Most of Marin’s models are mid to high-end, and it’s a bit of a niche bike brand compared to the more well-known Trek. Today is a comprehensive review of the Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1, for which we asked a good friend to write a description of his riding experience.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced and well-made full-suspension cross-country mountain bike, then we hope you’ll find this article helpful.
We take a look at the Marin Rift Zone 1’s descent and climbing performance, key features, components, and specs, and how the Marin Rift Zone 1 compares to other mountain bikes.
Alternatively, see our Best Mountain Bikes Under $2000 if you wish to learn more about other options in the same price range.
Given the choice of a full-suspension cross-country mountain bike, it’s only right to feel confident about aggressive downhill riding.
For its geometry and sturdy frame, the Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1 can face steep hills with ease, thanks to its decent-performing 130mm RockShox Recon Silver RL and 120mm X-Fusion O2 shock fork.
On rough ground, you’d prefer the road to get a little rougher to show off the Marin Rift Zone 1’s ability to descend smoothly and quickly when going downhill.
While we like this component configuration, the Shimano BR-MT200 hydraulics also play a big role in keeping you in control of your descent on wet downhill surfaces.
Then there are the 27.5-inch tires, which aren’t going to be as fast as the 29-inch, but are great for handling and are what has led many race trail mountain bikes to adopt this configuration.
We regret that it doesn’t have a dropper, which is a big compromise for its asking price, although it is an upgradeable piece of equipment.
New for 2022, the Marin Rift Zone 1 has a 29-inch version, and we apologize that we didn’t test the Marin Rift ZONE 29 1.
But you can see from the Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1 in can see that it is a great descender and undeniably a great trail mountain bike for under $2000.
We really like the climbing performance of the Marin Rift Zone 1, which is one of the top riding features of the Marin Rift Zone 1.
Perhaps compared to a race trail bike or a hardtail in its price range. The climbing speed will be slower, but it also has a unique ability to climb comfortably.
The RockShox Recon Silver RL with remote lockout doesn’t make it a climbing liability, and with an X-Fusion O2 rear shock fork that can be designed for climbing, it can easily handle rough ground when climbing.
And on long, smooth slopes, its vacuum tires, 2.3 inches wide, also provide plenty of traction. Considering its height of only 27.5 inches, it will keep you in a comfortable riding position all the time.
The Shimano Deore, 11-speed drivetrain also offers an ample range of gearing. It only comes up short if you prefer more challenging uphill terrain.
The rear suspension is quite soft when it comes to climbing, which is one of the benefits of the X-Fusion O2, a setup that happens to be on the Marin Rift Zone 1.
In addition to this the Marin Rift Zone 27.5 1 has a steeper head tube angle (66.5°), and a fairly steep seat tube angle (75°), which is an important geometric support for tough climbs. This is also the reason why Marin Rift Zone 1 is suitable for tough trail riding.
Usually, mid-level trail bikes in the $2,000 range are a breeze to handle on average terrain.
The Marin Rift Zone 1 is no different, with two suspensions front and rear that won’t give you a hint of discomfort on mellow singletrack and gravel terrain, even when it doesn’t have a configuration like a dropper.
And with more than 70% of our actual riding being woodland singletrack with minimal technical difficulty, the Marin Rift Zone 1’s 11-speed drivetrain had no trouble navigating such terrain.
If you buy the Marin Rift Zone 1 to ride in such roads all the time, I don’t recommend it. Perhaps at a weekend camping party, you will have many days off work time to practice your riding skills.
Paired with such an exquisite piece of riding gear, a crazy ride through moderately difficult off-road terrain is the best place for the Marin Rift Zone 1 to be.
That said, the rear suspension of the Marin Rift Zone 1 is still a relatively fragile component, and if contacted after a ride, the bike needs to be meticulously maintained so as not to reduce its lifespan. This will make the Marin Rift Zone 1 your most faithful companion.
The frame design of the Marin Rift Zone 1 is more geared towards aggressive trail riding. This has to do with the very sturdy design of its frame.
The first is its 3 series 6061 aluminum frame, which is very strong. And the welded tubes are added to the easily damaged Seatpost to strengthen the link between the top tube and the seat tube.
Secondly, the welding at the links of the top and bottom tubes, as well as the headset tube, all add to the sturdiness of the body. Even after several miles of off-road riding, its frame is still able to maintain the performance inconvenience.
There is also a clean internal alignment, and bush-oriented paint color, with two paint colors ORANGE, BLUE.
I personally still really like the color scheme. In the case of the ORANGE, the orange logo and green paint, the front half is mysterious black, a kind of woodland off-road fun.
A water bottle holder can be installed at the down tube, although I really like the design of the hardtail with multiple water bottle holders. But with such a configuration in a fully shocked model, it is still acceptable.
At a time when race bikes are increasingly trending towards designs with super-slack head tube angles, the Marin Rift Zone 1 is still on the steep end of the spectrum.
This will increase climbing ability, but will put you at more of a disadvantage when descending. While it’s not professional of me to say this, it’s a conclusion that has been reached after riding.
