Review: Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2 - Modern Geometry for Maximum Fun

Feb 24, 2020
by David Arthur  

It might be small on travel, but it’s big on character, and now Marin’s Rift Zone is available with a carbon frame. Like its more affordable alloy sibling, the Rift Zone Carbon rolls on 29” wheels and packs 125mm of rear wheel travel mated to a 130mm travel fork, with modern geometry and a build kit that leans towards the burly end of the spectrum.

The intentions of the Rift Zone are clear to see, from the geometry to the equipment specification. The numbers and angles are the clearest indications though; a 65.6-degree head tube angle, 76-degree seat tube angle and a 480mm reach on the size large pictured here are all on the money for a progressive trail bike.

Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2

Travel: 125mm (r) / 130mm (f)
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: Carbon front triangle, aluminum swingarm
Head angle: 65.6-degree
Seat angle: 76-degree
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Weight: L w/o pedals 31.4 lb (14.2kg)
Price: $4,399 USD
More info:

There are two carbon Rift Zone models, starting at $3,499 and rising to the $4,399 USD model here with Shimano SLX/XT 12-speed transmission and brakes, Maxxis Minion tires, Deity Skyline handlebar and Fox Performance suspension.

bigquotesDespite being short on travel the Rift Zone Carbon 2 is hugely entertaining with bags of speed and agility thanks to the geometry which is on point for an all-round trail bike that excels everywhere, but is happiest when gravity is on your side. It’s also relatively easy on the wallet and smartly specced. David Arthur

Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2

Construction and Features

The new bike follows the same design principle as the previous Rift Zone, but with the front triangle now made from carbon fiber. It’s a good looking frame, all smooth and flowing curves with generous standover clearance, internal cable routing and space for the all-important water bottle cage.

A short seat tube allows a long dropper post to be installed and other sensible details of note include a threaded bottom bracket with ISCG 05 tabs and a rubber bash guard on the down tube. I’ll also add that there were no rattles from the internal cable routing during riding.

While it’s carbon up front, the rear triangle is made from aluminum, a rear end that has essentially been ported over from the bigger Alpine Trail. The short linkage driving the rear shock is aluminum also, and there’s Boost axle spacing and post mount disc brakes.

To my eyes it’s a good looking bike, and I like the pop of yellow for the down tube logo. You may feel differently, but that’s what the comment section is for.

Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2

Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2
Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2

Geometry & Sizing

marin rift zone

Modern is the word here, with the Rift Zone Carbon sitting at the “progressive” end of the geometry sliding scale. There are four sizes from S to XL, with the size large tested here gifted with the sort of numbers you might expect on a bigger travel bike.

The reach measures in at 480mm, the head angle is appropriately slack at 65.5-degrees combined with a 44mm offset fork, and there's a 76-degree seat tube angle. The chainstays are nipped in at 425mm and the bottom bracket height is 344mm.

Those are numbers that put in the same ballpark as the Norco Optic, Hope HB130 and Transition Smuggler, and longer and slacker than anything with similar travel amounts from Specialized, Canyon or Trek.

Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2

Suspension Design

The Rift Zone Carbon utilises the same MultiTrack suspension design as the regular aluminum Rift Zone. It’s a single-pivot set up with a small rocker linkage rolling on oversized bearings driving the vertically orientated shock, with a locking collet main pivot just above the bottom bracket. It has been designed to provide good small bump sensitivity, mid-stroke support for hard cornering and plenty of end stroke control to resist bottoming out.

Travel has increased from the 120mm on the 2018 Rift Zone to 125mm on the new model. With this increased in travel, Marin has also revised the leverage ratio and optimized the anti-squat for the 1x-specific frame design, changes intended to give better small bump sensitivity and pedalling efficiency. On this range-topper model, suspension duties are carried out by a Fox DPX2 Performance piggyback shock, with a three-way compression adjuster. A 0.2 cubic inch air volume spacer is fitted as standard to the shock because Marin says it wanted a "more linear feel in the mid-stroke" out of the box with the option of fitting a larger 0.4" spacer for more aggressive riders.

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Release Date 2019
Price $4399
Travel 125mm
Rear Shock Fox Float DPX2, Performance Series
Fork Fox Performance 34 Float
Headset FSA No 57E
Cassette Shimano SLX M7100 Cassette, 12-Speed, 10-51T
Crankarms FSA Gradient, Modular 1x, 32T
Bottom Bracket BB392 EVO, 73mm BSA Threaded
Rear Derailleur Shimano XT 12-Speed, SGS
Chain KMC X-12 Silver & Black
Shifter Pods Shimano SLX 12-Speed
Handlebar Deity Skyline Bar, 787mm Width, 25mm Rise
Stem Marin 3D Forged Alloy, 35mm
Grips Marin Single Clamp Locking
Brakes Shimano SLX Hydraulic Disc
Hubs Shimano, Microspline 148x12mm, Centerlock Disc, 32H
Spokes 14g Black Stainless Steel
Rim Marin Aluminum Double Wall, 29mm Inner
Tires Front: Maxxis Minion DHF 29x2.5WT, 3C MaxxTerra, EXO+, Rear: Maxxis Minion DHR II 29x2.4WT, 3C Maxx Terra, EXO+
Seat Marin Trail Speed Concept Pro
Seatpost X-Fusion Manic with PNW Loam Lever

Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2

Test Bike Setup

It took me a few rides to get a good setup on the rear suspension. After a few rides with the smaller volume spacer in the shock and the recommended 150psi for my 67kg weight, I found the bike was blowing through the travel too easily, resulting in a noticeable thunk bottom out. I added the bigger spacer and upped the pressure to 175psi and found it more resistant to bottom out with a more progressive nature through the mid-range.

