Marin Rift Zone XC7 29er review

Just over a year ago I was seated on a stealthy looking, brushed aluminium workshop finished 100mm 29er suspension bike fresh from the Whyte and Marin R&D base in Cheltenham. I had the product chief and Ian the designer for company.  It was very misty so their secret would be kept under safe on the Downs that day.  When presented with the development model I was of the opinion that 29er hard tails were so comfortable that you’d never need a suspension version. How wrong I was? Suspension gives you extra comfort and combined with the bigger wheels blistering speed down hill. The sample bike seemed so fast that I was visibly shaken by my run down the Cissbury East Gate singletrack.

The new design uses “Quad Link 3”. Basically the suspension function is the same but many Marin and Whyte fans will be shocked. Personally, I prefer the look and the original look will not work with a 29″ wheel. Also this design can be made lighter.

Finally the production version has arrived and I’ve had a chance to take it for a proper ride. Yesterday, I spent some time setting our demo Rift Zone up and headed out for the hills. Despite needing a rest after racing Friday (I took Will up for his first ever road race, gave him some tips and he duely rode of and won!) I chose and very hilly ride. The bike climbs like a mountain goat so it was a while before I flipped the Propedal lever. This is a handy feature but, pedaling smoothly, I didn’t need it. As with most 29ers riding out of the saddle is definitely an option and the Propedal was good for this.


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