Marin Gestalt review


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May 28, 2023

Marin Gestalt review

A beefy bike for beyond the road This competition is now closed By

A beefy bike for beyond the road

This competition is now closed

By Robin Wilmott

Published: June 5, 2023 at 5:00 pm

‘Beyond road’ was something riders of a certain age used to do as kids, in the days before mountain bikes.

You only had one bike, and you rode it everywhere, without ever realising that one day there’d be a bike genre devoted to it.

Marin's Gestalt is the German company's lowest-priced, drop-bar, aluminium gravel bike. It's, rather endearingly, referred to as ‘beyond road’.

Four further models, topped by the gravel/MTB hybrid Gestalt XR, complete the range.

In essence, the Gestalt is a quality budget gravel bike with plenty of flexibility up its sleeve, earning it a place in our Budget Bike of the Year test.

The Gestalt is all-metal, with a frame built from Marin's ‘Series 2’ 6061 aluminium, and straight-bladed fork, also made from 6061 aluminium.

Marin says the tubes are butted and formed, coming together to make a tidy-looking frameset.

The top tube flares broadly to meet the head tube and the chainstays are deeply ovalised to boost rigidity.

The seatstays are dropped a little – a common ploy to boost compliance in gravel bikes.

The head tube and bottom bracket shell have been machined to remove excess material, and the cables are routed internally through the down tube.

There are mounts for mudguards and a rear pannier rack, and provision for the usual two bottle cages.

Marin states the Gestalt's maximum tyre clearance is 35mm, but the frame and fork suggest more is possible.

The clearance between tyre and tube at the chainstays, fork and seatstays is 12mm, 14mm and 18mm respectively, and even allowing for full mudguards, there's scope to run bigger gravel tyres.

The Gestalt stays true to the typical geometries normally observed on gravel or all-road bikes.

The 56cm model tested has a slack 71.5-degree head angle and steepened 73.5-degree seat angle, with a 170mm head tube and 565mm effective top tube length.

At 1,040mm, the wheelbase is reasonably long to improve manners on tougher terrain, and the 387mm reach is in line with many bikes of this frame size.

Marin specifies shorter than average stems though, with the 90mm one fitted contributing to a fairly relaxed position on the 440mm-wide handlebar.

A little more old-school is the choice of 175mm cranks on frame sizes from 54cm upwards, which suited me. It's more common to see shorter 170 or 172.5mm cranks until you get to at least a size 58cm.

At under £1,000, it's no surprise to find the Gestalt is fitted with a mostly Shimano Claris 8-speed drivetrain, covering the shifters and derailleurs.

The crankset is an FSA Tempo Compact, with 50/34-tooth chainrings. The cassette is a SunRace 11-32 tooth item, offering plenty of range (albeit quite distant ratios).

KMC supplies the chain, and the unbranded square tapered bottom bracket's axle turns on sealed bearings.

Tektro's Mira mechanical disc brakes with 160mm disc rotors handle stopping duties, and the bar, stem and seatpost are all alloy Marin components.

These brakes have more bite than the similar-level Tektro brakes found on the Lapierre Crosshill 2.0. It's hard to say precisely why, but it's very welcome, with immediate deceleration from the first pad contact, and plenty of power, giving great confidence.

The saddle is a Marin Beyond Road Concept model.

The bike comes with Marin Double Wall rims (19mm internal width) laced to forged alloy hubs via black stainless steel spokes.

Vee Tire Co. supplies Zilent 700x35c tyres on my test bike. It all comes together to weigh 11.5kg.

The Gestalt is a good-looking bike and Marin's claims over its potential uses promise much.

"Tarmac and trail, rough roads and muddy commutes, bikepacking, touring and adventure. Daily trips and weekend escapes" is the brand's stated range for the Gestalt.

Everything seems possible, but at this price point, you would expect some compromises in order to keep costs down.

An aluminium fork delivers a notably harder ride than a carbon fibre alternative might, and the Gestalt's fork is certainly firm.

The Vee Tyre Co. Zilent tyres have a sensible recommended inflation range of 35 to 65psi, and the highest pressure I used during testing was 50psi (when on tarmac).

At this pressure, the fork transmitted every nuance of the road surface to the handlebar, but it wasn't uncomfortably buzzy or harsh.

Riding ‘intermediate’ gravel at speed with the same pressures proved choppy, but lowering the tyre pressures to below 40psi helped smooth things considerably.

High-speed cornering is helped by lower tyre pressures, counteracting the stiff frameset's preference to skip slightly wide.

The handlebar shape is reasonably comfortable, with plenty of width at 440mm (centre-to-centre), with usefully flared drops.

Slightly dropped seatstays and a good amount of exposed 27.2mm seatpost generated some seated comfort, although I didn't find the saddle suited me.

On paper, you might expect the 35mm tyres to give the Gestalt a little road-esque zip, but standing on the pedals to accelerate brings a sluggish response.

Once rolling, your speed is dictated largely by the gradient and the wind direction. Anything that usually causes resistance is seemingly amplified on the Gestalt, and adding more power is only a short-term (and unsustainable) solution.

The tyres alone aren't the reason for the Gestalt's stateliness – the wheels are a big factor too, lacking a little in stiffness and efficiency.

On local roads, where I can usually sweep over small rollers by standing up and applying power, the Marin required me to make one or two shifts down.

The mix-and-match drivetrain works well, shifting quite smoothly and reliably, but with only eight sprockets covering the ratios from 11-32, there are some big jumps, which can be frustrating at times.

When grinding along, I questioned the need for a 50-tooth chainring; perhaps a sub-compact 48/32T crankset would better suit the Gestalt's intentions and abilities.

The bike's road manners are solid and stable, the slack head tube providing predictably relaxed steering.

There's no doubt the Gestalt will take you to most places, and it’ll do it reliably well, with a level of refinement.

It won't break any speed records on the way, and you will probably need to work harder on average than on some of the slightly more expensive competition.

But this Marin has a bombproof feel, and is a perfect option for cycling to work given its low price.

Each of the bikes in our budget road category was tested over a series of weeks and plenty of miles by Robin Wilmott, one of our most experienced road, cyclocross and gravel bike testers.

Unlike our performance categories, these bikes were also assessed on how easy and enjoyable they are to live with.

They were tested for commuting, running errands and serving as an all-purpose workhorse to ensure not only are these budget bikes great value, but they’re also built to last.

Thanks to our sponsors, Lazer, FACOM tools and Band Of Climbers for their support in making Bike of the Year happen.


Robin Wilmott is a freelance writer and bike tester. He began road cycling in 1988 and, with mountain bikes in their infancy, mixed experimental off-road adventures with club time trials and road races. Cyclocross soon became a winter staple and has remained Robin's favourite form of competition. Robin has always loved the technical aspect of building and maintaining bikes, and several years working in a bike shop only amplified that. Robin was a technical writer for BikeRadar for nearly a decade, and has tested hundreds of bikes and products for the site. He has also written extensively for Cycling Plus, Velonews and Cyclingnews.