› Stand out from the crowd with this steel-framed, disc-braked ad­ven­turer

Cycling Plus (Malaysia) - - ROAD TEST -

ost of the bikes we can buy for £750 are cut from the same cloth, or at the very least welded from sim­i­lar grades of butted alu­minium, bring­ing you to a halt with rim brakes. Not this Marin. Named af­ter a town in Cal­i­for­nia, its Ni­ca­sio is made from skinny butted chro­moly steel, paired with a straight, skinny steel fork. Brak­ing comes cour­tesy of Pro­max Ren­der R me­chan­i­cal discs. The pre­dom­i­nantly Shi­mano Claris com­po­nents are fa­mil­iar from the other test bikes.

The Ni­ca­sio is part of Marin’s ‘Be­yond Road’ range, the com­pany

Mde­scrib­ing it as an ‘en­durance and all-weather pave­ment’ bike for ‘ad­ven­ture road rid­ing’ and ‘longdis­tance com­mut­ing’, which is quite a broad sweep, but Marin has set the Ni­ca­sio up well for these am­bi­tions.

A steel bike at this price isn’t go­ing to be su­per-light. Want a whippy, fast bike with snappy ac­cel­er­a­tion for shoot­ing through traf­fic? Look else­where. The han­dling is road bike-fa­mil­iar, though, and the head­tube isn’t as ex­treme as the Fuji Spor­tif’s, for ex­am­ple. But the wheel­base is the long­est here, and the high stack, short­ish reach and short stem cre­ate an up­right rid­ing po­si­tion.

The Ni­ca­sio’s kit is quite ba­sic but well cho­sen to com­ple­ment the ge­om­e­try. The han­dle­bar has a 12-de­gree flare for greater sta­bil­ity, con­trol and very good com­fort, the 11-32 cas­sette helps on the hills, where you will feel the Ni­ca­sio’s weight most. There’s even an ar­gu­ment for an 11-34 cas­sette or a 48/32 chain­set on bikes with ad­ven­tur­ous as­pi­ra­tions. The days of a uni­ver­sal 52/42 chain­set and nar­row cas­sette combo are long gone – and not missed – while the 48x11 is eas­ily big enough.

You won’t find hy­draulic discs on a road bike at this price yet, but the bud­get Pro­max Ren­der R

The Ni­ca­sio is made from skinny butted chro­moly steel, paired with a straight, skinny steel fork

me­chan­i­cal discs did a good enough job, and will work in all weath­ers without de­stroy­ing your rims. In spite of the lack of thru-axles, the con­nec­tion felt ac­cu­rate and there was no squeal­ing. A sec­ondary ad­van­tage of disc brakes is that they don’t limit you to one wheel size, so this bike can ac­com­mo­date 700cx3040m­m tyres or 650bx47mm rub­ber, and even with 47mm tyres you can squeeze in mud­guards.

The Ni­ca­sio’s near-slick 30mm Sch­walbe Spicer tyres have the com­pany’s K-guard pro­tec­tion belt and per­formed well on pit­ted road sur­faces. They were great at hop­ping up and down kerbs and fine on mod­er­ate gravel, though you’d want some­thing knob­blier and more gravel-spe­cific for ven­tur­ing away from the black top. Most im­por­tantly for our tester, while 30mm rub­ber may rob you of a lit­tle speed, it makes up for this with in­creased com­fort, es­pe­cially as you can run wider tyres at lower pres­sures.

Its kit might be ba­sic but the Ni­ca­sio’s svelte steel frame is good, with its dropped seat­stays and plenty of ex­posed 27.2mm seat­post keep­ing things very com­fort­able. We’d be more than happy to use the rack mounts to kit it up for week­ends away. Our long-dis­tance com­mutes were han­dled without mur­mur or com­plaint, and longer rides with panache – if not speed. This means you can tackle sportives, cen­tury rides, train­ing rides and more on the Ni­ca­sio.

Be­low Chro­moly steel frame is mated to a skinny steel fork Bot­tom The only one here to come with disc brakes - Pro­max Ren­der me­chan­i­cal items

Longer rides were han­dled with panache – if not speed

FOR A LOT MOREMARIN GESTALT X10 £1300 Marin’s alu­minium en­durance road bike comes with Tek­tro Spyre C brakes and SRAM’S 10-speed 1x driv­e­train.

FOR A LIT­TLE MOREMARIN FOUR CORNERS £850This steel tour­ing-cum-com­mut­ing ma­chine decks Shi­mano Sora and Tek­tro Spyre C brakes on a chro­moly frame.

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