First Look: Marin's New Rift Zone 3 - An Affordable Shredder

Aug 26, 2019
by Richard Cunningham  
Marin Rift Zone 3


Marin is smashing preconceived notions that affordable trail bikes should be dumbed down in order to attract first time riders. Meet the 2020 Rift Zone 3. It costs $2,650 USD, it's built around 29 inch wheels and a 125-millimeter-travel aluminum chassis. The geometry numbers are up to date, with a 65.5-degree head tube angle, a steep, 76-degree (effective) seat tube angle and ample reaches that range from 430mm on the size small to 515mm on the X-large models.

Rift Zone 3 Details
• Travel: 125mm rear / 130mm front
• Wheel size: 29"
• Aluminum frame
• 65.5° head angle
• 425mm chainstays
• Price: $2,650 USD
www.marinbikes.com

Marin Rift Zone 3
Shimano's new levers with the stiffer, mid-clamp perches.
Marin Rift Zone 3
Four-piston calipers up front and two-piston calipers out back.


You get a 12-speed drivetrain and four-piston brakes by Shimano, with a SunRace cassette. The Rift Zone's cockpit is capably endowed with a 150-millimeter-stroke X-Fusion dropper post and Marin's house brand items, including a nice looking 780-millimeter aluminum handlebar clamped by a short, 35-millimeter stem. The bike I photographed had WTB's fast rolling and grippy 2.4-inch Trail Boss tires, filled out by 29-millimeter inner width tires. That may be a running change, as the spec sheet calls out Vee's Flow Snap 2.35-inch rubber.

Marin Rift Zone 3
Shimano SLX powered, 12-speed drivetrain.


Marin is also on target with the emerging "downcountry" movement by paring capable geometry with a little less suspension travel and a lighter build to maximize the versatility of this promising shredder. Front suspension is a 130-millimeter-stroke Marzocchi Z2 fork (I've been testing one and it rocks), backed up by a Fox Float DPS shock.

Marin Rift Zone 3
Marzocchi's Bomber Z2 fork - 130mm travel.
Marin Rift Zone 3
Proven, linkage-driven rear suspension - 125mm travel.

Marin Rift Zone 3
Wide, 2.4" WTB Trail Boss tires on 29mm inner-width rims.

Marin says all Rift Zone models share the same linkage-driven, single-pivot-swingarm chassis. The Rift Zone 3 we feature here is expected to land in bike stores later this fall. Until then, cheers to Marin for offering accomplished riders a capable, up to date trail bike with an attainable price tag.

Marin Rift Zone 3
X-Fusion 150mm dropper post.
Marin Rift Zone 3
Shorty, 35mm stem with a 780mm aluminum handlebar.

Rift Zone Geometry

Marin Rift Zone 3






133 Comments

  • 85 1
 Looks like a killer build.
  • 50 0
 it does, great bike and great spec for the price. Nice geo numbers too, thumbs up Marin
  • 14 2
 They're definitely doing something right. Nice to see a company building a reputation on making quality bikes accessible to non-dentists like me. Cudos Marin.
  • 17 2
 ...but, why an "Affordable shredder" vs. just being a shredder? Oh yes, because the industry has deemed $10k plastic bikes to be the standard, gotcha.
  • 9 0
 @NYShred: It's insane. I remember buying a Cove Stiffee with full XT and a Bomber Z1 for $1500 and thinking it was expensive. Shits out of control.
  • 1 0
 doubtful, there were no bikes in the early 2000’s that had a xt group set for 1500.
The z1 itself was over $500 back then and took a little while to be spec’d On bikes.
  • 1 0
 @sidwaa: Were you the one who paid exactly $1500cad for said bicycle at Cove Bikes exactly one day after graduating high school? Didn't think so. Cove routinely spec'd their bikes with parts that came in way under cost. I honestly think Chaz would love to talk about how he sold a Stiffee with full XT and a 4" Z1 to some punk kid for $1500 in 2001, so hit him up at (604) 929-2222. Maybe you've got a list of every build on every bike from the era? doubtful. Do your homework before policing people's comments you kook.
  • 54 0
 The spec on this bike is perfect. It likely matches the needs of *most* riders without costing triple the price.
  • 33 0
 Yeah for this price point I wouldn't change a single thing, great suspension, great brakes, and shimano drivetrain.... I feel like it's been a while since I saw anything other than NX/SX on a sub-$3k bike.

