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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

ARRIVED: 2018 Marin Wolf Ridge

Words Andrew Major
Photos Dave Smith
Date Jul 31, 2017

To my eyes the 2018 Marin Wolf Ridge is the most interesting looking full suspension bike in years. Well over half the bikes currently on the market look like a 1994 Turner Burner, with even more adopting that outline for 2018. The Wolf Ridge is truly different in appearance and, according to Marin, in performance. I haven't thrown a leg over the bike and the contrarian in me loves it already. The more comments I read sh*t talking how it looks the more I'm attracted to it.


A part of me misses the primordial days of janky suspension experimentalism" - Perry Schebel


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As orange fades to red the 2018 Marin Wolf Ridge looks weirder, and weirder and weirder. I've stared at it long enough that 'ugly' is now 'unique' and 'apalling' is 'artistic'. 

First Looks

For a solid break down and initial riding impressions on the Wolf Ridge's completely different NAILD R3ACT Gliding 4-Bar suspension design, check out Cam's write up from their product launch here

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The all black Fox 36 FIT4 Performance Elite forks match the performance and features of the brand's Factory models without the added cost and, in the case of the Wolf Ridge, disruptive, appearance of gold Kashima-coated stanchions. 

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The Marin's effective seat angle - with the seat at full climbing height - is both steeper than it looks and slacker than is trendy.

The Build Up 

The attention to detail from the factory is impressive. It took seconds to hook in the dropper post, the bike shifts perfectly out of the box, the headset bearings and cups are abundantly greased and the stem bolts already had copper anti-seize on them. Absolutely no warnings, concerns or complaints in putting the Marin together. 

Eagle

All three models of Marin's Wolf Ridge are SRAM Eagle builds and for those turned off by the GX equipped Wolf Ridge 8's $5200 (USD) price I'm sure there will be a lower-priced NX Eagle model next year. Eagle is the obvious choice for any 1x specific mountain bike and there certainly isn't anywhere to put a front derailleur with NAILD's suspension design. 

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The Wolf Ridge Pro uses a full Eagle XX1 drive package including carbon cranks and punches in at $8600 (USD) and around 30lbs without pedals. The X01 WR9 checks in at $6800 and the Eagle GX WR8 at $5200. 


It looks much less offensive in person" - Cam McRae

The Trendy Complaints 

Ask Knolly, Kona, Yeti, Banshee or any number of other brands about sending a bike into the world without a usable water bottle mounting position. First there is denial; surely people will love the amazing ride of our sweet bike and hydrate via a pack on their fanny or back! Then there's feedback. Then there's the big decision; redesign the fleet or bust a wheelie and ride off into the sunset with both middle fingers in the air knowing you're putting your best bikes forward. 

I generally ride with a bottle but I'm happy to use a hydration pack in testing Marin's unique design. 

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There is no room for a bottle here. If that's a deal breaker then the Wolf Ridge likely isn't the bike for you. I would like to see a black-on-black Performance Elite X2 shock to match the fork. 

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My test bike has a compression lockout on the Fox X2 but I've been expressly told to ignore it. It isn't needed and won't be present on production models. This X2 is otherwise identical to stock in terms of valving spec. 

Trendy complaint number two is fresh for the 2018 model year and it's going to be the hottest thing this season. Why spec SRAM's Guide trail brakes when the new CODE model is awesome? More power, better modulation, more power and did I mention more power? The Wolf Ridge is a 160mm bike with a 66.5 head angle and a 1206 wheelbase. As well as it is intended to climb, it is going to go downhill fast. 

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I'll trade for SRAM Code brakes for +80 grams per wheel, Alex.  

Things That Make Me Go Huh?

Super steep seat angles aren't for everyone and the 73.5° STA that Marin claims with the saddle height about equal to stack height is reasonable by most accounts and about perfect for me. I do find the choice to spec a dropper post with as much rearward offset as the 'custom-offset' KS Lev on all three Wolf Ridge models quite strange. How strange? It's almost as weird as seeing a KS Lev on a bike that would list locally at around $11,000 (CAD). 

