Marin Pioneer Trail

Marin Factory Photo

In Corner # One we have: The MARIN Pioneer Trail ALLOY HT Series with 20.5″ frame & 26″ wheels: The Alloy HT series combines off-road durability with performance components for active riders. Lightweight, double-butted 6000 series Edge 3 tubing is mated to comfortable Marin Sport geometry, placing riders in an upright riding position.  For more read the nitty-gritty from

And Corner # Two is: The Mongoose Maxim with 18″ frame & 26″ wheels: Designed for peak performance under rugged conditions, the 26″, 21-speed Mongoose MGX Maxim will tackle all your off-road and in-city journeys with ease. It offers an alloy frame with both FRONT & REAR SUSPENSION.  See Mongoose MAXIM for more details on this guy.

Mongoose Maxim

Mongoose Factory Photo

 The Tale of  (2) Conversions

One of biggest challenges I face with converting brand new bicycles into  brand new electrically assisted vehicles is probably not what you’d expect. I have a tough time letting go of them after the sale. I become attached to them and want to continue tweaking them in until their perfect. This is of course contrary to the reason I’m building these bikes in the first place, which is to make a living from selling them. The problem is I believe, that each conversion, when finished becomes much more than the sum of its parts. Ultimately, I’m left with a bicycle that has a unique personality that is often quite different from the stock bike I started with. In short, it is now the bike that Matt built.

Take for instance two recent MTB Conversions, one of which left for a new home yesterday. The first one is a $199.00 Mongoose Maxim dual suspension MTB with an 18 frame.  The 2nd one is a $499.00 MARIN Pioneer Trail front suspension hardtail MTB with an 20.5″ frame. They are both built for mountain biking 1st & anything else 2nd. They are also  both sold to the same basic target market. That said, the Mongoose is very much aimed at the lower end of this market & can be purchased from places like Wal-Mart, Cosco & Toys R Us. While the MARIN is competing more in the middle of the market & will be purchased by people looking for a high quality bike under $800.00.


My over all impressions after assembling, testing, adjusting & riding both bikes where quite similar (see Carlisle Sales for reviews) so I’ll focus on the differences. The Mongoose’s additional rear suspension is the most notable difference. At high speeds it really smooths out the teeth jarring bumps. The Marin’s hardtail, on the other hand communicate’s those bump’s with great accuracy. Although neither of these bikes would be considered to be light weight, the MARIN’s weight contributes to its overall rock solid feel while the Mongoose’s weight is just,… well heavy. It is a lot of bike for a little bit of money however & does everything it’s supposed to do reasonably well. For me, the MARIN is the better bargain of the two. Yes, it’s twice the price but it does everything it’s supposed to do nearly perfectly and it has a quality feel to it that is tough to describe other than saying that it feels like a high quality piece of equipment. Both of these bikes are worth every penny of their asking price but if I could scratch together the additional money I would buy the MARIN. (See -marin-pioneer-trail-hardtail for details)

MTB Conversions

A Mongoose & a Marin. Similar but Different.

Life After Conversion

I built the Mongoose on speculation. Meaning I converted it to sell as opposed as converting it after it was sold.

Mongoose Conversion

36V Gear Drive Mongoose Conversion

My goal for the mongoose was to keep it true to its original purpose. That meant adding the least amount of weight as possible and keeping the original appearance in tack. To do this I went with E BikeKit’s gear driven hub mounted on the rear. Hidden behind the gears & painted black it is all but invisible.  The 36 Volt light weight LiFeP04 battery pack is stored inside of a Wilderness Energy Battery Bag & mounted on a Avinare Rear Rack attached to the seat post. It gives no indication of what’s inside. Because the Mongoose had the twist style shifter’s I had to use the thumb actuated throttle. All of the wiring is tightly zipped tied & looks no different than the brake or shifter cables. The finished conversion weighed in at 56 lbs and stayed true to my original goal. See MAXIM E-BikeKit Conversion for details. With the conversion kit installed the rear suspension really shined. Keeping the rear end firmly planted at high speeds while traversing the natural rumble strips of tree roots was very impressive. The ability to go fast in short distances on rough terrain while still being able to maneuver around and over obstacles is also very cool. Anther benefit of the Gear Driven E -BikeKit hub is the low-speed torque that is available. It enables you to move forward with your feet off of the pedals. Traversing stream beds and extremely rocky conditions is now possible without having to put your feet down or back on the pedals. (see “The electric MTB experience”) The MAXIM E-Bike not only does all of these things, it does them in a way that the person riding next to you may not even realize that your bike is anything different than his. This is a true  Stealth E- MTB . (See Mongoose MTB E-BikeKit Conversion)

