The products mentioned in this article are selected or reviewed independently by our journalists. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our opinion.

Marin Gestalt review

Gravel bike that wants to travel

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
GBP £795.00 RRP | USD $889.00 | EUR €899.00 | AUD $1,399.00
Pack shot of the Marin Gestalt gravel road bike

Our review

Potentially a classic, but in need of some changes
Pros: Superb frame; handles like a dream
Cons: Hampered by questionable component choices
Skip to view product specifications

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.

Advertisement

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.

Marin Gestalt has quick-release Marin aluminium double wall rims
Could the quick-release prove a problem for upgrades?
David Caudery / Immediate Media

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.

The Marin Gestalt gravel bike uses a Marin butted alloy handlebar
The bars which have a 12-degree flared drop are very comfortable.
David Caudery / Immediate Media

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.

Cyclist in bright orange top riding the Marin Gestalt gravel bike
A good bike let down by some technical difficulties.
Robert Smith / Immediate Media

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.

Advertisement

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

505254565860
Seat angle (degrees)74.57473.573.57373
Head angle (degrees)717272727272.5
Chainstay (cm)41.541.541.541.541.541.5
Seat tube (cm)474951535557
Top tube (cm)5253.554.556.558.560
Head tube (cm)1213.515171921
Bottom bracket drop (cm)7.27.27.27.27.27.2
Bottom bracket height (cm)27.127.127.127.127.127.1
Wheelbase (mm)993.1994.3999.41,019.901,034.601,044.50
Standover (cm)71.373.275.177.479.381.3
Stack (cm)54.2556.0457.4759.3761.2763.38
Reach (cm)36.9637.4337.4838.9139.7740.62
Crank length (cm)171717.517.517.517.5

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

Product Specifications

Product

Price AUD $1399.00EUR €899.00GBP £795.00USD $889.00
Weight 11.27kg (54cm)
Brand Marin

Features

Available sizes 50, 52, 54, 58, 60cm
Headset FSA No. 8B
Tyres WTB Exposure Comp, 700x32mm
Stem Marin 3D forged
Shifter Shimano Claris
Seatpost Marin alloy
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
Fork 6061 aluminium
Cranks FSA Tempo Compact, 50/34t
Chain KMC Z8
Cassette SunRace 11-32
Brakes Promax Render-R mechanical discs
Wheels Marin aluminium double wall rims, forged aluminium hubs