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Marin Rift Zone 29 2 Review

An affordable shorter travel trail bike that's fun to ride on a wide range of terrain
Marin Rift Zone 29 2
Photo: Laura Casner
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $2,349 List
Pros:  Reasonable price, modern trail riding geometry, nice component spec for the price, versatile on-trail performance
Cons:  A little heavy, underpowered brakes, a little sluggish on the climbs due to weight
Manufacturer:   Marin
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 21, 2021
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83
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 7
  • Fun Factor - 30% 9
  • Downhill - 35% 9
  • Climbing - 35% 7

Our Verdict

The Marin Rift Zone 29 2 is an affordable short travel trail bike that would make an excellent daily driver. This aluminum-framed 29er has 125mm of rear-wheel travel paired with a 130mm fork and a refreshingly modern geometry. Despite its modest travel, this bike is capable of tackling some seriously aggressive terrain while remaining poppy, playful, and highly maneuverable on the descents. Weighing in a bit over 34 lbs, the Rift Zone is a little portly, but otherwise, we found it to be an effective and comfortable climber. The budget-friendly build prioritizes function over flash, but it gets the job done out on the trail. We feel this is a great option for the rider on a budget who wants a bike that won't hold them back.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Marin Rift Zone 29 2
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $2,349 List$2,499 List$2,100 List$2,399 List$1,799 List
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Pros Reasonable price, modern trail riding geometry, nice component spec for the price, versatile on-trail performanceAwesome build for the price, versatile, well-rounded performanceEnergetic playful feel, lighter weight, 12-speed drivetrain, modern trail bike geometryHard charging on descents, long dropper post, modern trail bike geometryReasonable price, comes with a dropper post, fun on a range of terrain, efficient climber, playful on descents
Cons A little heavy, underpowered brakes, a little sluggish on the climbs due to weightFirm grips, saddle shapeFork needed immediate service, can be overwhelmed in more aggressive terrainHeavy, mediocre fork specification, not the fastest climberNon-boost fork, some cable rattle over rough terrain, can be overwhelmed on aggressive trails
Bottom Line An affordable shorter travel trail bike that's fun to ride on a wide range of terrainA well-rounded mid-travel trail bike with a great build at an amazing priceA super fun, zippy, and affordable short travel 29erA ripping mid-travel 29er that is capable of charging hard downhillAn affordable entry-level full-suspension bike for taking your riding to the next level
Rating Categories Marin Rift Zone 29 2 Polygon Siskiu T8 Giant Trance 29 3 Kona Process 134 29 Polygon Siskiu D7
Fun Factor (30%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Downhill (35%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Climbing (35%)
7.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
Specs Marin Rift Zone 29 2 Polygon Siskiu T8 Giant Trance 29 3 Kona Process 134 29 Polygon Siskiu D7
Wheelsize 29 29 29 29 29 (27.5 on sizes S, M)
Rear Travel Length 125mm 135mm 115mm 134mm 120mm
Frame Material Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum
Measured Weight 34 lbs 10 oz 32 lbs 8 oz 30 lbs 12 oz 34 lbs 13 oz 33 lbs
Size Tested XL L L L L
Available Sizes S, M, L, XL S(27.5), M(27.5 or 29), L(29), XL(29) S, M, L, XL S, M, L, XL S, M, L, XL
Fork RockShoz Recon Silver RL, 130mm Fox Rhythm 34, 140mm Marzocchi Z2, 130mm RockShox Recon Motion Control Solo Air, 140mm RockShox Recon RL, 120mm
Rear Shock RockShox Deluxe Select R Fox Float DPS Performance EVOL Fox Float DPS Performance RockShox Deluxe Select RockShox Deluxe Select+
Wheelset Marin Double Wall Alloy with Shimano hubs, Tubless Compatible Entity XL2 Disc Giant Tracker hubs with iant XCT tubeless rims, 25mm internal rim width Shimano hubs with WTB ST i30 TCS rims Shimano hubs with Entity X15 doublewall disc rims
Front Tire Vee Tire Flow Snap 2.35", Tackee Compound, Tubeless ready Schwalbe Han Dampf Addix Speedgrip EVO TLE 2.6" Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 2.3" Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 2.5" WT Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.25"
Rear Tire Vee Tire Flow Snap 2.35", Tackee Compound, Tubeless ready Schwalbe Han Dampf Addix Speedgrip EVO TLE 2.6" Maxxis Minion DHR II EXO 2.3" Maxxis Minion DHF EXO 2.3" Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.25"
Shifters Shimano Deore 12-speed Shimano SLX 12-speed SRAM SX 12-speed SRAM SX 12-speed Shimano Deore 11-speed
Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore 12-speed Shimano SLX 12-speed SRAM SX 12-speed SRAM SX 12-speed Shimano Deore 11-speed
Cranks FSA Comet Shimano MT510 175mm(L-XL) SRAM SX Eagle DUB SRAM SX Eagle Shimano Deore
Chainring 32T 32T 30T 30T 32T
Bottom Bracket BSA Threaded SRAM DUB Press fit SRAM DUB PF92 Shimano Deore
Cassette Shimano Deore 12-speed, 10-51T Shimano SLX 12-speed 10-51T SRAM SX Eagle 11-50T SRAM SX Eagle 11-50T Shimano Deore 11-speed
Saddle Marin Speed Concept Entity XTENT Giant Contact (neutral) Kona Trail Entity Void
Seatpost TranzX YSP23JL 175 mm (XL) 150mm (M-L), 125mm (S) Tranz-X 170mm (L-XL) Giant Contact Switch TranzX Dropper Internal 170mm Tranz-X 170mm (L-XL) 150mm (S-M)
Handlebar Marin Mini-Riser Alloy 780mm Entity Expert 780mm Giant Contact TR35 780mm Kona XC/BC 35 780mm Entity Expert Alloy 780mm
Stem Marin Alloy, 35mm Entity Expert 35mm Giant Contact SL 35 Kona XC/BC 35 Entity Expert 45mm
Brakes Shimano BR-MT200 Hydraulic Disc Tektro HD-M745 4-piston Shimano MT400 Shimano Hydraulic Disc Shimano MT201 Hydraulic Disc
Warranty 10 Years on frame Lifetime limited warranty on frame Lifetime limited warranty on frame 5 Years on frame

