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The Marin Gestalt 3 is a rugged road bike with an aluminium frame that provides an entertaining ride across a variety of different surfaces, although its weight hampers progress a little when you hit the climbs.
Marin categorises the Gestalt 3 as a 'Beyond Road' bike, and that's a good description of what it's suited to. You get an endurance geometry with a SRAM 1x drivetrain, hydraulic disc brakes and 30mm wide Schwalbe S-One tyres (more on all that in a mo). The result is a bike that enjoys steaming along the gravel or flicking through the trees as much as it likes to get busy on tarmac while commuting to and from the office.
I've enjoyed this bike most on rolling gravel roads where you can wind it up to serious speeds, and it's more than capable of taking on a bit of dirt too. I've been riding the Gestalt 3 over the summer months when the bridleways around my way have been mostly firm or just a little bit gloopy, and hitting them fast has been a whole lot of fun. Switching direction to get the best line is usually a cinch and the ride is planted enough that you don't get knocked around by every little irregularity that comes your way.
One of the Gestalt 3's key features is the SRAM Rival 1 drivetrain with a 42-tooth chainring and a 10-42-tooth cassette. This gives you a very wide range of gears – and, as a single setup, there's no duplication, obviously.
The lowest gear is really small at under 27 inches. If you're not nerdy enough for that to mean anything to you, it's smaller than you get with a compact chainset and an 11-32 cassette. Do you need a gear that small on the road? Maybe not, but I found that it encouraged me to take on ridiculously steep off-road climbs. You see a mountain bike trail heading up through the woods, you think that you might as well give it a crack. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. So you head up and find yourself riding new stuff, and that's nearly always A Good Thing.
Admittedly, at 9.9kg (21.8lb) the Gestalt 3 isn't mega-lightweight, and you're occasionally aware of that ballast on the hills, but the low gearing offsets that to a degree. Grip is actually more of a limiting factor on climbs. The Schwalbe S-One 30mm tyres (check out our review here) are absolutely superb on gravel and towpaths where they just zing along, but they're too smooth to offer much traction when the ground isn't firm and they'll struggle for purchase on steep sections of dirt. Get out of the saddle and your wheels will sometimes just spin. Fair enough, these tyres aren't designed to offer much off-road grip.
Like the Maddux/Formula wheels, they're tubeless compatible. Set things up that way and you can run low pressures for more grip without running the risk of a pinch flat.
If you do find yourself heading off piste on a regular basis, you can always swap to knobblier rubber. I tried a few different tyres and found that anything up to 35mm will fit just fine. If you stick with 30s you'll be able to fit mudguards too. The Gestalt 3 comes with eyelets both front and rear along with rack eyelets at the back too.
We imagine that many people will take advantage of those, whether that be for commuting or adventuring. The reality is that although some people are lucky enough to have a bike for every occasion, the rest of us need something that's capable of doing several different jobs, and the Gestalt 3 is certainly a versatile performer.
I've mentioned the lowest gear the SRAM 1x drivetrain offers; at the other end of the scale, the 42-tooth chainring and the 10-tooth sprocket give you a top gear of about 113 inches. That's not as big as you get with a compact chainset and an 11-tooth sprocket, say, but it's bigger than a compact and a 12-tooth sprocket. It's unlikely that you'll run out of gears when riding off-road. It might not sound especially fast but 35-40mph feels it when you throw lumps, bumps and sketchy corners into the equation. I've got some quick gravel descents close to me and I've rarely felt undergeared on those. You might occasionally find yourself spinning out on the tarmac. If you do, well, you can just sit and enjoy the scenery for a minute, can't you?
The SRAM Rival hydraulic disc brakes provide all the power you can handle and, more to the point, enough control to keep you safe over rough and slippery terrain. Whether your hands are on the hoods or the drops, you get excellent lever feel so you can push yourself in the knowledge that scrubbing off speed is always going to be straightforward enough without much danger of locking up.
The Gestalt's riding position is a little more upright than I like but, on the other hand, it might be exactly what you're after. Horses for courses. We have the 58cm model in for review with a 550mm seat tube (shortened by a sloping top tube) and a 585mm effective top tube (measured horizontally rather than along the tube itself). The head tube is 190mm. The stack (the vertical distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) is 618mm and the reach (the horizontal distance between those points) is 396mm.