The Marin Rift Zone 1 has a 75-degree seat tube, which is a seat tube angle you only see often on hardtail mountain bikes, but the presence of a full shock mountain bike made it feel like things weren’t as easy as we thought.
We were able to get through the shorter top tube and maintain a comfortable riding position on steep trails.
Components and Specifications
RockShox Recon Silver RL Shock Front Fork
This is one of the main highlights of the Marin Rift Zone 1.
At the mid to high end of price and performance, the RockShox Recon Silver RL shock fork does all the work of steep trails off-road very well.
If you’ve followed our Best Mountain Bikes Under $1500 article, you’ll also know that this shock fork is a core component of some hardtail mountain bikes.
But such an efficient and powerful component is only part of the job of damping the Marin Rift Zone 1. As you can see the Marin Rift Zone 1 is a mountain bike with a superb new home.
When taking intermediate technical trail roads into our consideration, the RockShox Recon Silver RL has a hard time bottoming out even on extremely rugged trail species. And the occasional chunk of rock and roots on long downhill trails had less impact on the ride. This of course will keep us gripping the grips tightly.
All things considered, the RockShox Recon Silver RL is a great support that will get you off-road fast.
X-Fusion O2 Pro R SHOCK
Without the X-Fusion O2 Pro R SHOCK, the Marin Rift Zone 1 would be a featureless hardtail mountain bike. So the 120mm travel X-Fusion O2 Pro R SHOCK has great shock absorption on flat trail terrain.
The 120mm of travel also absorbs rough rear wheel impact on rough downhill trails, transferring it more softly.
It’s not as good as an expensive race bike, but we need to have reasonable expectations for the components of the Marin Rift Zone 1, and the X-Fusion O2 Pro R SHOCK is just such a reasonable component.
Shimano Deore 11-speed drivetrain
The Shimano Deore 11-speed drivetrain is the biggest compromise of the Marin Rift Zone 1’s components. While it’s good enough for 90% of the ride, the 11-speed drivetrain can seem cramped in the remaining 10% that are the toughest trail rides.
Not to be overly disparaging of such a component, but we want it to perform a little better.
Of course in the eyes of serious trail riders, the Shimano Deore 11-speed is completely inadequate.
But if you’re willing to accept this drivetrain’s minor imperfections for its powerful damping, then the Marin Rift Zone 1 is still a powerful cross-country mountain bike.
Shimano BR-MT200 hydraulic brake
The mid-range Shimano BR-MT200 hydraulic brake is a common configuration in trail mountain bikes at this price point and doesn’t have a lot of features to offer.
It is able to provide plenty of braking power. Also brings you safely onto flat terrain when things get tough while riding.
We really like the Vee Tire Crown Gem TIRES on the Marin Rift Zone 1, which have a softer texture. But the abrasion resistance is off a bit and is expected to ride for 3,000 miles.
It has a tread pattern to provide a sufficient amount of traction on soft ground. There is also a responsive version of the Marin Rift Zone 1 that can be found for those who prefer 27.5-inch or 29-inch tires.
The vacuum is about 100g lighter than a regular tire. Meaning you need less maintenance and there is less risk of punctures.
In addition is the 2.3-inch width, designed to handle fast off-road, does not prevent us from slow off-road.
Although it will be worse than 2.6-2.8 inch width tires when riding on steep hills, the Vee is still up to the task for those who like to ride fast trails.
What do we like about it?
- Better value for money
- The Marin Rift Zone 1 is an excellent drop bike
- Air suspension with lots of travel front and rear
- Frame and components are designed for fast trails
- Clean internal cabling
- Vacuum tires
What we don’t like about it?
- When climbing, it can seem a bit underpowered and not a great climber
- Doesn’t come with dropper, needs to be upgraded
- 1X11 speed drivetrain, not particularly liked by discerning trail riders
Marin Rift Zone 1 Specs
|FRAME||Series 3 6061 Aluminum|
|FORK||RockShox Recon Silver RL, 130mm Travel|
|REAR SHOCK||X-Fusion O2 Pro R, Custom Tune, 210 x 50mm|
|HEADSET||FSA No.57E, Semi-Sealed Cartridge Bearings|
|SHIFTERS||Shimano Deore, 11-Speed|
|REAR DERAILLEUR||Shimano Deore SGS, Shadow Plus|
|CRANKSET||Marin Forged Alloy, 32T|
|BOTTOM BRACKET||External Sealed Cartridge Bearing|
|BRAKES||Shimano BR-MT200 Hydraulic|
|WHEELSET||Marin Aluminum Double Wall Rims, Shimano MT200B/MT400B Hubs|
|TIRES||Vee Tire Crown Gem, 27.5 x 2.3″ TR|
|HANDLEBAR||Marin Mini-Riser 6061, 780mm Width, 28mm Rise|
|STEM||Marin 3D Forged Alloy, 35mm|
|GRIPS/BAR TAPE||Marin MTN, Closed End|
|SEATPOST||Marin Alloy, 30.9mm|
|SADDLE||Marin Speed Concept|
- What is the body weight of Marin Rift Zone 1?
14.49kg.The Marin Rift Zone 1 weight make no difference to me. On the contrary, it’s just right.