The fork was easier to dial in, with the Fox recommended settings getting me close to ideal; I eventually added an extra 10psi just to keep the fork up a little more in steep terrain. Tire pressures were set to 21psi front and 23psi rear. No parts were changed during the test period, even the saddle was a comfortable thing to sit on for long rides.

Testing took place in the Forest of Dean and South Wales through the hardest period of winter, so lots of mud, slimy roots and perilous rocks to contend with, all ideal for testing the durability of the bike and components.

Merida Big Trail
David Arthur // Technical Editor
Age: 39
Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 150 lbs
Industry affiliations / sponsors: None
Instagram: @davidjarthur

Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2


A good all-round short travel trail bike needs to display its talents on all sorts of trails, especially here in the UK where we’re not gifted with massive mountains and chairlifts. The Rift Zone Carbon proved to be the ideal bike for long days in the woods clocking big elevation gain, to shorter play rides in the woods sessioning downhill tracks.

The Rift Zone's 76-degree seat angle does gives a nice comfortable position for generating power, and while some might say it needs to be even steeper I found it worked well for me. Despite its length and slackness, the Marin is highly maneuverable at slower speeds and easy to shake about on tight and twisting singletrack. It makes even the boring tame connecting trails good fun, and while the weight is a little on the high side for my personal tastes, it never felt like it was being unduly held back by an invisible anchor.

Love or hate them, I found myself using the compression lever on the rear shock to firm up the suspension on longer climbs. In open mode, it does move about a bit, and while it’s not a problem on technical climbs where the traction the Rift Zone delivers helps you to get up nearly impossible ascents, on smoother fire roads it does move a bit excessively. It’s no problem to reach down and flick the little blue lever into the middle setting and open it back up on the descents; it's certainly not something I'll lose any sleep over.

The balance feels good and the geometry didn't feel unmanageable through twisty trails. The short chainstays help it turn sharply through the corners, the wide bars and stubby stem give plenty of leverage and overall it's agile and easy to move about. Occasionally I found I had to pull myself onto the nose of the saddle to keep the front wheel down on very steep climbs, but most of the time it was a competent ascender. The wide range Shimano cassette gives you all the range you need on the climbs too, and the Maxxis tires behave well in a wide range of situations.

Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2


On paper, there is a lot going for the Marin Rift Zone Carbon, and when you get it onto your favourite trail for the first time, you’ll be blown away by just how strongly able it is. It shows just how important geometry is, more than the amount of suspension travel you’re packing. Backing up the numbers is the burly build kit that ensures it’s all a recipe for shredding any trail as fast and joyously as you like. As it reminds you on the stem, this bike is “made for fun”. It’s no bullshit PR either, the Rift Zone lives up to that claim.

The handling is fast and nimble - there’s certainly no sense the big wheels are taking away from the fun factor at all. It’s easy to flick the bike about and it rotates around corners with precision. Pop is plentiful with this Marin. It gets airborne easily off the smallest lip, the front wheel a breeze to loft over ruts. It’s a bike that properly leaves you grinning all the way to the bottom. It's a blast in the corners too - it feels solid though high-speed berms with the short chainstays enabling you to really push the back tire into the ground for maximum traction and carry the speed past the apex.

I found the balance good with Rift Zone Carbon. I felt nicely felt centred and was able to shift my weight about as needed. It’s pretty stable for the most part, but perhaps not the most rock-solid planted at higher speeds in big terrain - longer chainstay would certainly increase the stability at higher speeds, but the Rift Zone instead trades that outright planted feel for a more lively presence on the trail. For trail riders looking for a bike that ramps up the grin factor for everything from trail centers to bike parks and don't want a big travel enduro beast, the Rift Zone Carbon impresses.

The Rift Zone Carbon doesn’t let up when the obstacles come at you big and fast. The Fox suspension, Maxxis tires, and Shimano four-pot brakes all cope with just about everything very well. It also surprises with its ability to tackle the sort of terrain that would naturally suit a longer travel bike. It doesn’t possess the bottomless feel of some short travel suspension setups, but it can soak up a wide range of impacts from square-edge rocks to slippery roots. Line choice is still critical, but thankfully the Rift Zone changes direction like a dart. Maybe it would benefit from a beefier fork with a bit more travel? Hmm… Regardless, it’s a fun bike that will leave you smiling.

Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2

Hope HB130 Review
Hope HB.130
Norco Optic C2 review Photo by Trevor Lyden
Norco Optic

How does it compare?

There are a growing number of short travel bikes with modern geometry that the Rift Zone Carbon could be compared with, and probably top of the list is the Norco Optic that impressed the two Mikes in the recent Field Test. Sadly I’ve not yet ridden that bike but you can read their thoughts and draw your conclusions.

Probably the closest in terms of travel and geometry that I’ve ridden is the Hope HB.130, which packs 130/140mm travel on a carbon main frame with 29” wheel. The Hope, due to the little extra travel, longer chainstays and the more progressive rear suspension, feels more at home at faster and chunkier trails. The Hope is getting on for twice the price though, which can’t be overlooked but you’re getting a Fox 36 fork with Kashima and generally higher spec parts.

