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Marin Gestalt X Custom Build Long-term Review

Photo courtesy of Bike Radar

Our review

This is an initial score and could change as I spend more time on the bike.

Pros: Amazing versatility; striking looks; a review-proven frame

Cons: Can be a pain building a bike from scratch

Everyone’s got an idea about what a bike should do for them, and I’d happily bet my bottom dollar that no other brief will be identical because a person’s needs are entirely individual.

The observant among you will notice that this Marin Gestalt has quite a special spec, not because it’s dripping in exotica, but because I’ve blended components and parts that you don’t normally see together.

That’s because my brief is rather specific, quite niche in fact. After commuting to and from work on my 40-mile round trip for the last four years, I’ve developed a list of things that I think a bike should do.

In no particular order, I want my bike to: be comfortable; be virtually maintenance-free but easy to maintain when it does go wrong; protect me from mud and water; carry my luggage; have on-board tools; never get punctures; and finally, be light.

Yes, those are flat pedals. Alex Evans

Now, that’s quite a challenging list and, after browsing the web, it became apparent that most stock bikes offered by manufacturers don’t quite tick all of the boxes.

This realisation has led me down the path to creating a bike that’s totally bespoke – paint job included – with a frame that’s fitted out with parts that I know can stand up to the abuse of my daily commute.

Marin Gestalt X Custom Build Long-term Review Update Three

The Gestalt has been sidelined for riding mountain bikes. Sorry! Alex Evans

The last update on my Marin was written during mid-lockdown in the UK, when I was trying my hardest to avoid unnecessary contact with other folks by heading out the door on early morning rides. Since then quite a bit has changed, and not just from a lockdown perspective.

A shift in personal circumstances meant my partner and I moved to the Tweed Valley in Scotland, and we’re now lucky enough to have world-class mountain bike trails on our doorstep, rather than Somerset’s wiggly lane network.

This has meant a hefty reduction in road miles – but a corresponding increase in time on the mountain bike – and because BikeRadar’s Bristol office has been closed since March (and remains closed for a little while yet) I’ve been working from home permanently, replacing early morning road rides with early morning mountain bike rides.

The Gestalt X has, unfortunately, been collecting a different kind of dust. Previously it was from hard-baked bridleways and country lanes during early-morning missions, now it’s from sitting in the shed without moving for months at a time.

Zipp’s 30 Course wheels had been reliable until I snapped a spoke riding too aggressively on fire tracks. Alex Evans

The few rides I have done on the Marin resulted in a snapped spoke on the rear Zipp Course 30 wheel, after getting a little over-exuberant on a forest track.

Zipp was keen to replace the rear wheel, and considering the unidentifiable creaking noise coming from the hub under power, I agreed this would be a good idea.

Swapping the rear hoop out has solved the creaking issue for the time being, but once the office reopens I’m going to be clocking up the miles on the Gestalt X again during my regular visits, so I’m intrigued to see if it returns.

Replacing the hub fixed the creaking issue, although that shouldn’t be a huge surprise! Alex Evans

Marin Gestalt X Custom Build Long-term Review Update Two

Dust is the sign of a good ride regardless of discipline. Alex Evans

I consider myself to be particularly lucky because since the lockdown started in the UK, I’ve still been able to get my early morning fix of exercise on my commute.

Okay, so the commute has changed from travelling from A to B and back to A again in the evening to doing a circular loop from my front door.

Early Morning Starts

And in a bid to maintain my mental health by exercising, but still do my part in the fight against coronavirus, I brought forward my morning wake-up alarm to 5am so that I can get out on the bike and easily maintain the correct distance between me and strangers because there are fewer people about.

The Gestalt’s been getting some serious use during the Covid-19 lockdown. Alex Evans

I will admit to being a bit of a deviant when it comes to early mornings; the pre-breakfast and pre-dawn (until recently thanks to our longer days) rides are a complete treat.

The roads are empty and the cycle paths are deserted; my only company the birds tweeting, deer bounding across the road and little bunnies running around haphazardly, no doubt startled by my presence.

The drivetrain is holding up well to punishment. Alex Evans

Although my Gestalt X is still technically a commuter machine – because I’ve been using it to go from home to my place of work, despite that place of work being my home – I’ve temporarily removed the pannier rack to shave a bit of extra weight while I’m doing ‘proper’ rides.

The Diverse Commuter

Luckily, the Marin’s taken pretty much everything I can throw at it in its stride.

I’ve ridden the local lanes, bike paths, farm tracks and bridleways so much I’ve left a permanent tyre-shaped imprint on my well-trodden routes. Thank goodness for the practically puncture-proof Schwalbe Marathon tyres.

Schwalbe’s Marathon tyres resist punctures like no other and are as happy on tarmac as they are on gravel tracks. Alex Evans

What is there to report reliability-wise on the Gestalt? Well, not a great deal.

Although I have been chasing a creaking noise around the back-end of the bike that only materialises under power when climbing.

I’ve stripped, cleaned and re-greased the rear hub, bottom bracket (BB) and pedals, none of which has solved the problem. My next step is to try out another back wheel to see if the Zipp hub is creaking or whether it’s coming from the pedals or BB.

Is the rear hub creaking or is the annoying noise coming from elsewhere? Alex Evans

The process of elimination is currently held up by access to spare parts, but I’m hoping that’ll change as the lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

Until then, keep safe, healthy and happy and please do try and exercise as regularly as you can while sticking to your local government’s guidelines.

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