Yes, I'm very familiar with Schwinn, Specialized, and Trek bikes, but when I get the chance to try something different, I welcome the opportunity. We began offering the Marin brand this year at Mathieu's Cycle and I decided the other day it was time to try out one of their two-wheeled machines.
Marin is a bicycle manufacturer located in — you probably guessed — Marin County, California, established by Bob Buckley in 1986. It started out specializing in mountain bikes, but also has other types. Many of its bicycles are named after locations in and around Marin County ... like the one I road tested. The model I selected was a Nicasio, named for an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Marin County. It is situated north of San Francisco.
Let me start by saying I fully acknowledge that I'm not like one of those highfalutin testers from Bicycling magazine. I don't present a pile of facts and statistics. I just go by how a bicycle feels and performs during a lengthy ride.
Here's how Marin Bikes describes the Nicasio. "It is for the rider looking for something different and modern, yet with traditional steel construction. Classic lines and CrMo frame tubes have the soul of a classic bike, with the geometry and a wide variety of tire sizes to let riders handle any surface."
The steel frame aspect is what really attracted me to the Nicasio, as my 34-year-old Schwinn Circuit carries some of the same characteristics. It was nice trying a more modern version. Chromoly steel is a type of low-alloy steel which is stronger and more durable — weight for weight — than mild carbon steel. The name is derived from the two major alloying elements contained — chromium and molybdenum.
The Nicasio, with its 54cm frame size, was equipped with the following:
— Double chainring
— 8-speed cassette
— Shimano Claris road groupset (considered entry level)
— Disc brakes
— 30mm tires
— And a bell (For some reason, all Marins come with a bell.)
And here's what I liked about the bike:
— Because of the steel frame, it was excellent at absorbing the roughness of the road.
— It was smooth through the corners.
— It featured good downhill speed (I got up to 40 mph) and I felt under control the entire time. It was only a couple of miles per hour slower than any of my higher-priced bikes.
— The bike had a more than adequate saddle. No soreness for the whole ride.
— While riding in the standing up position, it didn't feel awkward.
— And the bike's paintwork and tubing joints were clean and not overdone.
The clinchers for me as far as rating any given bike have to do with comfort and getting to the point during a ride where I feel very familiar with its performance — that even though I've only ridden the bike once, it feels and behaves like an old friend. I got that sort of vibe with the Marin Nicasio.
This particular model retails for just over $1,000. Taking everything into account, I believe it is a good bicycle for the money, and I would recommend checking out any Marin model.
This Sunday is the day ...
At the time of this posting, it is just two days until the Maine Senior Games and my participation in the 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) road race. I rode the actual course this past week and registered a time of 38:09. That is a couple of minutes slower than my fastest attempt at this distance, but the wind was brutal — 15 miles per hour out of the west, with gusts well over 20 miles per hour.
There is a 50 percent chance of rain on race day ... oh well. Stay safe!