If you were to take a fast road bike and put it in a dark room overnight with a mean mountain bike, this is what would come out: The Marin Gestalt. The Marin line came about thirty years ago in the mountain bike cycling mecca of Marin County, California, carving out incredible mountain bikes from the dirt of places like Muirwoods, Bolinas Ridge, Pine Mountain, Indian Fire Trail, Eldridge Grade and Hidden Canyon. Now, the drop-bar line is gaining traction all over the country. Marin, never to be delayed in their cutting edge thinking, has some of the best drop-bar, gravelers on the market. Many times, gravel bikes in a main brand of bikes is nothing more than a road bike with knobby tires, but Marin designed a gravel bike that is quite the performer at around $1200.
Having just purchased my first gravel bike, after weeks of research, I chose to go with the Marin Gestalt. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but the form and function of the bike makes it incredibly comfortable and fast. Normally, one must decide between comfort and speed . . . not with the Gestalt. Although the maiden voyage on this bike was a “getting to know you” ride, I could feel the stiffness and nimbleness of the bike. Speaking of the bike’s reaction to movement, the frame is 6016 alloy. The bike is lighter (a smidge over 10kg) with internal routing, QR axles and rack and fender eyelets. The seat tube is cutout, allowing the wheel to come in, shortening the wheelbase for the snappier response I feel.
Rolling on Riddler WTB 37mm tires, tubeless ready, the Gestalt will accommodate up to 42mm. Personally, I think that Marin should have made a bigger tire standard on the bike, but I guess it shaves cost? The shifting of the 1X Sram GX drivetrain will take some getting use to (all of my other bikes are Shimano and Campagnolo), but seems to be spot on. The drop handlebars are flared and ride a bit higher (I was told that was normal on a gravel bike), but they are wrapped in Marin Shock Absorbing Perforated tape that feels great. The carbon fork is good to lighten the load and also helps in dampening the vibrations a bit.
Only a few rides in, I am very impressed with this bike. The one aspect that I lightly touched in the beginning was the aesthetics, but it is too good to be briefly mentioned. The paint job on this bike is incredible. The satin silver/gloss orange to black fade is one of the sickest factory paint schemes I have ever seen. Before the first ride, I slapped on paint protector film strips on the obviously vulnerable areas to keep the paint job looking new. I have feeling I am going to be seeing a LOT of dirt roads this off season.
- Balance: A
- Stiffness: A
- Weight: C+
- Design: A+
- Comfort: B+
- Responsive: A