Introducing the brand new 2018 Marin Wolf Ridge.

The Wolf Ridge is a 160mm, 29’er that uses a new Naild designed suspension platform.

We spent this morning with the bike and the Marin guys to learn a bit more about what the Wolf Ridge has to offer.

words by Jamie Edwards / photos by Jacob Gibbins

Introducing the Marin Wolf Ridge

We’ve heard rumours about the Marin Wolf Ridge for some time now – the rumblings were that the bike would “pedal like a trail bike and descend like a downhill bike”. Nothing new there, after all, hasn’t every bike company said that about their next-big-thing at some point?

Today was a chance to see for ourselves whether Marin’s claims stacked up. We took a quick trip up to the woods with John from Marin and Marin/Stans Racing’s Leigh Johnson to see the bike for ourselves.  The bike we met is the very first in the UK and has been getting quietly ridden in South Wales by Leigh in prep for the Madeira Enduro World Series in a couple of weeks.

The back story

Marin have been steadily plugging away at improving their range over the last couple of years. They have an awesome reputation amongst the blokes-over-40 crowd earned with some very good bikes way back in the 90’s. More recently they’ve struggled a bit with slightly out of date geometry that lost them some kudos with younger riders.

The last couple of years have seen Marin’s game well and truly upped with the launch of the great value Hawk Hill, updated geometry on bikes like the Attack Trail and some great hardtails like the Nail Trail. The Wolf Ridge is the next step in that process – a brand, competitive enduro bike aimed at Enduro World Series level riding.

Marin’s guy in the UK John Oldale explained to us that “we set out to build it so that everyone just has one bike in their shed. It’s capable of going out to the Alps and going out for a lap of your local trail center on a Saturday morning”.

Naild’s R3ACT-2-Play system

The big thing about the Wolf Ridge is that it’s built around the brand new R3ACT-2-Play suspension system, designed by Naild’s Darrell Voss. The system uses a conventional rear shock, a rocker link and a slider located inside the swing arm and just above the bottom bracket. Everything moves together to create a bike that Marin and Naild claims will pedal efficiently whilst still offering excellent suspension performance.  They also claim that the system allows riders to run less damping on their shock and to be less reliant on low tire pressures for grip.

It’s hard to explain the system without getting bogged down in techno-jargon. In very basic terms, the system reduces suspension bob and counters the factors that effect the suspension moving efficiently (anti-squat). Alongside that, the slider allows the suspension to start working under very small forces – meaning it will kick in quicker and more consistently to offer (in theory) better small bump performance and increased grip on rough ground.

If any of this is sounding a bit familiar, you’re right. The Naild system was recently announced on the new Polygon Square One. Marin and Polygon are the first companies to adopt Naild’s system – with a plan for more to follow suit.

Up, along and down

The end result is a bike that is long travel (160mm) with big wheels but can be ridden up, along and down without feeling like you’re lugging loads of travel around. There’s more freedom of tire pressure choice, theoretically more freedom to run lighter and faster rolling tires and less strain on rear shocks.

It’s designed to be ridden without any twiddling of compression adjusters or constant flicking of lock outs or climb switches. A rider can, if the claims are true, hop on the bike and enjoy the best performing suspension and pedaling up, along and down, stood up and sat down.

“Naild’s R3ACT – 2 Play system has unique core kinematics which manage the inertia of acceleration loads.

The system does not require platform/lockouts from external devices on any travel applications, even the 160mm travel of the Wolf Ridge.

A custom kinematic was developed with Naild to ensure that the Wolf Ridge would have the pedaling prowess previously unattainable in a long travel bike.”

Marin bikes.

The aim with R3ACT-2-Play is to remove the need for travel to dictate what bikes can do. Long travel bikes are typically harder to drag up hills. Short travel bikes typically pedal better but are less aggressive on the downhills.

Naild want their system to create bikes where “travel does not define category” and where a “bike can climb and descend equally well”.

Sounds  good to us but – as ever – the proof is in how it all rides and how it stands up to a few months of hammering.

“The bike is something else to be fair. It does pedal uphill like a cross country bike and it does really go downhill, like you say, almost like a downhill bike. It’s all you want for an enduro race machine and a bike you can ride all weekend on.”

Leigh Johnson, Marin Stans Racing

The numbers

Alongside fancy suspension, the bike has some decent numbers. There’s a 66.5d head angle, 435mm chain stays and a respectable 462 reach on a large. Nothing too wild but definitely some very modern and very forward thinking numbers. 

Two versions

The Marin Wolf Ridge will be available in the UK in June 2017.  There are two versions available at launch and a further, lower price version available later in the year.

Pro version:

  • SRAM XX1 Eagle
  • Fox 36 Performance Elite and Float X2
  • Ethirteen TRS Carbon wheelset
  • £7750

 Race version:

  • SRAM XO1 Eagle
  • RS Lyric RCT3 and Monarch Debonair R
  • Stans No Tubes Mk3 Flow wheelset
  • £5750

What’s next?

Today’s meet up with Marin didn’t give us enough time to ride the bike. Leigh will be riding the Welsh Gravity Enduro this weekend at Eastridge and then on to the EWS in Madeira after that.

Once he’s back, we’ll be hammering on his door for a loan of the bike and a lap of some big South Wales hills.

We’ve seen plenty of bikes bring new technology, sliders, rails, twin shocks and shout about being the next big thing – we’re super excited to get on the bike and see if Marin’s Wolf Ridge can blow our minds.

You can learn more about the Marin Wolf Ridge on Marin’s website.

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