Marin Dominican  £525.00

7/10

Well built urban fixer that's fun to ride and easy on the eye

Weight 9520g   Contact www.marin.co.uk

by Dave Atkinson   June 7, 2010  

There's so many people on the fixed bandwagon these days that it's probably looking a bit like a slow train on the Indian subcontinent by now. That's no bad thing if it means that we get better bikes, and economies of scale mean that they drop in price. The Marin Dominican certainly fits the bill on the first point: it's a very capable and well put together bike that's a fun ride straight out of the box. And the second? well, it's not a steal at £525 but it is decent value for the build quality and the kit you're getting, so we're not really complaining.

 

The Dominican's frame is a 4130 Cromoly offering that's well put together with tidy welds and subtly shaped tubes, it's matched to a gently curved steel fork. Geometry is not too aggressive, with our large size running a 570mm effective top tube and shortish head tube that's tempered a bit by the riser bars, giving a good position for town riding. The bike is nicely specced both in terms of the quality of the kit and the aesthetics. Tektro dual pivot callipers front and rear are operated by 'cross levers, and the rear cable is attached with stainless cable clips so you can remove it if you want to flip the unbranded high flange flip-flop hub at the rear. There's a matching front hub and they're laced with black spokes to green Alex semi-deep rims that have a machined braking surface. You get good quality Vittoria Zaffiro folding tyres too.

A Sturmey Archer chainset with a 44T ring drives a 17T freewheel or fixed sprocket, depending on your preference, giving a 69in gear that'll probably spin out a bit too easily if you live somewhere flat but is welcome in the hilly South West. The narrow risers are the minimum width current new bike legislation will allow – I found them just about right but I have fairly broad shoulders – and the saddle is a Regal-alike that's comfy enough.

The first thing I had to do was swap out the seatpost: being fairly long in the leg I tend to run a lot of 'post and the 250mm one supplied wasn't long enough, in spite of the fact that otherwise the bike fitted me very well. The next thing I did was stop at a friendly Kwik-Fit to borrow an adjustable spanner so I could tighten up the rear track nuts! My fault for not checking before I set off. Out on the 'mean' streets of Bath the Dominican was a joy, the sub-1m wheelbase and low weight making it feel responsive and very chuckable in traffic. The frame gives a good ride, there's pleny of stiffness for when you're stamping away from the lights but it feels springy like a steel frame should. It's not overbuilt and the thin stays and 28mm tyres soak up plenty of chatter from badly surfaced roads.

The Dominican's main test while on test was the Bath Parklife Alleycat, a 17-mile stomp around the bandstands of the city and surrounding towns (well, Saltford). It was a good mix of riding: a thrash through the London Road traffic, a long, flat TT down the Avon valley and some stiff climbs with a 3-lap blast round a sleeping-policeman-strewn park to finish. To its credit the Marin felt at home on every part of the ride, even the long, flat schlep out to the farthest reaches. Okay the gear was a bit short for the downhills but I was glad it wasn't any tougher on the final climb, and the position and handling were well set up for the final sprint over the speed humps. 17 miles is about as far as you're ever likely to ride a bike such as this, but it could easily have taken me much further if I hadn't binned myself on that final grind...

When you're at an event like an alleycat riding a brand new bike you feel a bit of a johnny-come-lately; there's a long tradition of building fixed bikes from the parts bin and there were plenty of well-loved machines there. That's not for everyone though, and there's definitely a place for an off-the-peg fixed, you've only got to look at Charge's success with the Plug and Felt's with the Brougham to see that. Bikes like those two are the most obvious competitors and in terms of bangs per buck you're getting a similar package for a similar price here. From an aesthetic point of view there's lots to like about the Marin: it doesn't look like it's trying too hard and the subtle branding – more about 'Dominican' than 'Marin' is easy on the eye. Add to that the fact that it's a fun, responsive ride and it's a definite competitor in this market.

Verdict

Well built urban fixer that's fun to ride and easy on the eye

road.cc test report

Make and model: Marin Dominican

Size tested: L

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame: 4130 Cromoly, with Rear Facing Dropouts

Fork: Cromoly Road

Cranks: Sturmey Archer 5-Arm Track, with a 44T Chainring

Bottom Bracket: Sealed Cartridge

Pedals: Traditional Old Style Road with an Alloy Cage, Steel Toe Clip and Leather Strap

Front Derailleur: N/A

Rear Derailleur: N/A

Shifters: N/A

Cassette: 17T Cog Freewheel / 17T Fixed gear

Chain: KMC 1/2" x 1/8"

Front Hub: High Flange Track, 32 Hole, with Sealed Bearings

Rear Hub: High Flange Track, 32 Hole, Flip Flop, Freewheel and Fixed Gear

Rims: Alex Race28, Deep Section Aero Profile Double Wall, 32 Hole with CNC Side Walls

Front Tyre: Vittoria Zaffiro, 700 x 28c with Folding Kevlar Bead and Puncture Resistant Belt

Rear Tyre: Vittoria Zaffiro, 700 x 28c with Folding Kevlar Bead and Puncture Resistant Belt

Front Brake: Dual Pivot

Rear Brake: Dual Pivot

Brake Levers: Flatbar Road

Handlebar: Singlesbar, 6061 Mini Riser, OS-31.8mm

Headset: Alloy Cup, Black, 1 1/8" Threadless

Stem: Marin Alloy, Threadless

Grips: Micro Knurl, 110mm Wide

Saddle: Classic Road

Seat Post: Comp Alloy Micro Adjust, 27.2mm x 250mm

Size: Small, Medium or Large

Colour: Fridge White

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

The Urban Singles range are a dedicated fixed gear/flip flop bike, in cities currently dominated by the automobile. Would you rather have the freedom of a low maintenance machine? Brakes or no brakes: you decide, this has to be cycling in its purest form. Now spawned from the courier riders’ need for an uncomplicated workhorse, to be used daily without the need for new cables, brake pads or expensive drive train parts. Flowing in and out of the urban sprawl has become an art form, from the clothes that they wear, to the skill needed to pilot a fixie on the intimidating city streets. You too could become a part of this subculture.