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Rift Zone 29 2 proves you don't have to spend a lot to get a...
The Rift Zone 29 2 proves you don't have to spend a lot to get a bike that rips.
Photo: Laura Casner

Should I Buy This Bike?


The Rift Zone 29 2 makes sense for a huge number of riders and terrain. It may not be the lightest weight, fastest climber, or hardest charger, but it does virtually everything well and is loads of fun on a huge range of terrain and trail types. This bike's geometry is up to date, and it's capable of riding down just about anything and doing so pretty aggressively despite its modest 125mm of rear travel and 130mm fork. At the same time, the supportive rear suspension and short chainstays help to keep it feeling lively and playful when you want it to be. Its heavier weight does contribute to a bit of a lethargic feel on the uphills, but it is otherwise a comfortable, capable, and relatively efficient climber. We feel the Rift Zone 29 2 is a great option for the rider who isn't overly concerned with weight and wants one bike that does it all pretty darn well.

We had tons of fun testing this bike. Its got modern geometry and...
We had tons of fun testing this bike. Its got modern geometry and just enough travel to tackle just about anything.
Photo: Laura Casner

Fun Factor


Our testers had a blast riding the Rift Zone 29 2. We found it to be comfortable and easy to get along with right out of the gate, with no awkward getting to know you phase. This easy-going demeanor hides its shred-iness somewhat, as this bike undoubtedly punches above its price class and is ready, willing, and able to get after it as hard as you are on the descents. Despite its modest 125mm of rear-wheel travel, the Rift Zone's modern geometry lends itself to tackling more aggressive terrain than you might expect. At the same time, it maintains the liveliness and maneuverability that shorter travel bikes are known for.


