Framed Bikes are really upping their game these days with several new models in their growing lineup. This year, they went plus-sized with the Marquette 27.5+ aluminum and carbon models. Both offer a ton of value for the money and both promise to provide much-desired traction and comfort. I’ve been riding the Marquette Alloy 27.5+ with SRAM GX and a RockShox Reba RL 120mm fork and despite some shortcomings, this deal is hard to beat.
Framed Marquette Alloy GX Build Features:
- Marquette alloy frameset featuring BOOST 148×12
- RockShox Reba RL 120mm BOOST fork (27.5+/29)
- SRAM GX drivetrain with XG-1150 11-42 cassette
- SRAM DB5 brakes (180/160mm rotors)
- Tubeless-ready 50mm wide Framed wheelset with Minnesota 3.0 tires
- Framed 6061 alloy cockpit
- 3-year frame warranty
- Price: $1199.95
I got framed by a mid-fat
Even with 27.5+ bikes all the rage these days, the Framed Marquette still stands out from the crowd. No, it’s not a marquee brand, but these guys have been perfecting their direct-to-consumer game and have come up with something pretty sweet. In this case, the aluminum version of the Marquette 27.5+ comes in at a respectable weight with a capable build and delivers on the plus-size promise in spades.
The unboxing was a pleasant surprise as I quickly discovered that Framed has indeed upped their game. My first Framed offering was the Minnesota 2.0 Fat Bike and while it was an outstanding value, the fit-and-finish was nothing like the new Marquette. This frame looks great, has a classic color scheme and tells me that these guys have done their homework over the past couple of years.
While hardtails remain an economical way to get into the sport, let’s admit it… they are rough to ride. I mean, if I wanted to get beat up on my ride, then I know just what to do — ride a hardtail. But, thankfully, plus-sized tires are making hardtails fun and comfortable, thus opening up a new market for riders that are looking for more comfort, but don’t have the coin to drop on a full-suspension bike. I rode and loved the Niner ROS 9 Plus last year and have found the Marquette Aluminum 27.5+ just as lovable and even more affordable.
Dialing it in
I always try my best to ride every bike at least once out-of-the-box. With the Marquette, I’ll admit that this was a painful exercise. Honestly, the included riser bar and stem should be abolished, in my opinion. I suppose some may like them, but they are woefully inadequate for this type of bike. Yes, the cockpit is a matter of personal preference, I get that, but my first ride was uncomfortable and weird. Phew… so I got that out of the way.
Thankfully, the cockpit changes can be reasonably economical and easy. I went with the Niner Flat Top RDO 780mm bars and Niner 70mm Trail stem. That combination provided the proper leverage and control to fully-enjoy this bike for its intended purpose — balls-out trail slaying.
Beyond the bar and stem, everything else has been enjoyable and fuss-free. Yeah, the saddle and seatpost could be upgraded (more on that later), but if you buy this bike you’ll want to set aside some funds to take care of the bar/stem immediately.
With 27.5+ 3.0 tires, you can rock lower pressures without worry. I’ve been rolling with 14 psi front and 15 psi in the rear. That amount of air provides excellent bump absorption and killer grip. I say killer grip, but don’t expect magic, you can still overpower the contact patch, but it takes more effort than it does with narrower tires. I’m also really impressed with the included Framed Minnesota 3.0 tires as they roll and corner well while delivering excellent traction both in and out of the saddle.
At 5’10” with a 32″ inseam, the folks at Framed suggested I ride the 16″ frame, which turned out to be a workable fit with the exception of the seatpost, which I maxed out. At times, I could have used another 1/4″ of height, but it really wasn’t a huge deal.
If this was mine, I’d get a carbon post and make sure it had enough length to let my legs stretch out just a tad more, or I’d upsize to an 18″ frame. A longer seatpost provides additional deflection/comfort, so having more extended isn’t necessarily a bad thing — so long as you don’t exceed the max line.
I’ll add that the Marquette Alloy is not equipped to handle a dropper post in 2x mode, but you can repurpose the front derailleur ports to accommodate an external dropper post.
There’s no getting around the fact that most plus-sized bikes and especially fat bikes suffer from wheel gyroscoping and this bike does to some extent. The result is a slight bit of understeer, but it’s not that bad and doesn’t cause any adverse issues on the trail (especially once I installed wider bars). With such a wide tire contact patch, the usable trail gets even wider and obstacles can simply be rolled over without batting an eye.
At 29.75 lbs, the Marquette Alloy is respectable. Yeah, the wheels are heavy and unfortunately, the tires are not tubeless-ready (the wheels are), but coming in at less than 30 lbs for this bike is impressive. And, while the wheels are heavy, they spin up nicely and have felt stiff and responsive under hard-charging.
One of the things I love about 27.5+ bikes is how forgiving they are. Swooping turns just happen and standing or seated climbs are smooth. When standing and climbing, this thing offers gobs of traction and the stiff rear-end transfers power to the wheels. Steep climbs are easily-ascended by standing up and powering through them. BOOST hub spacing is legit and offers immediate advantages over previous thru-axle standards.
Descending is quite fun on the Marquette as it enjoys being railed hard into corners and the wide tires keep things under control. I did have a challenge finding the balance point for consistent manuals, but some of that is due to the squishy qualities of the plus-sized tires.
Kudos goes to Framed for spec’ing the GX model with an awesome RockShox Reba RL 120mm fork. For the money, this fork is hard to beat and really smooths out trail chatter. Granted, the low-pressures really smooth things out, but when the fork is engaged, the quality of the travel is excellent. And, with BOOST 110 spacing, the front end tracks well and immediately responds to rider input.
I’ll add that the SRAM GX kit feels anything but entry-level. The entire drivetrain performs on par with SRAM’s more expensive groupsets and honestly outperforms all of Shimano’s models — even XTR (yup, I just said that). With a 32T chainring mated to a 11-42T cassette, there’s ample gearing for long climbs and fast descents. SRAM’s DB5 brakes offer tons of power with a nice lever feel. They lack some modulation of more expensive models but are excellent for the price.
- Excellent overall value at $1200
- Quality fit-and-finish
- BOOST spacing offers added stiffness and improves tracking
- SRAM GX groupset feels anything but entry-level
- RockShox Reba RL tracks well and offers smooth performance
- Respectable weight
- Included bar/stem combo is woefully inadequate
- Not a well-known brand
- Only one water bottle mount on the 16″ frame
- No dedicated dropper post routing (if you are 1x, the front derailleur routing could be used)
The Bottom Line: Framed Marquette 27.5+
If you’re going to go with a hardtail, going with 27.5+ wheels is the only way to go. The extra-cushioned ride and superb traction turn boring and rough-riding hardtails into a livable and fun trail slayer. And, the Marquette 27.5+ is such a killer value, it’s hard to pass up. Just swap out the bars/stem and you’ll be golden.
Buy Now: Available at The-House.com
Cockpit aside, the Framed Marquette 27.5+ has a ton going for it. Going plus-sized makes this hardtail comfortable and fun in all terrain. The GX kit performs at a higher level than I expected and makes for fuss-free performance.
- Pedaling Efficiency