So much for the chuff about subcultures and that, but fixed/singlespeed bikes do work in an urban environment and this is a decent one

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Tidy rather than perfect, but a good looking frame

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

4130 Cromoly throughout

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

The 570mm effective top tube was fine for town, the head tube is quite short but risers add a bit of front-end height

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Nice springy feel from the frame, easy rolling from the wheels

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too felxible?

Just about right for town

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

one speed drivetrain always feels direct and efficient, this one no exception

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

just a touch and it wasn't a problem

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? pretty lively

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

shortish risers and tight wheelbase make it easy to move about

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
7/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
7/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Your verdict

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, good fun about town

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes if I was in the market for a s/s town bike

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, if they were a smart city girl.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 190cm  Weight: 96kg

I usually ride: whatever I\\\'m testing...  My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with Ultegra 6700

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

 

12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Can you stop reviewing "fixies" please? I can't be the only person that is thoroughly bored of seeing these reviews. What is there to say about a bike with no gears, only designed for posing around town on?

posted by greennoodle [7 posts]
9th June 2010 - 1:39

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personally i'd rather people were on bikes than off them. ever been to a sportive? your bike doesn't need to have one gear to be primarily for posing on Thinking

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [228 posts]
9th June 2010 - 7:03

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heh - the anti-fixed hating has begun.

in fairness, there are plenty of geared reviews, and if you are bored of reading fixed gear reviews, you might like to consider stopping reading them.

jezzzer's picture

posted by jezzzer [335 posts]
9th June 2010 - 7:15

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I'm all for more people riding bikes and if people trying to be trendy promotes riding - great.

There's just pretty much sod all you can say about the actual bikes themselves and I can't help thinking there are more interesting bikes out there to review.

Like bikes that are actually used for races, trails, tours - you know exciting stuff.

posted by greennoodle [7 posts]
9th June 2010 - 7:20

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Just because a bike only has one gear doesn't mean there's any less to say about it, for a start what sort of terrain and riding is the one gear it has going to suit? On a geared bike we're going to talk about the range of gears and the slickness, or otherwise, of changing them which isn't that much more info.

Lack of gears throws more attention on the other equipment choices and crucially how the bike handles - a big issue on a bike that's likely to be nipping in and out of urban traffic, it's also somewhere where you can see the bikes evolving a bit as some manufacturers move away from pure track geometry and introduce more road bike elements.

Don't worry though greennoodle, we've got plenty reviews of other types of bike coming up in the next few weeks, including race bikes from Felt, Kinesis and Sabbath + tourers from Revolution and Kona, we've got a couple of singlespeeds too, the Cannondale Capo and the Trek District Carbon - neither of which could be described as boring.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4072 posts]
9th June 2010 - 8:20

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I always thought the key components of a bike were the frame and wheels, so not sure how a lack of gears means nothing to review. I don't ride fixed, but do like my single-speed for town riding - it's lack of gears makes it reliable and low on maintenance. if you'd seen it, you certainly wouldnt say it was for posing... Please keep reviewing all sorts of different bikes - variety is interesting!

posted by step-hent [612 posts]
9th June 2010 - 9:08

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Sorry maybe I was being overly grumpy. I think it was just this review hot on the heels of the Mongoose one that did it.

posted by greennoodle [7 posts]
9th June 2010 - 9:58

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RoadCC is not always a roadie mag, sometimes fixie, sometimes gears and tourers-why not?

Makes a change from reading roadbike after roadbike review.

I'm no fixie fanboy but I do like bikes B)

Quite liked the cheaper Mongoose too but I like the options to have a freewheel on these bikes.

Just don't start reviewing mtbs please!

Zaskar's picture

posted by Zaskar [137 posts]
9th June 2010 - 21:40

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Yep, road.cc is about road riding in it's broadest sense - we're interested in every aspect of riding on the road from commuting to competing and all points in between, and we're certainly interested in all sorts of bikes (be writing about my new one soon) -we definitely need to do some more touring bikes and we need to review a tandem or two as well I reckon. Don't worry we won't be reviewing MTBs any time soon Zaskar, not cos we don't like 'em - Dave's been out riding one today, but simply because they are well covered elsewhere, Singletrack for instance.

Probably be a few cross bikes coming this way soon though Smile

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4072 posts]
9th June 2010 - 21:51

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If it doesn't have springs, then it's a 'real' bike Smile

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posted by simonmb [360 posts]
10th June 2010 - 9:16

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No excitement on a fixie? try a steep hill on a low fixed gear, around a 58" without touching the brakes, 160, 170 rpm is plenty exciting.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [838 posts]
8th July 2010 - 20:28

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antonio wrote:
No excitement on a fixie? try a steep hill on a low fixed gear, around a 58" without touching the brakes, 160, 170 rpm is plenty exciting.

Just to clarify, that'll be going down, rather than up, yeah?

If not, you really should be in Lycra and in France right now.

Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [6973 posts]
8th July 2010 - 20:44

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