FRAME AND FEATURES
The Marin Rift Zone E is a trail eMTB, packing 140mm of travel on both ends and a pair of 29” wheels. Marin’s goals with the electric Rift Zone were to build an affordable eBike bike that packed capability for going fast without sacrificing too much of the fun-loving Rift Zone trail bike DNA. The Rift Zone E uses Marin’s Series 4 aluminum frame construction, with the same frame and 140mm travel MultiTrac linkage driven single pivot suspension system across the range.
Marin tweaks the kinematics of the MultiTrac system to tailor its performance on each platform. In the case of the Rift Zone E, Marin wanted to make it easy to tune, ensure it struck a good balance between efficient pedaling and bump absorption, and would give a stable chassis under braking. Marin carried over most features from their Rift Zone analogue bike to ensure the electric version gets the same level of finish. Cable routing is all internal through the frame, there are bump stops on the downtube to prevent frame or cable damage in a crash, a ribbed chainstay protector and room inside the front triangle for a large water bottle.
DRIVE UNIT AND ELECTRONICS
The Shimano EP801 motor is the latest version of one of the most common on the market – the Shimano STEPS EP8 – which was featured on seven of our 13 bikes in this year’s eBike shootout. Aside from some minor updates, such as a wider cadence sweet-spot and the Fine Tune mode in the E-TUBE app, they can be considered the same. If you go for one of the cheaper spec levels in the Rift Zone E lineup, the Shimano STEPS EP6 motor you’ll receive packs the same 85Nm of torque as the EP8, and ECO, TRAIL and BOOST modes with two profiles customizable with the E-TUBE PROJECT app. The only major difference to the riders is the increased weight of the EP6 motor, which weighs in at 6.6lbs (3kg) compared to the EP8/801 which tips the scales at 5.7lbs (2.6kg). The integrated battery is removable from the downtube quickly and easily, letting customers purchase a second battery to make quick swaps to prolong their ride.
Marin opted to use the new SC-EN600 color display across all models, which has a slightly more “retro” appearance and displays battery life in smaller increments, which we liked. The remote is the new SW-EN600-L, which features an integrated power button, but unfortunately represents a slight step back in ergonomics compared with the typical 2-button switch from EP8 systems. The buttons are smaller and for some riders, harder to find without looking.
The Marin Rift Zone geometry is well suited to trail eMTB riding on paper, and proved to offer a good balance of handling traits on the trail.
The Rift Zone E shares a lot of the geometry concepts from the analog Marin Rift Zone trail bike. There’s a 65-degree head tube angle; 77-degree effective seat tube angle; 32mm BB drop and 440mm chainstays across the S-XL size range. The size large tested had a 485mm reach, fairly low 625mm stack, and wheelbase totaling 1,246mm.
Marin’s Rift Zone E is being launched in three build specs: the $4,499 E; $4,899 E1, and the $6,299 E2 reviewed here. The E1 and E2 are both equipped with a 630Wh battery and CushCore tire inserts, whereas the E gets a 504Wh battery. Our E2 spec was equipped with a solid parts spec that was sensibly chosen to add value in areas that make a notable difference to the ride quality. The suspension package is Fox’s Performance Elite 36 140mm travel fork and Float X Performance Elite shock. There’s a Shimano XT 11-speed Linkglide drivetrain, and TRP DH-R EVO brakes as standard (though our build was sadly equipped with Shimano SLX). The wheelset is a Marin Double-wall aluminum rim laced to Shimano hubs, the cockpit and saddle are Marin branded, and there’s a X-Fusion Manic dropper post in size-specific lengths with the large receiving a short 150mm dropper.
As standard, the Marin Rift Zone E2 is equipped with a pair of 2.5″ Vee Tire Co. Attack HPL tires, but for the fifth shootout running, we equipped all test bikes with a set of control tires from Schwalbe to ensure dependable and consistent performance across the fleet. We opted for the Magic Mary Soft Super Gravity 2.4” up front and the Big Betty Soft Super Gravity 2.4” in the rear. With this tire spec and the Cushcore inserts, the large sized Rift Zone E2 tipped the scales at 55.2lbs.