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The 'custom offset' KS Lev has me running the saddle all the way forward to get a good fit. Riders that prefer a steeper pedaling position will likely be stuck swapping it out for a post with less offset. 

The other really surprising spec choice is the choice of 2.3" WTB Vigilante and Breakout tires adorning the Marin's carbon e*thirteen wheels. I've never ridden either of these WTB TCS tires so I'll obviously reserve comment on their performance for the review; it's just that in my shop experiences any tire spec other than Maxxis or Schwalbe makes it harder to sell high-end bikes. 

The Wolf Ridge is already going to require a lot of effort at the dealer end to educate potential customers because it is so fresh and different. I think the rest of the spec choices should reflect that. 

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It's been years since I've ridden a WTB tire so I'm excited to try out the TCS rubber on the Wolf Ridge. The tires look tiny on the wide E13 carbon rims but their profile is still good. I would love to see Marin spec the stickiest rubber compound Vigilante up front instead of the light/fast version.

Anticipation

I can't wait to get out on the trail and ride the bike that had a test writer saying "they wish they had never used to the term game-changer previously because in this case, it's actually true" or as Cam stated "I wouldn't hesitate to saddle up this machine to ride in virtually any terrain. There is something unique about the way the suspension performs that I'm eager to explore further".

I don't care how the bike looks if it performs anything like advertised. Especially the climbing claims of this long travel 29er platform. I do care how the bike looks because it's a major departure from normal and that's exciting. 

It's going to be an interesting few months. For more information on the Wolf Ridge lineup check here

Comments

cooperquinn
+2 Tim Coleman Endur-Bro
Cooper Quinn  - July 30, 2017, 11:03 p.m.

Tim, 

Please note the tire/valve stem alignment. 

Sincerely, 

Everyone.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 31, 2017, 7:15 a.m.

Everyone less me. 

That's either out of the box attention to detail on Marin's end OR Dave Smith re-seated the tires because Dave Smith - creatives am I right?!

I'm impressed that you're impressed. I always assumed you wear mis-matched Tommy Bahama outfits when you aren't riding.

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - July 31, 2017, 8:47 a.m.

What's wrong with Tommy Bahama? Its comfortable and fashionable.

And either good work on Marin's part, as it shows attention to detail, or.... Dave is a nerd.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 31, 2017, 8:54 a.m.

Of course you're that guy... 

I don't doubt Dave's impeccable attention to detail but in this case I'm guessing the credit goes to Marin - I've never seen a bike come with anti-seize on bolts and if they're doing that then lining valve stems up is no big thing.

Reply

bfelt
+1 Andrew Major
Benjamin Felt  - July 31, 2017, 7:40 a.m.

I can't wait to read the full review! It's getting a lot of high praise on short term reviews, but I haven't seen any long-term testing yet.

Do you know if you'll get a chance to review Marin's new B-17 bike? It's not on their website, but they have started to drop info on their social media.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 31, 2017, 7:56 a.m.

The B-17 is going to be an awesome bike. I know because it's essentially a boosted Plus version of the Hawk Hill I tested for months both as a stock bike and to test other best value parts like X-Fusion's Manic dropper post, Race Face's Aeffect cranks and wheels and MAGURA's Trail Sport brakes.

The ride quality of their 'basic' suspension platform is impressive even out of the saddle climbing (with a basic shock with no lockout - a theme perhaps).

I'm more of a 29'er guy and if Marin sold frame-only the new Rift Zone 29'er, using the same suspension layout, would definitely be on my short list. Everything I need, nothing I don't, affordable price, great geometry and suspension kinematics. Awesome.

If there's a B-17 in your price point / build requirement I would not hesitate to recommend it based off my Hawk Hill experience.

Reply

shoreboy
+1 Meister
Shoreboy  - July 31, 2017, 8:24 a.m.

