Marin Wolf Ridge 6.7 Pro Review

Pro Reviews

What Ya Got There?
Let’s be honest here, as human beings, it’s pretty easy to dismiss anything that doesn’t conform to the masses. In the case of Marin bicycles, and more specifically the Wolf Ridge 6.7 tested here, the uniqueness in question stems from none other than the Jon Whyte designed Quad-Link suspension platform. We’ll come right out and admit it; in this day of minimalist-looking linkages coupled to swoopy and curved frame spars, the complex and busy looking Marin earned its shares of gawkers, rubber-necks, and naysayers. The downtube features a nice bend as per the current trend and the swingarm is gorgeously arced and formed leaving only the Quad-Link 2.0 as the prime suspect for the prying eyes. If there’s one thing the crew of MBT can relate to, it’s the old saying that one should never judge a book by its cover. In that line of thinking, it’s equally foolish to judge a mountain bike by its linkage.

Specs
Our Wolf Ridge reads like a typical trail ensemble with a slight lean toward the aggressive side of things. Squish duties were handled by a RockShox Pike air sprung fork (U-Turn equipped) in the front and a Fox Racing Shox RP23 in the rear. Travel numbers came in at 5 and a ½ inches on both sides. Drivetrain components were a hodgepodge of various bits: Shimano LX group shifters and XT derailleur, SRAM PG-970 Cassette, and FSA Gap MegaExo cranks. Syncross DP25 Double Wall rims came wrapped in Kenda Nevegal (2.35”) rubber. Brakes and levers are all Hayes Stroker Trail series.

All told our aluminum size medium bike weighed in at 35.1 pounds (with pedals) and would set an interested buyer back $2950.

The Walk Around
Even before the complexity of the Quad-Link 2.0 cluster enters the equation, Marin bikes have a unique and easily identifiable style all their own. The Wolf Ridge is no exception and the black and white motif example that we rode was living proof.

As far as the linkage itself is concerned, don’t be intimidated by what is essentially a four-bar design with a little added ingenuity applied for good measure. Let us try to cut through the technical mumbo-jumbo the dealer likes to spread on thick in effort to express the system in simple English. As the wheel encounters terrain imperfections (small rocks, sticks, roots, etc.) the Quad-Link 2.0 is designed to allow for backward motion of the wheel as it slips into its travel. Now think about that for a moment. Not only does the real wheel move up in response but backward as well. Of course, if chains were made of silly putty instead of metal links, the ideal situation would be to allow the wheel to continue on rearward to remove any sense of a square edge hit or smack associated with clawing over an obstruction.

But this is the real world and eventually a rearward moving wheel is going to run out of slack due to chain tension. In the case of the Wolf Ridge, this happens about a third of the way through its travel. Here the linkage takes over by shifting the path of the wheel back onto one in which the bike’s wheelbase is no longer affected (in other words: no further chain growth). But what about the initial tension already caused by the motion in the first place? We’re glad you asked. This tension works to the bikes advantage by slowing down movement of the shock since, after all, to pass through a third of the available travel most likely means a big hit. Now, at the steeper part of the curve, the amount of shock travel to wheel movement increases. Say what? This keeps you from blowing through the entire stroke the way you clearly swallowed up your first 1/3. Think stiffer as you progress/ stiffest just before bottoming out. See, we told you it was simple!

The Ride
From the saddle, the Wolf Ridge feels a bit more downhill in orientation than it does XC or even all mountain. How so? A slack head angle (66.5 degrees) mated to a short (50mm) stem makes the bike feel rather stretched out with the rider sitting fairly upright. Getting a leg up on the pedals, however, assures the rider that this rig is far lighter than a true shuttle-runner with steady building acceleration. The Wolf Ridge works best under a rider who builds momentum into a steady-head of steam (no XC spurt-on power here). Once the speeds start increasing (be it either due to leg power or gravity’s assistance on a descent) the Wolf Ridge begins to demonstrate its true personality. We found the bike flowed really well in these situations thanks mostly to that slack head angle we mentioned above. The Wolf Ridge rider doesn’t snap the bike around corners or switchbacks so much as he suggests its lines through steady leverage at the bars.