- What paint colors does the Marin Rift Zone 1 come in?
Marin Rift Zone 1 is available in two paint colors ORANGE and BLUE.
- What are the purchase links for the 27.5″ and 29″ Marin Rift Zone 1?
|BIKE||PRICE||TRAVEL (F/R)||WHEEL SIZE||DRIVETRAIN||Latest Price|
|DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3||$1950||130mm (front) 100mm (rear)||27.5×2.3″||SRAM SX Eagle, 12-Speed||CLICK|
|Liv Embolden 2||$1720||130mm (front) 120mm (rear)||27.5 x 2.6”||Shimano Deore, 12 speed||CLICK|
|Giant Stance 29 2||$1720||130mm (front) 120mm (rear)||29×2.35”||Shimano Deore, 12 speed||CLICK|
|SANTA CRUZ 5010 Carbon R Mountain Bike||$4799||140mm (front) 130mm (rear)||29×2.6”||SRAM NX Eagle, 12 speed||CLICK|
DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 vs Marin Rift Zone 1
We did a brief comparison of these two bikes in our DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 Review.
Admittedly the difference in price is only $60, but the Marin Rift Zone 1 has more compromises in terms of configuration.
For example, the DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 comes with a dropper, and then the DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 is not complete with the SRAM SX Eagle, 12-Speed drivetrain, which is a bit of a step up from the Marin Rift Zone 1.
Of course, the DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3’s bigger weakness is its rear suspension travel. the Marin Rift Zone 1 rides a little better on steep downhill terrain, and on most terrain, there isn’t much difference between the two mountain bikes.
You prefer tough climbs, the DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 would be a better fit. But the Marin Rift Zone 1 will be better on the immediately following descents.
So all in all, the DIAMONDBACK ATROZ 3 and the Marin Rift Zone 1 are both super cost-effective full-suspension mountain bikes, and you can’t go wrong with either one.
Liv Embolden 2 vs Marin Rift Zone 1
The Liv Embolden 2 is a cross-country mountain bike developed specifically for women, a feature that the Marin Rift Zone 1 does not have.
However, we have considered the Liv Embolden 2 in terms of riding comfort by lowering the price of some of the suspension to compensate for the fact that it comes with a dropper kit. This improves the overall riding comfort. It also offers more gear range than the Marin Rift Zone 1 on tough hills or fire roads.
Finally, we see that it is priced at nearly $170 less than the Marin Rift Zone 1, making the Liv Embolden 2 a better value for money.
But the quality and durability of the other components of the Marin Rift Zone 1 will be a bit higher.
Of course, the Liv Embolden 2 is for female riders on long trail rides, while the Marin Rift Zone 1 is better suited for male trail riders.
The lowering of other components is also a more reasonable design in terms of weight and riding habits.
Learn more: Liv Embolden 2 Review
Giant Stance 29 2 vs Marin Rift Zone 1
The Giant Stance 29 2 is a stronger competitor to the Marin Rift Zone 1, and their configuration attributes are very similar.
It has more gears in the drivetrain and the same amount of travel in the front and rear suspension, so the roads it can be ridden on are the same.
We really like the Giant Stance 29 2’s MSRP, which is a bit lower, also because many of its components are made in Giant’s own factory.
The Giant Stance 29 2 has a 1° steeper head tube angle than the Marin Rift Zone 1, which has the effect of making the ride more suitable for steep mountain climbs.
If you want to save money, the Giant Stance 29 2 is more cost effective, while the Marin Rift Zone 1 has a more durable drivetrain, giving it an edge in pedaling efficiency and longevity.
SANTA CRUZ 5010 Carbon R Mountain Bike vs Marin Rift Zone 1
The SANTA CRUZ 5010 is a fairly affordable race cross-country mountain bike. But compared to the more casual Marin Rift Zone 1, it’s still more expensive.
The SANTA CRUZ 5010 vs Marin Rift Zone 1 is more to let readers know that for more money, you will get a carbon fiber frame, SRAM NX Eagle 1X12 drivetrain, SRAM Guide T 4-piston hydraulic Brakeset, Maxxis Minion DHR II tires, and other top-of-the-line features.
Although it has some compromises on the drivetrain compared to the $7,000+ race trail bikes.
But it’s still a notch above the Marin Rift Zone 1, which is the weakest accessory of the SANTA CRUZ 5010.
If you prefer to race off-road, the lighter weight and more grippy SANTA CRUZ 5010 will allow you to experience the mountain bike segment that brings so much fun and energy.
Final Verdict (4.7/5)
The Marin Rift Zone 1 impressed us on steep descents. But considering its asking price, its little downgrade in the drivetrain is very reasonable.
Other than that, it doesn’t have much for us to complain about. I’m a strict bike reviewer, but for something that costs almost $2000 for a mountain bike I’d expect you to get a better, more cost effective mountain bike.
Our Marin Rift Zone review presents sincere recommendations based on the riding experience, hoping it will be helpful to you
We ended up with a rating of 4.7 out of 5 for the Marin Rift Zone 1. It’s a great mountain bike to buy.