Marin Pine Mountain E2 Electric Mountain Bike Review

A throwback and an utterly modern eMTB all in one.

Marin Pine Mountain E2 Electric Mountain Bike
Is it a trail bike? Is it a bikepacking bike? Why not both?Jeff Allen

Warning: Old dude about to wax nostalgic. Please bear with me.

Let’s journey back to 1991. The Cold War is about to end. Nirvana is changing the face of rock. And yours truly is a newly minted mountain biker, having just bought my own $400 fully rigid chromoly GT rig after getting acquainted with the sport aboard my college roommate’s Nishiki.

I loved that GT, ugly splatter paint scheme and all. But I soon became fixated on the minimalist nickel-like finish and gorgeous welds on the steel Marin Pine Mountain that leapt out at me from mountain bike magazines of the day. Truly lust-worthy.

The Pine Mountain name has been in Marin’s line for nearly all of the brand’s three-decade-plus history. After a brief absence, it returned in 2016 (Marin’s 30th anniversary) as a bikepacking-capable, trail-oriented 27.5-plus chromoly steel hardtail. Now, the 2020 model year brings an electrified version in the Pine Mountain E1 and Pine Mountain E2.

Are they as worthy of obsession as their early ’90s forebears?

Marin Pine Mountain E2 Electric Mountain Bike
No, this isn’t a Photoshop job. There really are that many mounts on the Pine Mountain E2’s beautiful chromoly frame.Jeff Allen

What Is a Marin Pine Mountain E2?

The Pine Mountain E2 is a trail-oriented chromoly steel 27.5-plus hardtail mountain bike with ample provisions for bikepacking, including rear rack mounts, frame bag bosses under the toptube, and water bottle mounts on both the seat tube and the underside of the downtube. The retro-style “Bedroll” handlebar—a sort of reverse crossbar design—provides extra mounting area for bags, lights, a GPS computer, and other devices. The continuous upper tube of the bar also shelters the drive system’s display in case of a crash since the display is mounted on the bar’s lower level.

Marin Pine Mountain E2 Electric Mountain Bike
Love, love, love the retro-inspired Bedroll handlebar.Jeff Allen

The 250W Shimano STEPS E8000 mid-drive motor puts out a peak torque of 70Nm. It’s powered by a downtube-mounted 500Wh Shimano E8010 external battery and provides three levels of pedal assist—Eco, Trail, and Boost—up to 20 mph, plus a Walk mode.

While the slender steel frame tubes, Bedroll bar, and skinwall Vee Crown Gem tires lend the Pine Mountain E2 a strong “back in the day” visual vibe, the ebike is contemporary and up-to-the-minute in just about every other way: Boost spacing front and rear, aggressive 66-degree head angle, a climbing-friendly 75-degree seat angle, and a long 636.8-millimeter effective toptube length on our size-large test sample.

Marin Pine Mountain E2 Electric Mountain Bike
We’ve dug the RockShox 35 FS fork before, and like it equally as much aboard the Pine Mountain E2.Jeff Allen

Front suspension is handled by a 120-millimeter-travel RockShox Gold FS fork, and the 12-speed drivetrain consists of a Shimano XT rear derailleur, Shimano SLX shifter and chain, a SunRace 11-50T cassette, and a Shimano E8000 crankset with a 38T chainring. The cable-actuated X-Fusion Manic dropper seatpost gets 125 millimeters of drop on the size-small bike, and 150 millimeters for medium, large, and extra large.

Shimano brakes
Shimano brakes are a welcome sight on any ebike that rolls through Cycle Volta headquarters.Jeff Allen

The tubeless-compatible Marin double-wall aluminum rims are 38 millimeters wide internally, spreading out the 2.8-inch-wide Vee Tire Crown Gem skinwall tires to a width of just under 3 inches, measuring with calipers. Lastly, four-piston Shimano MT520 hydraulic brakes with 180-millimeter Centerlock rotors front and rear bring the whole shebang to a stop.

