Marin Wolf Ridge 8 - Dirty Dozen - Dirt

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Trail and Enduro Bikes

Marin Wolf Ridge 8 – Dirty Dozen

Introducing the first bike in our long travel 29er test.

The Marin Wolf Ridge 8 is the first bike up in our twelve bike 29er enduro bike test – the Dirty Dozen. we give Opinions after testing from three riders with different riding styles. Another bike to follow next week, the results come at the end. Stay tuned.

Words: Steve Jones, Sean White, Ieuan Williams  Images: Steve Jones, Jane Bentley

INTRO – THE 2018 MARIN WOLF RIDGE 8

It’s six months since Marin introduced the all-new Wolf Ridge range. A 160mm travel travel bike, rolling on 29” wheels using the Naild R3ACT 2-Play suspension design which is also seen on Polygon’s new 27.5” wheel Square One enduro bike. Marin’s desire to design ‘one bike to do it all’ has led them to list this bike as ‘Unclassified’ when talking about this new bike’s intended use in their 2018 catalogue. All-mountain, enduro and cross-country trail riding – Marin feel that the Wolf Ridge is capable of excelling in all these areas. With the R3ACT suspension needing no lockout switch and talk of ‘unparalleled climbing ability’ on bike of this type, will the Wolf Ridge also be match for our established benchmark bikes in this sector when heading downhill? The Trek Slash, Specialized Enduro 29 and Starling Murmur are three of our favourite 29” wheel bikes and incredibly capable descenders and set a high standard.

With a full carbon frame (and no aluminium option) there is a very modern ‘industrial design’ look to this bike. It certainly sparks opinion and creates interest. The Wolf Ridge isn’t a bike that’s been rushed in the design process though; Marin say that it has spent five years developing this bike, working closely with the team at Naild. Their timing seems spot on and the three-bike model range has been launched at a time when 29” wheel bikes are really coming of age. Wheels, tyres and geometry are now very well dialled on these big wheelers and we now have 29″ and 27.5″ options on short, mid and long travel bikes.

As a frame that is a fresh design and carrying no baggage from older suspension systems, the sizing and geometry of the Wolf Ridge is up to date. It’s not extreme in any way though and will be a good fit for many riders although some will now have a taste for longer bikes. Our test bike is a size large and has a reach of 462mm, a 465mm seat tube length, 435mm chainstays and a bottom bracket height of 336mm (with a 37mm drop). The head angle is 66.5°, the (virtual) seat tube angle is 73.5° and the wheelbase on this size measures 1206mm. There are four sizes available, all designed and spec’d with a short 35mm or 45mm length stem and a wide 780mm handlebar. The weight is just shy of the 13.5 Kg (30 pounds) mark.

The Wolf Ridge 8 we have on test is the cheapest of the three models. It has more basic fork and shocks than many bikes in this test and uses a fixed travel 160mm RockShox Lyrik RC with a 51mm offset. The rear shock is RS Monarch R DebonAir unit. Full spec is listed below.

specification

FRAME: Full UD carbon, 160mm travel, 148mm Boost spacing

FORK: RockShox Lyrik RC, 160mm travel, 51mm offset, Boost

REAR SHOCK: RockShox Monarch R DebonAir 200x57mm

TRANSMISSION: SRAM GX Eagle 1×12

CRANKSET: SRAM Descendant 6K, aluminium, 34T

BRAKES: Shimano M8000 XT, 180mm rotors F/R.

WHEELSET: Formula hubs, Stan’s Flow Mk3 rims, 32 hole.

TYRES: WTB Vigilante 2.3″ (F), Breakout 2.3″ (R) Light/Fast compound

HANDLEBAR: Marin Mini-Riser aluminium, 780mm, 25mm rise

STEM: Marin 3D forged aluminium, 45mm

SADDLE: WTB Volt Race

SEATPOST: KS LEV SIO, 150mm stroke (120mm on size S)

PRICE: £4750

marinbikes.com

paligap.cc

OPINION – STEVE JONES

Marin have built a very agreeable bike here after a period of pretty hideous creations.

Overall Marin have showed good understanding on the needs of 29” wheel geometry and have certainly nailed most of the angles on this bike, particularly the bottom bracket and reach numbers. This means the Wolf Ridge is quick in the corners with plenty of room up front. It’s possible they could knock a degree off the head angle in the future and open up the wheelbase a touch but that’s just a thought.

