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Verdict: 
A versatile and confidence-inspiring do-anything machine that's decent value too
Weight: 
10,500g
Contact: 
Marin Gestalt 2
8 10

Whether you need something to act as drop bar commuter, gravel adventurer or just a hugely versatile road machine, Marin's Gestalt 2 is likely to win you over with confident handling, even if the frame and fork can be a little unforgiving at times.

The Gestalt 2 is the middle bike in Marin's 'Beyond Road' range, hitting that all-important £1,000 Cycle To Work scheme price limit on the head, making it an attractive prospect as a standalone do-it-all machine or to supplement a mountain or road bike. Note, this is the 2017 model; it's relatively unchanged for 2018, though it is £150 more.

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The bike comes with 700C wheels shod in 30mm rubber, though there's decent enough clearance to go a bit fatter if you want. The butted aluminium frame is disc brake only and the fork has carbon legs but a straight 1 1/8in aluminium steerer. If you want a tapered steerer and thru-axles, you'll have to spring for the more expensive Gestalt 3. There's a full complement of mounts for racks and guards though, while the smooth welds and satin paint finish make the bike look like a higher dollar machine than it really is.

Marin Gestalt 2_.jpg

Marin Gestalt 2_.jpg

As befits a bike that straddles the divide between road and mountain biking, the kit is picked from both camps. The drivetrain is a rather clever mix. SRAM's 10-speed X7 mountain bike mech, with a clutch to help prevent the chain falling off, is paired to a no-name aluminium chainset with an external bottom bracket and single 42T ring with a narrow-wide tooth profile to keep things secure at that end. The cassette is a neat, wide-range 11-42T item from Sunrace and the shifting is via SRAM's Apex Double Tap levers.

Marin Gestalt 2 - rear mech.jpg

Marin Gestalt 2 - rear mech.jpg

Marin Gestalt 2 - crank.jpg

Marin Gestalt 2 - crank.jpg

It took a bit of tweaking to get the setup shifting as I wanted, with special attention to the B-tension screw on the mech being the secret to smooth gear changes, and once sorted it proved reliable.

Getting the gearing right for both on and off-road use is always going to be extremely tricky, but the ratios were about as good as you could expect. On the road it felt a touch gappy and I'd sometimes be hunting between ratios to get the right cadence. It's also fairly easy to spin out the 42T front ring once you start descending. Off-road, that's all much less of an issue, with the lowest ratio making some really rather steep climbs possible, provided you don't mind getting out of the saddle and stomping a knee-grinding cadence.

Marin Gestalt 2 - riding 3.jpg

Marin Gestalt 2 - riding 3.jpg

Less impressive are the TRP Spyre-C cable-operated disc brakes. Even with 160mm rotors, performance is best described as gutless and the lack of initial bite was rather unnerving at times. With a hefty enough pull, they would haul you up fairly well, and while most rim brakes would give a more positive feel, at least the discs were consistently average no matter the conditions.

Marin Gestalt 2 - front disc.jpg

Marin Gestalt 2 - front disc.jpg

Much more of a highlight was the performance of the lightly dotted tread of the Schwalbe G-One tyres, rolling quickly on hardpack with a decent amount of grip in the dirt. At 30mm wide, they offered decent cushioning, though I'd suggest sizing up as much as possible if you intend to do a lot of off-road riding. I reckon you could squeeze a 35mm in there without any clearance issues, and maybe even bigger.

Marin Gestalt 2 - fork.jpg

Marin Gestalt 2 - fork.jpg

The wheelset is functional and unflashy, with tough double wall rims laced to cup and cone bearing hubs. The rear one needed a bit of adjustment love as it came loose fairly early on in the test, but after getting tightened back up it was fine from them on. Neither rims nor tyres are tubeless compatible, but it'd be easy enough to replace the rubber and convert the rims with a kit, something that would make a lot of sense to give greater comfort and security off-road.