If Shimano can get back in the lower-end OEM game I'm hoping we'll start seeing some really interesting entry level builds, instead of the same NX/SX + steel Recon combo currently on most sub-$2500 bikes. Maybe SLX/Deore + Aion / Trace / Bomber / etc. Would be really cool to see some variety again in that price range.
  • 5 1
 @bkm303: yeah I think Shimano has done it. They just need to push hard to get it on the OEM bikes. I dont see why it wouldn't tho. Good or bad, people are actually stoked to get SLX on a bike. I dont think NX is horrible but man its night and day between NX and SLX in public perception. Maybe that's not fair as SLX prob is more similar in performance to GX but damn GX seems to lever make it on these cheaper builds despite it not being a fortune.
  • 1 0
 @Svinyard: I don't think they'll have to push that hard - it just might take a while for it to trickle into new builds... great to see though.
  • 5 1
 @shredddr: yeah, people want it. OEMs are crazy to just stick with SRAM lower end at this point.
  • 5 0
 @Svinyard: yeah totally agree, it's not that SLX is better necessarily, and comparing gruppos is tricky now anyway with the different hubs gear ranges. Mostly I think it bugs people that GX used to be in this price range but has since been up-marketed to pricier bikes in the absence of competition from Shimano.

I don't really have a drivetrain preference as long as it's reliable, but I'd like to see more variety in suspension offerings. Xfusion, Suntour, Manitou, etc are making some great products at killer prices but you hardly ever see them spec'd on anything because all the OEMs seem to be doing SRAM/Rockshox package deals.
  • 6 0
 defo the needs of most riders except most riders think they are not most riders lol
  • 1 0
 @enduroNZ: haha, you couldn't be more spot-on
  • 18 0
 Marin seems to have really found their niche with affordable, sensibly-speced and geo-ed trail bikes. I only wish that the top of their range was more practical and “affordable” and less “experimental”.
  • 5 0
 I wish they would offer a full xt build with solid wheels (DT 350 to WTB rims or something) of their rift zone/hawk hill/b52 ranges. Do it for under $4500 and they'd have a KILLER bike.
  • 5 0
 @trialsracer: There's a rumor that the Rifty will also be offered in carbon with a higher part spec (still reasonably priced), we'll just have to wait and see.
  • 1 0
 @jeffgicklhorn: interesting. that would be great. I used to work at a Marin dealer, and still hang out there occasionally, so I will have to ask them about it.
  • 1 4
 @trialsracer: www.transitionbikes.com/Bikes_2019_PatrolAlloyGX.cfm

