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Thread: '18 Rift Zone

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    '18 Rift Zone

    Sort of overlaps the Hawk Hill thread, but I have had mine (went for the 2) for a couple of weeks and really enjoying it. It's my first full squish bike and I am far from an expert rider, but happy to entertain any questions that I can answer.

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    I am looking to get my first mountain bike, want a full suspension and a solid value. I'm a father of three elementary aged kids, so I don't have a ton of time to ride. I've been riding road on and off for 14 years (I'm 46 and rode a ton as a kid, stopped in my 20s, picked it back up in my 30s. bought my Trek road bike in 2004). Looking to do trail riding in the canyon near my house. Some decent climbs, if I choose to bike to my work which is on the other side of the canyon, and some decent downhills.

    All that said, the Marin Rift Zone 2 is intriguing. I test road it and it seems like a solid value. Maybe if you could give a quick overview of your buying decision as well as your experience with the bike thus far. Then maybe we can go from there with other questions. Thanks in advance!

    I've been doing a ton of research (way more than I care to admit)

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    Not OP, but I'm in a similar situation as you LargoPQ: mid-40s, aging limbs, kids etc.

    With my aging back I realized that the medium bike I was riding was too small and I needed something that fit better. The choice for 29er was based on favorable experiences I had with hard tail 29ers and test rides of full sus 29ers earlier this season. I thought I might be able to transfer parts from my hard tail, but compatibility of parts (thru axle, boost) made this impractical.

    When looking for a new bike, price was my foremost concern. After reading about the Marin Hawk Hill and min-max component specs on nsmb.com, I figured I'd take a look at the rift zone. I was looking at the RZ2 at first but realized that there was no upgrade from the RZ1 for fork and wheels. I already had a dropper and some nice parts so I got the RZ1 and spent a day swapping some of the OEM parts with the ones I already had.

    Once on the trail the bike seemed to handle well and I did not feel limited by the lower end suspension components, wheels or different suspension design (was used to Maestro). As I said, I'm middle aged and unfit so while I could get starry eyed over upgrades and the like, the truth is, with the changes I already made, the bike seems more than adequate for my needs.

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    Yep ^^^.

    I rode a 29er hardtail, of the lower end variety, for about 5 years. I didn't have any real complaints with it, but ultimately found that the constant vibration was taking a toll on me, mostly in the form of a vague fatigue that kept me from wanting to do another lap, so to speak, even if my conditioning and energy level would have permitted it.

    I ride mostly flattish singletrack because I am a "fitness" rider and that's what's closest to me. On occasion, I venture further out to some up/down and chunk, still limited because we're talking Dallas, Tx. here.

    I also learned from the hardtail (3x9) that a 1x drivetrain was something I would really like, and I do. The hydraulic brakes are a pleasant surprise, also, as I feel more confident with one finger braking.

    On the other hand, I do not feel that I would benefit, by level of experience or style of riding/trails, from components improved beyond whats on the Rift Zone 2, which is what I bought. By the time I figure out that I hate the Deluxe RT or the Recon, or some aspect of the drivetrain or brakes, it will probably be time to replace them.

    I find the Rift Zone to be a very good ride in every respect. I'm 6-1, 220+/- and slightly long legged riding a Large. It seems to generate massive traction in turns between the suspension and the newish wider tires. I don't find it to be markedly worse in climbing than the hardtail, but YMMV. It's quite fast and very definitely eliminates a lot of the vibration, chatter, and fatigue that I was experiencing on the hardtail.

    The one thing that is different seems to be the 780mm bars. I like the openness of them and I think they fit me pretty well, compared to the 700 I was riding before, but after a couple of tree gate scares and clipped bar ends, I have become slightly paranoid. And, of course, this is something easily changed, but I have decided to give them a thorough try-out.

    Also, the steering seems to be a bit twitchier than I am used to in tight stuff, I guess where the natural tracking of the slack 29 geometry is overcome. Or maybe its the damned bars. Regardless, I think it's just a matter of adjustment on my part.

    As to the buying decision, I have kept an eye on the forums and MTB sites for what kind of things are getting attention and saw a number of very good reviews for the Hawk Hill and later Rift Zone. And the price point was very attractive. I'm a guy and an engineer, so I am very susceptible to the "gear arms race" mentality, and so am mentally armored against indulging in it.

