I was going to go for a flat out blast on the Marin Riftzone. The plan was to ride hard using young Wil doing his first race (round 2 of the Gorrick) for inspiration. The memories of my own races would have helped me push hard to see just how good the Riftzone was. However, nature intervened.
I put a lot of effort into setting the bike up the way I wanted to ride it. I fit my wheels (light and tubeless), a shorter 70mm stem and a 600mm flat bar. I finished it off with my seat post and saddle. I have actually had this seat post since 1990 – Joe Murray gave it to me. I had ridden 3 different prototypes 12 months ago so I was really excited to ride the production machine.
The spec is awesome. The Sun Ringle wheels are as light as mine and use No Tubes rims, Sram X0/X9 2 x 10 transmission, Formula RX brakes and Fox supplying the front and rear suspension. The only thing that you’d need to upgrade would be your contact points (saddle, bar & stem).
On the first single track I found myself dropping into the 26t ring, I’d usually expect to ride it in the 42. It was muddy. The ride just got slower as the mud got deeper. I can’t review the bike in these conditions. However, I still headed off to ride all the gnarly steep stuff that I had planned the day before. The one thing that I can report about the bike was the ease in which I was able to pick my line through the roots on the slow, steep and technical climbs. The climb up from Mouse Lane to the South Downs way was a breeze despite the mud, that can only be down to the bike. On the steeps I just felt safe despite the bike sliding everywhere. I rode it all cross country styly with the saddle all the way up and never fell off once. I felt as safe as if I had 120mm suspension but the bike only has 100m. On the way back I had to pedal against the wind, it was tough even on the downhill sections. I’d usually ride the sheep track in the big ring, rounding the corner today into a gale I virtually stopped despite pushing hard in the small ring. Check out the ride here to see just how slow I was.
Wil was riding round 2 of the Gorrick. I thought that he would do well and so he did. He came second. Not bad at all. I can’t wait to see how he gets on. I hope that he gets addicted so that I can enjoy trying to help him. As I’m past it it’ll be nice to help a young’un. Well done Wil.
Full Marin Riftzone review to follow. It’ll be easy to get the rides in as I love this bike. For me, it is as perfect a design as you could get for hammering around the South Downs. It is long and has a relaxed head angle that will get you out of trouble on any descents. As for the ups, I’ve not ridden a bike that climbs better. No need for a “Brain” or Traction Control simply an efficient design.