Marin Rift Zone 2 Review



Words by Travis Reill  |  Photos by Dusten Ryen & Brian Niles
Sponsored by Leatt & Tifosi Optics

Mountain biking roots run deep in Northern California, where many claim that bicycles first met trails. Fast forward a few decades, and Marin is still operating out of NorCal and paying homage to its namesake, Marin County. To help us with our budget bike roundup, our friends at Marin sent over the Rift Zone 2—a trail-crushing 29er with 140mm of travel up front and 130mm out back. The Rift Zone 2 lands in the middle of our budget, sitting with the GT Sensor Sport at $2300. We all threw a leg over and put some time on this trail rig to see how it stacked up against our lineup of sub-$2.5k bikes.


• 130mm MultiTrac suspension system
• HTA 65.5°
• STA 77°
• REACH 485 (large)


  • Good all-rounder

  • Decent suspension

  • 170mm dropper post


  • Brakes Lack Power


When thinking of “Marin” and “trail bike,” one typically lands on the Rift Zone, and for good reason. The Rift Zone spans across Marin’s full-suspension trail bike category, with several different build options for both 29-inch and 27.5-inch wheel sizes. The lineup even breaks into the eMTB space, with their Rift Zone E series of bikes.

Marin provided us with their 29er version of the Rift Zone 2 for this Budget Bike Shootout. While it is a budget-friendly option, the Rift Zone 2 is not the most inexpensive bike in the Rift Zone catalog. Marin gives the option to go down one more model, and save $600. For our purposes, the Rift Zone 2 fits perfectly within our budget criteria, and has comparable numbers to other bikes on test.

Marin Rift Zone 2 Review


The Marin Rift Zone 2 is a 6061 Alloy frame using Marin’s Series 3 Aluminum. The Series 3 Aluminum differs slightly from Marin’s top alloy offering – the Series 4 – by only a few features, losing the smoother welds and 3D-forged rocker links and dropouts of the Series 4. Marin’s Series 3 Aluminum is stiff but not harsh, with double and triple-butted tubes. The frame’s headtube is tapered, has standard boost spacing, and runs a 73mm threaded bottom bracket.

Built around 29-inch wheels, Marin offers the Rift Zone 2 in four sizes—small to X-large. The frame only comes in one colorway, a grey that fades into white as you move down the frame. Like all Rift Zones in the lineup, the Rift Zone 2 offers internal cable routing with brazed-in cable ports, which Marin claims reduces cable rattle.

Marin Rift Zone 2 Review


The Rift Zone 2 offers 130mm of travel on Marin’s MultiTrac suspension platform, found on all Marin’s with 150mm or less of travel. This is a Faux Bar suspension design, with the wheel following a single pivot wheel path and a rocker link to control the leverage ratio. Marin chooses to use MultiTrac suspension because of their ability to tune the shock’s beginning, middle, and end stroke. These three “zones,” as Marin refers to them, are adjusted and tuned individually, allowing the shock to be supple and reactive at the beginning of the travel and supportive through the mid-stroke. Mid-stroke support on the Rift Zone 2 enables the bike to go faster while maintaining traction and control throughout the stroke. Finally, MultiTrac ramps up at the end of the stroke, helping prevent major bottom-out clunks.


Marin’s Rift Zone 2 is about what you would expect for trail bike geometry numbers. This 140/130mm bike has a 65.5° headtube angle paired with a 77° seat tube angle. The relatively steep seat tube should help to manage the 485mm Reach on the size large we have on test. Reach across the sizes ranges from 435mm on a small Rift Zone to 515mm on an X-large.

Despite having a relatively long reach, the Rift Zone 2’s wheelbase isn’t particularly long. It ranges from 1170mm on a size small to 1266.3mm on the X-large. Our size large has a wheelbase of 1234.4mm. Perhaps one reason for a shorter wheelbase compared to reach could be the 430mm chainstays across all sizes—the shortest chainstays of all bikes in this budget shootout.

