Looking at the 'new' TARA Rage bikes you'd easily be forgiven for thinking not much had changed on Marin's long travel all rounders. Detailed suspension and geometry changes for 07 make a massive difference, however, and there's some smart kit choices as well.
The Marin 'mirrored boomerang' monocoque mainframe layout now gets bulges as well as indents to increase skin stiffness and rigidity.
A big, new forged seat tube section is hidden between the slab swingarm to give room for a revised 'Quad' linkage set up. The old TARA travel adjust shock slot is swapped for dual linkage positions on the swingarm tip which change angles and ride height but leave travel unchanged. While shortened swingarms boost 3D agility and rear end stiffness and muddy trye clearance is still massive. Bearings are warrantied for life too, so you get new ones free if/when you knacker them.
Marins are always relatively tall in the saddle bikes to keep 'pedal over' ground clearance high, but you soon drop into a fluid ride height zone. The Wolf Ridge is not as pedal influenced as previous Marins but it still communicates traction levels very well.
Suspension stiffens nicely when you stamp down the power and then relaxes to suck up the hits from below. This makes it a really easy bike to manual or wheelie over stuff. The shorter rear end and easy rear squish means you can fire out of tight situations with a real flourish, encouraging you to really work your weight on techy trails.
In the taller shock setting it's a natural long day XC bike, but move the shock and it hunkers down for proper pull-on-your-pads-and-playattitude.
You can slam into the end of travel and overwhelm the forks pretty quick though unless you're smooth, so don't do DH everyday. *Note that Marin also base its '150mm' travel figure on 3D CAD drawings and not the usual vertical static to full squash measurements (which are just 135mm).
Neat kit touches boost playfulness though. Broad 30mm DT rims plump up the WTB treads for extra stability and Hope hubs add very audible UK class and longevity.
New Fox Float 32 forks are stiff enough for most trail work - although ours also 'spiked' hard at 120mm which we're looking into.
The bashguarded twin ring chainset is great for thumping the bike over logs and Shimano shifting is light and accurate while the Avid Juicy brakes with 180mm front rotor are powerful and super reliable. The oversize 'Gravity' cockpit kit all seems fine and overall bike weight only becomes an issue on longer climbs or on marathon race days.
The new Wolf Ridge is an absolute howl on the trail. '3D' agile and great fun to thrash hard on techy singletrack, man made trails or even the occasional DH run, it's an immediately likeable UK all rounder.