Marin Rift Zone 5 Review 2017 (29er Full Suspension Mountain Bike)

Discover the truth in this Marin Rift Zone 5 review.

Discover the truth in this Marin Rift Zone 5 review.

Shopping for a mountain bike is often more challenging than buying a car.

You can’t usually test drive a mountain bike before purchase.

At best, you can sit on the bike or pedal around the showroom, but you won’t know how the bike performs until you take it out on the trail.

Since it isn’t always feasible to comparison shop in person as you look for your next ride, I’ve tracked down the specs, feature lists, and price points, so you don’t have to waste time wondering.

I’ve also scoured the web for every detail about this bike so that you’re informed before you buy something that might not be right for you.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Marin Rift Zone 5, from its specs to its drawbacks to what real, experienced riders say about this full suspension mount bike.

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An In-Depth Review of Marin's 2017 Rift Zone 5 29er MTB

Things to Consider Before Buying A Full Suspension Mountain Bike

Is a full suspension mountain bike suited to your needs? The answer to that question depends on what type of terrain you routinely ride on, plus specifics like your personal riding preferences and your skill level. There are also factors like pricing, required maintenance, and upgrade options to consider.

Who Should Buy Them

Full suspension bikes offer a much bouncier ride than hardtail bikes. There are pros and cons to each type of bike, but riders who haven’t built up leg strength will prefer a full suspension bike over a hardtail. Since the shock absorption features of a full suspension bike take the stress off your legs, you don’t need massive thighs or calves to navigate bumpy terrain.

Conversely, a hardtail bike will require that your legs function as shock absorbers. For riders who are familiar with this muscle work, it’s not a challenge. Overall, a full suspension model will deliver a smoother ride. If you appreciate a less jarring ride, or if you prefer to stay seated on rough terrain, then full suspension is the way to go.

As far as riding locations, you’ll appreciate this type of bike if you frequently ride on trails featuring dirt, mud, water, and even sand and obstacles like fallen logs.

Who Should Not Buy Them

Anyone who is looking to build up strength in their legs will probably prefer a hardtail. Plus, riders who already ride a hardtail won’t notice much of a difference when switching to full suspension since their muscles have adapted.

When it comes to maintenance, if you’re inexperienced with servicing your own bike, you’ll probably want to opt for a hardtail. Full suspension bikes require more maintenance since they have more moving parts, especially the shocks since they’ll take a lot of punishment on trails.

However, if you don’t ride on trails at all, but instead cruise city streets, you don’t need the functionality that these bikes offer. Choosing a lower-priced model that accommodates asphalt or concrete riding will better suit your needs.

All skill levels welcome.

All skill levels welcome. Photo: Dai Williams/flickr

What Is The Rift Zone 5 29er?

The Rift Zone 5 29er is a lightweight aluminum bike with hydraulic disc brakes and double wall aluminum wheels.

Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance 29er tires help navigate rough terrain, and the IsoTrac suspension keeps things moving.

Also included with your purchase is a Trans-X Dropper Post, which allows for height adjustments. This feature is usually absent from models at this price point, so this ride enhancement is an appreciated addition. The only component not included with the purchase of this bike is the pedals, so you’ll need to find the right pedals for your needs.

No matter how gnarly your ride, the Rift Zone 5 29er promises to make it a comfortable and responsive one. From a brand that’s been around since 1986 and takes bicycling seriously, Marin offers competitive function and impressive form.

Improvements over Marin’s previous model, the Mount Vision 5 27.5, are an extra inch and a half of rubber on the trail. A similar drivetrain and hydraulic brakes keep the maneuverability. The rear shock on the upgraded bike features an adjustable rebound, compression, and lockout.

Specs

For the technical-minded rider, here’s how the Marin Rift Zone 5 stacks up.

  • Suspension: 120mm
  • Tires: Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance 29
  • Gears: 1x10
  • Frame: Series 4 6061 aluminum
  • Weight: lightweight

What Is It Best For?

This bike will suit you if you’re a rider who likes to take on rough terrain but appreciates a comfortable and adaptive ride. Riders who stick to leisure-only biking will want to look elsewhere since this bike’s price point and feature list outrank that of standard bicycles.

Beginning riders should also get some trail miles under their belts to learn their likes and dislikes before making such an investment. It also pays to learn a little about upkeep before springing for a bike that might need small tweaks here and there for the best ride.

If, however, you’re a seasoned rider looking to upgrade to a smoother experience, this full suspension bike might be the right fit.

Pros

  • Evenly distributed shock absorption for a comfortable ride
  • Less skill needed to navigate any type of terrain
  • Dropper seat post for adjustability

Cons

  • Requires more maintenance than a hardtail bike
  • Higher cost than most hardtails because of new technology
  • Less efficiency than hardtail models

Features and the Benefits You Get

Lets ride.

Lets ride. Photo: August Granath/flickr

Standard features of the Rift Zone 5 incorporate the latest technology and materials for an optimal ride experience over any type of landscape. Here are this model’s main features and benefits.

Lightweight Aluminum Frame

When it comes to maneuverability, you can’t beat an aluminum frame that’s lightweight and easily handled on and off the trail. Pass on the added bulk of heavier models if long rides leave you wishing your bike would lose a few pounds.

Trimming the bulk off of the frame lowers the overall weight and lets you glide over the trail. After all, you and your bike should move as one, not as one and a little extra.