All Rift Zone 2 sizes feature a 35mm BB drop, with the BB sitting 343mm above the earth. Stack height ranges from 623.6mm on a size small to 641.8mm for the X-large. The size large we had on test has a Stack Height of 637.3mm – the tallest on test.

Marin Rift Zone 2 Geo


As far as suspension goes, Marzocchi and Rockshox handle the Rift Zone 2’s squish. The fork is a 140mm Marzocchi Bomber Z2 with a sweep adjusting Rail Damper, while a 130mm Rockshox Deluxe Select RT is out back. Marin uses their in-house alloy rims with a 29mm inner width for wheels, laced to Shimano hubs. These wheels roll on Vee Tire Co. 2.35” Snap WCE tires.

The drivetrain is a 12-speed Shimano mash-up. Shimano takes care of the derailleur and shifter with their Deore line, while the cassette and cranks are SunRace and FSA, respectively. Like the GT Sensor on test, the Rift Zone 2 is meant to be spec’d with Tektro’s 2-piston hydraulic brakes with 180mm front and rear rotors, though we received a 2-pot Shimano brake set on our test bike.

As we’ve seen with the other budget bikes on test, the Rift Zone 2 uses a TranzX dropper post with in-house Marin-branded bars, stem, grips, and saddle. Marin offers a 170mm dropper for all frame sizes except for a small, which is spec’d with a 150mm dropper.

Marin Rift Zone 2 Review


Marin’s Rift Zone 2 was one of the favorite budget bikes in this group. This long but agile trail bike seemed to do just about everything well. While it may not climb as well as the Ari we had on test, pedaling was no problem. And although the Polygon may be ripping downhill the fastest, the Rift Zone 2 wasn’t far behind.

Aside from the Polygon, suspension was a common issue with the other bikes on test. We also recognize that we may have put these bikes through the ringer a bit more than a rider who is considering one of these budget bikes might. Regardless, on many bikes, the suspension was sticky, choppy, and clanky at times, with adjustments few and far between. This wasn’t the case with the Marin Rift Zone 2.

The Marzocchi Z2 fork paired with the RockShox Deluxe Select RT shock performed well, even on the rowdy shuttle descents we found in Oakridge. This suspension combination was more than enough to handle your average trail ride and the rowdy descending we threw at the Rift Zone 2. Throughout its travel, the suspension was supportive and provided good traction without wallowing in its travel or allowing for too many harsh bottom-outs, despite fast descents and big hits. Despite the Rift Zone 2 having a long 485mm reach, the short 430mm chainstays allowed for the bike to feel agile and get in the air easier than we expected. All of this fast descending is helped by a 170mm dropper post that gets the saddle out of the way, allowing you to actually lean the bike over and maneuver it easier down the trail.

Marin Rift Zone 2 Review

The VEE tire spec was a point of contention for our team. The Flow Snap tires with the Top 40 compound and GXE casing are grippy and durable, offering welcome traction and confidence for the descents. However, there’s a notable drawback to the overall energy and efficiency of the bike, reducing rolling speed and agility. Some of our team would likely swap these out for a faster rolling and lighter weight tire combination for the mellower miles, while others loved the traction on offer.

While going up the hill, the RockShox Deluxe had little to no pedal bob. It provided good traction when needed but never sank into its travel too much. The long reach and steep seat tube angle, paired with a moderate headtube angle, puts you in a comfortable position to attack techy climbs and mellow fire roads.

As we’ve seen across the board, however, the Marin Rift Zone 2’s brakes just weren’t up to snuff. The 2-piston Shimano brakes didn’t provide the stopping power we wanted. Again, they may be fine for most trail rides, but we wanted a bit more power for longer descending and fast braking. If we had our way, we’d like to see more powerful 4-piston brakes across the board.

The Wolf’s Last Word

Despite wanting more powerful stoppers, our testers thoroughly enjoyed their time on the Marin Rift Zone 2. Perhaps the best all-around budget bike, the Rift Zone 2 climbed well while being a stable yet agile descender. For $2,300, the Marin Rift Zone 2 is an excellent option for someone looking to dip their toes in mountain biking.

Price: $2,299


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