Forget the Spandex biking shorts. For a new wave of mountain bikers, mouth guards, goggles and full body armor are standard equipment.
These bikers, which Marin Bikes says are generally in the 15- to 21-year-old age group, have brought BMX-type tricks and aggressiveness to the sport of mountain biking. Jumping dirt cliffs, riding down stairs and airing off industrial loading docks are all in a day’s ride.
The Rocky Ridge, a hybrid mountain bike with a reinforced 7005 aluminum frame and durable components, was made for this group of bikers, who are notoriously hard on equipment.
A long-travel Marzocchi front shock absorbs hard landings. The smaller crank and gears give good clearance for riding over logs. Stout disc brakes let you stop on a dime.
The bike is slow and relatively heavy, though. For tricks, jumping and downhill biking — the areas this model was built for — you do not need road-bike speed, and Marin includes only medium-size gears. So biking around town on the Rocky Ridge is a bit slow and frustrating. Also, the bike’s reinforced frame and beefy components put its weight at about 35 pounds.
I had a lot of fun on this bike jumping curbs and riding fast and hard on trails. Big, fat tires, great handling in snow, mud and sand, and an overall solid build makes the Rocky Ridge feel like a tank.
(Note: The Rocky Ridge is the flagship bike in Marin’s new A-XC line. If you’re interested in this bike concept but do not want to spend $1,000, Marin has two cheaper models with reinforced frames and different components. The Wildcat Trail model is $799; the B-17, $599.)
Price: Rocky Ridge, $999.
Contact: Marin Bikes, 800.222.7557, http://www.marinbikes.com.