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Marin Gestalt 3 review

17 Jun 2017
Verdict:

An all-road 1X machine with versatility as standard

Cyclist Rating: 

Marin shouts about the versatility of the Gestalt 3, and seemingly with good reason. The bike is designed to blast dusty trails as well as tarmac, and wears 30c tyres for comfort on differing terrain.

A SRAM 1X groupset means that you only have changing up and down the casse e to worry about, rather than swapping between chainrings.

Add to this copious mounts for luggage and you might well have a very decent tourer on your hands.

Frameset

The Marin’s butted aluminium frame allows tube junctions to be strengthened while permitting narrower diameter tubing to be used elsewhere to keep weight down.

Traditional round tubes make up most of the frame, with a sloping top tube tapering towards the seat tube, becoming flatter.

The cabling is internally routed throughout. The front brake cable neatly runs through the left-hand fork leg (thankfully, there’s none of the usual cost-cutting external routing with snipped cable ties that we often see on budget disc-braked bikes), and it’s noticeably devoid of rattle.

Both wheels are secured by way of thru-axles, rather than quick-release skewers. This banishes flex at either end, meaning more of your power goes to the rear wheel while the front tracks perfectly.

As thru-axles go, they’re a pain to seat and secure, using a quarter-turn system that seems needlessly fiddly when a simple threaded aff air would suffice.

Mudguard and luggage mounts at the front and rear give the bike all-year appeal.

A head angle of 72.1° combines with a relaxed riding position to give a bike that can turn quickly when required, but most of the time is simply reassuring in its steering.

Groupset

SRAM’s mid-level Rival equipment graces the Gestalt, and it’s lovely stuff. The most obvious difference here is the Marin’s 1X set-up.

A single 42-tooth chainring is used in combination with a very wide ratio 10-42 SRAM cassette, offering a wide array of gearing options without the need of a front mech.

This system, originating on high-end mountain bikes, means no dropped chains, and maximum enjoyment.

Of course, it does mean the left-hand Rival shifter is simply a brake lever; the right-hand lever has a single paddle for changing up and down the cassette.

SRAM’s hydraulic discs deal with stopping duties. We’re not convinced of the requirement for Cadillac-style cooling fins when firms like Shimano do it much more neatly, but we certainly never noticed any brake fade.

Finishing kit

This is entirely Marin’s own, mainly alloy equipment. A set of widely flaring, compact drop handlebars is attached to the steerer with a sharply angled 90mm stem.

The bars especially are ergonomically excellent, their 400mm diameter being a perfect fit for our frame size, and the flared drops supported us well during more committed riding.

A vibe-absorbing carbon seatpost is topped by a decent Endurance Concept Elite saddle offering, as its name suggests, all-day comfort.

Wheels

Maddux FR300 alloy rims have a 19mm internal diameter, and comfortably accommodate the Schwalbe One Evo rubber’s 30mm diameter.

This wider rubber offers further comfort on the road and lighter fire roads. The tread can’t quite cut it when the going gets rough, however, and we wouldn’t dream of muddy bridleways.

But they do mark the bike out as suitable for road and farm tracks. It’s not a true all-roader, but how many of us use a bike equally both on and off-road?

The ride

The overriding impression as we roll out on our test loop is of the bike’s considerable bulk.

Our size 52 (S) Gestalt worried our scales to the tune of 9.68kg, and this is felt as slow speed.

Tipping into a 90° left-hander and barrelling down a long, straight hill, however, it becomes a positive advantage, working with gravity to propel us at speed with great stability.

By the time we’d got 15 minutes into our maiden road ride on the Gestalt, we reckon we must have tried to move the left-hand brake lever across to swap chainrings at least 20 times.

Yes, it really does take that long to get to grips with the fact that you’ve only got to worry about moving up and down the cassette.

Speaking of the gearing options, the biggest gear of 42x10 is plenty strong enough to get stuck into a full-on sprint on the road, but almost as importantly, the 1X set-up provides you with a ridiculously small gear of 42x42 for the toughest off-road climbs.

We wouldn’t suggest you take it to a trail centre and try to hang with full-suspension MTBs, but it’s liberating to spin up a grass bank or looser surfaces on off-road tracks when you fancy it.

Coming down the other side of climbs on either terrain, we were really surprised by how well the SRAM hydraulic disc system works – eminently fierce when required, yet easily metered power when you just need to scrub off a litt le excess speed.

Despite the bike’s heavy weight, there’s get-up-and-go to the overall package, with a stiff bottom bracket area providing ample stomp on all but the steepest climbs.

Yes, there’s that 42/42 gear if you’re masochistic enough to be tackling something like Hardknott Pass, but ultimately the bike is hampered by its bulk.

The steering is remarkably assured on any terrain, but concentrating on our tarmac ride we’d say that, although it’s no quick-steering race bike, you’d be hard pushed to notice any laboured handling.

A short wheelbase and two hands on the drops conspire to egg you on when it comes to downhill sweepers, while the lightly treaded Schwalbe tyres offer a good grip and comfort.

The bike’s weight, meanwhile, might hold it back on climbs, but when it comes to cornering it lends it an air of solidity.

Some might puzzle over the short stem’s extreme angle, but move all the supplied headset spacers above it, and you’re left with a bar height comparable to a standard road bike.

Flipping the stem gets you lower, obviously, but still not as low as a full-on race bike. But that’s not the market this bike is trying to muscle in on.

The Gestalt’s trump card is its versatility. It’s neither an excellent road bike nor a world-beating off-roader, but we’d gladly trade what might be seen as shortcomings for the confidence we got each time we rode the Marin, knowing that we weren’t restricted to tarmac roads.

This bike will get you to seek out local bridleways, it will bring out your spirit of adventure, and it will – we’d wager – make you a happier rider. 

Ratings

Frame: Noticeably weighty despite its narrow-diameter tubing. 7/10
Components: Impressive gearing options and brakes. 9/10 
Wheels: Tough enough to tackle off-road adventures. 7/10 
The Ride: Fun. Its heft inspires you to really much about on it. 8/10

VERDICT

The Marin Gestalt 3 is a solid all-road machine that comes with versatility as standard.

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 525mm 527mm
Seat Tube (ST) 490mm 490mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 630mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 402mm
Head Tube (HT) 135mm 135mm
Head Angle (HA) 72.25 72.1
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 73.4
Wheelbase (WB) 971.5mm 972mm
BB drop (BB) 72mm 72mm

Spec

Marin Gestalt 3
Frame Series 4 6061/6066 aluminium frame, Naild NavIt carbon forks
Groupset Sram Rival 1X
Brakes Sram Rival hydraulic disc, 160mm rotors front and rear
Chainset Sram Rival 1X, 42T
Cassette Sram XG-1150, 10-42
Bars Marin Compact, alloy
Stem Marin 3D, alloy
Seatpost Marin, carbon
Wheels Maddux FR300, Schwalbe G-ONE Evo, 30c
Saddle Marin Endurance Compact Elite
Weight 9.68kg (52cm)
Contact paligap.cc

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