The price pushes the Rift Zone into territory occupied by some tantalising rivals. The Ibis Ripley, Santa Cruz Tallboy, Whyte S120, Norco Optic, and some rivals that might offer a full carbon frame or more brand kudos. The Rift Zone Carbon is smartly specced though, from the wide-range Shimano SLX drivetrain to the reliable Shimano hubs, and the little details like the upgrade PNW Loam lever to operate the X-Fusion dropper post, or the Deity handlebar and top-quality Maxxis Minion tires with the new EXO Plus casing.

I had great fun riding the Marin Rift Zone. It’s everything I want in a short travel trail bike - nimble, playful, fast, competent in every situation. It’s a great looking bike too, with smart details and the specification shows a keen eye for the things that matter on a bike. It’s up against some very tough competition, and while I don’t think the Rift Zone Carbon trumps them all, it’s worth consideration.

Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2
Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2

Technical Report

Shimano SLX/XT 12-speed: Shimano’s more affordable SLX and XT 12-speed transmission works very well, with a wide range and slick-shifting across the gears. There was occasional grinding noise in the lowest gears after several hours of mud riding, so it does seem a little sensitive to conditions.

Shimano SLX brakes: Marin put its money into smart choices such as the four-pot disc brakes with a 203mm rotor up front for extra stopping power when that geometry gets you in too deep. Unfortunately, the wandering bite point that afflicted mostly the rear brake took the shine off the otherwise impressive performance, with an unpredictable lever feel when you need it to be consistent. The tool-free lever reach is a nice feature though.

Maxxis Minion EXO Plus tires: Tires maketh the bike, or at least ensure you’ve got consistent grip, and it’s jolly nice to see a full set of Maxxis Minion tires with an EXO Plus casing. The beefed-up tires offer better durability and puncture resistance over regular EXO for the smallest of weight penalties without having to resort to Double Down version. It’s a spec choice I’m glad Marin made. These are dependable tires that are good in nearly all situations.

PNW Loam remote lever: A nice attention to detail is the upgrade from the regular X-Fusion remote lever for the dropper post to this Loam lever. The big paddle is easier to hit in a hurry and the rubber inserts ensure it’s nice and tactile with or without gloves.


+ Great handling
+ Modern geometry
+ Solid build kit with nice attention to the details


- Rear shock needs setup time
- Vague Shimano brake bite point
- Bit heavy for a short travel bike

Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2

Pinkbike's Take
bigquotes Short travel meets big bike geometry is an emerging trend, and the new Marin Rift Zone Carbon is an exciting addition to a growing list of choices with a sorted specification for the money.  David Arthur

Author Info:
davidarthur avatar

Member since Apr 12, 2015
73 articles

  • 66 2
 On a German forum there was a big discussion about the wandering bite point on shimano brakes. It happens more often when it's cold out because then the Shimano brake fluid becomes thicker. They found that the solution was to use Putoline hpx 2.5 as brake fluid.
  • 5 0
 Good to know!
  • 2 0
 I had that with my XT, had them send to Shimano and got a new pair of levers, so far seem okay. I experienced the wandering bite point in cold conditions but haven´t tried the new ones so far when it´s really cold
  • 18 1
 Slight correction: They found that swapping the fluid for putoline "sometimes" works, but is not a universal solution.
  • 5 0
 @Ttimer: "sometimes" is a bit harsh I think. I don't think I read a post that said they preferred shimano fluid over the Putoline after they tried it. Almost everyone who tried it said it worked for them.
  • 34 4
 Guess your german friends doesn't have much experience with mineral oil. Since you're in Europe there is one easy thing to do : use a different mineral oil. In Europe you can easily put your hands on a special kind of LHM Mineral Oil made for Citroen cars.
The quality you're after is the one made for winter conditions or northern europe. I'm not talking about the LHM+ that works in all conditions, I'm talking about the regular or old school LHM made for lower temperatures. It doesn't void warranty and it does a hell of a job in cold weather.
Don't thank me but thank the DS/SM/Traction restore shop I spent so much time at when I was a teenager Smile .
  • 24 4
 It’s amazing this continues to be an issue across the entire Shimano brake line, Shimano’s stuff is so dialed in most respects. Currently happily running XTR 12 with SRAM Guides and Codes on my two bikes, works great. WIld times we live in where SRAM is the preferred brake maker....
  • 7 8
 Lmao I'm getting downvoted for giving a tip that actually works.
FYI, Shimano didn't dial its mineral oil for cold weather, but for positive temperatures. And they do quite well when it's 37°C (100°F) and above …
  • 5 1
 @Euskafreez: I will respectfully disagree with the wandering bite point at high temps on Shimano mineral fluid. I ride mostly in the Auburn area (Northern California) with regular rides in 90*+ F temps. My rides have ranged from 30* snow patched trails to a few 100* face melters, sea level to 9000 feet. Many bleeds and rebuilds later, both sets of my XT’s one set of SLX’s all suffer from it.
  • 3 1
 @tmadison12: I did not say that they were no issues Wink . But Sram stoppers work better when it's cold when Shimano work better when it's hot.
  • 2 0
 @Euskafreez: Upvote for the DS/SM comment. Dream cars for me and far more interesting than Shimano brakes.
  • 12 1
 Sorry guys. I’ve used the four-piston XT brakes for a year, and either: 1.) I have this problem, but I haven’t noticed and it hasn’t affected me in any way; or 2.) I just haven’t had this issue. Either way, the performance of these brake have not been affected in any way, shape or form.
  • 4 0
 @jclnv: I'm more of a scooby guy myself, but from an engineering point of view I salute the utter genius behind the whole thing. I'm still looking for a DS 23 IE Pallas on gumtree every day Smile . I guess we both like weird cars lmao.
  • 1 0
 @TheR: Not everyone seems to have this problem. and i'm glad you don't Smile It's easy to check. When its cold just quickly pump your rear brake a few times. You should feel the bite point move. It's shouldn't happen when you leave some time between braking.
  • 2 1
 @Euskafreez: They still look like they’re from the future. Fast road cars don’t do much for me. Too much risk on the road and an old Formula Ford etc will eat them on track for a third the price. Plus I think you just look a bit of a twat in them. A mint SM to waft around in at the weekends would be mega though. Beyond cool.
  • 1 0
 I love the Germans.
  • 7 1
 @Drew-O: I don’t remember any reports about this specific wandering bite point issue on Saint and Zee brakes. I prefer a Saint to anything SRAM makes.
  • 8 2
 @TheR: I’ve been a wrench since ‘03, and own and operate a service-based shop the last 6 yrs. I’ve worked on a lot of bikes. I’m not really sram or shimano biased, but sram brakes and drivetrains have issues. Shimano products are more refined, no question. I can’t even remember how many sets of sram guides I replaced last year and the year before, but it should have been a recall. Many new bikes arrived with frozen brakes, this just doesn’t happened with shimano.
  • 1 0
 @emptybe-er: Before the bike I have now, I had Avid Elixirs (so Sram). Those were also supposed to be horrible, but once I figured out how to bleed them, there were next to zero issues. The pinhead at the shop was only bleeding them at the lever, which worked for a short amount of time, but then they would go back to needing a bleed in a matter of weeks. A good, solid bleed at both the lever and caliper kept them working for seasons. BUT they did have a sticky piston problem, which caused minor pad rub. As for drivetrain, yes. Shimano all the way.
  • 4 0
 @tmadison12: Same here. I'm in Phoenix, AZ. I bled my previous XTs many times, rebuilt them, and ultimately swapped them for Maguras. The bite point on the XTs ranged from light switch like on/off to pulling the lever to the grips and hoping I'd slow down, and then would randomly go back to on/off switch feeling and right when I'd grab a handful of what was previously a sponge.

