Test: With the Marin Headlands, the Californian manufacturer is expanding its already extensive range of gravel bikes for 2020 with a sporty touring bike that is also well prepared for bikepacking thanks to almost unlimited assembly options. Also pleasing: the attractive price.
Marin Headlands 1: The Facts
Frame material: Carbon
Wheel size(s): 700c (650b compatible)
Maximum tire clearance: 45mm (700c) / 50mm (650b)
Axle dimensions (v/h): 12 × 100/142 × 12
Mudguard Eyelets: Ja
Luggage carrier eyelets (v/h): Yes / Yes
bottle holder: Down tube up, down tube down, seat tube
Weight wheels v/h/total (with tires and brake discs): 1.600g / 1.752g / 3.352g
Weight complete bike without pedals (size M): 9,52kg
Price: € 2.399
Carbon frame with MTB genes and countless mounting points
Founded in the mid-80s in sunny California, Marin Bikes is one of the most traditional mountain bike manufacturers ever. In the early years, the focus was exclusively on pure off-road bikes, but over the years the portfolio has expanded more and more. For some time now, the US manufacturer's range can't be imagined without bikes with drop handlebars - but Marin's roots are clear here too and you won't find a pure racing bike. Instead, you have several bikes in the program that move somewhere between endurance tourers, cyclocross and gravel.
The latest addition to this space is Marin Headlands. It is based on the Gestalt X gravel bike, which has been established for some time, but takes its off-road approach a little further and uses carbon instead of aluminum for the frame material. The Headlands' mountain bike DNA also shines through in some places: On the one hand, there is the extremely generous tire clearance of 45mm for 28″ and 50mm for 650b, on the other hand, the bike is prepared for the installation of a retractable seat post and also the lack of a mounting option for front derailleurs should be familiar to mountain bike fans in particular. The latter made it possible for the designers to keep the chainstays very short despite the ample tire clearance.
A quite remarkable difference to the "model" Gestalt X are then however the various assembly points at the Marin Headlands. Whereby “diverse” is a clear understatement here; the main frame alone comes with 17(!) mounting lugs for bags, bottle holders or other accessories. Mudguards and/or luggage racks can also be attached to the fork.
The Headlands, which is available in five sizes, comes with a well-balanced geometry, which, however, has a clear touring impact. This is particularly evident in the relatively high front, which puts the driver in a fairly upright seating position. Thanks to the not too short top tube, the pleasingly short struts of 420mm and a fairly steep steering angle, the Marin gravel bike also promises a lot of agility on paper and should also appeal to sporty gravel bikers.
Geometry Marin Headlands
|seat tube (in mm)
|Top tube horizontal (in mm)
|head tube (in mm)
|chainstay (in mm)
|Wheelbase (in mm)
|Steering angle (in °)
|Seat angle (in °)
|Stacks (in mm)
Clever equipment ensures a good price/performance ratio
Marin offers two trim levels of the new Headlands for 2020. Pleasing: Both of them are in the affordable price segment, for a carbon Graveller even in the low price segment. The Headlands 1 entry-level model that we tested costs just 2.399 euros and is cheaper than many aluminum gravel bikes. Of course you have to make a few compromises here and there with the equipment and the weight of 9,5kg is not necessarily record-breaking either - but so much in advance: the overall package is almost sensationally good for the price.
|Marine full carbon
|Marine Tubeless 21mm
|Schwalbe G-One Performance 40mm
|Shame on Apex
|Shame on Apex
|Sram apex disc
|Marine Alu 27.2
|Marin Beyond Road
|Marine 3D Alu
|Marin Alu 12° Flare
However, this attractive overall package comes as no surprise to us. Marin currently knows better than almost any other manufacturer how to strike a very good balance between price and performance through a clever mix of components (see, for example, the Entry-level fully Hawk Hill). This is also evident in a few places in Headlands 1. Drive example: The Sram Apex group with hydraulic disc brakes is certainly not a highlight in itself, even if it doesn't have to hide behind more expensive groups in terms of performance. The choice of cassette, on the other hand, is really great: instead of the 11-42 cassette from the Sram Apex group, a 10-42 sprocket set from Sunrace ensures a clear increase in bandwidth.
The built-in wheels are also a positive feature - although there are no big brand logos from the wheel giants, the technical data is still correct. At 21mm, the rims are wide enough for 45mm tires and tubeless-compatible. At 3,3kg, the wheel system is not particularly heavy despite the rather wide 40mm tires from Schwalbe.
The Marin logo dominates the other add-on parts, but both the seat and steering area make a really good impression in terms of quality and appearance. What is striking is the relatively short stem, which should ensure direct steering behavior and, thanks to the long top tube, does not throw the geometry out of balance. The handlebars are not too extreme either, with a moderate 12° flare.
More tests, products and background information about the Velomotion Gravel Month:
- Storck Grix Platinum Ultegra Di2 gravel bike in test: Race tourer for gravel and off-road
- GT Grade Carbon Pro in the gravel bike test: Comfortable triangle for lots of driving fun?!
- Orbea Terra M30-D in the gravel bike test: Lively bike for training and gravel tours
- NS Bikes Rag+ 2 in the gravel bike test: Convincing aluminum all-rounder
- Rondo Ruut CF 2 in the gravel bike test: Fast gravel bike with a striking look
Let's Gravel: The Marin Headlands 1
The appealing carbon frame of the Marin Headlands 1 looks great at first glance and should also arouse the curiosity of bikepacking fans. Because with a number of eyelets, this gravel bike offers an incredible variety of mounting options for accessories. But the Marin Headlands 1 can not only be classified as a touring bike in terms of looks and its basic technical requirements, the bike also knows how to convince in practice.
This starts with the very balanced geometry, which comes with a relatively high front due to the looped top tube and can therefore offer a pleasantly upright seating position for longer tours. Nevertheless, the length of the top tube ensures good stretching in the upper body. In combination with the lowered rear end, you not only get a comfortable seating position, but also good driving comfort, which is essential on bumpy sections and long rides.
When it comes to acceleration, the Marin Headlands 1 is also rather calm and takes time to get up to speed. The total weight of 9,5 kilos is also partly to blame for this. Nevertheless, it knows how to convince with a solid running smoothness. In order to bring a sporty note into play despite all this, the relatively short chainstays and the quite steep steering angle are used. In conjunction with its very short stem, these give the Marin Gravel Tourer an amazing amount of agility for direct and precise steering behavior. Thanks to these features, the bike also manages well on technical passages and does not appear particularly cumbersome despite its weight.
The rest of the equipment is certainly not one of the high-end components on the market, but it can convince with a great price-performance ratio and robust properties.
Other gravel bike highlights in the test:
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