    I saw that the Marins had the couple of features I wanted (1x11, thru axle hubs/dropouts and the dropper post) and didn't make the grotesque compromises that a lot of lower-cost bikes make and was particularly attracted by the fact that everything on the bike seems to be "modern standard" compliant, as in Boost, 1x, etc. so that the bike isn't upgrade-handicapped in many of the ways my hardtail and other "entry level" bikes are. The only thing that it's sort of missing is an XD driver, so the Eagle 1x12 is not readily available, although I believe the NX Eagle uses a Shimano driver and there are other cassettes available that allow one to cobble up a 12 if needed/wanted.

    I also had a favorable impression of Marin because when I started out, the Bobcat Trail was being liquidated on ebay and it was almost universally recommended as an entry-level hardtail. Unfortunately, there were no larges to be had by that time and I bought a lesser bike.

    You can spend another 5-600 bucks and get an arguably nicer bike, like the Canyon Spectral, or the YT Jeffsy, or root around for last-years models, etc. and maybe get a better bargain, but as I said on another thread:

    It has almost everything you need, most of what you want, and almost nothing that you don't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwiceHorn View Post
    Yep ^^^.

    I rode a 29er hardtail, of the lower end variety, for about 5 years. I didn't have any real complaints with it, but ultimately found that the constant vibration was taking a toll on me, mostly in the form of a vague fatigue that kept me from wanting to do another lap, so to speak, even if my conditioning and energy level would have permitted it.

    I ride mostly flattish singletrack because I am a "fitness" rider and that's what's closest to me. On occasion, I venture further out to some up/down and chunk, still limited because we're talking Dallas, Tx. here.

    I also learned from the hardtail (3x9) that a 1x drivetrain was something I would really like, and I do. The hydraulic brakes are a pleasant surprise, also, as I feel more confident with one finger braking.

    On the other hand, I do not feel that I would benefit, by level of experience or style of riding/trails, from components improved beyond whats on the Rift Zone 2, which is what I bought. By the time I figure out that I hate the Deluxe RT or the Recon, or some aspect of the drivetrain or brakes, it will probably be time to replace them.

    I find the Rift Zone to be a very good ride in every respect. I'm 6-1, 220+/- and slightly long legged riding a Large. It seems to generate massive traction in turns between the suspension and the newish wider tires. I don't find it to be markedly worse in climbing than the hardtail, but YMMV. It's quite fast and very definitely eliminates a lot of the vibration, chatter, and fatigue that I was experiencing on the hardtail.

    The one thing that is different seems to be the 780mm bars. I like the openness of them and I think they fit me pretty well, compared to the 700 I was riding before, but after a couple of tree gates and clipped bar ends, I have become slightly paranoid. And, of course, this is something easily changed, but I have decided to give them a thorough try-out.

    Also, the steering seems to be a bit twitchier than I am used to in tight stuff, I guess where the natural tracking of the slack 29 geometry is overcome. Or maybe its the damned bars. Regardless, I think it's just a matter of adjustment on my part.

    As to the buying decision, I have kept an eye on the forums and MTB sites for what kind of things are getting attention and saw a number of very good reviews for the Hawk Hill and later Rift Zone. And the price point was very attractive. I'm a guy and an engineer, so I am very susceptible to the "gear arms race" mentality, and so am mentally armored against indulging in it.

    I saw that the Marins had the couple of features I wanted (1x11, thru axle hubs/dropouts and the dropper post) and didn't make the grotesque compromises that a lot of lower-cost bikes make and was particularly attracted by the fact that everything on the bike seems to be "modern standard" compliant, as in Boost, 1x, etc. so that the bike isn't upgrade-handicapped in many of the ways my hardtail and other "entry level" bikes are. The only thing that it's sort of missing is an XD driver, so the Eagle 1x12 is not readily available, although I believe the NX Eagle uses a Shimano driver and there are other cassettes available that allow one to cobble up a 12 if needed/wanted.

    I also had a favorable impression of Marin because when I started out, the Bobcat Trail was being liquidated on ebay and it was almost universally recommended as an entry-level hardtail. Unfortunately, there were no larges to be had by that time and I bought a lesser bike.

