Marin Rift Zone 3 review£2,300.00

New frame puts the Rift Zone into the ‘fast but fun’ zone

BikeRadar score4/5

Marin’s Rift Zone gets an all-new frame this year. The result is a progressively shaped trail ripper with kit to match, plus it’s priced to impress.

The redesigned Rift Zone has bigger tubes, straighter lines, and a kinked seat tube in place of the S-bend design. Marin sticks with a linkage-actuated single-pivot rear end, but seatstay pivots are now used in place of the old flex-stays.

Travel has gone up by 10mm, the shock mounts directly onto the frame, not a bridge, and the linkage has been beefed up. The back end is now Boost width (148x12mm).

There’s internal routing for the gear and dropper cables, and the bottom bracket is a screw-in unit. Geometry is all-new too, with a slacker 67.5-degree head angle, steeper 75-degree seat angle and generous 460mm reach (large).

Marin’s sorted cockpit from last year now syncs perfectly with the updated geometry. While my sample had a RockShox Pike fork, you can still expect impressive control from the Revelation on production bikes.

There’ll be a TranzX dropper in place of the Reverb on my bike too. The Shimano SLX and Deore go and stop gear works fine. The wheels pair top-spec Onza Ibex all-rounder tyres with 29mm (internal) rims to give a super-surefooted trail connection.

Marin Rift Zone 3 ride

The net result is a bike that feels confident and ready for anything. It’s not crazy slack, but steering is predictable rather than twitchy.

The long reach and relatively low bottom bracket make it stable at speed, while the balanced head angle and seat tube ensure it climbs well.

Grippy but not too draggy, the tyres deal well with most terrain, and they’re tough enough that you can drop the pressures to offset the firm rear shock feel. That same feel keeps the Marin keen to push on under power, and means it hides its weight well.

I’d be tempted to retune the shock to make it softer, then rely on the ‘pedal’ setting for XC action, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker on what’s otherwise a great value, fun to ride all-rounder.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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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