Don’t worry about the rutted chop that doesn’t appear until half way around the switchback, the Pike (especially in full travel mode) and RP23 work quite harmoniously with the chassis to keep the Marin planted firmly in its line. We expected some clatter (or at least some clunking) out of the Quad-Link 2.0 setup but never did any such annoyance reveal itself, even in the rock gardens!

Braking from the Hayes Stroker Trail units was quite up to the task as well on the flats and certainly on the trails. However, their smooth modulation and firm grip tends to loosen up a bit on really steep descents or high-speed sections (when some would say you need them most). We learned fairly early on to brake a few seconds earlier than we’re accustomed on similarly spec’ed bikes.

Complaint Department
As much as we would liked to have been able to sweet talk our way all the way through this report, the truth is the Marin Wolf Ridge exhibited a few issues during our short time spent with the bike. The first of which comes in the form of the dreaded “b-word”. Hard sprints, out of the saddle efforts, any road riding, and aggressive climbing will cause some pedal bob. Keep in mind this is far from the bob of yesteryear whereby pedal power was sucked up on its way to the real wheel- this is more like rhythmic movement. The good news is that it can be cured by activating the little ProPedal lever on the RP23 to firm things up back there. Yes we know we’ve been spoiled by linkage designs that do their best to obsolete the shock’s own platform damping circuit of late.

Which leads directly to our second complaint: The rather obtrusive shock cradle does make simple tuning of the shock’s plethora of switches, knobs, and levers much more difficult than it has to be. On the Marin, reaching down to flip ProPedal lever off is not an in-saddle affair but rather a come to a complete stop, dismount, and take an interior stab situation.

Finally, and again relating to the linkage configuration, have your knee pads handy even if you don’t consider yourself the type of rider who requires them. Two of our testers came back with skinned knees thanks to the linkage bolts.

Conclusion
It’s easy to get into the line of thinking that the Marin Wolf Ridge is not a do-it-all bike for just about any type of rider, but then again nobody ever said it was supposed to be. Instead what Marin has created is a confident descender that is only a few component swaps away from being able to hang with true downhill-specific hardware. But unlike the sap on the downhill rig, a ski lift isn’t mandatory to get this bike back up the mountain.

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  • flystagg says:

    How is that thing 35 lbs with air shocks at both ends, are the nevegals dual ply wire bead, with downhill tubes, there is no way it should be that heavy, especially not for 2900 bucks, that money would get you a 30lb reign, or remedy.

  • Patrick says:

    Good review…and yeah that 35 lbs issue is um, wtf? My ol 2005 Rocky Mountain Slayer is about 30-31 lbs, 5 inches of air travel, and was $1700. I guess the extra $1200 cost pays for lockout on the front fork? LOL nice, can’t wait to use that! It’s a bummer, I really want Marin bikes to be awesome, but they just keep making things wacky, ungainly looking, complicated, and not even all that cheap. It’s the Santa Cruz mtn bike for the clueless norcal enthusiast. But if you’re living in Marin and riding the bland fire road trails up there, not like you’d notice the difference.

  • Dr. Psylo says:

    Great review! That is exactly how felt on the test ride of the Mount Vision. For some reason these bikes are heavier and more complicated than need be.

    And Chick_Jerkin’, bob doesn’t refer to the active-nature of the suspension against ground clutter but rather activity from the pedal-side of thing. There was a time when it was just the price you had to pay for rear suspension but today’s linkages have for the most part done away with it. At least I can say that my dw-Link has!