~$1000 under your price limit and superior spec all-round. Possibly best deal out there at the moment but I may be slightly biased. Wink
  • 2 0
 @O1D4: All models/sizes out of stock...
  • 1 0
 I don't mind the experimental stuff to be honest. Nice to see them trying to innovate. Realistically, all their profit is made on lower end bikes.
  • 2 0
 @Davichin: Sold out fast!!! Was a great deal...
  • 1 0
 @jeffgicklhorn: yep..my local(malaysian) marin dealer also said the same thing..
  • 19 3
 These are the bikes we should be praising not he new enduro or Sb range , these budget bikes punch wayyyy above their weight
  • 9 3
 Why not praise both? Just because you do not want or cannot afford a new SB doesn't mean they don't have their place
  • 20 0
 @bman33: fair ...and for context sake i ride A hightower if i really wanted to kick my wallet in the dick i'd buy the new enduro but it excites me more to see more and mroe companies bring out lower budget bikes that have the numbers ( on paper at least ) to be truly capable on the trails and make the step into trail riding more accesible for joe public
  • 11 0
 Marin is on to something here.
Sensibly priced bikes with good spec and good geometry.
If I was brand manager I'd bail on the highest end buiøds and focus on low and midrange bikes pricewise.
  • 2 1
 But will anyone ever compete with Caliber?
  • 2 0
 @Thema: giant's new Stance 29
  • 18 7
 Whoa a bike under $3k without garbage SRAM NX or Guides yet still 12sp. What a concept.
  • 8 0
 Nice to see these entry level full suspensions finally getting good geometry. Hopefully the same will happen to the hardtails soon.
  • 7 0
 marin has the san quentin which has geo much like this ride awesome
  • 2 1
 Agreed. The san quentin had so much potential, but the stack is about 2" too low.
  • 4 1
 @hardtailparty: chainstays are too short too
  • 1 0
 How about the 2020 specialized fuse?
  • 1 0
 @skeen95: the new fuse is really cool. I'm a fan. My rsd middle child has some super fun geo too.
  • 6 0
 Alpine Enduro and Rift Trail both have great geometry and seem well specced for the price. They seem like a bargain, and I'm surprised they aren't pushing these harder vs their weird extendo suspension thing.
  • 4 0
 I think their wacky extendo suspension is maybe a "hey we're doing something really different, we're not just an REI brand" sort of statement. In any case, I've seen quite a few of these Hawk Hills and Rift Zones out in the wild so they're doing something right. Their 1 and 2-level specs are really tough to beat if you're looking closer to the $2k range.
  • 6 3
 Nice lookin bike Marin. Right in that $3000can pocket with the likes of a Trance. Ride both, get the one that feels best to ya(different rear suspension)...upgrade a part here or there for personal preference and suddenly you have an uncle named Bob and you're both shreddin' for less than $12,000 each. Being the coolest guy in the parking lot? gonna cost ya...everyone knows we 3000 dollar riders ain't shit. Hell, the biggest drawback to a shreddin' $3000 bike is that you aren't even allowed in bike parks...they won't sell you a lift ticket! The bastards. No carbon? No pass.
  • 4 0
 BAH! Those fantastic plastic, pajama wearing, goo guzzling fellows might think they're cool, but deep down inside they know they'll never be as rad as me in my cut off jeans, steel hardtail, and $7 Walmart fanny pack!
  • 2 0
 @gibspaulding: Too funny...I got ya beat! Mrs Loopie snagged me a fanny pack from a thrift store...$1...true story, haha. Sadly...it doesn't have cartoon characters on it.
  • 7 0
 I'd rock that
  • 4 0
 The link for full component spec doesn't line up with what's shown in the article, just fyi.
  • 12 0
 The bike pictured was a pre-production version that was on hand during Crankworx. The final versions will match what's on the spec sheet.
  • 5 0
 I see. Benefits of actually reading the article and not just looking at pics ????
  • 3 0
 Emoji fail
  • 2 1
 Good price and build for the money blows many out of the water with nx/sx builds. Z2 fork fox rear shock good drivetrain and brakes. 29er wheels. If I didnt just buid an aggro hardtail would be looking at this do they have a frame only. The parts pictured might be different but no big deal to me. Concept cars rarely move under their own power and work. Just saying that production will be way different just like a concept car. Specs on a first look it's cool with me.
  • 3 2
 Marin is also on target with the emerging "downcountry" movement by paring a nice merlot with a camembert and water crackers... I hate that blingybuzzwordBSdearmotherofgodwhenwillthehipstercrapend... downcountry *sigh* it's all down country after the up country to reach the top country isn't it & sometimes we have to go cross country to get to the down country... which in any country is still just riding a bicycle through the woods with friends and that stands on it's own merit without yet another fuax descriptor of a well established activity (unless I've been doing it all wrong for the last thirty or so years... in which case I'm still just going to get on a bike and ride) :/
  • 2 0
 Unfortunately no one can be told what Downcountry is, you have to see it for yourself
  • 2 0
 @andrew9: Hi Andrew, the name I have for it is mountain biking.

I live in the Pacific Northwest and have been actively riding my area (Coast range mountains mainly ~ Black Rock, Alsea Falls, McDonald and Dunn forest) pretty much my entire adult life; I'm 57 and 33 yrs I've been riding those trails.