The Rift Zone 29 2's versatility definitely helps to keep the fun factor high, as you can slash, pop, and play your way down the mountain, or dive into steeper, chunkier trails with confidence. That said, it doesn't require a high skill level to be a great time, and it felt equally at home cruising mellow trails at lower speeds. We feel that just about anyone could jump on this bike and have a great time. Thanks to its modern geometry and mostly dialed component specification, it's also the kind of bike that you can grow with as your skills progress. In our opinion, there's not much more fun than improving your skills on the mountain bike, and the Rift Zone won't hold you back.

It may be on the shorter end of the travel spectrum, but the Rift...
It may be on the shorter end of the travel spectrum, but the Rift Zone 29 performs well on the descents with modern geometry and a thoughtful component spec.
Photo: Laura Casner

Downhill Performance


The Rift Zone 29 2 is a hoot on the descents. We tested the more expensive Rift Zone Carbon previously, and this bike feels, not surprisingly, almost identical to its more expensive sibling on the downhills. This bike is impressively capable given its modest 125mm of rear-wheel travel. Its handling is intuitive and responsive, and it feels comfortable at a huge range of speeds and terrain. We pushed this bike as hard as we could, and it never protested or let us down. That said, it is somewhat limited by its shorter travel numbers when things get really rough and wild, which is to be expected.

We found the Rift Zone to be easy to get along with and it performed...
We found the Rift Zone to be easy to get along with and it performed well in all downhill situations. Its handling is comfortable and intuitive.
Photo: Laura Casner

Marin didn't hold back when they designed the Rift Zone 29 models, giving them a geometry that ticks all of the modern, progressive boxes. The 65.5-degree head tube angle is the sweet spot by today's trail bike standards but is relatively slack for a bike in this travel bracket. Combine that with a spacious 505mm reach (size large is 480mm) and a moderately long 1240mm wheelbase (size XL), and it's no wonder this bike exudes confidence in steep, rough terrain, and feels super stable at speed. It puts the rider between the wheels and provides a confident behind-the-front-wheel position for tackling more aggressive descents. This bike's length and head tube angle aren't the whole story, however, as the short-for-a-29er 425mm chainstays help to keep the rear end feeling sporty and quick. Despite its length, the Rift Zone remains easily maneuverable, and we found it to negotiate tight terrain and turns with ease, and almost begged to get on the rear wheel and pop off side hits while riding. Yes, this bike can be ridden aggressively in rough terrain, but it doesn't feel bland or boring on mellower trails or at lower speeds either.

Smooth trails or chunky rock gardens, this bike handled it all with...
Smooth trails or chunky rock gardens, this bike handled it all with confidence and composure.
Photo: Laura Casner

The Rift Zone 29 2 has 125mm of rear-wheel travel paired with a 130mm fork. While seemingly quite simple, Marin's Multi-Trac suspension design performs well, and it's easy to be tricked into thinking this bike has a little more travel than it actually does. We found the suspension to feel supple off the top, supportive in the mid-stroke, and progressive enough to prevent harsh bottom-outs on bigger hits. The supportive mid-stroke provides something to push off when pumping or popping trail features, and it performed surprisingly well through high-frequency chop. While this bike may fall on the shorter end of the travel spectrum, we found it to be comfortable and capable of getting into some properly aggressive terrain. It is a shorter travel bike, however, so it does have limits, it just takes more than you'd expect to find them.