  • DaGoat says:

    I’d have to agree. I have a Nicolai Helius FR that weighs about 35lbs. But it’s sporting 6.5″ of Fox DHX Coil rear shock and a Magura Wotan 6″ travel fork with Maxel front and rear. 5″ of air travel shouldn’t weigh but maybe 30lbs for a lower end parts bin aluminum framed build.

    If your looking for something like this go find a Chumba XCL. For the money those are a very capable rig.

  • Paul says:

    Niec review :D I actually own a Wolf and I have to say that it rides like a bike far lighter than it is. I swapped the cranks for XT, casette for XT, rer der for XO, X9 pods, folding tyres and a carbon bar to bring it to a nice 14KG or 31lbs.

    I do have clunking bearings, bad RP23 stiction and the Pike leaks oil from the compression knob :/ Fortunatley warranty is my friend!

    This is a fantastic bike to ride and i highly recommend one. You can read more about my experiences on my blog.

    http://www.mountainbikingnewzealand.co.nz

  • Gee says:

    I have one of these. I don’t agree about the bob. I never use the pro pedal and as long as I stay seated there is no appreciable bobbing – even had comments from other riders watching the rear linkage and being surprised with the lack of movement.
    I don’t understand the comments about the linkage being complicated. 4 pivots using only 4 bolts including the shock mount is one or two less bolts than anyone elses.
    I must also have skinny legs because I have never had problems with legs hitting frame stuff.
    I thought and still think the bike is perfect for my application. Relatively easy riding up – 4 lbs of extra weight doesn’t matter to me. On the way down the slack headtube angle gives me freeride confidence and begs for higher speeds.
    My personal review would say, “wish the bike was lighter but wouldn’t consider anything else because the suspension is technically better than anybody elses (tried ‘em all) – with the longest lasting and best warrantied pivots available”. Just my 2 cents.

  • Pie Dodger says:

    What the?
    In the words of John Macenroe, “You cannot be serious man”
    I’ve got Last years bike the Attack trail and have built it up with bullet proof parts eg – saint crank mavic EX832′s, Hopes, Pro taper, none of it particularly light. My bike weighs 31.5lbs, I just checked.
    I run pretty light tyres – Cross mark 2.35s
    This bike rules, every where, no one can get away from me on climbs – unless it’s on tarmac and then guess what? it’s an OFF ROAD bike. Descending it’ll blow the doors off any other machine, most of my buddys have invested too after seeing how much fun I’m having killing the terrain.
    It’s supposed to be a 140 bike but it’ll easily out perform any 160 bike out there, they obviously recognize this at Marin as the latest high end machine has a Lyric up front.
    The shock issue doesn’t bother me at all, I’ve had bikes where all manner of stuff gets fired onto the shock body, I was replacing them every 6 months due to chips from small stones hitting the can. On the Marin the shock is tucked away nicely, it ain’t gonna take any side loads either due to the stiff linkages.
    I set my shock up air, check rebound, done – and leave the thing alone. why would you want to change it a load other than on your first ride out.
    If you’ve got a good bike store or shock Tuner, they’ll give you some good base settings to work from.
    I called Tim Flooks in the UK, http://www.tftuned.co.uk, this guy is a legend. Told me how to set up my bike, didn’t try to sell me any unnecessary crap. Which I’d have probably bought given a little encouragement.
    By the looks of it these guys read some blurb, missed the sales info an then went for a five minute ride on tarmac.
    Should have gone for a proper ride, that you couldn’t hit up on a hard tail, then you’ll love the Wolf Ridge

  • Anonymous says:

    “By the looks of it these guys read some blurb, missed the sales info an then went for a five minute ride on tarmac.”

    To be honest with you, this was perhaps the most logical explanation of the quad-link technology I’ve ever read. My local shop likes to talk about the fact that the real wheel path goes backward as well as upward but I’ve never been able to get them to explain what this does to the chain/ tension.

    Every linkage out there has some kind of boast but I am partial to the reviews that break down how it really works.

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