The Marin Conversion on the other hand was built to a customers specifications. That customer wanted to replace their old mountain bike with and electrically assisted mountain bike that could be used for commuting, recreational & mountain bike riding. This customer was a big guy. 6’3″ and 275 pounds give or take a few and he knew he needed a large well-built bicycle to handle his size and weight.

I had a number of stock and already converted bicycles on hand for him to test drive in almost every configuration. Direct Drive front or rear, Gear Drive front or rear, 36 and 48 Volt in SLA or Li-ion. I also had a Ridekick electric pusher bike trailer in stock which I had put behind the Marin bike. He didn’t seem too interested in the Ridekick but since he was interested in the Marin I convinced him to take them both for a spin. He came back impressed with both but the Ridekick just wasn’t his cup of tea. “Maybe for my girl friend” he said.


Marin E-Bike

This customer had already done a fair amount of homework prior to coming to my shop and after about an hour of test riding and discussing different configurations on different styles of bicycles he decided on E-BikeKits direct drive 1000 Watt max kit mounted on the rear of the Marin Pioneer Trail bike and using the 48 volt LiFeP04 battery pack. Earlier I had  tried to convince him on  using the gear drive hub on the back to save weight & to keep more of stock appearance but he was pretty much sold on the additional power of the direct drive. So that’s what I built and I’m very glad that I did. Because OMG is this thing fast. It’s the “Ultimate Urban Guerrilla Bicycle”  if ever there was one.

With out a speedometer I cannot say just how fast it goes but I am quite sure that it goes at least 26 mph on a level road with no pedaling, 30 mph on any type of down hill grade and 20 mph on a moderate uphill grade. This thing just flat-out flies. I wish I would have had a few more days to play with it. The only test equipment I got a chance to use was my Watts-Up Meter.  I can confidently tell you that with a ” hot-of-the-charge” 56.4 LiFeP04 Battery Pack a 200 lb rider (me) a moderate grade & a “wide-open” throttle that the D.D. 1000 watt max E-BikeKit hub motor is churning out 1,176 watts of power.  Add to that its extremely stiff frame and very powerful linear pull brakes  and this bike feels like it could do all most anything you asked it to do. The quick shifting Shimano EZ-FIRE shifter’s allowed me to use the traditional motorcycle style twist throttle as opposed to the thumb actuated throttle. This makes using the throttle and gear shifter at the same time not only possible but easy to do.  Not that you really need to change gears all that often but if you’re really pouring it on you can up-shift or down-shift a few clicks & keep both your legs & the motor in the fat of the power band.  It’s really very cool. Wish I would have had more time to practice. The Suntour XCI Front Forks, very stiff  Double Butted Aluminum Frame & Alex DC25 Double Walled rims handled the worst bumps and potholes with ease although the hard tail rear and was no match for the smoothness of the Mongoose’s mono shock rear end.

Outside of doing what was required for an electric bike conversion of the only additional items added to this bike were a beefy rear mount kickstand made by a Greenfield and a Planet Bike water bottle cage and bottle. Two other must-have items for a bike like this are a rear view mirror and some type of battery monitoring gauge. My customer decided he would add these at a later date. I hope he does. He’ll need the mirror to keep from getting himself killed and a battery monitor to get the most out of his expensive LiFeP04 batteries. Sadly the Marin Conversion left much to soon.  I would like to have become better acquainted with her. I didn’t even have time for a proper picture.

The Conclusion? Similar bikes using similar e-bike conversion kits can yield very different results.  It’s not so much a question of how much do you have  to spend, although more is always better but more of a question of what are going to use the bike for? Dollar for Dollar these bikes, the E-BikeKits & the batteries  were all very close in price.  The results? Both are great bikes offering very different riding experiences.   So,… whether you need a new bike now or simply want to build your own, Make YOUR NEXT RIDE an EZgo.

Electrify Your Bike

2013 E-BikeKit w/DD Hub

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