The Marin Larkspur - Inspired By Old School Mixtes and Ready For Anything
There’s no doubt the Larkspur is a bit of an enigma, but for all of us here at Marin it makes perfect sense. To understand the mysteries of the mysterious modern step-through Mixte, we started right at the source with Marin Product Director Aaron Abrams.
In a world of sporty carbon racers and bad-ass, mountain bikes you’d be forgiven for saying you didn’t really ‘get’ the Marin Larkspur.
On first glance it’s a bike for rolling down to the store or your local cafe, cutting the silhouette of a classic ‘Mixte’ step-through.
But aren’t those sorts of bikes supposed to be square, functional, dry and dull? The safe and stable day-in-day-out workhorse that we all have in the back of our sheds, long since replaced with something sportier?
The Marin Larkspur has the initial appearance of an old school step through. But at the same time someone added chunky tan-wall tires, wide rims, powerful disk brakes and the option of a dropper seat post.
It just seems to be daring you to go a bit further and faster. Spurring you on to launch a kerb or pull a skid that would blow your 10-year-old self’s socks off.
Why just roll to the deli when you can take a detour down your favourite dirt track on the way?
“We took inspiration from the old school” Aaron told us. “It was inspired by all sorts of bikes but has the same spirit as those early mountain bikes that many of us rode in the 80’s or 90’s."
"Those bikes gave you the ability to have adventures beyond your expectations. They could take you places you wanted to go and when the route changed, they were ready for whatever came your way. They were a great adventure buddy”.
Aaron, who describes his job as “making cool, fun, and attainable bikes that make people want to go and ride” clearly has a soft spot for the Larkspur. It’s his get-to-work bike whenever a deli-stop or a mini-adventure is required and one of his most frequently ridden bikes.
The word “adventure” appears often when he talks about the bike. It’s hard to tell if those adventures are pre-planned or form on the fly, egged on by the Larkspur.
“The Larkspur is for riders of all ages and all genders to do all kinds of things on” Aaron explained slightly mischievously.
“You don’t need to pigeonhole the experience into ‘road’ ‘gravel’ or ‘mountain bike’, it’s a real ‘choose your own adventure’ scenario every time you get on the bike. It’s great on all sorts of surfaces and it’ll take you anywhere from a cruise through the neighbourhood to a trip to the grocery store to riding singletrack and escaping the city into the outdoors”.
That’s where that strange-looking frame and coming-together of old school and new starts to make sense.
It’s not just a bike for riding to the local cafe and it’s not just a bike for shredding your favourite dirt trail. It’s both. Or neither. Or whatever you want it to be.
The heart of the Larkspur is that unmistakable frame design. Bike nerds will recognize the ‘Mixte’ inspiration, a style of frame that replaces the traditional ‘double diamond’ that we all know with a low-slung, step-through style and those recognizable extra tubes that connect the seat stays to the top tube.
The shape is loved by many for being comfortable, easy to ride, super strong and, of course, super eye-catching.
Like the classics of its kind it’s made not with aluminum or carbon fiber but with good old steel. “Steel is the only way to build this bike” Aaron told us “it’s all about comfort, durability and a healthy dose of style. We never even considered another material”.
Surely a bike like this is all about compromise though? After all, a city bike will never shred in the dirt as well as a proper mountain bike and vice versa?
Chatting to Aaron, he was careful to bake that go-anywhere approach into the Larkspur from day one, designing it to be both fun and functional all the way from the drawing board to the trails.
“I wanted a cool looking bike that you could casually ride trails and buzz around town and one that would be great to hang a basket or a bar bag on. It had to be steel and it had to have great geometry that felt comfortable in town and on the trails”.
That process also extended to the components, he explained, “We took all the modern components that we knew we just had to have to ride off-road and made sure to include them.
That means a super modern 1x drive train, wide rims, top-quality disk brakes, a dropper post on the top-spec model and tyres that could rough it on dirt tracks”.
And so, whilst a rigid bike with a basket might not set award winning times down the gnarliest of trails, perhaps that’s not the point. Perhaps it’s more the freedom to know that wherever your ride takes you, be it to the deli or the dirt track, your only limit is how much fun you’re willing to have.
“Riding and having fun is the point” Aaron told us. “You can call it whatever you want, but you’re guaranteed to enjoy it once you’re on it. We want riding the Larkspur to be fun, whimsical, adventurous”.
No arguments here.
You Might Also Be Interested In
The editors at Bicycling wrote reviews of what they feel are the best bikes of the year, including our new Larkspur 2.Learn More