PINKBIKE FIELD TRIP
MARIN RIFT ZONE 29 3
An XC bike at heart.
Words by Sarah Moore, Photography by Tom Richards
We're halfway through the full-suspension reviews in our Field Trip value bike series
and up next is the Marin Rift Zone 29 3, an aluminum 29er with 125mm of rear travel and a 130mm fork that retails for $2,849 USD. The Californian brand says that it’s an ideal bike for "pushing the limits up and down the trail and chasing personal records."
The 125mm of travel is controlled by Marin’s MultiTrac suspension, a linkage-driven single-pivot layout. As for the frame, it has internal cable routing in the front triangle, Boost spacing, a threaded bottom bracket with ISCG 05 tabs, and room for a water bottle on all sizes. There’s no frame protection on the downtube and minimal protection on the chainstay.
Marin Rift Zone 29
Travel: 125mm (rear) / 130mm (fork)
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: aluminum
Head angle: 65.5 degrees
Chainstay length: 425mm
Reach: 455mm (medium)
Weight: 33.3 lbs / 15.1 kg
Price: $2,849 USD
More info: www.marinbikes.com
With a 65.5° headtube angle, and a 76° effective seat-tube angle, the Rift Zone’s geometry is in line with the other full suspension trail bikes we have on test. On the size medium, there’s a 455mm reach and a 1186mm wheelbase, with short 425mm chainstays across the board.
The Rift Zone is available in a 27.5" version as well as carbon versions, with prices ranging from $1,769 USD for the Rift Zone 29 1 to $4,299 USD for the Rift Zone Carbon 29 2. The test bike we rode on the Sunshine Coast is the Marin Rift Zone 29 3, and it retails for $2,849 USD. It comes with a 130mm Marzocchi Z2, a Fox Float shock shock, a Shimano SLX drivetrain, and Shimano Deore 4-piston brakes. There’s no familiar Maxxis or Schwalbe mounted to the wheels, with the Rift Zone sporting Vee Tire Co tires front and rear. Climbing
The Marin Rift Zone has a firm pedalling platform, which means that there's very little movement in the rear end and it feels extremely efficient on fire road climbs. There is a lock out on the Fox Float rear shock, but it's not a bike where you’re going to be reaching down to use that pedal assist very often.
While that efficiency is great on long fire road climbs and smooth, winding singletrack, it does make it harder to stay seated on technical climbs than when you're pedalling on a bike with very active suspension like the Giant Trance X or the Polygon Siskiu T8. It sometimes feels like the Rift Zone prioritizes efficiency over all out traction to a fault. You're more likely to have to get up out of the saddle and help that rear wheel up over obstacles on the Rift Zone. That being said, if you're the type of rider that prefers to push a harder gear and stand up for technical sections, the Rift Zone will reward you. Descending
On the descents, the Marin Rift Zone feels much more nervous and less composed at speed than the other full-suspension bikes we were riding on the Sunshine Coast. It has the shortest wheelbase and the shortest chainstays on test, and that is likely a contributing factor to this feeling when things get rough and fast on the descents.
In the Rift Zone's description on the Marin website, it says that it is "more aggressive than an XC race bike for more control at top speed, and more fun while chasing seconds" and that is an accurate description. Despite having just 5mm or 10mm less travel than the other full suspension bikes, it feels like its roots are in XC and it's not a mini enduro sled. It's not comparable to the Polygon Siskiu T8 or Devinci Marshall on the descents.
The flip side is that the Rift Zone feels much more capable than a traditional XC bike, and it's really fun when you get into rolling terrain and have a series of short climbs followed by short descents. On that kind of terrain, where you can really pump into the downhill and accelerate up the next climb, it feels quick and poppy. It might not be the bike for rough terrain, but if you don't have rough terrain, you're going to be riding a whole lot faster on the Rift Zone than on a more active bike that prioritizes absorbing all of the chatter in the trail over quickness.
Very efficient pedalling bike+
The 2021 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible with support from Toyota.
Video: Jason Lucas, Max Barron
Editing: Max Barron