It's not a label beyond riding bikes, and this constant hashing out of the simplest of activities is just another way to wag a pinky "Oh... you're an XC weight weenie ~or ~ they're purely "down country, former enduro & newby blah blah blah >insert made up buzz word here ... "

We spend too much time artificially bisecting something that is organic and generally easily understood by the grin you get when you think of your favorite trails or plan your next adventure. So, adding yet another spintered name to this all encompassing thing to me makes no sense to me (joy and playing in the woods doesn't require it's own dictionary to understand). *just the ramblings of an opinionated old fart that loves riding more than just about anything else* Smile P.S. Come ride Alsea Falls shuttle day weekend after next and you'll see what I'm talking about www.facebook.com/pg/TeamDirtIMBA/events
  • 1 0
 The build is killer. Running a Bomber Z2 140mm on my SQ2. Amazing bikes. Going to be getting a 2020 Hawk Hill 2 for my son. Cant wait to see the Carbon Rift Zone, Hawk Hill, and SQ frame option. Good things coming September 1st.
  • 2 0
 This is how most trail bikes should be priced. Call me "old fashioned" but 2 to 3K should be plenty these days to get you a very capable trail bike that lasts you more than a season or two of riding.
  • 1 0
 No you're not old-fashioned, just cheap. Nahh messing with you. I have a $4000 2019 5010 and a $1500 2019 Stache 5... and I ride the Stache more than the SC.
  • 1 0
 Kudos to the product manager. Great specs. Nothing to replace for someone looking at builds around this price. Geo is spot on modern for a bike like this. Would easily recommend to people starting out or looking for a reasonable upgrade from a starter bike. Better then anything Trek or Spesh has at this price range.
  • 1 0
 The 2020 looks rad! I picked up a 2019 RZ3 because the measurements fit right and I liked the price. What I didn't anticipate is how much I would LOVE this bike. The geo updates look relatively minor and probably wouldn't feel a big change from the 2018-2019 frame, I would guess. The component spec and the frame colors look excellent. Kind of wish I'd waited for that sick red color! But seriously, the geo on my Rift is super comfortable and the bike feels like such a good balance between uphill capability, with good maneuverability for a 29 in tight switchbacks and terrain, with the feeling of being scary fast when you point it down a flow trail. Occasionally I wonder about an additional 10mm travel which it looks like the 2020 provides...
  • 4 0
 Boom. What a great bike built for the everyman.
  • 3 0
 I’ve got a B17 and love it , such a FUN capable bike. Pedals pretty well also
  • 2 0
 Is it a 35mm diameter stem or 35mm long stem? I am confused. And I hope it's a 31.8 diameter and 35 long stem. Can anyone confirm?
  • 8 1
 35mm long, 31.8mm Ø.
  • 3 0
 @MarinBikes: Just checking that the 425 cs length down from the previous 435 is actually correct?
  • 2 0
 Ya, I hope that 425 was a misprint. Just to darn short for those reach numbers IMHO.
  • 3 0
 If you think this one is "affordable" there's 2 tiers below it even less expensive.
  • 1 0
 Got a boutique 2019 carbon 145 mm rear shock mtb and an alloy rift zone 3 also from 2019. I’d say the Marin makes me wonder whether the price difference makes sense. ( except in the steep techno Smile a Fantastic bike!
  • 2 0
 NOW they just need to get the Rift Zone and the Alpine Trail to get together and Make Babies = perfect bike. Not too BIG, and not too SMALL, one bike for doing it ALL! Smile
  • 3 0
 I don't usually like the look of Marin bikes but they really nailed it here. Love the color scheme too. Nice
  • 3 0
 Marin really has it down. What a great deal.
  • 3 0
 Looks awesome and l even like the color. Raw would be better however.
  • 2 0
 I like the cyan/black combo on the 2019 RZ 1. But orange and black is nice too. I'd buy it.