Marin Gestalt 2 - tyre.jpg

Marin Gestalt 2 - tyre.jpg

Marin's experience in the world of mountain biking comes through in the geometry. At 172cm tall, I rode the 54cm frame and the reach of 373mm was spot on, with the fairly small stem and slightly flared 420mm bar. The head angle of 72.25 degrees and seat angle of 73 degrees vary with sizing, but they felt felt just right to me, striking a good balance between feeling lively on the road but not too nervous when you take it off the tarmac. In fact, I was pretty impressed with how steep and technical the terrain got before the Gestalt felt out of its depth.

Marin Gestalt 2 - riding 2.jpg

Marin Gestalt 2 - riding 2.jpg

In fact, the main criticism of the Gestalt 2 that I can offer is that it's a pretty unforgiving ride if you're in sustained rough and washboard gravel roads. The skinny 27.2mm seatpost and Marin's own 'Shock Absorbing Microfibre' bar tape do their best, but the pretty stiff frame and fork plus fairly narrow rubber still give you a kicking, which makes itself known on a long day out off-road riding, though it's fine if you stick to road or smoother trails.

Marin Gestalt 2 - bars.jpg

Marin Gestalt 2 - bars.jpg

Being realistic, it's roads and cyclepaths where the Gestalt will see the majority of use and it's a great bike for city centre riding or back road carving, with a little off-road detouring thrown in.

> Buyer's Guide: 17 of the best bikes for less than £1,000

Viewed through the lens of a versatile do-anything machine rather than a hardcore gravel racer, the Gestalt 2 is a great bike at a good price, with handling that'll be instantly familiar to mountain bikers, and confidence-inspiring for road cyclists who want to get off the beaten track once in a while.

Verdict

A versatile and confidence-inspiring do-anything machine that's decent value too

road.cc test report

Make and model: Marin Gestalt 2

Size tested: Medium

About the bike

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

Frame: Series 3 6061 Aluminum, 700c Wheels, Relieved Head Tube and BB, Internal Cable Routing, Post Mount Disc Specific Forged Dropouts

Suspension/Fork Specs

Front Fork: Carbon w/ Alloy Steerer, Post-Mount Disc

Drivetrain Specs

Crankset: Forged Alloy 1x10, Hollow CrMo Spindle, Narrow-Wide 42T

Derailleur Rear: SRAM X7 Type 2.1 w/Clutch

Shift Lever: SRAM Apex 1x10-Speed

Cassette: Sunrace 10-Speed, 11-42T

Bottom Bracket: External Sealed Cartridge Bearing

Chain: KMC X10

Wheels Specs

Hub Rear: Formula, 6-Bolt Disc, 32H

Hub Front: Formula, 6-Bolt Disc, 32H

Rim: Maddux FR240, Double Wall, Disc Specific, 19mm Inner

Spokes Nipples: 14g Black Stainless Steel

Tires: Schwalbe G-ONE Performance, 700x30C, Kevlar Puncture Protection, Folding

Brake Specs

Brakes Front: Tektro Spyre-C Road Mechanical Disc, 160mm Rotor

Brakes Rear: Tektro Spyre-C Road Mechanical Disc, 160mm Rotor

Brake Levers: SRAM Apex DoubleTap

Cockpit

Handlebar: Marin Compact 12 degree Flared Drop, Flat Top

Grips: Marin Shock Absorbing Microfiber Tape

Stem: Marin 3D Forged Alloy

Headset: FSA No.8B

Seatpost: Marin Alloy

Saddle: Marin Endurance Concept

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?

Marin says: "Looking to get Beyond Road? The all-new Gestalt 2 can take you there, whether the road is paved or not. Our lightweight, butted aluminum Series 3 frame is matched with a lightweight, vibration-damping carbon-bladed fork. Drivetrain duties are handled by a dependable SRAM 1x10 drivetrain with a wide-range 11-42t cassette. Tektro mechanical disc brakes provide confidence-inspiring stopping power, while Schwable's sublime G-ONE folding bead, 30c tires roll smoothly on road and provide a surprising amount of grip on dirt. Integrated rack and fender mounts also help to make the Gestalt 2 an excellent choice for commuting or light touring."

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

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

The matt finish paint is really nice and the smooth welds help it look clean too.

