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.

The 2020 Marin Rift Zone joins a new era of short-travel trail rippers like the Norco Optic, Transition Smuggler and Whyte S-120.

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.

The Rift Zone gets a slack-and-long front centre, but very short 425mm chainstays.

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!).

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.

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.

Big chunky forged alloy dropouts for strength and stiffness. Looks tidy with the tooled axle and post-mount brake tabs too.

780mm wide bars and a 35mm long stem come on all Rift Zone models, and on all four sizes.

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