The words “Made For Fun” hide behind the shock mount of the new Marin Rift Zone 3, and hot damn… they’re not lying. While the media attention is drawn to the polarizing looks of the Wolf Ridge, the new Rift Zone may well be the jewel in the Marin 2018 lineup. Like an Audi RS6, the Rift Zone hides behind unassuming looks before lighting up its tyres and smoking everything else on the trail.

Marin Rift Zone 3 | 130/120 mm (f/r) | 14.00 kg | € 2,499

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: Seven trail bikes around 3.000 € in review

The Rift Zone series is part of Marin’s reworked 2018 range, a range designed to bring the iconic brand back to the forefront of popularity. The 6061 butted and hydroformed aluminium frame is clean and purposeful, blending classical lines with modern geometry. This is a bike by numbers, carefully calculated to add up to pure fun: 780 mm bars, 45 mm stem, 460 mm reach, 29” wheels, 435 mm chainstays, 29 mm internal rims. It’s not the longest or the slackest, but Marin’s sums are good. The Boost rear is controlled well by the RockShox Deluxe RT Debonair shock, delivering 120 mm of taut and racy travel, while the RockShox Revelation RC fork supplies 130 mm up front.

While most of the fishing kit may be bland own-brand componentry, it’s all well finished and is aggressive enough to fit the bike’s high-speed intents – although it does add a little to the bike’s portly 14.0 kg weight. The cockpit is wide and aggressive, and the 120 mm TranzX dropper post is basic but works well enough, with a nice shifter-style lever.

The Marin Rift Zone 3 is a speed machine, perhaps the fastest bike in the group test for hot laps of a trail centre. The big 29er wheels allow the Rift Zone to rip up and down trails as if chased by the devil himself, so corners come quicker than expected – partly due to the (way too) small 180/160 mm brake rotors which are woefully underpowered. Luckily, the balanced Rift Zone cuts through last-minute bad line choices with ease, thanks in part to the low-slung, compact flickability that it has mastered. The short wheelbase throws more priority on fast line choices than outright stability, but the bike never feels nervous… just alive.

Helmet Fox Metah | Shorts Endura Singletrack | Jersey Endura Singletrack Print T

Marin’s own-brand 29 mm internal width rims support the WTB Vigilante 2.3” tyres well; the light TCS sidewalls accelerate rapidly, but do mean that low pressures are best avoided to improve stability from the thin carcass. The rear of the bike is stiff and responsive, though where the Rift Zone does struggle – as with most US bikes – is with mud clearance. Overall, the Marin Rift Zone 3 was a huge surprise, riotous fun, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, almost in for the win. However, we have to hold up the red card, as we had one of the first media bikes available; it has a different spec from the retail model, with upgraded SLX brakes and Vigilante tires.

The Marin Rift Zone 3

Fork RockShox Revelation RC 130 mm
Rear shock RockShox Deluxe RT DebonAir 120 mm
Brakes Shimano Deore
Drivetrain Shimano SLX
Seatpost TransX Dropper Post
Stem Marin 3D Forged Alloy
Handlebar Marin Mini-Riser
Tires WTB Trail Boss
Hubs Formula
Rims Marin
Price € 2,499

29ers Are The Future
29ers are fast becoming the wheel size of choice if you love stability and speed. The best new bikes also bring agility and engaging handling.
Built For Fun Indeed
Never has a statement been so true: the Marin Rift Zone is a jewel in the Marin lineup, fast and explosive.
A Bike By Numbers
The Mairn Rift Zone 3 is a bike by numbers, but all of them have been carefully calculated to add up to fun!

Thr geometry of the Marin Rift Zone 3

Size S M L XL
Seat tube 385 mm 420 mm 450 mm 480 mm
Top tube 585 mm 612 mm 636 mm 670 mm
Lenkwinkel 67.5° 67.5° 67.5° 67.5°
Sitzwinkel 74.8° 74.8° 74.8° 74.8°
Chainstays 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm 435 mm
BB Drop 38.5 mm 38.5 mm 38.5 mm 38.5 mm
Wheelbase 1134 mm 1156 mm 1178 mm 1209 mm
Reach 420 mm 441 mm 460 mm 490 mm
Stack 609 mm 614 mm 619 mm 623 mm
Wheel size 29″ 29″ 29″ 29″
Ten seconds on the new Marin Rift Zone 3 are all that’s needed to show you that this bike is dynamite.


With a host of ‘own brand’ componentry and no bling, the Marin Rift Zone 3 has to let its ride do the talking. Luckily for Marin, the ride is flipping brilliant – as explosive as fireworks on the trails. Do not let your mates buy this bike, as you will not be able to keep up.


– Super-exploitable handling
– Effortlessly fast


– Light sidewall tires steal stability

For more info head to

The test fleet

For an overview head to the main article: Seven trail bikes around 3.000 € in review

All bikes in test: Canyon Spectral AL 6.0 EX | Marin Rift Zone 3 | MERIDA ONE-TWENTY 7.800 | ROSE Granite Chief 2 | Vitus ESCARPE 29 VRX | Whyte T-130 S | YT JEFFSY AL ONE 27

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