Last week at Outdoor demo I rode a Marin Rift Zone XC7 29er and found it to be a worthy competitor in the FS 29er space. Marin places the Rift Zone XC7 roughly in between an XC and Trail bike and based on the ride and geometry I’d say the bike leans much more heavily toward the XC end of the spectrum.
Like the other FS 29ers I tested, the Rift Zone is a capable climber (70.5-degree head tube angle) and fairly lightweight for a hydroformed aluminum-framed bike. As tested the bike offers a solid mix of Fox suspension components, a Shimano drivetrain, and Sun Ringle Black Flag wheels (perhaps the most non-XC thing about this bike). Descending on the Rift Zone was a blast – in my notes I wrote “juicy suspension.” Some of that juiciness could be attributed to the on-site tuning – after the Marin mechanic set me up I stopped off at the Fox tent where they ended up adding pressure back to the rear shock.
Looking at the raw numbers on the Rift Zone XC7 you can see this bike is really built for XC riding. The 100mm of front and rear travel places this bike solidly in XC territory while the 70.5-degree head tube angle is one of the steepest of the bikes I tested (only the Santa Cruz Tallboy and Giant Anthem X have steeper head tubes). The bike’s chainstay length of 450mm is right in between the Trek Rumblefish and Specialized Camber Pro.
At around $2,600 complete, this is one of the most affordable FS 29ers available and it does a good job on the trail. If you’re looking to upgrade to a FS and a 29er at the same time, this could be a good choice for you.