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We've tested the Ignacio frameset before in its other guise as the Marin Dominican – but the Ignacio brings something new to the party. Well, new in the sense of 45 years old. But different. You know what I mean. The something in question is Sturmey Archer's S2 Kickshift hub, first released in 1966 but lately resurrected as another gearing option for the style-conscious fixed crowd.
The S2 is ideal for the job as it doesn't require any kind of cabling, you just kick back on the pedals to shift between the two ratios, direct drive and an overdrive of 138%. The hub is attached to a standard 44/17 drivetrain and laced into white 28mm section Alex rims, which contrast well with the neat black finish on the Cromoly frame.
It's interesting that Marin haven't gone with the coaster brake option for the hub which would have allowed them to legitimately drop the rear anchor; as it is you get dual pivot brakes front and rear actuated by 'cross type levers on mini risers. All in all the look is almost indistinguishable from the cheaper Dominican with its fixed/free hub, and the components are more or less the same.
After swapping out the very short seatpost and hopping on the bike for a blast round town, the first impressions of the hub were distinctly mixed. Obviously it's not possible to know what gear you're in when you're not turning the pedals, and I couldn't get the hub to reliably shift between ratios, leaving me struggling at junctions, especially on hills. It's all about the practice though, and once I'd got a feel for the change I was fine.
The shift motion is a lot more subtle than you might expect and requires a little bit of finesse; you can change just by shifting the pedals back just a short way, so if you stop at the lights and rock the pedals back to starting position there's every chance you'll change ratios. You get used to rolling up to the lights with the pedals moving to get into postition before you stop, though. It's not hard.
The stock ratios are way too big for hilly Bath. 44/17 (69") is about as long a gear as you want for round here on a sigle-geared bike, and the 95" overdrive is effectively useless. We swapped the 44T chainring out for a 39T, giving an 85" overdrive and a 61" climbing ratio. You could go even lower and still get a usable cruising gear.
the 38% gap is a big one which takes some getting used to, but the upside is you get widely spaced gears that I found made the Ignacio far more enjoyable on longer rides than its singlespeed counterpart. I managed 60km rides on the Ignacio with no issues at all, and it's plenty happy cruising the B roads. In town the short wheelbase and quick steering make it very agile, and if you're careful to get into direct drive (assuming you downgear, like I did) then it's very nippy away from the lights.
Put the power down and there's a bit of sideways movement but nothing to worry about, the drivetrain feels very efficient and there's no noticeable difference in efficiency between the ratios. The Dominican is a comfy bike and the Ignacio is too, the springy frame and big tyres keeping your bum happy. It's less good news at the front; you'll only forget your gloves once before you realise that the grips are more ornamental than anything else, and the risers are pretty stiff beasts too, mostly by dint of them being narrow. That being said, it makes the steering pin sharp.
We've already said that 2011 will be the year of the urban gear and it starts here, with two instead of one. The Ignacio is a better bike than the Dominican for having the extra ratio, in my opinion. Okay you can't ride it fixed but the kickshift makes it better over long ranges without compromising the look or the urban handling. I liked the hub a lot, enough that I bought one to build up into a project bike.
My one sticking point is the price. At £699.99 it's £150 more expensive than the Ignacio, and the only real difference is the S2 hub which you can pick up (admittedly they're not easy to find) for about £70. A rim and a wheelbuild will set you back about the same again, meaning you can buy a Dominican and get someone to build up an extra wheel with the kickshift for the same as it costs you to get an Ignacio at RRP, and you can choose between one speed or two. That seems a bit silly to me, but no doubt market forces will mean that the actual price you pay for one will adjust itself over time. A quick scout around the corners of the internet reveals that at the moment it's still going at the asking price.
Sturmey's two speed unit definitely brings something to the party, making the Ignacio a more interesting bike than its singlespeed sibling. The price differential is more than you'd expect from just speccing a different hub though, making the bike seem less good value than the Dominican.
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Make and model: Marin Ignacio
Size tested: M
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame 6061 Double Butted Track Frame with Horizontal Dropouts
Fork Cromoly Road
Rear Shock N/A
Headset 1 1/8" Threadless
Rear Hub Sturmey-Archer Two Speed Kick Back, Alloy, 32 Hole
Front Hub High Flange Track, 32 Hole with Sealed Bearings
Spokes WTB 14 Gauge Stainless
Rims Alex Race28, Deep Section Aero Profile Double Wall, 32 hole with CNC Side Walls
Tyres Vittoria Zaffiro, 700 x 28c with Folding Kevlar Bead and Puncture Resistant Belt
Shift Levers N/A
Front Derailleur N/A
Rear Derailleur N/A
Cassette 17T Cog Freewheel / 17T Fixed gear
Chain KMC 1/2” x 1/8”
Crankset Sturmey Archer 5-Arm Track with a 44T Chainring
Bottom Bracket Sealed Cartridge
Seatpost Comp Alloy Micro Adjust, 27.2mm x 250mm
Saddle Classic Road
Bar Singles, 6061 Mini Riser, OS-31.8mm
Stem Marin Alloy, Threadless
Grips Micro Knurl, 110mm Wide
Brakes Front Dual Pivot with Cartridge Pads
Brakes Rear Dual Pivot
Brake Levers Flatbar Road
Pedals Traditional Old Style Road with an Alloy Cage, Steel toe Clip and Leather Strap
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 Ignacio share the Dominican's frame and it's essentially an urban bike but the kickshift gives it a much better range
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Nicely built, tidy welds and good finish
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Double butted Cromoly frame and fork
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
73.5° and 74° angles are quite tracky, the top tube is fairly short too
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
fine, though i had to swap out the seatpost for something a bit longer.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes. The springy steel frame and big tyres make it comfy even over longer distances.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too felxible?
Yes, it's nice and sprightly
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is excellent, in both gears
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
A bit but I was expecting that
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Nice and lively, but not so quick that it felt twitchy at speed
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Overall it's a very pleasant bike to ride. Good in town, good on longer rides
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes. I already did buy one bit of it
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Age: 38 Height: 190cm Weight: 98kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
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
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.