This bike is a comfortable, capable, and relatively efficient...
This bike is a comfortable, capable, and relatively efficient climber, albeit it a touch heavy.
Photo: Laura Casner

Climbing Performance


While the Rift Zone 29 2 is undoubtedly a comfortable and capable climber, it does suffer a little bit in this department due to its heavier weight. Beyond its weight, however, we found it to feel relatively efficient with responsive handling and excellent traction. As long as you're not racing to the top of the climbs, the Rift Zone has you covered.

The Rift Zone maintains great traction and handles technical uphill...
The Rift Zone maintains great traction and handles technical uphill well.
Photo: Laura Casner

Once again, the modern geometry of the Rift Zone 29 2 sets the rider up in a comfortable position for tackling the climbs. The effective seat tube angle of 76-degrees positions the rider right up above the bottom bracket for direct power transfer down into the pedals and an up top position that works well when scrambling up technical sections of trail. The reach is roomy, though it doesn't feel too stretched out thanks to the steep seat tube angle and riser bars. The moderately long wheelbase and relatively slack head tube angle don't detract from the bike's maneuverability, thanks in no small part to the bike's short chainstay length. This bike handles predictably, no matter the steepness of pitch or tightness of terrain. We did find it to feel a bit lethargic at times, though we could point directly to the bike's heavier weight as the cause.

The Rift Zone 29 2 may not be the bike for racing uphill, but it...
The Rift Zone 29 2 may not be the bike for racing uphill, but it climbs well despite its slightly heavier weight.
Photo: Laura Casner

The Rift Zone 29 2's 125mm of rear-wheel travel feels well-controlled while climbing. We found the pedaling platform to be surprisingly calm while seated pedaling, with little if any energy wasted through suspension movement. There was a little pedal bob while climbing out of the saddle, but not enough to make it feel inefficient. This is a good thing too, considering the rear shock doesn't have a compression damping/climb switch. While it would be a welcome feature for extended road climbs, we never felt like it was necessary while climbing on trail. Instead, we were happy to have the rear shock wide open and enjoyed the traction it provided. The meaty Flow Snap tires also helped with traction, though they are far from the fastest rolling.

The aluminum Rift Zone frame has modern geometry, 125mm of...
The aluminum Rift Zone frame has modern geometry, 125mm of Multi-Trac rear suspension, and a slick fade paint job.
Photo: Laura Casner

Build


The Rift Zone 29 currently comes in 5 different build combinations including two higher-end carbon fiber framed options. The Rift Zone 29 2 we tested is one of three aluminum-framed models, falling in the middle of the three options in terms of price. All of the Rift Zone 29 models feature the same geometry and Multi-Trac suspension. Multi-Trac is a linkage-driven single-pivot design with the main pivot just above the bottom bracket, pivots on the seat stays just above the rear axle, and a rocker link attached about halfway up the seat tube that drives a vertically oriented rear shock. The 6061 aluminum frame has internal cable routing, molded chainstay protection, and room within the front triangle for a full-size water bottle. It comes in 4 sizes, S-XL

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The Rift Zone 29 2 comes with a budget-conscious but functional RockShox suspension package. A Recon Silver RL fork controls the 130mm of front travel. This is far from our favorite fork, but it performed its duties admirably. It has Boost axle spacing, a 15mm thru-axle, an adjustable air spring, and compression and rebound adjustments. Marin chose a RockShox Deluxe Select R shock for the bike's 125mm of rear-wheel travel. This simple shock only has a rebound adjustment, and initially, we thought we'd miss having a compression damping/climb switch, but this bike works just fine without it.

The Deore 12-speed drivetrain works very well. Bravo Shimano.
The Deore 12-speed drivetrain works very well. Bravo Shimano.
Photo: Laura Casner

A 12-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain provides plenty of range and crisp shifting. Yes, this drivetrain setup would be a little nicer with the Shimano Deore cranks, chainring, and chain, but honestly, it still works well enough with the FSA cranks and KMC chain. This bike comes with Shimano MT200 2-piston brakes with 180mm rotors front and rear. While these brakes undoubtedly get the job done, they aren't the most powerful, and the long throw levers take a little getting used to.