The Maguras have been flawless.
  • 2 1
 @Ttimer: saint and zee suffer of leaky piston and bite point to i havé to warranty some pair at the shop i use to Word . Its more rare but Its happening
  • 2 0
 @TheR: The higher-end elixirs with the horrid rotating master cylinder bite adjustment definitely sucked air in. Lower end elixir without that were ok. If you got a good set, they were good, but they were few and far between in my experience. The last shop I wrenched for about 7 yrs ago wouldn’t even work on Elixirs, they would give you a great deal on new brakeset instead because, in general, they wouldn’t hold a bleed.
  • 6 1
 Lubricate the piston seals with the mineral oil and work the pistons in and out a little clean up and pop the pads back in and the bite point will be consistent. This is in shimano tech documents as a periodic thing to do with the caliper and it works a treat.
  • 4 0
 @cycleaddictsuk: better yet, pump pistons out a bit to expose dirt then clean pistons with mineral oil and a q tip before pushing them back in so you aren’t pushing dirt into your piston seals. Definitely don’t use degreaser or alcohol, just mineral oil
  • 2 0
 @cycleaddictsuk: What you are describing is nice for keeping brakes feeling good, but has nothing to do with the typical shimano bite point issue. That one is entirely unrelated to maintenance or bleeding.
  • 2 0
 @emptybe-er: I had the lower-end elixirs, so that must have been it.
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: I have had several sets of XT brakes with this problem. Now running Zee's, and they seem to be fine.
  • 2 2
 The solution is to get every last bit of air out of the system. That’s why sometimes swapping the fluid worked, and sometimes it didn’t. The probably got a better bleed sometimes.
  • 2 0
 @Euskafreez: oh man I got so much love for the old DS/SM etc. Cheers the the tip.
Still, totally agree with @jclnv, I'm in a similar headspace re the whole sporty car thing.
  • 1 0
 @skelldify: yes and mineral oil is hydrophobic, so water in the system won’t mix with the oil (like dot) and will settle in low spots (caliper) where it can also get hot enough to boil, then you have air in the system.
  • 1 0
 @skelldify: *unlike* dot, rather
  • 1 0
 @skelldify: The fact that the brakes, even in good condition, eventually gain air through the seals. In addition, the design of the master cylinder has a feature in the form of lack of protection from the external environment. Dust, water and dirt fall freely on the cylinder mirror and permanently damage it with scratches.

As a result, the air gets into the system. And the efficiency of the brake is significantly reduced. In particular, it feels like a wandering bite point.
  • 4 1
 Taking your Shimano brake off and replacing it with non-Shimano brake seems to solve the bite point issue.
  • 2 0
 @TheR: agreed! On the new xtr m9120 4 pot myself... Hands down best brakes ive ever owned.
  • 1 0
 @Euskafreez: Yep. I always found it a bit strange the Aussie love for Scoobies, considering the climate.
  • 49 0
 Love the addition of the PNW lever that's cool. Even on the low end hardtails Marin are building bikes with thought out spec and very decent geometry. I really like what they've been doing in the last few years except that dog-ugly FS bike that looks like an Ebike.
  • 12 2
 We found the grim donut guys!!!!
  • 4 0
 spot on with the hardtails. i recently bought a nail trail and kitted it out with oneup parts, clocked in at $2400CAD for a great bike. they've hit a sweet spot in the market with these low priced capable HT's, little competition here.
  • 2 0
 @matt721: Nukeproof Scouts are sweet hardtails with good kit and come in around that price - I need a One Up bar on mine to stop the Nukeproof one tearing my thumbs off but aside from that its good.