Im looking forward to your thoughts on this bike too.  Ever since I first saw it I was wondering how often that protuberance in front of the bottom bracket will get smashed on rocks and logs.  Yes, that is a big word, but that is also a big hunk of frame hanging out in a spot that just seems like its ripe for abuse.  Maybe its a non-issue?  Will check back to see what you have to say!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 31, 2017, 8:27 a.m.

Cheers; I share the same concern. I run Blackspire Crusher bash tacos on both my personal bikes and they've been to war. 

The BB height isn't crazy low but it's a potential issue I'll be watching for.

Reply

bart
0
bart  - July 31, 2017, 8:31 a.m.

Exciting!

Reply

pedalhound
0
pedalhound  - July 31, 2017, 10:02 a.m.

Can't wait to hear how it fares long term, especially after it starts getting nasty again. One of my worries for this bike is how that slider near the BB will fare in the long term...and the flexibility of the frame. This one is high on my want list!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 31, 2017, 10:13 a.m.

Yes, how it ticks and what's required to keep it ticking are key questions for the R3ACT system.

Reply

morgan-heater
0
Morgan Heater  - July 31, 2017, 10:07 a.m.

Can't you just spin an offset post backwards?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 31, 2017, 10:12 a.m.

This isn't possible with most two-bolt head posts because their cradles are angled to give the maximum range of usable adjustment one way (hence why most indicate a forward direction) to accommodate for a huge range of preferences and seat angles. 

It way be an option with this KS post and I'll confirm that. Thanks!

Reply

Endur-Bro
0
Endur-Bro  - July 31, 2017, 11:18 a.m.

Why spec a custom offset unless it's less? No really, I'm stumped as why to do this.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 31, 2017, 11:38 a.m.

@Endur-Bro I don't know for a fact but if I was a betting man I'd guess it's actually an issue with the limited adjustment range of the stock KS Lev post head (here). 

Namely I'd bet it can't rotate far enough to achieve a flat (or slightly nose-down for people that like it that way) saddle position. 

I'll explore Dropper options as part of the review.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 2, 2017, 8:03 p.m.

Regarding the post offset it was chosen based on suspension performance/balance when seated. I'll cover pedaling performance/position in the review but Marin says it's no problem to run a dropper post with less offset and it was definitely chosen with performance in mind.

Reply

DBone95
0
Darryl Chereshkoff  - July 31, 2017, 4:49 p.m.

.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 31, 2017, 6:57 p.m.

How does it go?

Hate stems from Anger / Anger stems from Fear!?

Don't be afraid; it's just a bike!

...

I love different stuff. I like Orange but I would really like to try the new Commencal Meta SX high pivot in a 29'er version.

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - July 31, 2017, 10:40 p.m.

"Why spec SRAM's Guide trail brakes when the new CODE model is awesome? More power, better modulation, more power and did I mention more power?"

I've been saying that regarding the old Code for years now. The Code is worlds better than the Guide.

Also I'd be mighty keen to have a go on that Marin!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 31, 2017, 11:32 p.m.

I'll vouch for you saying that - and knowing you're currently reviewing the new ones I won't ask you to comment on how much more refined they are. 

I'll make sure you get a turn!

Reply

morgan-heater
0
Morgan Heater  - Aug. 1, 2017, 9:45 a.m.

One pet peeve that would stop me from considering this bike is that the seat doesn't go low enough. I feel like all bikes should be designed around 150 to 170mm droppers now that they exist. The seat should be below a line drawn between the stem and the rear tire when its down.

Reply

pedalhound
0
pedalhound  - Aug. 1, 2017, 4:11 p.m.

With having such long legs, low seat tubes kill me....I need a very long ST and then I still have a ton of seat post showing. in my XL Banshee Prime I could probably go with a 8" dropper and still have room.

Reply

slimshady76
+1 Andrew Major
Luix  - Aug. 4, 2017, 6:54 a.m.

I'll be that guy and say "fuck water bottles!!!". I'll take suspension performance over a muddy sip of water any day of the week.

Reply

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