Having been at the forefront of the original 1980s mountain bike movement in the Californian county after which it is named, it should come as no surprise to see Marin doing something a little different with the Gestalt.
Its Beyond Road category is a range of drop-bar bikes including some all-out, off-road weapons. The Gestalt models stop shy of being the mountain bike-lite interpretation of gravel and are positioned by Marin as capable touring-style machines.
Their touring credentials are backed up by 32mm WTB Exposures tyres as standard. Up to 40mm tyres could be fitted, but that would leave less clearance if mudguards were fitted, for which there are mountings.
Plus, the alloy fork has low-rider rack mounts suggesting it’s aimed at the traditional commuting or touring market.
On the road the Gestalt feels light and competent, the short chainstays helping the back end feel precise and flickable.
Head for the trails found alongside canals and on many bike paths and the Marin feels confident, almost pushing to be ridden on more technical, pure gravel bike terrain; and yet that’s where the tyres struggled during testing.
Bigger tyres would allow lower pressures to be run and increase the bike’s potential, and 650b wheels would be an interesting switch to achieve the larger volume rubber.
That’s where the quick-release nature of the wheels may throw in some difficulties because most upgrades from this point would be bolt-thru only. While not ruling out upgrades entirely, it’s worth checking replacement wheels come with the correct hub standards, or at least adaptors to make them fit.
The bars have a good amount of flare and offer an incredibly comfortable riding position. The steerer tube is left with a generous amount of height adjustment, and the stem, supplied mounted in the upturned position, gave an upright riding position.
Shimano Claris shifters and mechs are a tier below the Sora found on the other bikes I had on test, but they offer shifting competence.
It’s not uncommon to find the odd flaw with cranks at this price point and below. However, the pressed steel chainrings of the FSA chainset were sufficiently out of true that the front derailleur could not be set up in any manner, which meant the chain would not rub in any gear aside from the small chainring and largest few sprockets on the cassette. Whether this is down to manufacturing or damage in transit is unclear.
The combination of a KMC chain and SunRace cassette isn’t unusual below the £1,000 mark, but they shift as well as you’d hope paired with Shimano mechs, and the gear range is sufficient for hills and blasting along the flat.
As well as disappointing shifting, I was also let down by the braking combination of Promax Render R calipers and Jagwire cables. The caliper, having one static pad and one mobile, means that the disc rotor has to be set up extremely close to the static side to have any chance of not feeling spongey.
This is usually caused by the rotor being flexed by the moving pad to get it to contact the static side, and if the rotor happens to be warped, there’s no getting away from the consistent rubbing because the static rotor is, well… static.
The rear brake also had the terminal feel that the cable was pulling through. It wasn’t, but while the front brake felt fairly solid, the rear was vague and lacked power.
Having been pummelled harder than they would ideally allow, the wheels held up admirably in spite of the rear being ridden home flat when I didn’t check my kit adequately. Not advisable, but neither the tyre nor rim appear to have been affected.
The Gestalt is a bike with a huge amount of potential and represents a long-term investment. The frame is begging for some better components, and if this is a bike you plan to do a lot of miles on, it’s a comfortable, capable option – upgrading as and when the stock parts wear out.
Marin Gestalt geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||74.5||74||73.5||73.5||73||73|
|Head angle (degrees)||71||72||72||72||72||72.5|
|Seat tube (cm)||47||49||51||53||55||57|
|Top tube (cm)||52||53.5||54.5||56.5||58.5||60|
|Head tube (cm)||12||13.5||15||17||19||21|
|Bottom bracket drop (cm)||7.2||7.2||7.2||7.2||7.2||7.2|
|Bottom bracket height (cm)||27.1||27.1||27.1||27.1||27.1||27.1|
|Crank length (cm)||17||17||17.5||17.5||17.5||17.5|
How we tested
We tested four bikes costing roughly £1,000 that on paper offer levels of versatility that will make them astute purchases for those looking for a bike that’s fit for more than one purpose.
Also on test
- Boardman ADV 8.8
- Whyte Dorset
- Pinnacle Arkose D2
|Price||AUD $1399.00EUR €899.00GBP £795.00USD $889.00|
|Available sizes||50, 52, 54, 58, 60cm|
|Headset||FSA No. 8B|
|Tyres||WTB Exposure Comp, 700x32mm|
|Stem||Marin 3D forged|
|Saddle||Marin Beyond Road Concept|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Claris|
|Handlebar||Marin butted alloy, compact 12-degree flared drop|
|Bottom bracket||Sealed bearing square taper|
|Frame||Series 2 Beyond Road, 6061 aluminium|
|Cranks||FSA Tempo Compact, 50/34t|
|Brakes||Promax Render-R mechanical discs|
|Wheels||Marin aluminium double wall rims, forged aluminium hubs|