Marin describes its Fairfax range as “built for the flat-bar fitness road rider”. It has a wide gear range, wide tyres for comfort and some rough-stuff aspirations, but perhaps most significantly, it has hydraulic disc brakes.
You won’t find a drop bar road bike with hydraulic disc brakes at anything like this price – and they make a world of difference compared to more commonly-specced mechanical disc brakes.
The frameset – not surprisingly at this modest price – is an all-aluminium affair, but there’s a bit of shaping going on with the flattened top-tube
The semi-compact frame features dropped seatstays which, along with the 35mm tyres, promise to offer a decent amount of comfort.
I’m a big fan of mounts for accessories on budget road bikes, which might well be pressed into commuting or shopping duties, so it’s great to see a full raft of bosses for front and rear full-cover mudguards and pannier bags, including separate bosses for the lower rack strut and low-rider fittings on the fork.
You could argue that top-tube ‘bento box’ mounts would have rounded out things nicely, but that would just be the icing on the cake.
The drivetrain is excellent for the price. A ‘hybrid’ at this price is going to be carrying a few extra grams – a little like the tester – so a wide range of gears, with an emphasis on the lower end of the range, is always welcome. And Marin hits the back of the net with the Fairfax 2.
Not only do you get 16 gears, but I was really pleased to see Marin plump for a sub-compact 46/30 crankset rather than the more common 50/34. I wish other companies would fit true compact cranksets.
Admittedly with only eight ratios on a wide-range 11-34 cassette, there are some largish jumps between gears, but that’s more than worth it for the excellent 24-113in gear range.
In theory, you could spin out on the 46×11 top gear, but at a cadence of 100rpm you’d be riding at an impressive 34mph, which isn’t really the Fairfax’s natural territory.
The bottom gear proved low enough for my local challenging climbs: I could sit in the saddle and spin comfortably, and the 24in bottom gear is really only insufficient for heavily loaded or extended touring, when you’ll need something closer to 20in.
This brings us to the brakes. Tektro’s M275s may be at the entry-level end of the hydraulic disc brake spectrum, but they are excellent. They’re also the sort of brakes that kick the rim brakes vs disc brakes argument into the long grass, hopefully permanently.
They really are that good. The action is light, the braking is powerful and controlled and they brought me to a dead halt from 30mph plus on the proverbial sixpence (look it up!). You don’t need to grab a fistful of lever to achieve this either – one finger was enough.
Marin Fairfax 2 geometry
|Seat angle (degrees)||73.5||73.5||73.5||73.5||73.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||70.5||70.5||70.5||70.5||70.5|
|Seat tube (mm)||380||430||480||520||550|
|Top tube (mm)||550||569.2||594.8||620.4||643.8|
|Head tube (mm)||140||155||175||195||225|
|Fork offset (mm)||50||50||50||50||50|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||70||70||70||70||70|
|Bottom bracket height (mm)||283.5||283.5||283.5||283.5||283.5|
The brakes complement what is a very nice ride indeed. The feel is confident and stable and there’s loads of comfort, too, helped by the 35mm Vee Tire tyres, which feel more supple – and are more expensive – than you’d expect to find on a bike at this price. The Fairfax is a great cruiser.
Get up to your cruising speed and you can carry on spinning comfortably hour after hour. The only limiting factor for me would be the inability to change the position of your hands, so I’d always recommend swapping to grips such as one of the Ergon GP range, which will give you an alternative handhold.
The low bottom gear meant I could tackle my local hills comfortably, helped by the confidence-inspiring hydraulic disc brakes.
You’re not going to be flying up hills or sprinting against your cycling mates on the Fairfax, but it would make a great commuter bike – short- or long-distance – while doubling up as bike for weekend rambles on road or track and trebling up as a flat-bar middleweight tourer.
|Price||AUD $999.00EUR €779.00GBP £665.00USD $699.00|
|Available sizes||XS, S, M, L, XL|
|Bottom bracket||Sealed cartridge bearings, square taper|
|Brakes||Tektro M275 hydraulic disc brakes, 160mm rotors|
|Cassette||SunRace 11-34 8-speed|
|Cranks||Forged alloy 46/30 with chainguard|
|Frame||Series 2 Fitness 6061 aluminium|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Tourney|
|Handlebar||Marin alloy flat|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Acera|
|Saddle||Marin Fitness Plush|
|Seatpost||Marin alloy 27.2mm|
|Stem||3D forged alloy|
|Tyres||700x35cc Vee Tire Zilent|
|Wheels||Marin aluminium double-wall rims, forged aluminium alloy hubs|