- Well balanced agile bike
- Good turn of speed
- Thoughtful cockpit components
- Brakes are poor performers
- Alloy fork gives a hard ride compared to carbon
The Marin Gestalt is the least expensive bike in the brand's ‘beyond road’ line up. The gravel and adventure bike is slightly portly and only has an alloy fork but it’s surprisingly agile to ride with a good turn of speed. You will have to give serious thought to spending the extra dollar on the Gestalt 1 or 2 though as the base model Gestalt is probably best left on the pavement.
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The Gestalt uses Marin’s Series 2 frame utilising 6016 alloy, this means you get a lightweight frame, internal routing, QR axels and rack and fender eyelets. We've been previously impressed by the lightweight nature of Marin's mountain bikes and this bike is no different. Weighing in at 10.9kg (24.1lbs) the bike carries it’s weight well and is an agile ride. Other pricier bikes in the range ( and the Gestalt X11 we reviewed previously) use the brands Series 3 6061 aluminium Beyond Road frame, giving the bike flat mount discs and 142x12mm thru-axels front and rear.
The Gestalt we tested gets two bottle mounts inside the frame and rack and fender mounts where you need them, there also looks like there is plenty of room for larger tyres too, the Gestalt X11 gets 700x37mm tyres, whereas our test bike rolls on 700x32mm Schwalbe G-One Speed tyres. Marin says there is room in the frame and fork for up to 700x35c tyres, so there is plenty of room to fit something wider and knobblier if more off-road forays take your fancy.
Our alloy Gestalt gets an alloy fork too and a sealed bearing square taper bottom bracket which is a cheap and heavier choice. This can be replaced with a threaded BB but you'd need to replace the 50/34t crankset too. The drivetrain comes from Shimano in the form of 2x8 Claris and the brakes are Promax Render cable actuated discs. The gearing isn’t that plentiful and given any steep off-road climbs and you’ll be wishing for a bit more range but for flatter trail and road foray’s the drivetrain does its job well. It is worth noting though that the Gestalt 1 only gets a 11-32T cassette whereas the Gestalt here gets an 11-34T, both from Sunrace and an odd spec difference.
The brakes provide pitiful stopping ability, I’m not a fan of mechanical disc brakes and these have just put the nail in the coffin. They lack power, you need to use all your might to squeeze the lever close to the bars to exert any kind of power and I found myself applying the brakes earlier than I usually would to make sure I stopped in adequate time.
The Tektro dual piston brakes plus the addition of a carbon fork on the Gestalt 2 are two very good reasons to spend the extra £350 and buy the top speced bike over the regular Gestalt. The Gestalt 1 seems a little redundant in the range at £250 more than our Gestalt but only £100 less than the Gestalt 2.
The Gestalt 2 is an all-round package with a better crankset and 10speed with an 11-34T cassette. The carbon fork will help delay the fatigue felt in hands and arms when riding the Gestalt and the Tektro brakes, whilst not hydraulic, do at least provide some modicum of stopping power.
The wheels are a Marin own brand affair, with Marin 19mm inner width rims and Marin hubs. The tyres used are Schwalbe G-One Speed which are 700x 32c, these are a more road orientated that we might expect on a gravel bike though, they rolled pretty quickly on and off road but are no match for any mud. Buy this bike to be your commuter and they will be a good, robust partner for the roads and pavements. The finishing kit on the Gestalt is all own brand kit too, there's a Marin saddle, a Marin 60mm stem on our 50cm test bike and 400mm wide bars with a 12º flared drop.
Geometrywise the bike gets a 71° head angle, a 74.5° seat tube angle, the first steeper and the second figure slacker than the Gestalt X11. Our Gestalt also gets longer seat tubes, higher standovers, longer effective top tubes, a slightly higher bottom bracket and shorter reach figures than its Gestalt X10/x11 brothers. Both bikes get the same short chainstay (415mm) and the same figures for head tube lengths.
Get riding and I was immediately met with the feeling that I was sat on a bike that was designed by a mountain biker. As Dave said in his Gestalt X11 reivew, the Gestalt range owes a lot to its mountain bike cousins with a wide bar, a short stem. The cockpit set up allowed my weight to feel centred on the bike, it gives the bike and agile feel and a comfortable, confidence-inspiring place to descend, well relatively given the fact that I had absolutely no faith in the brakes. I did have fun blatting round the forest roads in the Forest of Dean where the Gestalt is a nimble ride, with the tweak of slightly larger volume tyre it could offer more grip and vibration damping too, an easy upgrade if you fancy it.
The Gestalt in this spec is held back where it’s off-road capabilities are concerned though, the alloy fork will make long hours in the saddle tiresome and the groupset could do with a brake upgrade as I’ve already mentioned. It will, however, be a reliable commuting partner as long as there aren’t any super steep hills on your way to work where you might want a few more gears or a little less weight. For £750 it’s a bargain workhorse but given that the cycle to work scheme is now uncapped, it might make more sense to plug straight into the versatile, better specced all-rounder, the Gestalt 2 for £350 more.
These cheap calipers are downright dangerous. At the very least they should have bigger rotors.