We had a chance to demo Marin’s Wolf Ridge 8 this weekend. And I have to to say… I was impressed.
I was ready to hate everything about this bike. I’m not fan of 29’ers, and frankly the suspension design on this thing is just about as weird as you can imagine. The linkage system looks thin and weak, and I simply couldn’t understand the main bottom pivot. What was it doing? A single swing arm attached to Popsicle sticks? No… this was going to suck.
Imagine my surprise when it didn’t suck. In fact, it was amazing.
160mm of front and rear suspension made for a very plush ride. Combine that with the roll-over-anything 29 inch wheels and you can smooth out a pretty sketchy rock garden with little effort. But that was only the obviously expected things. The popsicle sticks were surprisingly ridged and proved to be enough to hold it together running down a root staircase.
I was getting proved wrong at just about every obstacle. For a big bike, and even with those ungainly 29 inch wheels, it handled quite nice. Turning was quicker than I thought it could be. It was almost nimble in tight back to back S turns.
Going down, it reacted like you would expect an enduro to react. It kept its lines, and sucked up most of the major hits. The suspension wasn’t highly tunable, but apparently it’s that way by design. It relies heavily on the linkage design to be foolproof in the hands of the average everyday Joe. Not that the average everyday Joe, is going to have the $5000+ just to puts around on. That being said, it did work nicely with just a rebound adjustment.
Climbing was a mixed bag. The anti-squat with this configuration is so good that there is virtually no pedal-bob. And while it ascended well, the suspension didn’t seem as active as it could have, under load. Putting just about any power down caused the suspension to tighten up a bit. Not to say it didn’t climb well, it did.
In short, this bike did a LOT of things well. And it managed to change my mind on how good a 29 inch enduro bike could be. I will, from this day forward take a second look in that fields general direction. It’s no longer just for XC racers, and ex-roadies.
Now on to some of the things that kinda missed the mark.
The suspension is not pretty. The giant, e-bike looking, main pivot is obtrusive and mentally off-putting. The stanchion tube, inside the swing arm, that connects to the main pivot, is not as beefy as one would hope, and adds ZERO lateral or “twist” support. Leaving it ALL up to the independent popsicle sticks. That’s a LOT of pressure to put on those bearings.
The seat tube was ridiculously short and terminated with a very sharp angled corner. If you tried to lower the seatpost any further than what is shown (on left) it jammed up the switch mechanism and the seatpost would fail to work. Then their unfortunate decision to throw in a 150mm dropper post, pushed the seat to high to ride comfortably when fully extended. A 125mm dropper post would probably have worked much better. As it was, I had to guess at the proper seat height the entire ride. Which was annoying.
Beyond those two minor things. The head badge popped off during the ride. Just popped off. Luckily I found it, dusted it off and reattached it to the headtube later that evening.
Overall, the bike was pretty good. I’d recommend it. Although… for 5k, I’d expect some carbon wheels. Just sayin’.