Dropper Seat Post

The ability to adjust your seat post height on the fly lets you upgrade its stability. A lower seat means a lower center of gravity, so less chance of falls when navigating tight (or sweeping) turns. Plus, maintain the right riding position on the trail.

Push a button to drop the seat and put both feet down as you stop or take a corner. You can also use this feature to help store your bike in more compact locations. Getting into a tight spot has never been as easy as pushing a button.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Hydraulic disc braking delivers greater stopping power than mechanical brakes. Smooth application means fewer jerky stops, and regular maintenance keeps these fluid-dependent brakes operating properly. Avoid lock-ups from mechanical brakes that pick up trail remnants as you pass, and depend on seamless hydraulics instead.

Aluminum Double Wall Wheels

Lightweight and super strong, aluminum double wall wheels accommodate 29” performance tires. In this case, it’s a set of Schwalbe Nubby Nic Performance 29s. You also have the option to add tubeless tires if that’s how you prefer to roll.

What Makes This Trail Bike Unique

With similar features to other full suspension bikes on the market, you’ll want to know what makes this model different. If the manufacturer’s reputation for turning out top-performing bikes year after year isn’t enough, here are the other unique benefits of the Rift Zone 5.

Responsive Ride

The aluminum frame might be stiff, but the suspension is anything but. IsoTrac suspension and a RockShox Recon Silver RL 120mm suspension fork make every ride responsive and adaptive to the trail and the rider. As far as shock absorption goes, you won’t be in for a jolt when crossing any manner of ground conditions.

If you’re early on in your trail riding game, it might pay to try a bike that delivers comfort rather than aiming for the technical functions. If you’re seasoned and beginning to feel it in your bones, this ride might relieve enough stress to make the ride enjoyable again, rather than simply tolerable.

Customization Options

At this price point, it’s surprising to see a dropper seat post. What’s unique about this feature is that it lets the rider customize throughout the ride and across different terrains. Lower the seat only when you stop or store your bike, or adjust it based on trail riding conditions as they change.

Updated Technology

Marin outdoes itself with every new model that comes on the market. Even compared to the previous model of this bike, the Mount Vision 5, features an updated suspension fork and bigger wheels. The same Trans-X dropper post brings functionality along.

Sizing Chart

Marin Rift Zone 5 size chart

Price

Coming in at just under $2000, the upgraded Rift Zone 5 is an excellent full suspension option for riders who enjoy tackling rough terrain but don’t mind paying a bit more for added features. Still, this bike carries many of the same features as higher priced models, so it’s competitive in that area.

User Reviews and Ratings

Since we want to go the extra mile in giving you the details, here’s a rundown of customer feedback from riders who have ridden the Rift Zone 5. In general, feedback seems positive, which isn’t a surprise considering the features and functions of the bike. These testimonials give credence to Marin’s competitive claims.

marin rift zone 5 user ratings and reviews

Alternatives to the Rift Zone 5 MTB

Not sure the Rift Zone 5 is right for you? Here are three comparable alternatives.

  • Diamondback Release: This dual-suspension bike features Kenda Nevegal tires for optimal traction and a lightweight aluminum frame for maneuverability. An Alloy Micro Adjust seat post lends adjustability and tubeless tire accommodation gives you options.
     
    As an entry-level full suspension bike, this model suits upgrade options once you’ve broken it in. While it’s a little on the heavy side for an aluminum frame bike, the price point is right for its efficiency and range. Reviewers commend the bike for its durability and cushy suspension.
     
    Click or tap here to see the Diamondback Release.
     
  • Marin Mount Vision 5: Marin’s precursor to the Rift Zone 5 features many of the same components, like an aluminum frame with IsoTrac suspension. Slightly smaller tires- Schwalbe Nobby Nic Performance 27.5”- handle rugged terrain and inclement weather with ease
     
    A Trans-X dropper seat post incorporates adjustability on your ride, and a Shimano Deore drivetrain simplifies shifting. The same Marin Dual Density grips as the Rift Zone 5 give a similar feel on a smaller scale.
     
    Click or tap here to see the Marin Mount Vision 5.
     
  • Diamondback Atroz Comp: Another full suspension bike with a competitive price point, the Diamondback Atroz Comp lacks a front derailleur but includes a chain guide with roller. Aluminum wheels feature Kenda Nevegal tires with an aggressive tread pattern for sure footing regardless of terrain.
     
    While it feels a little bulky, reviewers note that the bike is lightweight overall. The Diamondback Atroz Comp also earns points for its durability and low initial investment for beginners and those switching from a hardtail bike. However, be prepared for some minor routine maintenance depending on how hard and how often you ride.
     
    Click or tap here to see the Diamondback Atroz Comp.

Review Conclusion

Overall, the Marin Rift Zone 5 earns accolades for its cushioned ride and durability across varied riding conditions. For riders transitioning from a hardtail bike, the comfort and adjustability of this model surpass expectations. Whether you’re new to the trail or are looking to change up your ride the Rift Zone 5 has a feature for you.

With both front and rear derailleurs, you’ll avoid chain snags, and the hydraulic disc brakes keep things stopping smoothly. The one-button seat post adjustment is a handy feature that lets you customize each ride, or even each leg of the journey. Lightweight and maneuverable, this bike is a good choice for even the most gnarly riding conditions.

Thinking of switching from a hardtail to a full suspension mountain bike? Want to trade your bulky bike for a lightweight model with a smoother ride? Click the button below to check out the Marin Rift Zone 5 and see if it’s right for you.

Click Here To See The Marin Rift Zone 5