The Pine Mountain E2 weighed 49.6 pounds on the Cycle Volta scale.

Marin Pine Mountain E2 Electric Mountain Bike riding uphill
Modern geometry and that great RockShox fork help make the eMTB a fantastic descender.Jeff Allen

How Does the Marin Pine Mountain E2 Ride?

Confession: I’m no bikepacker, so I never tested that aspect of the bike’s versatility. But as an aggressive trail hardtail, the Pine Mountain E2 came ready to battle. The slack head angle combined with the smooth travel and sturdy 35-millimeter stanchions of the RockShox 35 FS—a fork we’ve been impressed with before in light of its low cost—provided confidence on steep singletrack and speedy descents on washboard-rutted fire roads. “Pike-esque” is about the highest praise I can think of, and it applies here.

I also made sure to dial in the pressure on the high-volume Vee Tire Crown Gem plus tires to get some added suspension without making the tires sluggish when pedaling hard or squirmy under hard cornering. If I owned the bike, I’d try out some narrower 2.6-inch tires on those 38-millimeter rims to quicken acceleration and perhaps extend the ebike’s range.

The Pine Mountain E2
The Pine Mountain E2 can attack the steepest climbs.Jeff Allen

WIth its 75-degree seat angle and absence of any energy-sucking rear suspension, the Pine Mountain E2 shined best on extended ascents and the rare occasion when a hard out-of-the-saddle climbing effort was required in Eco mode to preserve the battery life of the Shimano STEPS system.

On my longest ride, the Pine Mountain E2 went 21 miles over 3,300 feet of elevation gain mostly in Eco and Trail modes. For an ebike aimed in part at the bikepacking crowd, I was surprised it didn’t have greater range.

Mountain E2
Peekaboo!: Marin displayed the Pine Mountain E2 at last year’s Eurobike show outfitted with a custom Apidura frame bag with a compartment for a spare battery to extend range.Marin Bikes

Since loading up the bike will only decrease that range, bIkepackers would likely want to invest in an extra 500Wh Shimano E8010 battery (MSRP: $610.99) that could be carried in a frame bag or in one of the new generation of ebike-specific backpacks and hydration packs that include a pocket for an ebike battery. (At last year’s Eurobike show, Marin exhibited the Pine Mountain E2 kitted out with a custom Apidura frame bag containing a spare-battery compartment.)

In addition to being a conversation starter on the trail, the Bedroll handlebar was a comfortably modern 780 millimeters wide, with 10 degrees of backsweep, and the four-piston Shimano brakes were the dependable workhorses we’ve grown to expect over the years.

The Shimano 12-speed
The Shimano 12-speed drivetrain performed just okay. We’d prefer a comparable SRAM system.Jeff Allen

This was my first extended period riding a Shimano 12-speed drivetrain. While the system never mis-shifted badly or derailed, shifts felt harsh and less…well, elegant than a comparable SRAM Eagle 12-speed drivetrain. An Eagle NX or GX system would be the first item on my upgrade list.

But there’s no denying the Pine Mountain E2 is a great-performing modern eMTB with touches of heartwarming nostalgia for mountain bikers of a certain age. And if long backcountry adventures are your jam, you’re just a spare battery and some bike bags away from that epic ride experience.

The Pine Mountain E2 is one of Marin’s four hardtail eMTBs.
The Pine Mountain E2 is one of Marin’s four hardtail eMTBs.Jeff Allen

How Much Does the Marin Pine Mountain E2 Cost?

MSRP is $4,199. Marin also offers the Pine Mountain E1, built around the same chromoly steel frame as the E2, for $3,359. The brand’s eMTB line also includes aluminum-frame electric hardtails with the Nail Trail E1 and E2 models, retailing for $2,699 and $3,499, respectively.

In addition to its network of specialty bike shops, Marin also sells bikes on its website for fulfillment through those dealers. To find your nearest shop, use the dealer locator at marinbikes.com.