48 Hours with the Marin Rift Zone XC9 29r May 1, 2014

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These days, I’d rather test ride new bikes than travel with my own, especially when flying into remote locations. That was the case at the Whiskey Off Road with Blackburn. Prescott ain’t exactly an international hub, so rather than pack up my bike and risk it getting lost, Marin offered to hand over a Rift Zone 29′r for me to rip on while at the event.

48 hours is by no means enough time to do a thorough review, but I’d like to go over a few points, with hopes that an extended product review will take place in the future.

Check out more below!

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Apologies for not including my own drive-side photo – I didn’t get a decent shot.

The first thing I noticed on the Marin Rift Zone is the fork. Personally, I don’t see a whole lot of 100mm Fox 32 Float Factory CTD 29er with Kashima Coat on bikes I get to demo. In fact, the 32mm stanchions really do it for me. 36mm is great, but for a 100mm XC machine, I prefer the aesthetics of 32mm.

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First impressions are everything and the first thing I consider on a bike is the build kit. The Marin XC9 comes with X01 11-speed. I prefer a 1×10 or 1×11 setup on a cross country machine. It eliminates an often finicky front derailleur and makes quick, abrupt shifting super easy.

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With X01′s 42t cassette on the rear and 32t up front, you’re very rarely ever going to meet a climb where the only option is to hike. Although, it does happen from time to time.

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The 70.5 head tube angle, matched with the 100mm travel fork makes for a bike that handles just about everything. Climbing is a cinch with the suspension lock out, the front end is lower than its big brother 29r long-travel trail bikes – which I’ve become all too accustomed to.

Overall, it’s zippy, responsive and highly shredable. I didn’t get a weight on it, or a decent drive-side shot but as I said, I’m interested going on a few more rides before breaking everything down in detail.

What I will say is that for the pricepoint, it’s a great XC machine and it offered a surprisingly fun 48 hours of riding. Although I might have bottomed out the 100mm front end a few times hitting gaps and drops. ;-)

The Marin Rift Zone XC9 29′r retails for $5399.

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