I’ve always held an affinity for full suspension trail bikes because they facilitate a great deal of the flow I thrive on when trail riding. But since I spent many days riding and racing a fully rigid fixed gear on these same trails when I was young and foolish, I can certainly appreciate the connectedness, immediacy and feeling of precision a rigid ride offers.
The folks at Marin obviously appreciate a good hardtail, too, as it has shown with the Rocky Ridge series. Two 27.5-inch wheeled models with 130mm-travel forks are offered, both with the same frame and 1×10 drivetrains (chainguides included). The Rocky Ridge 7.6, tested, retails for $2,600, while the Rocky Ridge 7.4 retails for $1,950.
For the asking price, the 7.6 is very admirably spec’d. The inexpensive-but-excellent RockShox Revelation Solo Air RL tackles suspension duties out front. SRAM provided an X7 shifter and X9 Type 2, clutch-style rear derailleur for 1×10 use. Crankset and chainguide are TRS units supplied by e*thirteen. Braking was delegated to SRAM’s four-piston Elixir 7 Trail units with tool-free reach adjustment. KS provides a Supernatural dropper post with one of the more ergonomic remotes I’ve used and 125mm of infinitely adjustable droppage. Schwalbe’s aggressive Nobby Nic tires are mounted to Alex rims, DT Swiss Champion spokes and Formula hubs.
The Rocky Ridge’s burly aluminum frame offers all the latest standards we’ve come to expect; tapered headtube, ISCG mounts, internal dropper post routing and a 142×12 thru-axle. As you would expect on a hardtail, one water bottle mount is offered on the top of the downtube, but no seattube bottle mount is offered due to the radically bent tube.
Geometry-wise the Rocky Ridge is all about fun. Short 16.5-inch chainstays and a 43.5-inch wheelbase promise a lively ride, while the 67.5-degree headtube angle and 12.7-inch bottom bracket height promise confidence.
The Rocky Ridge is awfully easy on the eyes. This bike’s matte black on gloss black aesthetic is subtly awesome, with just enough red accents thrown in to keep things stimulating. To me, this design lends an air of sophistication that belies the asking price.
Coming off of multiple years riding full suspension bikes exclusively, it took me a few rides to fully adjust to the Rocky Ridge’s lack of rear suspension. Never ceases to amaze me just how different the timing is between suspended and non-suspended bikes. After adjusting, I found myself really enjoying the Rocky Ridge.
One of the first things you’ll notice is just how stiff this frame is. The beefy front triangle is super stiff, no lateral flex here. See those beefy chainstays and seatstays? Yeah, no flex back there either. There’s no pretension of “tuned flex” in the Rocky Ridge. In fact, the frame is so stiff it is able to overwhelm the Revelation in high-load situations. Crazy as it might sound, a 34mm or 35mm chassis fork wouldn’t feel out of place on this bike, despite there being relatively few offerings in this travel range.
Drivetrain performance was stellar. The SRAM bits worked as flawlessly as we’ve come to expect. I’ve come to really appreciate the simplicity of a 1x drivetrain, and this arrangement is simply bombproof with the chainguide.
The Elixir 7 Trail brakes offer impressive stopping power and incredible modulation. I’d go so far as to say they’re almost overkill on this bike. Almost.
I’m coming off of bikes that tend to be much slacker and longer than the Rocky Ridge, so this bike feels downright neutral handling. I’d say Marin nailed the geometry here. The short wheelbase and short chainstays offers a very lively ride, that’s responsive and a cinch to loft the front wheel and manual.
This lively nature is tempered just a enough by the 67.5-degree heattube angle, providing a touch of stability and a little extra front center length. This bike doesn’t require a lot of body english or aggressive body language to hustle down the trail. If anything, it’s very intuitive and predictable. Just look where you want to go and the bike follows.
Bombing the Rocky Ridge down the trail, it became apparent to me that this is more of a finesse bike than a point and shoot basher. At speed on rough terrain, the short wheelbase rewards quick reflexes and smooth lines. Really technical trails are best handled with a trialsy or flowy approach.
Many folks have asked what’s up with the crazy looking seat tube. Like the Attack Trail full suspension bikes, Marin wanted to provide riders with the best of both worlds in terms of saddle position. With the saddle up for pedaling efficiency, the effective seattube angle places a rider in a normal pedaling position. Drop the seatpost and the saddle moves down and forward, even further out of the rider’s way. Sounds like a small detail, but I’ve grown to really appreciate this best-of-both-worlds arrangement.
The Rocky Ridge is reasonably light at 27.4 pounds ready to rock, sans pedals. Not bad at all for a pretty aggressive bike with real tires and a dropper post. At this price point and considering the projected longevity of the quality bits on this bike, it’s easy to recommend the Rocky Ridge. It’s a goldilocks hardtail; just-right wheel size, slack and stout enough to be fun on rowdy trails, yet responsive and light enough for amateur racing. And, the short chainstays make this bike fun on pump tracks and skills park settings. The Rocky Ridge could just be a one-bike solution for a lot of folks. Congratulations to Marin for making a versatile trail hardtail.
- Price: $2,600
- Sizes: 15”, 17.5” (tested), 19”
- Wheelbase: 43.5 inches
- Top Tube: 23 inches
- Head Angle: 67.5 degrees
- Seat Tube Angle: 73 degrees (effective)
- Bottom Bracket: 13.2 inches
- Rear Center: 16.5 inches
- Weight: 27.4 lbs.
Share your thoughts
What do you think of the Rocky Ridge? Is a hardtail a viable trail bike, or is a full-suspension rig the only way to travel? Weigh in with the comments below.