Bought a Marin road bike to go on the trainer at the start of winter - its not bad but it definitely feels as cheap as it was.
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: stock bar on those is god awful, so is the dropper lever -

Otherwise they are great bikes

Though the mavic XA wheels are shaped like a pentagon....
  • 1 0
 @Civicowner: l'enfer du Champagne
  • 1 0
 @Civicowner: Dont have an issue with the wheels, dropper lever needs to move too far to actuate the drop and the bar is just the worst - great shape just makes my hands numb in 3.5 seconds on a down hill trail.
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: I am admittedly hard on wheels, they are long gone from my bike

Pick up some spank vibrocores, or some of the oneup bars
  • 25 1
 I was in Marin county last year and went to the Marin head office, meeting the team, hearing about the direction of Marin and seeing how enthusiastic they all were really makes me want to buy one. An iconic brand making a come back.
  • 1 0
 I probably didn't know any better, but I loved my old mt vision. Met some great people because of it too.
  • 1 0
 i bought my nail trail because of that video PB posted a couple weeks back where they tour the facility with matt jones
  • 25 1
 Not sure this rift zone represents a structural tectonic shift to the bike industry.
  • 14 0
 Wish I had something good to add to this, but I've got too much moving on my plate.
  • 9 2
 Maybe not, but at that price, I'm sure it'll send some tremors through the industry
  • 2 0
 @maxyedor: it may well erupt onto the market then.
  • 3 0
 @mi-bike: it'll definitely get people moving in different directions.
  • 2 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: Will people be moving mountains to get one or will they get left on the shelf?
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: , whatever they do it'll lead to an eruption I'm sure.
  • 3 0
 It has it's faults
  • 2 0
 @Gerlewis: This threads givin' me the shakes.
  • 14 0
 But but but I was just about to pull the trigger on an Optic and then this gets thrown in, help me with this first world problem!
  • 7 0
 Vital about to post a 5 way review on YT including Ripley, Hightower and Banshee Phantom....I'm tempted by the Marin as it is a fair bit cheaper than the Optic here in Oz.
  • 5 0
 I really want to ride an Optic to see how it compares. Reckon that would be an interesting comparison
  • 11 4
 Optic's Horst link suspension design is superior to the Marin IMO.

Watch the suspension compression video and notice how much the rear brake caliper moves around the disc when it compresses. That kind of movement is not good for active suspension during braking (ie. maintaining traction and not locking up the wheel) and will also likely result in a high degree of pedal kickback. Both typical traits of single pivot designs.

Probably flogging a dead horse here though as some people still seem to think bikes like the Orange are the holy grail. each to their own I guess...
  • 7 2
 @SonofBovril: yeah with the patent expiring on Horst Link sticking with a linkage driven single pivot doesn't really make all that much sense anymore
  • 1 1
 I'd say go with the Marin if you are on a budget. If money isn't an issue, definitely the Optic. Similar geo but more affordable.
  • 2 0
 @davidarthur: Well, now you have to ride an Optic and Mike squated need to ride the Rift Zone & report back...
  • 1 0
 @Dallasdownunder: unfortunately optics are all sold out in NZ! This could be another option for me to consider
  • 6 0
 @Dallasdownunder: I caught the Vital video and the testers seemed more stoked on the Banshee and the Marin than the Norco. Surprising to say the least.
  • 2 0
 @roma258: I think the poor brake choice spec'ed on the optic really hurt it in that test.
  • 2 1
 @SonofBovril: I didn't know one could have such a racist attitude in regards to linkage design.

Commencal, Forbidden, Evil, and more have inferior susp eh?
  • 1 1
 @SonofBovril: someone thinks they’re the resident suspension guru don’t they?
  • 2 1
 @CrispyNuggs: I mean Frome a technical stand point he's not wrong. I'm not sure if I would use the word "superior" but it is mechanically a better design.
  • 2 0
 @TheBearDen: Subjective bullshit. I can only imagine what support you have, having not stated any. What is this, a popularity contest?

Structurally, horst links can fail like PB's RM Slayer break. There's even more structurally sound options like fully triangulated rear swingarms without dropout pivots, like DW-Link, Switch Infinity, etc. also including the NS Bikes Nerd HD, Starling Murmur, and Focus Vice for single pivots.

"Mechanically", isn't it all preference? I prefer 100% brake squat/anti-rise over 50%, which a vast majority of linkage designs are moving towards, even some horst links like the RM Slayer (they could've made it into a faux bar). What difference is there in antisquat (plus related kickback) and leverage curve tuning between faux bar and horst link? I'll grant that if bike design got crazy, horst link would be more flexible for designers, but faux bar is solidly competitive with current conventional design.

