Marin Wolf Ridge 9 review

Unique suspension platform that does almost everything well

29er All Mountain Trail Enduro
Marin Wolf Ridge

The Marin Wolf Ridge starts at $5200. Our test rig retails for $6800.

What is it

The Wolf Ridge is Marin’s answer to the ultra-competitive long travel 29er segment. It also serves as the debut for a remarkable new suspension system. Dubbed R3ACT-2Play, the platform relies a slider nestled inside the rear triangle. As the bike moves through its travel, this slider pivots to maintain specific anti-squat numbers. Travel is 160mm front and rear travel, putting it in a class with the likes of the Evil Wreckoning. Key angles include an aggressive 65.5-degree head angle and 73.5 seat angle.

Marin Wolf Ridge

The Wolf Ridge uses a cross link in conjunction with the slider.

The slider operates in conjunction with a cross link to balance suspension inputs. To function effectively, this combination requires a very light shock tune. The end result is a rear wheel that tracks the ground very well. For more on this bike’s suspension technology, check out the Mtbr First Look here.

Pros
  • Incredibly supple suspension
  • Impressive acceleration
  • Efficient climber in wide open travel mode
  • Superb high-speed chunder performance
Cons
  • Polarizing looks
  • No water bottle mounts
  • With seatpost slammed, tire can rub saddle at full compression
  • Downtube protrudes from BB and can get hung up
  • Not most agile bike in tight terrain
Mtbr’s Take

When Marin launched the Wolf Ridge, they laid the hype on thick, dubbing it, “One ride to rule them all” while making hyperbolic performance claims we’ve heard a dozen times over.

Marin Wolf Ridge

While the bike has a polarizing look, you can’t deny the performance.

The thing is, Marin wasn’t lying. Their new bike isn’t just radically shaped, it delivers a ride experience unlike anything we’ve previously ridden. It may have 160mm of travel front and rear, but you wouldn’t know it when you get on the gas. It’s sprightly in ways you’d never expect from a 32-pound enduro rig, and easily matches the sprinting ability of some of our favorite short travel rigs.

Marin Wolf Ridge

The red button on the slider functions as an air bleeder.

Indeed, the Wolf Ridge may well be the most efficient long travel 29er we’ve ever tested. While even the best performing suspension platform can benefit from a lockout on smooth terrain, this bike doesn’t need it. It motors up fire roads and technical pitches. And the free-moving suspension allows the rear wheel to find traction almost anywhere.

However, the Wolf Ridge isn’t the perfect hill climbing machine. While the 73.5 virtual seat tube angle isn’t unheard of, it is roughly 3 degrees slacker than the Specialized Enduro 29 or Transition Patrol. That is to say, it’s uncomfortably slack for those with long inseams. A custom rear offset on the KS LEV dropper exacerbates this issue.

Marin Wolf Ridge

The interrupted seat tube on the Wolf Ridge may cause issues for riders with shorter inseams.

Mtbr testers with shorter inseams ran into a different issue — seatpost insertion. While the stock dropper is only 125mm, some testers were unable to lower the saddle sufficiently due to the interrupted seat tube. And with the post slammed, the rear tire buzzed the stock saddle at full compression.

For shorter riders, the inability to get the saddle completely out the way hindered the bike’s potential. If you somehow haven’t made the move to a dropper post, that statement may not make sense. But once you’ve experience the freedom of range from a 150mm or 170mm dropper it’s hard to go back.

Marin Wolf Ridge

The beauty of the R3ACT-2Play system is the ease of setup.

On descents, the Wolf Ridge is a different animal. It differentiates itself from the pack with its incredible ability to soak up small bumps. The rear suspension, for lack of a better analogy, is butter sauce. On rough technical trails where other suspension platforms get hung up, this bike simply picks up speed. Some will notice that the rear end wags under hard cornering, but that tendency won’t hold you back.

The biggest testament to this bike’s performance is that after riding it back to back with other bikes in this genre (think Evil Wreckoning, Trek Slash, Intense Carbine, Santa Cruz Hightower LT) Mtbr’s testers uniformly agreed the Wolf Ridge offered the best rear suspension performance.

Marin Wolf Ridge

Marin advertises the Wolf Ridge as a trail bike that can do much more.

Marin’s goal with the Wolf Ridge was to build a versatile mountain bike that’s capable of doing everything well. After spending a summer ripping around Santa Cruz and Tahoe, we think they’ve met that goal. The Wolf Ridge isn’t perfect, but it’s an incredible first attempt and we can’t wait to see how the platform evolves as it’s further refined. We also look forward to the brand expanding into new product categories, like a shorter travel trail bike and even more aggressive enduro rig.

Rating: 4 out of 5 4 Flamin' Chili Peppers
Price: $6800 as tested
More info: www.marinbikes.com

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Mtbr

Mtbr.com is a site by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. We are the best online resource for information for mountain bikers of all abilities, ages and interests.


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  • peper says:

    This bike with REACT suspension needs for reviews. I’ll save judgment for the trail. I like the idea of something outside the box in design as better than another new hub, bar or BB standard. I’m interested to see if this design will transfer well to the short travel platforms and get under 25#. I just don’t enjoy pedaling bikes off-road that are heavier than that.

  • Jeff says:

    I’d be interested in learning more about how efficient the R3ACT-2Play suspension is compared to dw-link or Yeti Switch designs. I haven’t found the other bikes mentioned (Evil Wreckoning, Trek Slash, Intense Carbine, Santa Cruz Hightower LT) to be particularly efficient.

  • Jeff Bodnar says:

    I own a size Large Marin Wolfridge Pro.

    Marin’s website for the Wolfridge lists a 120 mm dropper only for the size small…it lists 150 mm for the other sizes.

    You must have only tested a size small…my KS with offset dropper is 150 mm and can be fully inserted into the seat tube (not sure if it is the same with a medium).

    With my seat all the way down…there is NO tire rubbing the seat when the shock is fully compressed.

    I will be posting pictures to the Marin forum tomorrow…

    Note: originally most long travel 29er’s were not available in size small…I’m surprised they can make a size small.

    I asked the owner of a size medium Wolfridge Pro to check his bike in terms of dropper insertion and tire clearance/rubbing.

    I suspect that your post was supposed to be 120 mm instead of 125 mm to prevent rubbing on the size small.

    I just want to be accurate and fair…I suspect that rubbing problem only occurs on the size small.

    I do not work for Marin bikes…

    Thanks…I really like your reviews…keep them coming.

    I would love a pay option to support mtbr if I could get less ads so the pages display faster.

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