It may only be half way through 2017, but 2018 is already happening in the bike world, and it’s time to look at the latest bikes from Marin. Having had some time playing on the new Rift Zone, I was getting excited about what was to come from the new range of Marin’s. Matt Cipes, Marin Product manager, has been working through the range, gradually overhauling all the bikes in the mountain bike line up. He is a man who is truly passionate about getting more people on bikes, and more people on good bikes. The Wolf Ridge was big news earlier this year but this week is all about the new Rift Zone, Hawkhill, B17 and a revised Attack Trail.

The B17

The most striking of the new range is the B17. Taking the Multitrac platform used across the range, the B17 is expanded to fit 650b+ tyres whilst still giving the same 120mm of travel. Paired with a 130mm fork, it’s a touch slacker than the others, but pretty much the same geometry. The B17 also pushed the price bracket up, starting and finishing a bit more expensive than the Hawk and the Rift, this allows them to offer the top model with a super deluxe shock, SRAM eagle and a Pike on the top model.

Described as the most capable of the new line up, the B17 is the most aggressive of the three aluminium full sussers. Also compatible with 29er wheels, this is a true versatile beast. Looking effortlessly cool with the tan wall tyres and brushed metal frame, it’s a head turner.

On the trail it delivers a genuinely fun experience, and on the right surfaces the plus tyres do what they do very well, and stick like glue. More playful and a touch more confident than the Rift Zone and the Hawk Hill the B17 just turns up the dials on the other two as a slightly more aggressive bike, but it’s subtle. All the bikes share a lot of DNA, the major choice being wheel size and tyre volume.

The Hawk Hill

For 2018 the Hawkhill remains basically unchanged, but now comes in three models giving even more choice and pushing up the spec beyond what was available last year. Still keeping the pricing sensible, the Hawk Hill is the smaller wheeled version of the Rift Zone, or maybe the Rift Zone is a larger version of the Hawk Hill? anyways, they’re siblings certainly. Perhaps for those who may not want the long legged feel of the Rift Zone, and prefer the potentially more maneuverable feel of the smaller wheels.

Having spent time on this bike last year I was blown away with how capable it was for a £1300 bike. The expanded range gives further options for getting on board this excellent budget ripper. Now with a boost back end, it’s as future proof as a mountain bike can get before the next standard is un-standardised. Compared to the Rift Zone, its geometry is not as progressive in terms of reach and standover, but it’s still one of my favourite budget bikes.

Hawk Hill Junior

Shrinking the Hawk Hill down to a 26 inch compatible frame, then running 24inch wheels has given them the junior version of the bike. Featuring all the best bits from the bigger bike, and making sure things are kept as light as possible, the junior looks to be perfect for up and coming rippers. With the ability to up the wheel size to 26 inch over time, it’s not going to be outgrown too quickly. As a first foray into small mountain bikes, it could be the start of Marin taking their bikes to the next generation.

The Rift Zone

Again, this has three models running from £1300 to £2300 and you can read more about my first ride on the Rift Zone here. Fast and agile, this is a long legged bike taking its cue from XC bikes but making use of some modern geometry to get maximum performance. 120mm front and rear, unless you’re in the UK and you get 130mm forks, because us Brits are special, apparently!

The Attack Trail

Boosted and tweaked to remove the less than elegant ‘wedge’, the frame looks lighter and better than ever. The carbon version is gone, and the alloy one receives internal cable routing. Surely this model is ripe for an overhaul next year but for the time being the changes made keep it current and sits as Marin’s long travel 650b bike. It make get overlooked, but this is still a solid bike.

Alcatraz

Matt Jones and Matt Cipes have been busy developing what Jones believes is his ultimate dirt jump bike. Having worked through 3 prototype versions, Jones applied his years of knowledge and experience along with Cipes’ technological know-how to create the Alcatraz.

As a ground-up designed new bike, they developed the shortest chainstays possible for maximum maneuverability, to allow Jones to progress to new levels of performance and do mind-bending things in the air. At under 10kg, it’s light, but Jones tells me he didn’t manage to break a prototype despite some hardcore testing, and if he is confident dropping into the biggest Slopestyle courses, then that’s good enough for me. Jones also tells me the balance of stability versus a willingness to rotate in the air is tricky to get right, but in the Alcatraz, they’ve got it spot on.

I’ll have to take their word for it as my dirt jumping skills are not quite up there, but it’s great to see a new bike being developed with one of the best riders in the world.

There will be limited run this year, identical to Matt’s bike, so if you want to get your hands on one you’ll have to be quick!

The Wolf Ridge

The Wolf Ridge may not be hot off the press but it’s still a very exciting bike. Having not ridden one since May, I’m keen to get back on board for a more long term test. The science and theory is mind blowing, but more importantly the ride is amazing, and between Marin and Naild they’ve created a truly impressive suspension machine. Now available with SRAM GX Eagle the range is complete and looking great.

Fri 30th Jun, 2017 @ 9:30 am

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