Fans of the 2018 Marin Rift Zone we are eager to get aboard this 2020 aluminium version. The 29er mountain bike gets updated geometry, a little more travel at the rear, some trail ready spec changes and, of course, for this alloy version a cheaper price tag than its carbon brothers.
The alloy Rift Zone we have here is the Rift Zone 2, the middle of the range bike, of three aluminium models. It retails at £1,845 but you can also buy the Rift Zone 3 for £2,395 and the Rift Zone 1 for £1,445. Our mid-budget bike gets what we thought on paper looked like great value for money and it looked bang on for sticking with our ethos at off-road.cc to test bikes that aren't absurd money but will still enable you to razz proper mountain bike trails.
For just shy of £1,900 the Rift Zone 2 gets a Rockshox fork and shock in the form of a Recon RL 29 fork and a Deluxe Select R shock. The fork has the brands Solo Air spring and both compression in the form of the dial on top of the fork and rebound damping adjustment at the lower end of the fork. The shock will also allow you to adjust the rebound damping.
To stop and go there are Shimano MT201 hydraulic brakes with 180m rotors front and rear and a SRAM SX Eagle drivetrain. That SX Eagle gives you all the range of the pricier NX Eagle set up with a little added weight and a lot less cost. There's a 11-50T cassette and a 32T direct mount steel chainring specced on this bike alongside a SRAM Powerslpline bottom bracket and the somewhat long 175mm cranks.
The wheels use Marin own brand rims which are decently wide (29mm internal width) and unbranded hubs. Marin in the UK spec Vee Tire Co. tyres, in this case they are 29 x 2.3" Flow Snap Tackee compound both front and rear. We have yet to test any Vee tyres on off-road.cc so it'll be interesting to see how we get on with these. From the outset they look fairly chunky, let's see if they are a match for our sloppy current conditions.
To finish the bike has a long 150mm dropper post (on our medium bike) from TransX, this has an under bar shifter style lever on the left of the bars. The size small will get a 125mm travel dropper, the large gets a 150mm and the XL sized bike gets a whopping 175mm dropper, a thoughtful touch on this bike that cost less than 2k.
The stem is a stubby 35mm job, we thought the 45mm stem on the 2018 bike was a good choice, it is even nicer to see a shorter stem on this 2020 model which will no doubt give rise to direct steering and a roomy cockpit feel in conjunction with a longer reach, this medium has a reach of 455mm which is progressive in terms of 125mm trail bike geometry.
The rest of the geometry is similarly progressive, even more so than the rowdy 120mm 27.5" Marin Hawk Hill we reviewed at the tail end of 2018. The Rift Zone 2, just like its counterparts gets a slack 65.5 degree head angle, a steep(ish) 76 degree effective seat angle, chainstays of 425mm a wheelbase of 1186mm and a short seat tube length of 400mm on this medium model. The effective top tube of this bike is pleasingly pretty short given the reach of 455mm, this is due to that steep effective seat angle and should give both a confidence inspiring position on the descents and a comfy position for climbing, time will tell when we take this bike to the trails!
Lastly, in terms of the frame, all three alloy bikes use the same frame all with internal cable routing, Marin's Multi Trac single pivot suspension system and room for a bottle cage within the front triangle. Our bike gets a variation on the paint fade colourways seen on other Marin bikes, we aren't sure it's the best thing we've ever seen but it definitely is eyecatching.
We are going to take this bike out over the weekend and get back to you with a review over the next month or so. For more info head over to www.marinbikes.com.
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