Marin Alpine Trail E vs Marin Rift Zone E - What's The Difference?
We now have two badass, trail-taming eMTBs in the Marin family, the Alpine Trail E and the Rift Zone E. But which one is right for you?
Wait A Minute, What's An eMTB Again?
First up, what is an eMTB? If you’re reading this post, we’ll assume you have an idea of the difference between an eMTB and a regular bike (if not, this post is a great place to start) so we’ll skip over the lengthy explanations.
In short, an eMTB (also know as an electric mountain bike) is a mountain bike with an added motor and battery. The motor provides you with added assistance, giving each pedal stroke an added shove of power. There’s no throttle like a motorcycle, you just get a little extra push for each pedal stroke that you put in.
They’re great. You’d love it.
Marin Alpine Trail E Vs Marin Rift Zone E?
At its heart, the Marin Rift Zone E is what we call a ‘trail’ mountain bike.
That means that it’s made to do it all. Up, along and down. It’s as fun to rip round a mellow flow trail as it is a steep hand-cut techfest. While all of our bikes are designed to be versatile, our ‘trail’ models have ‘all-rounder’ baked into their DNA more than any other.
The Marin Alpine Trail E is what we call an ‘enduro’ bike.
This means that its design is influenced by enduro racing, where riders seek out speed, confidence and stability through rough, tough and technical terrain. In reality, this means a bike that remains versatile but is far more at home in the bike park, the downhill track or those steeper, aggressive, black-diamond-rated descents.
Marin Rift Zone E - Up Close
The Marin Rift Zone E is our powered-up take on a trail bike that can tackle almost any type of riding you’ll encounter outside of a double black run or a downhill track.
It has 140mm of travel front and rear, which is enough to get through rough sections without sucking the life out of the trail, your legs or your battery. Marin’s MultiTrac suspension platform is designed to pedal well and strike a balance between composure and fun. 29-inch wheels are the default size for trail bikes these days, with good reason as they’ll give you extra grip and momentum when things get rough.
The Rift Zone E’s geometry is still long and slack, and won’t hold you back when things get steep and sketchy. It’s equipped with trail-tested parts, like powerful 4-piston brakes, tough and wide tires designed specifically for the additional demands of eMTBs, and easily tunable suspension.
The base model in the range is the Marin Rift Zone E, which has a great value spec that’s 100% trail-ready. Shimano’s EP6 motor sits at the heart of the frame, powered by an internal 504Wh battery that can be upgraded at a later date if you want more range. Custom-tuned X-O2 rear suspension and RockShox’s proven 35 fork take the sting out of the hits and there’s a reliable 10-speed Shimano drivetrain.
If your budget stretches further, the Marin Rift Zone E1 has a higher capacity 630Wh battery, an 11-speed drivetrain for smaller jumps between gear changes, and RockShox suspension front and rear, including a stiff Pike fork. We also send the Rift Zone E1 out with CushCore tire inserts installed, which we think is one of the best upgrades you can make to your trail bike (Find out why here).
Step up to the Rift Zone E2, and you’ll be able to enjoy Shimano’s upgraded EP801 assist system, which is lighter, and smaller but still powerful enough to take you to the top of almost any trail. Shimano’s XT drivetrain is another byword for reliability and smoothness, and we’ve specced a Shimano LINKGLIDE cassette for better drivetrain life. Fox is one of the biggest names in mountain bike suspension for a good reason and the Rifty E’s fork and shock come from the Performance Elite range, near the very top of its product tree. Add in CushCore tire inserts and you’ll be ready to tame the roughest sections of trail.
Finally, the top-shelf Rift Zone E XR is built using some of the hottest components that we draped upon our frame. Keeping the Shimano EP801 drive unit and high capacity 603Wh battery, but now putting the power down using SRAM's innovative GX Eagle AXS T-Type 12-speed transmission with wireless shifting. Suspension duties are handled by RockShox's Lyrik Ultimate fork with a 10mm bump in travel, and a Super Deluxe Ultimate shock. SRAM's Code Bronze four piston brakes handle slowing duties, and the metaphoric cherry on top is the RockShox Reverb wireless dropper post.
The Marin Alpine Trail E - Up Close
The Marin Alpine Trail E is a slightly more specialist tool, designed for riders who want the limiting factor to be their skill and courage rather than their bike. The range features 160mm of suspension travel up front, 150mm at the back, and mixed wheel sizes with a 29er up front and a smaller 27.5 inch at the back - what some folks call a ‘mullet’ setup.
This means that we can spec a large, wide rear tire for plenty of grip, with no compromise to mud clearance or maneuverability. The smaller diameter back wheel also helps to keep the tire away from your butt on those really steep sections.
The Marin Alpine Trail E1 and E2 also have coil rear shocks, which performs superbly on eMTBs and - let's face it - looks pretty damn cool as well.
On a gentler trail you’ll find yourself working just a little harder - although the Alpine Trail E will tackle steep climbs back to the top with no problem, and tight sections of trail are no issue either thanks to that smaller back wheel. But it's really designed to shine on steeper, gravity-assisted trails, where the additional suspension travel of the bike can really work in your favor.
The parts we've picked for the Marin Alpine Trail E range reflect their intended use. So the base model Marin Alpine Trail E has Shimano's EP6 motor, tough tires (in a super comfy, super grippy 2.8" width at the back), ultra reliable 10 speed Shimano CUES shifting, powerful 4-piston brakes, and short 160mm cranks that'll make pedal strikes a thing of the past. We think that our base version of the Marin Alpine Trail E might well be the best value eMTB on the market.
As you go up through the range, the Marin Alpine Trail E1 features a larger battery for extra laps of the hill, a RockShox coil rear shock, and CushCore tire inserts to keep you rolling no matter how rowdy things get.
Move up to the Marin Alpine Trail E2, and you get Shimano's flagship EP801 drive unit, with plenty of power on tap, as well as less drag in the system. The range-topping Alpine Trail E2 gets Fox Performance Elite suspension, a Shimano 12-speed drivetrain with 160mm XT cranks, and comes ready fitted with CushCore, making pie-dished rims much less likely no matter how hard you ride.
And Which One Is Right For You?
In short, if your riding takes in the whole mountain, with everything from fast and flowy trails to rocky and hectic, the Rift Zone E is for you. It’s fun, and responsive and rides just like your favorite unassisted trail bike.
If your ebike rides are gravity focused, you’re often in the bike park and you love going fast on big, rough and technical terrain then the Alpine Trail E is the perfect tool for the job. It’s designed for thrill-seeking riders and the most challenging trails.
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