Marin's do-it-all gravel bike range seems to be going from strength to strength in recent years, with a solid offering of versatile dirty drop-bar bikes that have now been joined by the all-new carbon-framed Headlands range. We've got our hands on the only one in the UK, so read on for the lowdown.
Costing £2,195, this Headlands 1 is the entry-level machine in the two-bike range, with the £2,595 Headlands 2 sharing the same all-carbon fibre frame and fork but getting some spec upgrades over the SRAM Apex 1 based drivetrain we've got here.
That's all pretty keen pricing for a brand that still sells through bricks'n'mortar bike shops and it's been achieved with some smart spec choices. While SRAM's Apex 1 group provides the hydraulic disc brakes, brake/shifter units and rear mech, the bike uses an 11-speed 10-42T cassette from SunRace and a no-name crankset that uses outboard bearings. While those might be downgrades on paper, they're unlikely to have little impact on the ride, which is fine by us.
The carbon frame uses Marin's mountain-bike inspired geometry that we've got on well with before, with relatively slack angles - 71.5º at the head for this 54cm model - good standover height plus a short stem and long top tube. That should give planted off-road handling without feeling totally lazy when you do use it on tarmac. The fact the bike is single ring specific has also allowed Marin to keep the chainstays short, too.
It's also absolutely covered in cage mounts - Marin describes them as being 'plentiful' - with a load inside the front triangle to fit many, many cages or Marin's mooted new design for strap-free bikepacking bags. There's also a bento box mount on the top tube and you can stick full mudguards or a rack on there if you like too. There's internal cable routing for everything and you can use an internally routed dropper post if you fancy getting all genre-bendy.
The bike comes with Marin's own hubs and 700c rims shod in 40mm Schwalbe G-One Performance rubber, with 12mm through axles at either end. You can go up to a 45mm tyre with 700c rims or a plump 47mm with 650b hoops too. While the rims are tubeless-ready, the tyres aren't, which is a bit of a shame. Still, we've had success in the past by just using a lot of tubeless sealant and a new set of tyres won't break the bank should you wish to upgrade (you should).
Finishing gear is mostly Marin's own brand kit, with an alloy seatpost and slightly flared flat top bar, 420mm wide on medium and under and 440mm on sizes above.
We're rather looking forward to getting out on this for a full test soon, while the bikes are available to buy right now.
[Note: This is a production frame but the eagle-eyed might notice it doesn't have final graphics, just decals. There's a proper fade paint job on the bikes you can buy in the shops]
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