Feel The Rifty Love With The New Marin Rift Zone
Drum roll, please! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, please be upstanding for the star of today’s show, the all-new 2023 Marin Bikes Rift Zone.
Ladies and Gents, The Show Is About To Start
We’re going to have to ask you to use your imagination here. Picture a dimly lit stage. The lights go up, the curtain lifts, the cymbal crashes, the music plays and the pyrotechnics pop.
And there it is, in all its glory, center stage and in the spotlight. The latest-and-greatest, the raddest and baddest, the finest trail bike Marin has ever made. Introducing (cue cymbal, lights and fireworks) the new Rift Zone. Ta-da!
New from November ‘23, the Rift Zone has had a complete refresh, redesign, rejig and rebuild. New frame, new components, updated geometry, updated suspension platform. Same name and same purpose but an all-new and all-time Rifty to help you tame those trails of your dreams.
Round of applause, please.
Made For Fun
Let’s start our whistle-stop tour of the new Rift Zone with a little history lesson.
A few years back, around 2012, Marin had a bit of a rethink and a relaunch. We spent a whole heap of time thinking about what was important to us and to you, our customers. After a load of soul-searching and market researching we had a eureka moment - it was all about having one thing above all else. Not racing, not winning, not seconds on the clock. Yep, it was about having FUN.
Sure, mountain bikes can be raced, go huge distances, make you sweat, and be tough, hard, and scary. Speed is fun, racing is fun, and winning is fun. But for us, we just love the experience of having a good time with good friends on two wheels. And, it turns out, so do most of you too.
And so, from then on, our bikes were ‘Made For Fun’ (you can read more about that here). That philosophy quickly spread throughout our bikes and none more so than the Rift Zone.
So... What Is Fun?
Fun’ means a lot of things to a lot of people. But we landed on the idea that it’s about feeling good on a bike, no matter the trail you’re riding or the bucks in your bank account.
We began making bikes that weren’t just designed to win races or go super fast. Bikes that didn’t come with six-figure price tags. Bikes that deliberately weren’t specced with the priciest, blingiest and most unattainably high-end components.
The Marin Rift Zone is all of that through and through. We made the travel short, so the bike isn’t restricted to the biggest, gnarliest terrain and it’s easy to ride, pedal, and throw around.
We made the geometry super fun, super confidence-inspiring and comfortable. No expert skills are needed to feel the Rifty love, just get on and go. We also worked super hard on building our Riftys with components that felt great on the trail but didn’t blow your budget. Soft, cushy grips. Wide, tough handlebars, 1x drivetrains. But all using components that kept the bikes within reach. Where those components didn’t exist, we made them ourselves, like the new Marin Grizzly Grips.
Oh Hi Rifty '23!
Roll forward to 2023. After plenty of fun times and stoked riders, we decided that this was the year to give Rifty another leap forward.
The Marin Team, led by our man Matt “Cippy” Cipes (remember him from our Grizzly Grips story?) started with rider feedback. We spoke to our customers, our dealers and our team riders and got one request over anything else.
“They loved the playful nature of the bike and said it was really fun to throw around,” Cipes told us “but it would be great if it was just a little more composed on rough trails and multiple hits.”
While the Rift Zone had begun life as a short travel bike for mellow riding it had proved so popular that riders were taking it way beyond where we’d intended. They loved it so much that they were pushing it beyond ‘trail’ and into the big mountains and the bike parks.
“The feel of the new bike isn’t a huge departure from the Rifty you know and love” says Cip, “but it’s now more capable, more at home in rougher trails and has a little more meat on the bone.”
Start With The Heart
The first job was to give the new Rifty a new heart, so the team designed an all-new chassis.
The Rifty you see here before you (on stage, under the spotlight remember?) is built around a tough, lightweight and comfortable aluminum frame. It’s all-new and we’ve updated everything from the geometry right down to the tubing, the forgings and the fine details.
Why aluminum? We have plenty of carbon bikes in the Marin range but we love working with metal and can use it to build kick-ass bikes that look beautiful, don’t upset the scales and feel awesome on the trail. So, that’s what we did.
Those All Important Numbers
The make or break of a bike is its geometry and we knew the new Rift Zone had to be absolutely perfect.
We knew it needed that perfect balance to be ‘fun’. It needed to be fast, confidence-inspiring and safe but also lively, engaging, easy to throw around and easy to enjoy. It needed to be fun all over the world, from a Colorado mountain to a Welsh woodland to a BC bike park. Not just on big, technical mountain bike trails but wherever and whatever you all had on your doorstep. No easy task!