    You can spend another 5-600 bucks and get an arguably nicer bike, like the Canyon Spectral, or the YT Jeffsy, or root around for last-years models, etc. and maybe get a better bargain, but as I said on another thread:

    It has almost everything you need, most of what you want, and almost nothing that you don't.
    Wow, blown away by your response (as well as Tuvok's). Thanks for the excellent detail. I'm in "analysis paralysis" mode of reading up on the different options. Your responses may be pushing me to make a decision. The other one that seems to keep me unable to move forward is the travel on the Rift Zone. Given that it's 120mm, I'm guessing that's more than enough for me, but would rather spend some time figuring it out now and making the right decision, than getting the bike and wishing it had more travel. I'm more interested in fitness than balling down a hill, definitely. But like have the option.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LargoPQ View Post
    Wow, blown away by your response (as well as Tuvok's). Thanks for the excellent detail. I'm in "analysis paralysis" mode of reading up on the different options. Your responses may be pushing me to make a decision. The other one that seems to keep me unable to move forward is the travel on the Rift Zone. Given that it's 120mm, I'm guessing that's more than enough for me, but would rather spend some time figuring it out now and making the right decision, than getting the bike and wishing it had more travel. I'm more interested in fitness than balling down a hill, definitely. But like have the option.
    Glad it was helpful. I'm very pleased with the purchase. My hardtail only has 100mm of travel (and a coil fork, yuck), so I may be a "cheap date."

    And totally get the analysis paralysis. The array of nice bikes available now is absolutely bewildering. ~2K wasn't a hard and fast budget on my end, but when I read the reviews, looked over the spec sheet and the price, I was pretty compelled to stop screwing around and pull the trigger on upgrading my ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwiceHorn View Post
    Glad it was helpful. I'm very pleased with the purchase. My hardtail only has 100mm of travel (and a coil fork, yuck), so I may be a "cheap date."

    And totally get the analysis paralysis. The array of nice bikes available now is absolutely bewildering. ~2K wasn't a hard and fast budget on my end, but when I read the reviews, looked over the spec sheet and the price, I was pretty compelled to stop screwing around and pull the trigger on upgrading my ride.
    Interesting take. Yeah, at some point you just pull the trigger. Ever wish you had more travel than 120mm?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LargoPQ View Post
    Interesting take. Yeah, at some point you just pull the trigger. Ever wish you had more travel than 120mm?
    No, nothing I ride calls for more travel. I could find some stuff locally that might, but it gives me visions of broken ankles and missing teeth, so nah. I'm 52 and have always had pretty good self-preservation instincts. They have only gotten more acute with age.

    Also, at my age in Texas, I pretty much missed out on BMX. We had em, but bike parks, jumps (other than a homemade ramp over garbage cans) and other daredevil feats were not something I was exposed to, therefore I have little interest in duplicating that at my age. YMMV.

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    120mm seems to go pretty far on a 29er. Where I ride it is rough and rocky in parts with bumpy rock-armoured sections, rock-strewn sections of single track, roots, short technical climbs, steep off-camber rocks to roll off and bridges. So far the Rift Zone has handled it very well. It actually feels smoother than the 140-160mm 27.5 I was riding. Once you get used to the steering twitch, it actually helps with fine control in tight spaces.

    For the money (and likely not just for the money) it seems to be a good value at a price for a full bike that is less than some frame-only options. I'll again caveat though, that I had some parts to swap over that perhaps compensated for some of the shortcomings of the Rift Zone 1 spec.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tuvok View Post
    120mm seems to go pretty far on a 29er. Where I ride it is rough and rocky in parts with bumpy rock-armoured sections, rock-strewn sections of single track, roots, short technical climbs, steep off-camber rocks to roll off and bridges. So far the Rift Zone has handled it very well. It actually feels smoother than the 140-160mm 27.5 I was riding. Once you get used to the steering twitch, it actually helps with fine control in tight spaces.

    For the money (and likely not just for the money) it seems to be a good value at a price for a full bike that is less than some frame-only options. I'll again caveat though, that I had some parts to swap over that perhaps compensated for some of the shortcomings of the Rift Zone 1 spec.
    Oh good to see someone else has found the steering to be twitchy, I guess as a product of the geometry. It was kind of making me feel foolish at times.

