Marin Rocky Ridge review£1,299.00

Radical off-the-peg hardtail

BikeRadar score3/5

Marin were one of the first major bike companies to start producing technical-trail-specific ‘hardcore hardtails’. This latest version of the Rocky Ridge is probably too extreme for most riders, but free radical fiends will love it.

With its aggressive setup, it potentially pushes the limits of what hardtails can do. But it needs tougher tyres for extreme riding or a slightly longer stem to be a useful all-rounder.

Ride & handling: Perfect for really smooth, aggressive riders, but too radical for most

The Rocky Ridge's super-slack head angle gives the whole front end an unshakeable lazy confidence. However hard you heave the bars round and however long you hold the turn, it’ll just sit there without tucking under or threatening to highside you.

Really provoke it and the slightly slippery Kenda front tyre will shunt outwards, but the super-fast reactions from the stubby 45mm stem mean grabbing traction back is immediate and instinctive even when you’re in really steep or fast situations.

The 28in-wide bar and super-short stem combine to put your hands right down round your knees. But they provide huge leverage for putting the bike onto the most aggressive lines and keeping it there, and maximise the advantages of the excellent RockShox Revelation fork.

Add an impressively smooth rear end to the downhill race-style position and this is a bike that lets you charge full pelt into serious trail chaos.

It’s worth noting that the Rocky Ridge is relatively hard to wheelie or manual, and the WTB saddle gets in the way unless you drop it right down. It does take a while to reassess tree and other obstacle clearances with the wide bars, too.

The rocky ridge is potentially a superb play bike or a super confident all-rounder: the rocky ridge is potentially a superb play bike or a super confident all-rounder
The rocky ridge is potentially a superb play bike or a super confident all-rounder: the rocky ridge is potentially a superb play bike or a super confident all-rounder

Frame: Versatile and relatively light chassis, with a smooth rear end thanks to careful butting

The frame hasn’t changed much since previous versions of the Rocky Ridge. The most obvious difference is the hourglass head tube for a low-profile integrated Aheadset, which creates a stiffer, lighter and potentially lower front end.

Losing the seat tube bottle mount (there’s one mount on the down tube) gives full internal clearance to drop the seatpost and saddle right down for descents.

Otherwise it’s proven plumbing, with a gusset on top of the tapered top tube, and the polygonal down tube gets a curved hook at the top to give clearance for fork top fixtures if they jack-knife round in a crash.

The extended seat tube gets a forward-facing slot and triangular section seatstays, and triangular-to-round chainstays with a deep tuck for crank clearance come together at CNC-machined dropout sections.

There’s loads of mud clearance around the tyres and easy-to-lube open gear cabling. The only things missing are XS and XL frame options, and an ISCG mount on the bottom bracket.

The lack of a chainguide mount and the use of a triple chainset is particularly surprising considering that the Rocky Ridge is by far the most radical, gravity-focused bike here.

Marin rocky ridge: marin rocky ridge
Marin rocky ridge: marin rocky ridge

Equipment: Excellent fork, but many riders will want to swap tyres and cockpit kit

The new fork and tyres provide a 1.4lb complete bike weight saving over the 2009 Rocky Ridge, and the Maxle-equipped RockShox Revelation SL is a definite improvement.

It features a totally new, lighter bottom end than last year's model, and although the damping occasionally coughs, for 95 percent of the time the control and consistency of the fork is excellent.

The Kenda Nevegals are fast rolling but relatively delicate in terms of pinch flats, which forces more cautious lines or higher tyre pressures than the bike would otherwise relish.

However, it's the low bars and super-short stem that limit this bike's potential. The cramped ride position really impacts climbing and acceleration. We smacked our knees on the bars/shifters regularly on steep out-of-the-saddle climbs.

That said, the low bar height and short reach can be fixed on the shop floor by swapping in a slightly higher and longer stem (but certainly no longer than 70mm, as this will ruin the handling). So make sure you try before you buy.

 thanks to the basic angles and layout of the frame it will only take a swap to a slightly longer stem to create a great all-round technical trail bike:  thanks to the basic angles and layout of the frame it will only take a swap to a slightly longer stem to create a great all-round technical trail bike
thanks to the basic angles and layout of the frame it will only take a swap to a slightly longer stem to create a great all-round technical trail bike: thanks to the basic angles and layout of the frame it will only take a swap to a slightly longer stem to create a great all-round technical trail bike

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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