“We try to make our bikes like old friends, says Cipes, “you can just jump on and party. It’s the right balance of geometry and suspension feel and everything just works in concert from the get-go.”
In the spirit of “it ain't broke”, the new Rifty isn’t a huge mix-up from the old. The cockpit is a little roomier for stability, the seat angle is a little steeper for pedalling efficiency and the wheelbase and chainstay length are both a little longer for charging down rough stuff. But as Cip says “it’s more about refinement” and evolving the Rift Zone in subtle steps.
One feature you’ll love is the low standover. It used to be that big bikes were for tall riders and small bikes for small ones. We’ve fixed that by adding loads of clearance via a low-slung frame, allowing you to run longer dropper posts. No more restrictions and no being ‘stuck’ between sizes.
Are you a shorter rider and want to run a longer frame? Go for it, you’ll have loads of clearance.
Tall rider and want to run a shorter frame with a long dropper post? We got you.
Meat On The Bone
The ‘meat on the bone’ of the new Rift Zone comes from an extra 5mm of rear travel, pushing the Riftys up to 130mm.
The bike is still lively, playful and super responsive but now has a little bit more out back to help you push a little beyond those smoothie flow trails. Pair that up with a 140mm fork, up 10mm, and you’ve got plenty to hammer with on the rough and nasties.
Helping build that Rifty ‘feel’ is the work Cip and the team have put into the suspension platform. Our MultiTrac suspension platform was already proven to be awesome, but Cip and co. wanted to push it forward another step.
“We spent a ton of time with the shock technicians to make sure we have each stage of the rear travel dialled. The beginning stroke, the mid-stroke and the bottom out need to work really well together and we paid super close attention to that on all models, regardless of their price tag,” says Cipes.
In short, the team improved the small bump sensitivity, added more control in the middle of the travel and improved the bottom out. The new Rifty doesn’t just have more travel, it also improves on the way that travel is used.
Better performance, more control, more fun.
Big Wheels (And Less Big Wheels) Keep On Turnin’
27.5” for fun, 29” for going fast right? Not quite. Not in our book at least.
The new Marin Rift Zone is available with 27.5”/650b and 29” wheel sizes because we know different folks prefer different strokes.
The smaller 27.5” wheels give the bike a slightly more compact ‘feel’ on the trail. They’re playful, easy to throw around, very manoeuvrable and very agile. The larger 29” wheels are a little more capable in rougher terrain and hold speed better. They’ll feel a little smoother when riding rocks and roots and hold speed more easily when you’re charging hard. Both are a blast to ride.
Regardless of your wheel size, the team has worked super hard to keep the Rifty very ‘Rifty’ in both 27.5” and 29”. Each wheel size has its own personality but the geometry, suspension feel and fun you’ll have is almost identical.
Whether you choose 27.5” or 29” the size, shape, fit, feel and components will be exactly the same for your chosen Rift Zone.
Know a young rider that’s too small for 27.5”? We’ve also got 24” and 26” wheeled versions of the Rift Zone… Because young guns deserve great bikes too.
You can read more about the difference between 27.5” wheels and 29” wheels in our article “Which Rift Zone Is Right For You?”
And The Fine Details
Last but not least, there are hundreds of tiny details that the team went full nerd with to create the best Rift Zone ever.
Rifty now features a SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger for no-hassle, low-cost replacement. We have custom chain and seatstay protectors to keep your bike safe and quiet. We have brazed-in cable ports with nifty plugs to stop your hoses from rattling and block-off unused gaps. Simply order the bits from the Marin Bikes Webstore if you need them.
Rifty’s cable routing is also now an absolute work of art and the team spent hours getting this nailed. No untidy cables, no ghost-shifting, no zip ties, no hassle changing your cables. You’ll thank us when it comes time to swap those gear cables!
2023 Marin Rift Zone 1
Available with 27.5" or 29" wheels, the 2023 Marin Rift Zone 1 is your gateway to Rifty love, made to push your limits but not your bank balance.
The Rift Zone 1 is built with a tough, light and comfy aluminum frame and comes packed with super reliable X-Fusion suspension, grippy Vee Crown Gem tires, plenty of Shimano and a hand-picked selection of our favorite Marin components.
2023 Marin Rift Zone 2
The Rift Zone 2 is built with a tough, light and comfy aluminum frame. We've chosen a buttery-smooth Marzocchi and RockShox suspension duo, a TransX dropper post, grippy Vee Flow Snap tires, plenty of super-reliable Shimano components and a whole load of our favorite Marin fine details to complete the package.