  • 1 0
 Hey @marinbikes Hopefully this one will actually become available unlike the Alpine Trail that we can’t seem to get at the local shop here in Novato Marin county...
  • 2 0
 Hi @Krimp - we'd be happy to help you with an Alpine Trail, as both models are available in all sizes in our West Coast warehouse. Reach out to customer.service@marinbikes.com and we'll work with you.
  • 1 0
 @MarinBikes: thank you I will! I was told by my LBS they couldn’t get them yet...
Talk to you soon
  • 2 0
 Looks sick. Good job Marin.
  • 1 0
 says 4-piston brakes up front and 2 in the back, but photos show 2 front and rear?
  • 1 0
 Definitely considering retiring my hardtail and adding this frame to my quiver
  • 1 0
 I've just bought new Fuji Rakan and this looks even better... Ah those life choices.
  • 2 0
 Do it in zolatone grey with a day-glo fork and take my money.
  • 2 0
 Perfect 29er set up ..right down to the WTB rubber!
  • 1 0
 Wow, someone finally spec'ing a bike properly and cutting corners where they are least important!
  • 2 1
 140 mm of travel front and rear would be preferable. 120 is pushing xc territory.
  • 2 0
 Should have been a Mcleod shock, not DPS!
  • 2 0
 Good catch, I think the McLeod may very well be the better shock
  • 1 0
 Marin needs to be an exhibitor at Outerbike Bentonville. October 25-27 2019. This looks like a playful 29er.
  • 1 0
 I think there is a misprint in the geometry chart - reach and seat tube length seem switched to me.
  • 1 0
 Size XL / Seat Tube length = 430mm???????
How small do I have to be to fit the XL frame size? 165cm/5'5"???
  • 4 3
 How did they get an m7000 derailleur to work with with a 12 speed shifter?
  • 2 2
 It's the 7100 derailleur.
  • 3 1
 @HollyBoni: Might be some new OEM option then. In the spec sheet it says SLX SGS 12 speed.
  • 1 0
 @rowanlewis: Dunno, looks exactly like the M7000, and it doesn't look like it uses the massively offset pulley unlike the new Shimano or SRAM stuff, yet it's specced with a 50T cassette. I think someone just made an error somewhere.
  • 1 3
 @HollyBoni: I think they put the wrong one on for press photos, which is a pretty embarrasing move for a bike company
  • 3 0
 @Tobsa: Well, humans make mistakes, i've seen worse tho. Smile
  • 2 2
 @HollyBoni: they apperantly make lots of mistakes, cus the spec sheet lists the bike as haveing BR-MT420 brakes which are 4pot and the pictures show 2pot brakes that look like deores or something similar. Mistakes happen, but they should atleast try to get the parts right on press release pictures
  • 2 4
 @HollyBoni: and it has a 160mm rotor rear and a 180 front while specs say 180 rear and 203 front. You can even see that it says 160 on the rear rotor and you can tell from the brake adapter on the front that its a 180mm rotor, so either the spec sheet is wrong or Marin are incompetent at putting toghter the right parts on a bike
  • 27 0
 Hey all - this was a preproduction sample, the production bikes will ship with the 12 speed M7100 version.
  • 1 0
 @MarinBikes:

Do you have weights?
  • 1 0
 *are not the same as 2019. Oops
  • 1 0
 the price is nice for sure
  • 1 0
 Nice job, Marin. Very well thought out spec.
  • 1 0
 I mean, it sorta kinda looks like a session.
  • 2 3
 Why do bike companies still use the pivots on the seat stays?
When most riders understand the the performance issues with a single pivot 4 bar.
  • 1 1
 Please don't use a wide angle lense for close ups. Terribly distorted images.
  • 1 0
 3500$ CAD
You all call that cheap or buget??
  • 1 0
 It's not cheap but it's a great value. The bike shreds right out of the box and none of the components really need swapping. Nice fork, drive, wheels, dropper. Theirs lower specs too.
  • 1 0
 Well it's $1000 CAD less than a Trek Top Fuel 8. So that's OK i reckon.
  • 1 1
 :golf_clap:
  • 1 3
 Looks like a patrol
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