Rift Zone vs Optic is a fair comparison that boils down to nitpicking, IMO.
  • 1 0
 @Varaxis: cranky boy
  • 1 0
 @TheBearDen: I'm calm now after drinking some CBF Kool-Aid
  • 13 0
 Where is the Titan review?
  • 9 0
 Marin does some great stuff. I even like that wolf ridge and the other one that everyone says is ugly. I think they look pretty sick. If i wasn't sold on my Guerilla Gravity I'd probably be on a Marin right now.
  • 8 0
 $3300 USD for this model in Australia...Marin/Polygon bikes are crazy good value here, but the trails are still dominated by Trek, Giant, Specialized etc
  • 3 0
 I wonder if the reason they're not as common is more to do with the fact they are only available online via bicyclesonline in OZ? But I agree, crazy good value.
  • 4 19
flag Golden-G (Feb 24, 2020 at 6:22) (Below Threshold)
 Because they’re crap?
  • 2 0
 @Obi-None: Yeah for sure, physical retail visibility would help with sales and brand recognition, but bike prices would increase to cover overheads.

Bicycles Online are onto a good thing with their consumer direct(ish) approach, seems like they've made steady progress in fostering the market for Indonesian built bikes, but like I said - still not as common as would be expected with such competitive pricing (from what I've observed anyway)
  • 1 0
 3300$ is way more in line with what I'd be willing to spend on a bike like this with this kind of components.
  • 23 17
 I dont understand the point of having a short travel bike, which is supposed to be efficient, only to outfit it with knobby 2.5 downhill tires. It still makes the riders who use this setup "overbiked".. if you dont mind spinning those tractor wheels, then you might as well have 150mm..
  • 13 4
 Agree. But reviews continue to praise trail bikes that come with DHF/DHR combos for having "real" tires.

Don't need that much beef in them! Especially the rear.
  • 53 5
 I'm struggling to understand your logic here. A 120 travel bike with big nobby tires is still going to be more efficient peddling than a 150 bike with light weight XC tires. I'm not buying this kind of short travel bike to enter XC races, I'm buying it because I don't want/need the extra travel of a 150 bike but still want to charge downhill without hitting fest sized jumps, really lean the thing over railing corners (those XC tires won't leaned over like a big nobby the) while not worrying about flatting lightweight tires and still do a lot of pedaling. It may make the bike over-biked for someone who wants a progressive XC race bike but not for the market they are intending on selling to. If I was serious about racing XC than I would have bought an XC dedicated bike.
  • 17 2
 bikes with shorter travel are most often than not more fun! the reward from having the skill to fly on a bike with less travel is addictive, very different to ploughing on a full-on enduro bike.
  • 16 1
 It is about grip, and having good grippy tires is irelevant of rear / front travel. Also grippy tires are waaay more eficient through roots, rocks, off cambers, loose dirt, sloppy conditions etc. At least those are the conditions I ride my MTB. On nice gravel roads they are less eficient yes.
  • 6 0
 wait – now it is cool to downbike tires too?
  • 15 2
 @lifeofloon: "A 120 travel bike with big nobby tires is still going to be more efficient peddling than a 150 bike with light weight XC tires."

Are you sure about that? I suspect the tires will make a much bigger difference for a bike with proper anti-squat especially when you have a lockout.
Has anyone actually measured this? I'd really like to know how much effect the travel amount has on the pedaling efficiency.
  • 6 0
 @Ktron: I think they're erring on the side of beginner confidence. A DHR2 out back is overkill unless you're riding continuously steep terrain and most people who buy this bike aren't.
  • 8 2
 Just get 150 mil travel and be happy. What is even the downside, it's barely even going to weigh more than this...
  • 6 0
 @bikefuturist: I mean the argument for underbiking is it makes trails more challenging, hence more fun. Surely the same logic applies to tires. A good drift is way more fun than a harsh bottom out.
  • 8 2
 I've been overbiked, never been over tire-ed. If you can get away with something like a Rekon or Ardent, then awesome, but neither of them have enough grip for my taste, so that means Minions. I go back and forth between 2.3s and 2.5s and don't notice a huge difference between the two. I do however notice a big difference on the smiles-per-miles meter with a short travel trail bike compared to a longer travel more enduro-ish bikes.
  • 4 0
 I agree. I have a 2020 Rift Zone and run it with 2.3 size tires. I still run DHF and DHR but matched with Hunts Trail wide wheels the setup is light and snappy. I usually run 2.6ish tires but for my new everyday trail bike I wanted something that felt more playful. It does a good job of it. I have a Rockshox RCT Deluxe on mine and it pedals really well.
  • 4 1
 @feathers54: That just means you are not going fast enough on an enduro bike.
  • 11 0
 @lifeofloon: you should put some XC tires on your big bike and pedal it around to see how it feels. There's no reason for a comparably specced 150 and 120 bike to have any appreciable weight difference, and suspension designs are so good nowadays that a 150 bike can absolutely pedal as well as a 120 bike. Knobby tires with thick casings have FAR more influence on pedaling and speed than rear travel (for comparable weight and spec bikes). When I put 600-700g XC tires (Aspens) on my 30lb bike, it's nearly 10% faster, whether climbing or on flat ground, than 1100g knobby thick casing tires (DHF or Assegais).