    And yeah, the fork handles some pretty rough stuff like you describe with aplomb, I didn't know if Largo was thinking of rocky rocky fast fast downhills (what I usually associate with the big travel forks) or maybe big drops or something that we don't have much of here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TwiceHorn View Post
    Oh good to see someone else has found the steering to be twitchy, I guess as a product of the geometry. It was kind of making me feel foolish at times.

    And yeah, the fork handles some pretty rough stuff like you describe with aplomb, I didn't know if Largo was thinking of rocky rocky fast fast downhills (what I usually associate with the big travel forks) or maybe big drops or something that we don't have much of here.
    Yeah, not going to be flying down hills. Looking more to get exercise in a local canyon here in San Diego. Some climbing and downhills, not planning nay anything gnarly...yet.

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    Well, I have found one thing I don't like about the RZ2. There's a bit of a mismatch, apparently, between the SRAM shfiter and the Shimano brake levers. I have large hands, so I like to move the brakes inboard for one finger braking, which makes the shifter (inboard of the brake lever) a bit of a reach for thumb.

    But if you try to flip them, the brackets interfere in such a way that you can't turn the brakes down without pushing the shifter too far down.

    This mismatch may not exist with Shimano/Shimano or SRAM/SRAM.

    Overall not a huge deal, but it makes my right hand creep inward on the bars toward 2 or more finger braking.

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    Rift Zone 1 comes through again. Had not been doing any exercise for a few weeks and had a chance to go riding yesterday. After exhausting myself on a difficult climb, I had to either walk or ride everything very slow. What surprised me was how often I was able to crawl up/over sections of trail that I would usually have to rely on momentum/speed to clear. Some of that was likely due to the wide range 1 x 10 drive train, but the geometry and whatever secret sauce they put in the RZ definitely makes for a fun bike to ride (even when you are exhausted and things don't feel fun in the moment).

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    Just wondering, can you fit a 2.6 tire on this frame?

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

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    Have not tried 2.6. I'm running front and rear 2.4 On-One Chunky Monkeys with no probs at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tuvok View Post
    Rift Zone 1 comes through again. Had not been doing any exercise for a few weeks and had a chance to go riding yesterday. After exhausting myself on a difficult climb, I had to either walk or ride everything very slow. What surprised me was how often I was able to crawl up/over sections of trail that I would usually have to rely on momentum/speed to clear. Some of that was likely due to the wide range 1 x 10 drive train, but the geometry and whatever secret sauce they put in the RZ definitely makes for a fun bike to ride (even when you are exhausted and things don't feel fun in the moment).
    Just kinda wants to go, doesn't it?

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    Just built this up and took it for it's first ride on Friday. Bought the frame and transferred most of the parts from my Transition Carbon scout.
    I'm loving this bike so far, it seems to climb really well and was just as much fun on the downhills.
    I put a 150mm travel Revelation on the front which slackens out the head angle.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails '18 Rift Zone-marin-1.jpg  

    '18 Rift Zone-marin-2.jpg  

    '18 Rift Zone-marin-3.jpg  

    '18 Rift Zone-marin-4.jpg  

    '18 Rift Zone-marin-5.jpg  

    '18 Rift Zone-marin-6.jpg  


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    Where did you find the frame by itself (I presume)? Interesting that it compares somewhat favorably with a much more expensive frame. Their frames are made in Indonesia, I wonder if they've discovered sort of a low-cost frame goldmine. No one is griping about them coming apart yet, that I am aware of.

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    I bought it from someone on Pinkbike. They were selling just the frame. I don't know how they managed to get just the frame, I didn't ask. I don't know if it was a frame replacement or not because they were riding the same frame. All I know is that I was excited as hell to see it for sale because I really liked them.

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    Well, hope it serves you well. I am going to guess that you are a more seasoned rider than many of us, but we sure like ours.

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    So after a year of smashing the local trails on my Trek Roscoe hardtail, I decided to pull the trigger on a Rift Zone 1 full squish to give my aging knee's some relief. Bonus! The Roscoe boost 141 27.5 x 2.8's are a perfect fit after transferring the Marin 141 dropout hub spacers to the Roscoe hub. LBS gave me a great deal on the bike and can't wait to hit the trail. Very impressed with this bike, the geometry feels spot on.

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