When Oasis wrote the lyric back in 1996 which I’ve used in the title to this post, I’m sure it wasn’t related to a bicycle, and the 2009 Marin Rift Zone I’m referring to certainly isn’t the stellar explosion ‘Champagne Supernova’ that the song was about. Some say, rightly or wrongly, and it is not up for debate here, that the song is a about a relationship that has fallen apart, but the singer believes could still last forever. This is exactly how I feel about my Marin Rift Zone. Bikes, cars, people etc are just some of the subjects I can think of that creak, and if you have read my previous post about creaking things, you’ll be familiar with this Marin mountain bike. Annoyingly, after one ride since it’s strip down and a new bottom bracket, it’s started f@@@ing creaking again!
This bike has history as you’ll read in the next few paragraphs, but I have a plan for it to contribute to a better, future history. Here is the scene setter; I bought this Marin Rift Zone in 2010 from a discount e-com seller in the U.K. It was last seasons bike at the time. A 2009 model that I got for a good reduction. So far, so good.
The delivery company, not to be name-shamed here, made a really, really bad attempt at trying to do their job i.e. deliver my new bike to me. A brief knock on the front door on the Saturday morning, a note through the letter box, and the driver had gone. By the time I got to the door to read the ‘missed delivery note’, he or she had gone. I called delivery HQ and complained. I needed to take the bike to where I was working in Switzerland on the following Monday. Delivery HQ wasn’t ultra helpful, but said that I could pick up the bike from the distribution centre 25 miles away from our house that afternoon. They didn’t seem to be that interested in how pissed off I was. Neither was the f@@@ing distribution manager when I turned up to collect my bike. It was clearly interrupting his afternoon tea and football watching.
I arrive at the airport on the Monday morning at 6am and go straight to the KLM flight desk to pick up the bike box I had pre-ordered on-line through the KLM website. The desk didn’t have my box, nor did they even know that one could be booked on-line. They didn’t have any box either, but suggested I get some cardboard out of the re-cycling bin to wrap up my brand new bike. Having been out of bed since 4am, I’m starting to get pissed off again. I wrap my bike in cardboard pieces and then wave goodbye to it as it goes down the ‘over-size luggage’ conveyor belt.
The flight went from the U.K. to The Netherlands and then onto Switzerland. On boarding the next plane in the Netherlands, I see my ‘not so new anymore’ bike lying on the airport tarmac with most of its cardboard missing. On arrival in Switzerland, I stand by the Swiss version of the over-size luggage conveyor and wait for my bike to appear. Eventually, a man walks through some automatic doors carrying my bike and then leans it up against the wall and walks off. Anyone could’ve taken it.
I checked the bike and noticed that it had several scratches on it. There is no cardboard now protecting the bike at all. I only hope it was all recycled! I push the bike down through the baggage claim area and get summoned to the airport border police area by a man standing in a doorway. I am escorted to a table where another security man asks me for work permits, passport etc etc and asked why I was bringing a new bike into Switzerland, and importantly, did I know that I needed to pay import duty on it. I explain very calmly, that the bike will go back to the UK at the end of my temporary work mission, so no import duty should be paid. The two border guards look unimpressed, but decide to allow me into their country without charging me import duty on my new(ly) scratched bike. Long story short. I did complain to KLM and they did (eventually) pay for a few new parts to replace the scratched ones. Unfortunately, the frame and fork scratches are still there to this day.
Fast forward ten years and I’m still working in Switzerland and still have the Marin. I’ve never really bonded with the Marin for some reason. It is a really well engineered and manufactured frame, and it has a reputation for being a good bike, but it seems to take the energy out of my body and not send it to the rear tyre to turn into forward traction and movement. I don’t know where all of my energy goes, but it is kept inside that bike somewhere. The riding position is all wrong, and I can’t fix the ride the way I want it with the suspension settings either. The most annoying thing is that it creaks. I’ve had the whole bike apart, re-greased everything, replaced the bottom braket, greased the seat pin etc etc and it still bloody well creaks. It also doesn’t have a water bottle cage mount on the frame, so I need to use a Camelbak rucksack, which I don’t like to have on my back unless I’m out for more than 2 hours. Most disappointing is the fact that I have never, ever had at least one epic ride on it. All of the rides have been, just rides. My Champagne Supernova it certainly isn’t.
I decided one day recently to take the Marin out for a spin as I don’t use it much because of everything you’ve read above. The ride was hard work, not enjoyable and the sound track was ‘forever creaking’, so I decided on the ride that things needed to change. All of the parts on the bike are of a reasonable specification, it’s just the frame that doesn’t work for me. So, before the ride had even ended, I had made up my mind to get another frame and transfer all of the parts onto it, and draw a line under the whole saga. Me and the Marin Rift Zone were obviously not meant to be.
I’m a Cannondale lover at heart, so I thought that I would look out for a Cannondale hard-tail bike to put all of the Marin components on. I found a new-old-stock one pretty quickly on eBay, in the USA and quite cheaply. However, I did have to pay the usual Swiss import tax on it this time. It didn’t take long to transfer all of the parts over from the Marin-creaker to the new frame. The only things I bought extra was a shorty stem and a headset from top Cannondale experts https://qwertycycles.co.uk/ . That’s the build story summary, so let me introduce you to my Cannondale Trail SL 2 mountain bike, which was once a Marin mountain bike.
After the bike build, I was impatient to get out and give it a shakedown ride. Luckily, I can ride from the house straight into woodlands that then lead onto single tracks, that then lead to meadows, which end up in some rocky tracks etc etc and then back to the house for a session with the power washer and some Muc-Off. I have a several variants of this local ride and it’s good if I don’t have much time, because I can just jump on the bike and go.
The ride starts well, the weather is good, the bike is engaging, and even some cows in the field give it a glance as it flashes by. A couple of stops for some adjustments and I’m home again, but this time, with a big smile on my face. Admittedly, a dropper seat post would be nice, but it’s not a ‘life and death’ thing to buy right now.
So now that the shakedown has proven my build capability and also the set-up of the bike, it’s now time to ‘get high’ in that first, really epic, stellar explosive, Champagne Supernova ride……..coming to these pages soon!
Footnote: If you are wondering about the destiny of this (Size: medium) Marin Rift Zone frame, it is for sale and complete with seat pin, Fox shock, and headset. If you are interested in buying it and fancy the challenge of uncreaking it and living with it once and for all, email me for a price and shipping quote.
All Photos by the Author