The reason to have 120 instead of 150 with comparable spec, IMO, is to have a more poppy, playful bike or to make tamer trails more fun. That's it.
  • 2 0
 I have more fun on slacked out 150-160 bikes because the margin for error is huge and I go faster and take more chances. You can get your fun by having a 120 bike on tamer trails, or you can get your fun by having a big bike on gnarly trails and going fast and doubling sketchy jank because the bike lets you.
  • 3 1
 Single ply tires just don't work some places.
  • 5 0
 @JohnnyVV: A flat tire and exploded rim is less fun. Tires should be the first thing to beef up, if you need a beefier bike.
  • 4 0
 @Dogl0rd: Its not about using the travel its about the way they ride. 120mm slack trail bikes ride a lot differently, and that's what people are interested in when picking those bikes.
  • 5 0
 You pick the bike based on how you plan to ride it, outfitting the bike is no different. So there's no rule that says XC tires for short travel and enduro tires for long travel, hell you might run DH casings on a hardtail if you needed heavy duty tires and lots of traction. I run enduro tires on my short travel 29er and on my long travel 27.5 because I'm a big guy and I ride both bikes equally hard. If I was going to take my 29er bikepacking, then I might swap to a more XC tire to decrease rolling resistance.
  • 3 0
 @gumbytex: @Xonky: I run a Rock Razor as my rear tire on my 160, the only time I put more grip on is if it's real wet where I'm riding. I find it the best of both worlds; minimal rolling resistance, strong sidewalls and great cornering knobs. The last time I rode a pure XC tire I rolled it off the rim twice and pinch flatted three times in one ride. They just aren't practical for my riding style or the terrain I have to ride.
  • 2 0
 @Xonky: if all rear suspension designs had the same pedaling efficiency, but they really don’t.
  • 4 0
 You'll find that a bike's playfulness has less to do with wheel size and tire setup and more to do with reach and wheelbase. The bike is built for capability on descents with the slackened geometry Marin has put into it. Beef the tires up, and you'll be able to have a lot more fun on descents where a thinwall tire would normally tear. Many reviews on of Marin bikes last year called out the fact that the tires put on the bike were under-rubbered. They answered by putting actual good tires on this year.
  • 1 0
 @lifeofloon: word up magazine.
  • 3 0
 @GZMS Think of it like a go kart vs a car. If you drive a 50m/h or 100km/h go kart around a track, it'll make you feel like Michael Shumacher. Drive a Camry at 100km/h and you could almost fall asleep.

Short travel bikes are fun, poppy and exciting to ride, even if they aren't necessarily the quickest to the bottom.
  • 2 0
 Because short-travel is not always about efficiency. If it were, this bike wouldn't exist in the first place. The newer breeds of short-travel rippers lean towards the fun side, while still maintaining some of the benefits of the shorter-travel platform. They're meant to be agile, fun, pump-the-terrain kind of bikes. If you want efficiency and short-travel, the XC market is brimming with options.
  • 4 0
 Wouldn't a Performance Elite or Factory fork and shock be more appropriate for the top of the range model? Otherwise a very interesting bike.
  • 3 1
 Well even though this is their "top of the range" model, it's still priced similarly to the lowest level carbon model for some brands.

I would say that Performance Elite would make me say "good spec" at this level, but the Ripmo reviewed the other day is running similar level suspension on bikes costing almost twice as much.
  • 2 0
 @MarcusBrody: you're right, but this means there is room for a real top spec model above it. It would be a shame to buy this great bike and then having to buy new suspension and selling the old suspension.
  • 2 0
 @Mac1987: I actually prefer to buy the lower models and then upgrade. I bought a base model 2020 Rift Zone and then replaced everything but the seat. Total cost was $3100 and it is speced out with the latest 140mm Pike Select and a Deluxe RCT Debonair, Hunt Trailwide wheels, DHF and DHR tires, Guide RS brakes, X01 cranks, Garbaruk 10 speed cassette, Gx shifter and derailleur, and Manic Dropper post.

I was able to buy everything I wanted instead of going with what the Manufacturer speced. Granted I did have to buy some stuff second hand to get the deals. But most of it was take off from new bikes. The only thing I sold off the Marin was the Recon. So I have all the stock parts to put back on it when I sell it. Or at least I have that choice.
  • 2 1
 @Mac1987: I understand. I probably wouldn't consider Fox's Performance level suspension something that I'd feel obligated to get rid of, but I don't consider it a selling point at this price. It's one reason that I'd probably go for the Rift Zone 3 (aluminum frame) rather than the carbon version. The Marazocchi Bomber Z2 is supposed to be pretty good for the price and it would be less of a pain to switch it if it wasn't up to it.
  • 4 1
 Does anyone actually like the weird "main sail" frame design Marin uses on some of their full suspension frames? I've always thought it looked weird, like there was a cancerous growth on the seat tube.
  • 1 0
 I’ve always thought it looked odd too and wasnt a fan. One benefit could be that its incredibly strong since that area is so massive?
  • 2 0
 Took my new Aluminium Rift Zone 3 for its first proper ride at the weekend!!

Cannot believe how well it rides. I’ve always been a big travel rider but this is the way forward for the riding I’m going to be doing in the UK!!

Swapped out the brakes for my trusty Hope Tech 3s but everything else is sorted out the box. Even impressed with the Vee Rubber tyres.

Unbelievable value, Marin are smashing it at the moment
  • 4 0
 I guess I really need to try one of these 125mm bikes with 65* HTA's! Seems crazy on paper, but people keep enjoying them.
  • 2 0
 It’s a very good blend of geo and travel for an everyday trail bike. I have the 2020 alloy rift zone and it’s just plain fun.
  • 2 0
 Can someone please explain to me the difference between this and a Horst link suspension set up? I see Orange bikes as being single pivot, but this has multiple links like a horst - sorry, I'm dumb.
  • 6 0
 Where the rear wheel is attached to the bike is by a single pivot (like an Orange). The other bars are all there to drive the shock.

