Marin Toscana CX review

All-out fun machine

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £999.00 RRP

Our review

Despite its weight issues, the CX is great fun to ride
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The Toscana takes its inspiration from cyclo-cross race bikes but is designed primarily as a commuting workhorse.

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Ride & handling: Great geometry, excellent bar and razor sharp responses make this just all-out fun

Compared to a dedicated ‘cross bike, the Toscana feels somewhat hefty, weighing in at 25.3lb, but this isn’t a machine made for carrying in the heat (or should that be cold) of a winter series, it’s a bike intended as a commuter that can handle the rough stuff should the need arise.

And handle it it will. This sturdy machine positively inspires bad behaviour and on more than one occasion during our test period it has made for late starts in the office.

Its balance of agile handling and the long, low position made us want to leave our well worn paths and hit the singletrack trails usually reserved for mountain bikes.

The big volume front tyre combined with a good carbon fork keeps road buzz in check, and the disc-compatible wheels with their V-shaped rims are incredibly resilient.

They certainly stood up well to testing. We banged and crashed these over tree roots, drop-offs and steps with little in the way of finesse, and they’ve stayed straight and true with every slight misdemeanour.

The CX is not without some issues though. The frame is capable of almost any extreme behaviour you can throw at it, and obviously a lot of the knowledge Marin have gained from their top-flight mountain bikes is present here.

But this is also its fault. The frame is so rock solid and stiff that the ride can be pretty harsh, and what makes it nimble and flighty on the trails can be wearing on longer rides.

It’s not helped by the Marin’s Arione-alike saddle, which despite being deeply padded has a stiff hull – once the padded core compresses that’s all you can feel. A carbon seatpost would help and would be our first upgrade.

Marin Toscana CX
Marin toscana cx: marin toscana cx
www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk

Frame: Looks good, is well built and has all the braze-ons you’d ever need

The hugely hydroformed frame features a collection of shaped tubing that’s visually arresting, but how much the swoops, shapes and curves add to the riding quality is debatable, though it does look suitably rugged.

Marin claim that their use of hydroformed tubing is more than just cosmetic. Having each major tube broad at the joints and skinny in the middle provides a greater surface area for the welds and increased strength; the tubing is also size-specific, so no matter what size you need you will get the same characteristics.

The frame has eyelets for a rear mudguard and rack, and the stout carbon fork also has provision for mudguards and low-rider panniers.

Equipment: Great stoppers, handlebar and drivetrain, but saddle is poor and chainset a little dated

One major difference from a standard ’cross bike is the inclusion of Avid BB5 cable-operated disc brakes with 6in rotors (discs) front and rear.

They have a positive, crisp, dependable performance regardless of weather, and despite some initial rub which was quickly adjusted out at the calliper, they performed faultlessly.

The groupset is a combination of Shimano Tiagra rear mech, Sora front and the latest incarnation of Sora STI levers, and an FSA Vero triple chainset. Up front is our current favourite bar, FSA’s compact drop Vero.

Sora shifters might not sound the most exciting, but the 2010 incarnations have a top of the range Dura-Ace like shape, and combined with the Tiagra mechs shifting was crisp and quick, just like its more expensive brethren.

Which does make us wonder: with entry level groupsets now performing this well, at what point does it make the flagship sets irrelevant to all but those of the professional ranks?

The FSA Vero triple chainset is a capable performer, but it’s something you’d expect to see on bikes a couple of hundred quid cheaper than the CX.

It’s a three-piece design running on a dated square taper bottom bracket, but we can understand the need to compromise to accommodate the disc brakes.

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Wheels are the classic and dependable Mavic CXP22 rims laced to a pair of Shimano M525 disc hubs, shod with 35mm treaded Maxxis Overdrive tyres with puncture protection. The tread is more for road and path than traditional off-road ’cross tyres.

Great geometry, excellent bar and razor sharp responses make the Toscana all-out fun
Great geometry, excellent bar and razor sharp responses make the toscana all-out fun: great geometry, excellent bar and razor sharp responses make the toscana all-out fun
www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk

Product Specifications

Product

Name Toscana CX (10)
Brand Marin

Available Sizes 50 52 54 56 58 62cm
Stem Marin 6061 forged alloy, 11cm length, 4-bolt, 31.8mm bar clamp, 1 1/8in twin-bolt steerer clamp
Rear Wheel Weight 2430
Rims Mavic CXP22 machined alloy aero
Saddle Marin padded vinyl, cutouts, steel rails
Seat Angle 72
Seatpost Marin CS, 300mm length, 27.2mm dia, forged alloy twin-bolt clamp
Shifters Shimano Tiagra 9spd STI
Weight (kg) 11.47
Rear Tyre Overdrive
Weight (lb) 25.3
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 28.5
Chainstays (cm) 43.5
Seat Tube (cm) 53
Standover Height (cm) 83
Top Tube (cm) 58
Rear Tyre Size 700x35C
Rear Hub Shimano M525 high flange alloy
Bottom Bracket Sealed cartridge, square taper, steel spindle, steel cups
Frame Weight 1820
Brakes Avid BB5 cable discs, 160mm rotors
Cassette SRAM 11-26 9-speed
Cranks FSA Vero, forged alloy, square taper, 50T alloy ring, 39/30 steel, 175mm arms, 110mm bcd
Fork Carbon bladed unicrown, alloy 1 1/8in steerer, forged dropouts
Fork Weight 732
Frame Material Triple butted hydroformed aluminium, replaceable gear hanger and forged dropouts.
Front Derailleur Shimano Sora
Rear Derailleur Shimano Tiagra long cage
Front Hub Shimano M525 high flange alloy
Front Tyre Overdrive
Front Tyre Size 700x35C
Front Wheel Weight 1888
Handlebar FSA Vero compact shallow, alloy, 44cm wide
Head Angle 72
Headset Type FSA fully sealed integrated cartridges, 1 1/8in aheadset
Wheelbase (cm) 103.5