I took the headset spacers out and the front end still wasn't low enough for me, so I flipped the stem so that it was angled downwards too – but then, I have a background in triathlon where every degree above horizontal is a degree too high! If you take a more relaxed approach, a setup like this might be what you're after, especially if you like to take on more technical riding where a better view and a more central weight distribution will definitely come in handy.
The Marin's comfort goes beyond that relaxed setup. You have those 30mm Schwalbe S-One tyres that you can run tubeless at low pressures if you like, and the sloping top tube means that you're likely to have plenty of slim (27.2mm) seatpost extending out of the frame. As ever, the saddle is going to be a matter of taste but I found Marin's own Endurance Concept Elite to be a decent shape with enough padding to soften the jaggedy bits of road.
Overall, the Marin Gestalt 3 is a capable rugged road bike with a lot to offer. There are livelier options out there if you want a bike solely for gravel blasts, but it's certainly worth considering if you're after something versatile enough to be a weekday workhorse and a weekend adventurer.
A very capable aluminium rugged road bike that's versatile enough for weekday commuting and weekend adventures
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Marin Gestalt 3
Size tested: 58cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: Series 4 6061/6066 Aluminum, 700c Wheels, Tapered Head Tube, Relieved BB, Internal Cable Routing, Post Mount Disc, 142x12mm Thru Bike Weight
Fork: Naild NavIt Carbon, Tapered Alloy Steerer, Naild Locking Thru-Axle, IceIt Brake Cooling Fin
Chainset: SRAM Rival 1, X-Sync 42T
Rear derailleur: SRAM Rival 1
Shift sever: SRAM Rival 1x11-Speed
Cassette: SRAM XG-1150 11-Speed, 10-42T
Bottom Bracket: SRAM GXP
Chain: KMC X11
Rear hub: Formula, 142x12mm, Alloy Axle, Quad Cartridge Sealed Bearing, SRAM XD Driver, 6-Bolt Disc, 32H
Front hub: Formula, 100x15mm, 6-Bolt Disc, 32H
Rims: Maddux FR300, Double Wall, Disc Specific, 19mm Inner
Spokes: Double Butted Stainless
Tyres: Schwalbe G-ONE Evo, 700x30C, Kevlar Puncture Protection, Folding, Tubeless Ready
Brakes: SRAM Rival Hydraulic Disc, 160mm Rotor
Brake levers: SRAM Rival 22 DoubleTap Hydraulic
Handlebar: Marin Compact 12 degree Flared Drop, Flat Top
Tape: Marin Shock Absorbing Microfiber Tape
Stem: Marin 3D Forged Alloy
Headset: FSA Orbit IS, Sealed Cartridge Bearing, 1 1/8' x 1 3/8'
Seatpost: Marin Carbon
Saddle: Marin Endurance Concept Elite
Pedals: Resin Platform
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, "The new Gestalt series takes you Beyond Road. These endurance models let you take any path you feel comfortable, whether it be on the asphalt or up a gravel road with a secret view. The lightweight butted aluminium Series 4 and Series 3 frames feature clearance for up to 35mm tyres, wide-range drivetrains, fender eyelets, and powerful road-specific disc brakes to make any terrain and weather manageable. Unleash yourself on the areas you've been timid to take drop bars before, with the speed and confidence necessary to take you Beyond Roads."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is made from Marin's Series 4 6061/6066 aluminium. The fork is carbon with an alloy steerer tube.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
We have the 58cm frame with a 585mm effective top tube, a 550mm seat tube, and a 190mm head tube. The head angle is 72.5° and the seat angle is 73°.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack is 618mm and the reach is 396mm. It's quite a tall front end.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, it's a comfortable bike. You get 30mm tyres that you can run tubeless at low pressures, and there's some flex in the 27.2mm seat post. I had no problem at all with the ride quality
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, it's stiff enough. The tapered head tube makes for a solid front end.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, it felt efficient enough.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? About normal for a bike of this kind.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It's a planted ride and doesn't get knocked off line easily.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The 30mm tyres are tubeless compatible and so you can run them at low pressures for plenty of grip and comfort without the risk of a pinch flat.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It's a SRAM Rival 1x drivetrain. It works well on a bike of this kind. The really small low gear will get you up pretty much anything, even laden up, as long as you have the right tyres fitted.
Wheels and tyres
They're exceptionally good on gravel – which is what they're designed for. They're less good on mud, but that's to be expected.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? The geometry isn't for me.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
It's a solid bike at a decent price. I can't say it set my heart aflutter in the same way as some, but it is versatile and practical.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.