Featuring in our group test in Issue #015, we pitted the Marin Rift Zone 8 against a number of other cross-country bikes close to its ability, pushing what it could handle by moving onto the more aggressive style of riding…enduro. Here’s how it coped:
Marin [pronounced məˈrɪn] County, California, is undeniably the birthplace of mountain biking. Without a doubt, people throughout the world have been riding bicycles off road since bicycles were first invented. But it’s here, on Mount Tamalpais and in its shadow, that mountain biking got its name, became a movement, and created a culture.
Marin, the bicycle brand, is located just a few miles north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The company’s headquarters is a large office and warehouse space that once served as a practice studio and warehouse for the Grateful Dead. Perhaps not surprisingly, it seems that a faint hint of marijuana smoke lingered for some time after Marin took occupancy of the building.
Kind of like reactions to Grateful Dead music, the trail 29er we tested, Marin’s Rift Zone 8, received a bigger batch of diverse comments than any other bike in our Group Test. Some loved the clean lines and stealthy looks, while others saw the bike’s design aesthetic as dull. Some geeked out on the cable-routing options, while others couldn’t get past the size and shape of the downtube protector. Like the Dead’s music, our testers either dug it or they didn’t.
The list of aesthetic comments could go on for pages, but there were exactly two words used unanimously in reaction to the bike’s ride quality: balanced and stable. Several of our testers pointed to the Marin as the bike that made them feel most confident at speed or when looking down anything steep. This is not so surprising, considering the bike’s stiff frame, 1145-millimeter (size medium) wheelbase, and comparatively relaxed – by 29er XC standards – 69.6-degree head angle.
The Rift Zone 8’s build is solid. The bike’s back end is based on 110 millimeters of what Marin calls IsoTrac suspension, which is controlled by a Fox Float Performance CTD Boost Valve shock. Its fork is a Fox 32 Performance TALAS 29. We questioned the need for a travel-adjust fork on this bike, but we never pointed the bike uphill for any length of time or climbed anything twisty and technical, either. Like many bikes in this price point, the Rift Zone 8 comes equipped with Shimano XT brakes and drivetrain. Marin rounds out the bulk of the spec with Mavic CrossRoc wheels and a KS Lev dropper post.
What kind of rider is best suited for this bike? Our testers agreed this would be a great recommendation for a new mountain biker’s first bike. XC riders with a fading competition craving and a strong desire to expand their terrain limitations would be well advised to give one of these bikes a spin, too.
Weight: 12.86kg (Without pedals)
Fork: Fox32 Talas Performance CTD
Rear Shock: Fox Float CTD Performance Boost Valve
Drivetrain: Shimano XT
Brakes: Shimano XT 180/180
Seatpost: Kind Shock LEV Integra
Stem: Marin OS
Tyres: Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.25
Wheelset: Mavic CrossRoc
The other bikes in the field included: BMC Fourstroke FS02 | Cannondale Scalpel Carbon 2 | Felt Edict 1 29er | Giant Anthem Advanced 27.5 XC | Ibis Ripley | Trek Fuel EX 9.8 | Yeti ASRc
For more info, visit: marinbikes.com
Words: Joe Parkin Photos: Abner Kingman
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