We’ve had a chance to get a couple rides in on the brand new Trail Hardtail offering from Marin Bikes.
While the Rocky Ridge name has a heritage with Marin, the 2014 model is completely new from the ground up. Sporting a beefy hardtail frame with trail geometry, 27.5″ wheels, and a 130mm fork, the bike fits squarely in the do-anything trail bike category. It is one of relatively few hardtails on the market to take this “trail bike” moniker.
Our Rocky Ridge 7.6 demo bike landed this past week. Out of the box, I noticed this $2599 MSRP model comes with a solid component spec. Even the trim items are worthy to stay the long haul and don’t need to be switched out: a Fizik Gobi saddle, Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires, a KS dropper post, and an E Thirteen crank & chain guide. This “ready out of the box” component spec is something the guys at Marin Bikes have told me they are trying to nail with their reborn 2014 product line. So far, I’d say it’s looking pretty good.
Other components of note are the Rock Shox Revelation 130mm fork, which I found is well balanced with the hardtail manners- a good bit of travel without too much dive, especially with the damping adjustment turned up just a couple clicks. The 1×10 SRAM X-7/X-9 drivetrain feels just about right on this bike- and the E Thirteen chain guide setup is solid. The SRAM Elixir 7 Trail brakes provide a consistent feel and good power- though I’d prefer an offering from Shimano here, I must admit these brakes are pretty good.
House brand components round out the package with a nice forged stem, good wide handlebar, and surprisingly comfortable lock-on grips. The wheel set features good house brand hubs and Alex MD21 rims. We set ours up tubeless with just tape & stems and it seems to be holding well so far.
At the heart of the bike is the hydroformed frame. It’s a looker, with clean lines and a dashing paint job. The frame has a distinctive “archer’s bow” aesthetic to it, with an aggressive dropper post specific seat tube bend. Frame details include cable routing options for Stealth dropper post, and just about any derailleur/brake configuration you’d ever want.
I’ve managed to get two solid rides on this bike; one high in mountains with long ups & downs, and the other at lower elevation with rock gardens and steep goat-trail descents.
I was able to set the bike up with a neutral handlebar to saddle relationship without any need for inverted stems or anything else heroic- no doubt a benefit of the ‘tweener wheel size pared with the mid-travel fork. Set this way, the bike feels balanced enough to hang on the climbs & flats of our weekly XC oriented shop rides. But when the bike is pointed downhill, she really finds her groove.
It’s a very playful bike.
Riding slightly weight-back, the super short 16.5″ chain stays, low BB height, and 67.5 degree head angle all combine for a confident, charging feel that carves with ease at speed. In the steep ledges, the bike feels balanced at slow speed.
The dropper post geometry means the saddle moves slightly forward when it’s lowered. In my experience, I need to lower the seat only slightly to get the clearance I’d like in the steeps. The added benefit here is the bike still pedals good with the post lowered by a lesser amount.
I’ll be riding the bike more in the coming weeks and reporting back. This is our first 2014 Marin demo bike in the shop, marking the first since the brand’s relaunch in August. The “new” Marin Bikes promises highly developed bikes, ready to rip right out of the box. With this Rocky Ridge our first example of what’s to come, I’m pretty happy with what they’re doing.