First Look | The New 2020 Marin Rift Zone Carbon Looks Like A Sendy Little Trail Bike

Barely a couple of months ago, Marin released the brand new 2020 Rift Zone; the Californian brand’s short-travel 29er trail platform. Equipped with 130mm of travel up front, 125mm of rear travel, and some juicy geometry numbers like a 65.5° head angle, the Rift Zone joins a new era of enduro-inspired, short-travel trail rippers like the Whyte S-120 and Norco Optic.

2020 marin rift zone carbon
The 2020 Marin Rift Zone joins a new era of short-travel trail rippers like the Norco Optic, Transition Smuggler and Whyte S-120.
2020 marin rift zone carbon 1
*Note to self – remember black riding shorts next shoot.

As part of the launch, Marin debuted three Rift Zone models based around the same Series 3 alloy frameset. Ranging from $2,399 to $3,899, the alloy Rift Zone models represent darn good value for money, proving that you don’t have to skimp on geometry with an entry-level full suspension mountain bike.

Building upon that same platform, today Marin has announced two new Rift Zone models. These two lovely lookers are designed to elevate the performance bar with the addition of carbon fibre frames, along with higher-end build kits to match.

2020 marin rift zone carbon 1
The Rift Zone Carbon is brand new for 2020, and joins the existing alloy model.

Enter The Carbon Rift Zone

Marin’s new Rift Zone Carbon is offered in two spec levels: the Rift Zone Carbon 1 and the Rift Zone Carbon 2. Both bikes are built around exactly the same chassis, with a carbon fibre mainframe that’s defined by a chunky tapered head tube and a fanned seat tube. Somehow Marin has been able to cut a unique silhouette in the Rift Zone Carbon – something that is increasingly difficult to do these days as more brands settle on a familiar four-bar suspension platform.

The carbon frame utilises internal cable routing for the dropper post, mech cable and rear brake line. You’ll also find bolt-on belly armour, ISCG 05 chainguide tabs (yee-ha!) and a good ol’ fashioned threaded bottom bracket shell (double yee-ha!).

2020 marin rift zone carbon 1
The carbon mainframe cuts a lovely shape with its fanned seat tube and compact suspension layout. And unlike the more complicated Naild R3ACT 2PLAY design found on Marin’s more expensive duallies, there’s room for a water bottle in the Rift Zone’s mainframe.
2020 marin rift zone carbon 1
Ooh we like that sprawling seat tube!
2020 marin rift zone carbon 1
Internal cable routing and a threaded bottom bracket shell.

While the front end is all plastic-fantastic, the back end is constructed from the same hydroformed and welded Series 3 alloy tubes you’ll find on the all-alloy Rift Zone models. For stiffness, big hunks of forged alloy are utilised for the 148x12mm thru-axle dropouts, the chainstay yoke, and the clevis seatstay pivots.

What Kinda Travel We Got?

Exactly the same as the alloy Rift Zone. So there’s a 130mm travel fork up front, and 125mm of travel out back.

However, unlike Marin’s much more complicated Naild R3ACT 2PLAY (sorry for shouting) suspension design found on the divisive Wolf Ridge and Mount Vision models, the Rift Zone utilises a drastically simpler single-pivot suspension design called MultiTrac.

MultiTrac is a rocker-driven, single-pivot suspension layout that Marin has utilised on the Alpine Trail (29in, 150mm) and Hawk Hill (27.5in, 120mm). It may not look anywhere as complicated as the Naild system on the aforementioned Wolf Ridge and Mount Vision models, but suspension doesn’t always have to be complicated.

2020 marin rift zone carbon 1
Big chunky forged alloy dropouts for strength and stiffness. Looks tidy with the tooled axle and post-mount brake tabs too.
2020 marin rift zone carbon 1
780mm wide bars and a 35mm long stem come on all Rift Zone models, and on all four sizes.

Looks Slack-As Bro!

That’s because it is mate! The 65.5° head angle is slack for a trail bike in this travel bracket, and Marin has paired that to a reduced-offset fork to increase ground trail for more high-speed calmness.

There’s lots of other impressively modern numbers too. Like the seat tube length, which has been set nice and short to take up to a 175mm travel dropper post, depending on the frame size. The seat tube is also pretty steep at 76°, while the back end is very short at 425mm. Add in long top tube lengths, a stubby 35mm long stem and 780mm wide bars, and the Rift Zone looks quite suitable for A Good Time™.

2020 marin rift zone carbon geometry
2020 Marin Rift Zone Carbon geometry.

When Are They Available?

We can expect the two Rift Zone Carbon models to arrive in Australia in January 2020. Marin is distributed locally by Bicycles Online, who sell bikes directly to your door via their online webshop. This means the pricing is pretty darn sharp compared to some of the other big name brands on the market, and it also means that you can expect a small amount of assembly when the bike box arrives.

Both of the Marin Rift Zone Carbon models will come with the same Maxxis Minion DHF/DHR 3C tyre combo, an X-Fusion dropper post, and 4-piston brakes and a 203mm front rotor.

But whereas the Rift Zone Carbon 1 comes with a Marzocchi Bomber Z2 fork and Fox Float DPS shock, the more expensive Rift Zone Carbon 2 moves to a Fox 34 fork and a piggyback DPX2 rear shock. The Rift Zone Carbon 2 also upgrades to Shimano Centerlock hubs, a sweet-looking Deity handlebar, a PNW Loam Lever, and a wider range 10-51T cassette.

2020 marin rift zone carbon 2
The top-end Rift Zone Carbon 2 still comes in well under $6K with a piggyback Fox shock, a 34 fork and a Shimano SLX/XT 1×12 drivetrain.

2020 Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2

2020 marin rift zone carbon 1
The cheaper Carbon 2 uses the same chassis, but makes a few spec changes to lob $1100 off the sticker price.

2020 Marin Rift Zone Carbon 2

2020 marin rift zone carbon 1
We like the direction Marin is heading in with the latest Rift Zone and Alpine Trail models.
2020 marin rift zone carbon 1
The Rift Zone gets a slack-and-long front centre, but very short 425mm chainstays.
2020 marin rift zone carbon 1
Oh, just like that then?

So what do you folks think of the new 2020 Marin Rift Zone Carbon? A good looking package for the money? Or not quite your type?

If you’re looking for more info on the 2020 Rift Zone range, then head to the Marin Bikes website, or Bicycles Online. And if you’re digging this new short travel trail rippin’ vibe, take a look at the recently released 2020 Norco Optic and our mid-term review of the 2020 Trek Fuel EX.

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