The Marin Headlands - More Than Just A Gravel Bike
The Marin Headlands gravel bike isn't just a great gravel grinder, it's arguably the one bike to replace them all. Not just one of the best gravel bikes, but one of the best bikes you could hope for in your collection, period. Here are just a few of the challenges we've thrown at our drop-bar do-it-all and watched it roll out shining.
From Gravel Race to Ride To Work
There's a school of thought in the cycling world that to take part in different types of cycling, you need lots of bikes. It's got to the point now where all of those cycling pigeonholes can accommodate a big old flock of pigeons.
But while we might live in an age of unprecedented consumer choice, we're also told we need to declutter, slim down, embrace minimalism and do more with less. And it's a fair point, not everyone has a garage straight out of MTV Cribs to store all of those bikes.
If you're going to stick with one bike for most types of riding, you'll have to make a couple of compromises. A full-blown mountain bike is never going to be much fun to ride to work on the bike path. But at the other end of the bike spectrum - where the tires are skinny and the bars are curly, the place where gravel bikes, AKA Beyond Road bikes live - there's much more overlap.
Join us as we make a case as to why your One True Bike should probably be a gravel bike, and should almost certainly be the Marin Headlands.
The Bike Packing and Adventure Bike
The Marin Headlands was designed to be a gravel bike for fast and light rides, but still able to carry enough kit for multi-day, biking packing trips. With a light carbon gravel bike frame and fork, set up with a less stretched-out position than most drop bar bikes, it's aimed at the sweet spot between comfort and speed.
The Marin Headlands 1 and Headlands 2 both come with fast-rolling, wide tires that'll eat up the trail buzz without dragging on the smoother stuff.
There are mounts on the downtube and seat tube for three bolt gear carrying cages (imagine a bigger, flattened-out bottle cage that’s the perfect size to hold your cooking equipment or roll mat). There’s a “bento box” mount on the top tube to keep your phone, compact camera or snacks handy on the go. You could even get a full bike packing frame bag that bolts straight to the bike.
All of these luggage options will be more stable and won’t scratch your frame up as much as soft luggage with straps.
Ideal For Commuting By Bike
Commuting by bike is a great way of building more riding into your week, improving your fitness and saving yourself some cash.
Thanks to a whole load of mounts, comfortable geometry and room for racks the Marin Headlands bike will switch from weekend whippet to midweek workhorse with very little hassle.
All of those mounts on the Marin Headlands aren't just useful for backpacking, they'll also allow you to fit a luggage rack and get your office gear, laptop and lunch box in a pannier bag for a sweat-free, hassle-free ride to work
Fenders (aka mudguards) are another commuter essential in wetter parts of the world. The Marin Headlands has a full set of fender mounts, including one on its removable seat stay brace, and plenty of space in the frame and forks. You'll see these features on almost every Marin gravel bike, but the Headlands offers the opportunity to take the longer, rowdier way home.
Let's not forget tires. The Marin Headlands comes with a nobbly, off-road suitable tire but won't look out of place with a slicker, faster rolling option. We've even seen some riders invest in two sets of wheels for their Headlands to quickly swap between fat and skinny tires as they flip from midweek to weekend mode.
No more gravel bike vs road bike wondering, the Headlands does both.
The Speed Demon
What if you just want to ride fast, cover some distance and have fun? Maybe even take on a gravel race or two? The Headlands is built around a carbon frame and fork that weighs just over a kilo, that’s pretty darn light for an off-road-capable frame.
The Marin Headlands is designed to be comfy to ride but with nimble, direct handling, so with a little adjustment, you’ll be able to hold your own on a hilly road ride, that big sportive event, your local gravel race or your next asphalt long-distance challenge.
Depending on your terrain, you might want to switch to some slightly skinnier, slicker rubber with lower rolling resistance and strip your build right back, removing any racks, fenders and bags for a super-fast, super-minimal build.
You might lose out on a bit of speed compared to a dedicated road bike, which will have higher gearing and narrower bars, but not much, and you’ll be comfortable on any kind of surface too. Road and gravel, technical terrain, ride to work the Headlands can take on the whole enchilada.
The Gravel Bike for Mountain Bikers
Rough, uneven terrain is where the Marin Headlands really comes into its own. Lots of gravel bikes are really cyclocross race bikes at heart, but the Headlands is firmly inspired by our mountain bike range. With short chainstays and a roomy front triangle, it's a bike that’s happy to be ridden all day and plays well with rough roads and singletrack alike. It's a great alternative to a hardtail mountain bike and a solid case for drop bars in the gravel bike vs mountain bike debate.
Straight out of the gate, the Headlands is set up for riding with confidence on uneven terrain. It's not quite as hardcore as the beastly Marin Gestalt X, but comes with chunky and nobbly 45mm tires, a wide and flared handlebar, a 1X drivetrain and powerful disc brakes. You can even swap to bang-on-trend 650b wheels and jump up to 50mm tires for a boost in confidence off-road.
The Marin Headlands is also compatible with dropper posts, so you can wave goodbye to bouncing down technical descents with your saddle up.
Don't believe us? Cycling Tips' Marin Headlands Gravel Bike Review said "mountain bikers previously stubborn to drop bar life are likely to find lots to love in this ride".
Start Your Dream Build With a Headlands Frame Kit
If you don’t want to chop and change parts and just want your perfect bike, you’ll be happy to know that the Marin Headlands is also available as a frame kit. It’s compatible with the newest generation of gravel groupsets thanks to its 1X-specific frame and low-profile disc brake mounts, but also features proven, reliable technology, like its threaded BB shell.
You might have a stash of parts you'd like to use, you might want to run big-volume 650B tires from the get-go, or you maybe fancy creating a flat bar gravel bike. You might have an old bike with some decent components that's ready for a frame transplant. You maybe just want to build your dream bike from scratch to your exact specification.
For all of these eventualities, a Marin Headlands frame kit would be a great starting point.
Ultimately where you go and what you do with your Headlands is up to you, but hopefully, this has shown you that it's a great choice if you're looking for that one bike to rule the roost. Flat or drop bars, on-road or off-road, gravel race bike, super commuter or bike packer. The Marin Headlands will do it all.
The Headlands takes what we have learned with the alloy Gestalt X line, and brings the spirit to an all-new, full carbon fiber frameset. Modern geometry, generous tire clearance, internal cable routing and sublime ride quality, all combine to make an incredibly capable, lightweight bike that’ll exceed your expectations.
The Marin Headlands collection starts with the Headlands 1, which is built with plenty of Marin's own components, a Shimano GRX groupset and Schwalbe G-One Performance tires. We're claiming this one as one of the best budget gravel bikes you're likely to see.
The higher-spec Marin Headlands 2 brings in a Shimano GRX RX810 drivetrain & FSA Gossamer Pro crankset, TranzX dropper post and WTB Byway tubeless-ready tires.
The Marin Headlands frame kit is supplied in its own unique color scheme and is provided with a frame, fork, headset, front and rear axles and a seat collar.
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