Marin Rift Zone E

Marin Rift Zone E

Wheel Size: 29’’

Travel: 140 mm rear / 140 mm front

Geometry Highlights:

  • Sizes offered: S, M, L, XL
  • Headtube angle: 65°
  • Seat tube angle: 77º
  • Reach: 485 mm (size Large)
  • Chainstay length: 440 mm

Drive System Highlights:

  • Torque: 85 Nm
  • Power: 250 Watts continuous
  • Battery: 630 Wh (E1 and E2), 504 Wh (E)
  • Motor: Shimano EP8 (E2), Shimano EP6 (E and E1)
  • Display: Shimano SC-E600

Frame Material: Aluminum

Price: Complete bikes: $4,489 to $6,299

Marin Rift Zone E, BLISTER
Marin Rift Zone E1
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Marin is introducing a slimmed-down, shorter travel, more trail-focused version of the AlpineTrail E with the addition of the Rift Zone E. Drives and battery sizes align with its longer-legged sibling, as does pricing. The Rift Zone looks to be a very smart addition to their eMTB line, and one we’re looking forward to testing.

The Frame

The Rift Zone E shares the MultiTrack suspension design seen in the Alpine Trail E and other Marin models. It’s essentially a four-bar linkage-driven single-pivot system. The trunnion-mounted shock is oriented vertically and is driven by a rocker link providing 140 mm of rear wheel travel, 10 mm more than the non-motorized Rift Zone. With 24.2% of progression, Marin claims it will provide high-quality travel, and be easy to tune. The Series 4 aluminum frame is at the top of the pecking order in regards to alloy frames that Marin makes, and is set up for 29” wheels front and rear only, with no provisions for a mixed wheel setup. There is fully internal cable routing and room for a full-size water bottle inside the front triangle in all sizes. It’s also nice to see the inclusion of SRAM’s UDH, which of course opens the door to SRAM’s new Transmission as an upgrade path.

The same battery options that are available on the Alpine Trail E apply to the Rift Zone. Shimano now makes their 504 Wh battery in the same dimensions as their 630 Wh battery, so the same frame can be used throughout the model range, which also allows for future battery upgrades (more detail on this in the build section).

The Drive System

Both the Alpine Trail E and E1 get the Shimano EP6 motor, which is essentially a heavier EP8 motor, as it has the same 85 Nm of torque and 250 Watts of continuous power, and reportedly only weighs 300 grams more. The E2 model receives the latest version of the Shimano EP8 motor, revisions to it include CAN and ACC ports for more connectivity to external devices. As we mentioned above in the “Frame” section, Shimano now offers the 504 Wh battery in the same dimensions as the 630 Wh battery, obviously simplifying frame design, but also allowing for an upgrade path on bikes that come with the smaller option. Charge times are claimed to be around 5 hours for the 504 Wh battery and 6 hours for the 630 Wh battery. Both motors will use the same Shimano SC-E600 displays with a left-side remote.

Fit & Geometry

The Rift Zone E looks quite similar to the regular Rift Zone as far as the geometry numbers are concerned. Reach is still longish at 485 mm for the Large, but Marin tends to favor longer reaches throughout their catalog, so this is to be expected. Besides the long reach, the rest of the numbers are more on the safe side, with a 65º headtube angle and 77º seat tube angle — very much the norm in this travel category. One change from the non-motorized Rift Zone that raises more of an eyebrow, is that Marin lowered the stack height across the size range by up to 15 mm. We’ll be curious to see how this impacts the handling once we get one in for testing.

Sizing-wise, the Rift Zone E comes in sizes Small through Extra Large, with the reach starting at 445 mm for the Small, and then going up to 515 mm for the XL. Those numbers are the same as the Alpine Trail E except for the XL which grows an extra 10 mm (from 505 mm on the Alpine Trail XL).

Simon Stewart Reviews the Marin Rift Zone E for Blister
Marin Rift Zone E Geometry (click to expand)

The Builds

Pricing for the three different Rift Zone E models aligns exactly with the Alpine Trail E models, but there are notable differences in the spec. The Rift Zone switches to TRP brakes across the board instead of Shimano, and as expected, due to the difference in suspension travel, there are also changes to the suspension spec.

The Rift Zone E build is also upgradeable to the bigger 630 Wh battery, which is great, but the same challenging value proposition applies to the Rift Zone that did to the Alpine Trail — batteries are one of the most expensive components on an e-bike, and a Shimano 630 Wh battery is likely to cost nearly $1,000 on its own, so if upgrading is even remotely in the picture, just get the E1 build for $400 more, and then also benefit from a Deore 11-Speed drivetrain and RockShox suspension upgrade as well.

Unlike the Alpine Trail where we could see a substantial performance benefit to the E2 build, we think the pick of the litter for the Rift Zone is actually the E1 build — The RockShox suspension is solid, it gets the bigger battery, and the brake difference (TRP DH-R Evo vs TRP Slate Evo) alone isn’t worth the upgrade cost. Interestingly, Marin has spec’d the standard Shimano XT 12-speed drivetrain on the Alpine Trail E2, but gone for the 11-speed XT LinkGlide drivetrain on the same tier Rift Zone. Frankly, the heavier-but-durability-oriented LinkGlide setup makes a ton of sense for eMTBs in theory, but we’ve yet to test it so whether or not that promise is borne out on the trail remains to be seen.

Simon Stewart reviews the Marin Rift Zone E for Blister
Marin Rift Zone E2
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore 10-Speed
  • Motor: Shimano EP6
  • Battery: 504 Wh
  • Brakes: TRP Slate EVO w/ 203 mm Rotors
  • Fork: RockShox 35 Silver R
  • Shock: X-Fusion 02 PRO R
  • Wheels: Shimano HB-MT400B/410B hubs with Marin alloy rims
  • Dropper Post: TranzX (S: 150mm; M – XL: 170mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Deore 11-Speed
  • Motor: Shimano EP6
  • Battery: 630 Wh
  • Brakes: TRP Slate EVO w/ 203 mm Rotors
  • Fork: RockShox Pike Base
  • Shock: RockShox Deluxe Select+
  • Wheels: Shimano HB-MT400B/410B hubs with Marin alloy rims
  • Dropper Post: TranzX (S: 150mm; M – L: 170mm; XL: 200mm)
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT LinkGlide 11-Speed
  • Motor: Shimano EP8
    Battery: 630 Wh
  • Brakes: TRP DH-R EVO w/ 203mm Rotors
  • Fork: Fox 36 Performance Elite
  • Shock: Fox Float X Performance Elite
  • Wheels: Shimano HB-MT510B/410B hubs with Marin alloy rims
  • Dropper Post: X-Fusion Manic ( S: 125mm, M – L: 150mm; XL: 170mm)
All models will come with factory-installed CushCore Pro (like the Alpine Trail E) and tubeless sealant. When considering the average price for a shop-installed Cushcore setup is north of $200, the already strong value gets ratcheted up even further.

Some Questions / Things We’re Curious About

(1) Will 140 mm of travel front and rear be enough to manage a presumably heavy eMTB?

(2) Same question we had for the Alpine Trail E — Is there a noticeable difference between Shimano EP6 and EP8 motors, or is it really just in the weight?

Bottom Line (For Now)

The Rift Zone E and Alpine Trail E both represent tremendous values in the eMTB market. While they share the same pricing and somewhat similar spec, they have the potential to be very different on trail. We hope to have both in for testing soon, and testing both should help clarify those differences, and what kind of rider is better suited to each one.

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