something we love about MultiTrac is that it allows us to approach suspension in terms of three key areas - which we call zones 1, 2 and 3. MultiTrac allows us to build a bike that performs exactly how we want it to in each of these zones.
Let’s drill down into some more detail:
Zone 1 - Beginning Stroke
The first zone of the bike’s suspension movement is the Beginning Stroke. This is from 0mm of travel to just past the sag point.
Tech Term: ‘Suspension sag’ refers to the amount your suspension compresses under your body weight alone.
Imagine you’re on your bike and cruising down the trail, you roll into a rough and rowdy section of your favourite singletrack.
Within a split second, your bike’s suspension begins to compress, moving into the travel to absorb those first hits. This is the beginning of the suspension’s stroke - Beginning Stroke - it’s the force it takes to ‘activate’ your suspension and the very first part of the travel.
Mulitrac allows us to finely tune this first zone of your bike’s travel. We can smooth out the buzz from the trail, quickly and effortlessly get the suspension moving and keep your wheels gripping tight to the terrain with no loss of traction or power transfer.
This initial zone is super important as it’s the area you’ll always make use of on any ride, of any speed, on any terrain. Getting this dialled to perfection is super important in making our bikes feel kick-ass.
Tech heads take note, MultiTrac uses low starting leverage curves as well as anti-squat values that are within 90-11% throughout the entire gear range.
Zone 2: Mid Stroke
You guessed it, Mid Stroke is the middle of the suspension’s range of movement. It’s from just after the sag point to about 75% travel.
You’ll reach this zone when you’re tearing down the trail, firing through rough terrain, pushing hard into corners and really giving it some gas. This is where you’re really having some fun. It’s the area where you really need to trust your bike so you can just fire and forget.
We tune this zone so that our bikes maintain their geometry beautifully, holding their shape and not blowing through their travel when you’re pushing them hard.
The rear wheel maintains its grip, the ‘shape’ of your bike stays constant underneath you and you’re able to just enjoy the ride, get in the zone and have a blast with no nasty surprises to snap you back to reality.
Zone 3: Bottom Out
Zone 3 is the final zone of your suspension’s travel.
Those heavy hits. Hard landings. Cased jumps. Drops to flat.
Bottom out is from about 75% of your bike’s travel to the end.
Tech Term: Bottom Out refers to the point when you use all of your bike’s suspension travel and bang up against the end of the shock’s maximum range. On some bikes it can feel harsh, blow your feet off the pedals and even break your bike.
We’ve all experienced this zone and it almost always comes when we’re pushing the hardest and testing our limits. It sucks. Not on a Marin though.
We tune our bikes so that when you do screw up and land hard you’ll be reminded that your Marin has got your back and you’re safe to try again. No harsh bottom-outs and no smack-downs, just a big smile and plenty of confidence to send it again - hopefully with a smoother landing this time!
We tune MultiTrac bikes so that their suspension ‘ramps up’ and the end of the travel. That means that the suspension gradually gets firmer through the bike’s travel before quickly firming up at the very end without bottoming out. That means no huge “bump!” when you land hard and heavy, no broken bits and no “Nah, I’m not trying that again!” feeling.
To get really technical, our bikes are designed with a ‘regressive hook’ meaning that their leverage ratio ramps up super hard at the very end of the travel. This slows the wheel, minimises stress on the rear shock and keeps that bottom-out feeling comfy.
Tech Term: Leverage Ratio is the ratio between the distance the rear wheel moves vs. the distance the shock moves as the suspension cycles. By looking at this movement, often on a diagram, you can understand how a bike’s suspension behaves as it moves through its travel.
In talking about MultiTrac, we’ve just got to show our favourite suspension manufacturers some love - they design and build the shocks that sit in the middle of MultiTrac and are absolutely essential to that “hell yeah!” feeling on the trail.
Here at Marin we really believe in working hand in hand with those suspension manufacturers. Our suspension platform, MultiTrac, is awesome but it only goes so far. The secret sauce comes from combining it with a well-tuned, high-quality rear damper. We work super closely with the suspension brands, combining our collective knowledge.
To quote Marin’s Senior Product Manager Matt Cipes “We work hand in hand with the suspension manufacturers to discern and refine, picking the fly crap out of the pepper to provide the right trail feel”.
An Old Friend, Dude
Why are we doing all this?
You see, we want our bikes to feel like an old friend. Like slipping that Big Lebowski DVD in the drive and enjoying 1hr 57m with your favourite Dude.
Jump on a Marin and start railing and you’ll feel instantly at home.
No funny stuff, nothing to adapt to or learn. Just great-feeling, consistent and predictable suspension from the get-go, wherever you are in the world and whatever you’re riding.
From Beginning to Mid-Stroke to Bottom Out.
We want you to trust your bike every step of the way, especially when you’re on your fun limiter and going faster, hitting bigger lips, and sending new lines.
If you’re able to trust your bike, you’ll gain confidence and you’ll feel good.
And if you’re feeling good, you’re riding fast… and that’s when you’re really having fun!