While the suspension is reasonably good, for about nine hundred pounds more you’ll be getting another level of damping in the Evil Wreckoning or Specialized Enduro. It’s not that it hasn’t got the ability its just that it lacks sensitivity in root sections with the equipment that has been bolted on here. Such a feeling doesn’t affect its pace however.

The swingarm complexity makes me slightly uncomfortable, in that common sense tells me it’s going to be high maintenance. There is a fair degree of compliance in the frame too, which although adds to the excellent low fatigue on the body on long sections, might well come at the expense of longevity. The key point here though is we don’t have any proof of this so take that very much as a ‘what if?’ What’s not in question is the reliability of the seat dropper which packed up after a short amount of use and the eye-watering £7750 price tag of the top of Pro version.

But there are so many positive attributes of this bike. The shape when riding is excellent and certainly one of the picks of the bunch in this respect. Cornering is crisp and fast and the ride dynamic is massively upbeat. The balance between front and rear is good and on longer runs the fatigue levels are one of the lowest in test. As an enduro bike it’s a winner for sure and one that will only get better with more development.

Overall a fun bike to ride with a great shape. Lacks any class in damping department but wins on originality and low fatigue levels on long runs.

OPINION – SEAN WHITE

The striking looks of the new Wolf Ridge didn’t initially sit well with me. However, I was curious to see how this new bike would perform when tested up against established suspension designs equipped with the latest shock technology. There are plenty of longer travel bike all claiming that they can climb efficiently as well as be able to tackle DH tracks confidently. As a trail rider preferring rock and root to berms and machine built tracks I see plenty of climbing on both long and short rides. On paper the Wolf Ridge looked bang on for me and if the marketing chat is to be believed then it could prove to be the ideal ‘allrounder’.

We rode a size large and at 6’2” I was at the top of Marin’s size chart but I felt comfortable from the off, not needing to swap out the bar or stem. There is a reassuringly balanced feel to the Wolf Ridge and I settled into the way the bike rode very quickly. It is an easy job to set up the suspension too.

True to Marin’s words this bike climbs well, digging in for traction and rewarding you for your effort. It’s not an urgent bike off the mark (a trait many would say is typical of a 29er) but once wound up carries speed well. The handling is neutral and the bike has a ride that doesn’t inspire but feels very efficient and capable. There is a touch of flex from the back of the bike when compared to others in this test but combined with the stout wheelset was not a problem. In fact on longer and rougher rides on rooty terrain it became evident that this was a comfortable and efficient bike that wasn’t tiring me from an overly stiff ride quality.

The 1×12 transmission was faultless and the silence and smoothness was a match for the rest of the bike. Sure, the house-brand cockpit along with mid range shock and fork feel a touch cheap at this price point but the frame does look like a costly item to produce and is incredibly well finished.

The Wolf Ridge impressed me. A bike that is not full of character but feels very confident, efficient and well designed. For long days in the hills or multiple loops at trail centres it would be high on my list.

OPINION – IEUAN WILLIAMS

The Marin Wolf Ridge really got people talking when they released this pioneering design along with Polygon. The Nailed suspension design is innovative and it does make sense.

So let’s not beat around the bush, this is not a cheap bike at £4,750 but you get some good parts for this with the Stans Flow wheels and the SRAM 1×12 GX Eagle. The Wolf Ridge does have a cheap feel to the ride and it feels a little hollow and disconnected when pushed. The rear axle however is a great idea – wheel removal is quick but it has caused problems with coming loose and creaking. Hopefully Marin are aware of this and it will be addressed.

The rear damper that comes on this model is also not the best, even if Marin say that the choice of shock makes no difference to the suspension performance. The RockShox unit on our test bike had a terrible notch in the travel. This is also the same you will find on the £899 Calibre Bossnut.

All this being said the Wolf Ridge is an easy bike to ride, asking no serious questions when beingridden hard. Being able to compare this cheaper build to the top specified bike from the launch in Italy there is a huge difference in the feel between the bottom and top model. When fatigue is mentioned the Marin really does seem to come into its own. The supple chassis matched with a good wheelset gives less of a beating when taking on the longer runs.

The climbing efficiency of Wolf Ridge is spot on for a long travel bike! Putting power down on the pedals gives a more locked feel to the shock. Effort is definitely rewarded.

All in all the Wolf Ridge is not perfect and wouldn’t be my pick of the twelve bikes on test here but it is my dark horse. Marin need to work on the simple things like standover height on the XL size bikes and longevity will need to be proven in UK conditions. It was the bike that surprised me most out of the list and one which I’d like to revisit with some better tuning.

NEXT UP. THE INTENSE CARBINE

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