It takes balls to buck the trend and go short on travel and big on attitude, but Marin’s Wolf Ridge range reaps the benefits of UK-based hardcore rider development. Even this entry-level version is a true riot bike. Superbly communicative, responsive and skill-expanding despite its heft, the Wolf Ridge really does turn every ride into a howler. It's the sort of badly behaved bike your mother warned you about.
Ride & handling: Outstanding agility and handling but 34lb is a lot of weight to pedal far
As you settle into the generous suspension sag (from high initial shock leverage) and grab the lock-on grips on the super-wide 28in bars, you’re already grasping the essential character of Marin’s Quad Trail bikes. While the two linkages only squeeze 140mm (5.5ins) of movement out of the rear wheel – most of this bike's rivals offer 150mm (6in) or more – the Wolf Ridge pumps out more can-do playtime attitude than most 200mm (8in) travel frames.
The secret is not just the carefully honed geometry but also the level of interaction you have with the bike. The massive bars and short stem give instant power steering conidence for flaring the back end and/or deliberately under-steering the front and surfing the slide.
RockShox’s Maxle bolt-through axle cuts a lot of twist out of the rear end, and while it’s flexy in terms or rotation it’s rarely a noticeable negative. In fact, the low, centralised mass and easy bodyweight squat mean the Marin carves and manuals outstandingly well. Experienced riders will wheelie, launch and boost any hip or lip they find; even our most reserved testers couldn’t fght the infectious push-your-limits playfulness of the Wolf Ridge.
Despite its relatively short travel it's impeccably controlled and calm when things threaten to get out of hand. The latter half of the suspension stroke feels firm rather than fluid and the bottom-out can be a proper thump off big stuff, but it’s consistently tight, controlled and very communicative. Landings are collected immediately for instant set-up for the next section, and despite its weight the whole bike is alive with an eagerness and urgency that’s perfectly suited to short but savage UK downhills.
There’s no avoiding the fact that 34lb isn’t much fun to haul back up again, though. The high level of pedal to rear wheel interaction means a lot of kickback and chatter if you keep the power on through rougher sections too.
Frame: Burly chassis with super controlled, connected and communicative suspension
The Wolf Ridge looks squat and aggressive. Massive rear stays and a low front end come together in the central suspension knot of the Quad Link system, burying the shock and centre of gravity right in the heart of the frame.
The massive down tube is hydroformed to carry the whole shock and linkage mount section on its back, while the subtly curved octagonal top tube maximises standover height.
‘Radiator’ ribbed clamshell gusset plates add strength to the front end, and there’s an extra brace across the front of the stays compared to Marin’s 120mm bikes. The long radiused rectangular rear stays seam together ahead of bolt-on drop-outs fixed through the wheel via the Maxle.
The Wolf Ridge is UK-proof, with lifetime warrantied bearings (replacements are free when they die) and a design which leaves the linkages and shock well shielded from muck. The lack of a rear seatstay bridge means massive mud room too and very neat side-strapped cable routing is continuous from shifter to mechs. The straight seat tube means full saddle drop for the steepest stuff too.
While the lack of bottle cage bosses won’t bother most play bikers, omission of ISCG chainguide mounts is a downer on a bike that begs to be thrashed and thrown about.
Equipment: Great fork, wheels and brakes, but chainset is an obvious upgrade
The RockShox Pike fork with 20mm Maxle axle is a big part of the tight, totally involving ride of the Wolf Ridge. Ditto the big bars and tough WTB SpeedDisc wheels.
The Kawasaki-green Avid Juicy 3 brakes look great, although a rebleed with DOT 5 fluid is advisable before heading Alp-wards.
If you start dropping big stuff regularly then upgrading the Powerspline bottom bracket and Truvativ Blaze chainset for a tougher double would be a smart idea.
Having ridden and loved properly pimped lightweight versions of the Wolf Ridge we’re in no doubt of the 6.7's overall upgrade potential though, which helps nudge value higher than mere kit comparison would.