A horst link bike has the rear wheel attached to the seat stay, not the chain stay.
  • 3 0
 Glad at least one PB editor admits to using the lockout/climb switch. Not sure why it's been called a "cheater switch" by Kaz and others. It's on the shock for a reason.
  • 6 2
 An almost 32 pound 120 travel bike, yeah right!
  • 6 0
 and the comment above yours is saying it needs an even heavier fork. Can't win for losing on Pinkbike.
  • 2 0
 You’re almost there with the iconic colours. Just bring back the fluorescent yellow fork. An Argyle would do the trick!
  • 3 0
 The weight penalty definitely came from the tires
  • 2 3
 These bikes, all “short travel” in this category should have the option to put a 150mm fork on the bike, for no extra money.
Little enough suspension, a good seat tube to get around some all day steep single track and hefty gravel roads, and a big fork to bomb the decent.
That’s all any of want to do isn’t it?
  • 4 0
 Aren't most of the forks they come with adjustable internally for very little money, if not free?
  • 1 0
 Well, that’s a very good point. But I would like to see a bigger diameter on some. A 36 or a Bomber on this bike seems like a whole heck of a lot of fun.
  • 6 4
 Looks nice. But as good as SLX is, I'd be expecting XT everything on a bike costing nearly $4500
  • 9 2
 Expecting XT based on? There certainly aren't a lot of CF framed bikes sporting full XT groupsets at this price. This bike is barely more than the aluminum Ripmo AF full SLX option.
  • 2 1
 True that. 4400$ with entry level components, no thank you.
  • 2 0
 @MarcusBrody: Nukeproof reactor blows this thing away.
  • 2 0
 @garrisond5: I don't disagree that the Nukeproof's spec is notably better/a better value, but it the NP is one of the single best values out there and is $700 more. I don't think it's really fair to use it as the benchmark for what to expect on a $4200 carbon bike. Though, I might prefer it to the Marin, particularly if I wanted a bit more aggressive of a bike.
  • 2 0
 @MarcusBrody: The next step down Is the exact spec as this Marin with better wheels and it is $500 less.
  • 1 0
 @garrisond5: I'm not arguing that the Nukeproof isn't a better value (though it is a bit different kind of bike). I'd prefer the spec of the the Nukeproof for the 36 over the couple XT bits on the Marin.

I'm also not sure why the Marin lists the price at $4400 when it doesn't seem to be possible to buy it for that. Any place that has it lists it for $4200 and doesn't list that as a sale. Maybe there is some spec difference I missed. So, with shipping the Nukeproof is $300 cheaper. I'd say that's a better deal, sure, but it isn't really egregious or what I'm going to base my expectations for other bikes on. If I liked the Marin better, I'd probably just wait and hope it went on sale. I think the Reactor will sell out before it gets there.
  • 3 0
 @garrisond5: And looking at other bikes in the category like the Trance and Stumpjumper ST, the Marin looks a tiny bit better specced (particularly as I prefer SLX to XT by a margin).

So, while I don't think this is a smoking value, it's basically middle of the road to decent for carbon framed bikes these days. I've yet to find any carbon bike at the price range running full XT, which is what the discussion started about in terms of expectations.
  • 2 0
 I guess one of the benefits of "modern" geo and ridiculous reach numbers is I am now solidly a medium instead of a tweener
  • 2 0
 Now THAT’s a good Looking Marin.
  • 2 1
 It’s also relatively easy on the wallet and smartly specced.— David Arthur
Yeah, right.........
  • 2 1
 Right?! I was wondering about that too. Really can't imagine anyone willing to pay 4400$ for this. You can do so much better with that kind of money...
  • 4 4
 Erm, it is. Let me draw your attention to the SC Tallboy Carbon R, their cheapest carbon model, which costs $5649 with SRAM NX parts. Show me the better specced and better priced bikes you're talking about?
  • 3 1
 @davidarthur: WTF? Never heard of YT or Propain. Just to name a few.......
  • 1 1
 @davidarthur: Commencal, YT, Canyon, Cube, Nukeproof, Norco, Banshee, Whyte, etc.
Many sell trail bikes that are better price to performance than this...
  • 2 0
 Had a Marin years ago wouldn't mind trying this one out..
  • 1 1
 Almost all mountain bikes should have this geometry. Just add or subtract suspension travel to taste. cookie cutter geo. Only took us 40 years of MTB to get here
  • 1 0
 “There was occasional grinding noise in the lowest gears after several hours of mud riding?”

You don’t say?
  • 2 3
 The rift zone sounds like the bike Trek was trying to make with their 2020 fuel ex. Also get outta here with your 31.2 pounds makes for a heavy bike nonsense.
  • 2 2
 Too expensive and heavy for a 125mm bike. At ~32 pounds with pedals, more travel or lighter weight would justify $4400.
  • 3 4
 Damn thats quite expensive for what you get. Also a bit on the heavy side. Make it 1400$ less expensive and give it a full carbon frame and I might even be interested.
  • 1 0
 I really want this bike. They're kinda hard to get though.
  • 1 0
 We can stop saying “modern geometry” now.
  • 1 0
 Wonder how much frame weighs? Overall agreed bike is a bit heavy.
  • 1 2
 I didn't like this Kona :-D
  • 2 0
 It's a process with less travel
  • 1 3
 That's not a 76 degree seat tube angle
(I can do this all day. Or for years it would seem. I have been...)
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