The Vee Tires Flow Snap are some meaty tires that provide good...
The Vee Tires Flow Snap are some meaty tires that provide good cornering, braking, and pedaling traction.
Photo: Laura Casner

The Rift Zone 29 2 rolls on a set of Marin Double Wall Alloy rims laced to Shimano hubs. The wheels are tubeless-ready, as are the Vee Tire Flow Snap tires that are mounted to them. The wheels and tires come set up with tubes, however, but the rims are pre-taped, and setting them up tubeless only requires the purchase of some tubeless valve stems and sealant, an affordable and worthwhile upgrade. The Flow Snap tires are 2.35-inches wide and have a relatively aggressive tread that provides solid cornering, braking, and climbing traction. We've had bad luck with these tires in the past, but these seem to be more durable than our previous experiences.

The cockpit is outfitted with mostly Marin branded components, but...
The cockpit is outfitted with mostly Marin branded components, but they nailed the key elements.
Photo: Laura Casner

Marin helps to keep the price of the Rift Zone 29 2 affordable by appointing the cockpit with a number of house-brand parts. It comes with a 780mm Marin Mini-Riser aluminum handlebar clamped to a short, 35mm alloy stem. This setup provides plenty of steering leverage for responsive handling. At the back of the bike, they've spec'd a 175mm (size XL) travel TranzX dropper seatpost. Medium and large frames come with 150mm and small comes with 125mm of travel. While the TranzX dropper doesn't turn any heads, we've never really had any problems with any that have come on test bikes, and the 175mm length is the appropriate size for the XL frame. The touchpoints of the bike consist of a Marin Speed Concept saddle, and Marin locking grips. While the saddle and grips work just fine, we found both to be a bit firm for our tastes.

This bike brings a lot of value to the table. We think it's a great...
This bike brings a lot of value to the table. We think it's a great bike for the price.
Photo: Laura Casner

Value


With the prices of bikes and bike parts skyrocketing, we love that Marin and a few other brands are doing their best to make shred-worthy bikes at reasonable prices. At its retail price, we feel the Rift Zone 29 2 is a solid value. This is a great option for the rider on a budget looking for a do-it-all trail bike that doesn't need any upgrades to get out on the trail and have a good time. If you're looking to take your riding to the next level, this is an affordable option to help you do it.

Conclusion


Whether you're new to the sport or upgrading to a full-suspension bike and you can't stomach the thought of spending upwards of $2,500 on a new bike, the Rift Zone 29 2 is a solid option to consider. This shorter travel trail bike has a modern geometry that gives it a high level of versatility and is surprisingly capable on the descents. It's a bit heavy, but it remains a comfortable and effective climber regardless. For the price, the build is pretty well sorted and ready for action out on the trails. We think Marin did a great job creating an affordable bike for taking your riding to the next level.

The Rift Zone 29 2 is a well-rounded shorter travel trail bike for...
The Rift Zone 29 2 is a well-rounded shorter travel trail bike for those on a budget or upgrading to a full-suspension bike.
Photo: Laura Casner

Other Versions


Marin makes the Rift Zone with both 29-inch (tested) and 27.5-inch wheels. There are three aluminum-framed models that mirror the 29-inch version in terms of price and build kit.

If the Rift Zone 29 2 we tested is a little too pricey, the Rift Zone 29 1 retails for around $400 less. It comes with a similar build, but it has a downgraded rear shock, an 11-speed Deore drivetrain, less aggressive tires, and it does not come with a dropper seatpost.

If you've got some wiggle room in the budget and you can spend a little more, the Rift Zone 29 3 will set you back around an additional $600, but it comes with some worthy upgrades. It has a 12-speed Shimano SLX drivetrain, upgraded suspension components, more powerful 4-piston brakes, and quality Maxxis Assegai tires.

Jeremy Benson

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