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

Aluminium butted main frame, fork has carbon legs with alloy steerer.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

It's a fairly relaxed machine, with geometry that's aimed to be stable and confident off-road rather than lightning sharp on it. Mountain bikers will feel instantly at home.

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

The front end is pleasantly high for a good position when off-road and there's decent reach in the frame to go with the shorter than average stem.

Riding the bike

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

It's not bad on the road, but you can definitely feel a fair bit of stiffness in the frame and fork when you take it off-road – it'll beat you up on a long day in the dirt. It's perfectly fine elsewhere, though.

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

The fork isn't the most forgiving, though it is pretty accurate when steering and under braking. The frame isn't bad but there's a limit to the compliance that an affordable aluminium frame can give.

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

It was efficient and direct.

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

Nope!

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral, but in a good way.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

I'd go for larger volume tyres for off-road use and convert to tubeless too.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10

Pretty good and direct.

Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10

Slightly muted by the weight but it's still pretty sprightly.

Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10

It's nice and direct when you stamp on the pedals.

Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10

Fairly relaxed geometry makes it a pleasure at speed, on or off-road.

Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10

It's a pleasant and untwitchy bike that won't catch you out.

Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
8/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
7/10

It's a bit gappy for pure road use but spot on for gravel and the like.

Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
8/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10

Nicely flared bar is spot on for a comfy feel on the hoods or drops.

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

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, it's a fun and versatile machine.

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes, definitely.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yup, if they had a grand to spare and needed to do more than just road riding.

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

Use this box to explain your score

The frame and fork can feel a bit harsh when off-road riding and the TRP brakes aren't very good, but for the money it's still mighty impressive for anyone who plans to turn their hand to anything.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 0  Height:   Weight:

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: mountain biking, touring, general riding, fun

Jon's been riding bikes for ages and has been involved in the bike industry for most of his working life too, starting out as a Saturday boy at Harry Hall Cycles before moving into the world of media via the odd stint as a mountain bike guide. He's worked at Singletrack, headed up What Mountain Bike magazine and been tech ed at BikeRadar before arriving at the helm of road.cc's knobbly tyred sister site off-road.cc.

He mostly rides mountain bikes up and down things as fast as possible (not always that fast to be honest) but isn't averse to riding drop bar bikes either, whether that's on gravel or tarmac.

He goes all funny at the mention of rubber compounds and shim stacks.

8 comments

Avatar
Ratfink [150 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

The tyres in the pics are S-ONE not G-ONE.

Avatar
jterrier [108 posts] 1 week ago
4 likes

I read this a couple of time and actually thought this seems pretty poor value for a grand. The boardman cx team is also a grand and has rival 1 hydro and mavic wheels. For about 700 quid Go Outdoors do the forme hooklow or the calibre dark peak, both of which seem to outspec this.

Avatar
drosco [314 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

Agree on the value point. At a grand you can get hydraulic discs and complete groupsets these days. 

Avatar
Freddy56 [260 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

I was after a winter bike to do a few cross races on and this is it! . Thanks Road cc

Avatar
jterrier [108 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes
Freddy56 wrote:

I was after a winter bike to do a few cross races on and this is it! . Thanks Road cc

I would definitely shop around a bit. See my post above..
There are much better bikes for a grand.

Avatar
tsarouxaz [72 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

come on marin, trp spyres??mechanical disk brakes??? nowdays??? do you think your customers are idiots?? I bet apex one hydro are cheaper!!

Avatar
jollygoodvelo [1652 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

I can't help thinking that the brakes on the test bike must have been set up badly or had become contaminated.  I fitted Spyres to my Boardman CX - standard pads and discs, Apex levers, compressionless cables - and they're wonderful, sharp, bitey enough to do a front wheel stoppie if you really grab them.  Not to mention ridiculously easy to set up compared to single sided piston designs.

That said, I agree that the latest Boardman CX is a much better spec and would be my choice...

Avatar
kompot [10 posts] 1 week ago
0 likes

I've just looked at the position and shape of the handlebar and start feeling pain in my back and wrists.