Back in the dawn of MTB time, Marin were the bikes the founding molefathers aspired to. Partly because we knew no better, partly because the local bike shop sold them and partly because they really weren’t that bad. Dave had an East Peak way back when, while I was very attached to my Muirwoods.
However, the object of our desires was the Wolf Ridge, or Wool Fridge as it was soon memorably dubbed.
That was then. A lot of water and much mud has flowed beneath our wheels since then and it’s fair to say – my detour into semi-fat nothwithstanding – Marin has not been on our radar at all. Too humdrum, too ugly (really, really ugly) and certainly free of the sweet tang of aspiration.
2017 sees a possible change. Marin have just announced the re-introduction of the Wolf Ridge complete with a radical new suspension system. The claim is a 29er that climbs like a 120mm bike and descends like a 160mm bike. When I say ‘like a 160mm bike’ I should really point out it is a 160mm travel bike. It’s just the platform is so efficient climbing that it feels much more like a short travel bike… so I’ve read.
How does it do this? Well, with quite a clever bit of suspension tech first used on the recently launched Polygon Square One and licenced from Naild. Basically, it has a sliding base to the swingarm (like a fork stanchion) which compresses passively as the swingarm moves upward, keeping the chain length constant and providing strong anti-squat characteristics through the bike’s travel. So climbing comes without the usual penalty of energy-wasting bobbing (even out of the saddle), while downhill the bike can benefit from the nice low damping levels needed on the rear shock to gobble up the terrain, without needing to use lockout levers (which we all forget to turn off) or fussy shock damping.
With the bike also sporting a headangle of 66.5° and a long 1174mm wheelbase in size M, it sounds like a great ride on those big 29er wheels.
Design-wise, the connection to the Polygon is clear, with the design using a short lower link and a longer upper link bridge to connect to the shock. All in carbon, as is the swingarm and front triangle, and with a neat built in mudguard.
The only downside for me is the same for all the latest technology. The Wolf Ridge hits the market at £5750 for the ‘base’ model which comes with a Rock Shox Lyric fork and Monarch R rear shock with SRAM Eagle X01 x 12 gearing. Stump up another £2000 and at £7750 the Wolf Ridge Pro comes with Fox Float 36 forkage and a Float X2 rear shock, while the drivetrain moves up to SRAM Eagle XX1 territory. That’s money I don’t have to spend on bikes… sadly.
Anyway, this bike looks good. If you can afford one, check it out as the pricing is in-line with chi-chi brands that don’t have this kind of tech built in. And let me know how it goes!