Marin Gestalt X12 on the Grenchenberg.
On the Grenchenberg on August 4th, 2023.

First 200km On My Gestalt X12

With a fleet of six bikes, of which three are surface-agnostic SUBs, commonly better known as gravel, all-road, or adventure bikes, I didn’t need another one this year. But when I first spotted the Marin Gestalt X10 last November, I knew I had to get one. The bike is slacker than my FortyFour mountain bikes, with a 67.5º head angle. Reach is 63mm longer than my Nordest Albarda and 68mm longer than my Volagi Viaje. The Gestalt’s wheelbase is 95mm greater than the Nordest and an enormous 124mm more than the Volagi. It’s a massively different bike. And that’s the reason I bought one. Some time down the road, I’d love to design the perfect SUB frame for myself. It only makes sense to go down that path with years of cycling under one’s belt, which I have, and countless hours spent on a wide range of bikes. And that one can never have enough.

Visually, I love the result. I purposely purchased a large frame. The 440mm reach and 175mm head tube, in combination with a Syntace FlatForce 44 stem, placed the handlebar where I needed it to be. Having the right look is nice, but optics ultimately don’t matter. A bike has to deliver. And that it does. Built as it is, the bike weighs 8.9 kilograms. Climbing out of the saddle with my hands on the hoods, the Gestalt tackles every climb in a neutral manner. It swings from side to side perfectly harmoniously with my body movement without veering left and right with every pull on the bar. When going downhill, the bike feels fast yet safe. It requires more rider input to initiate a change of direction, but I like controlling a bike with a bit of aggression. It doesn’t offer the best aero position with a 46cm wide gravel bar, but I’m out to have fun and not to win a time trial.

From 2015 to 2018, I took the first crack at riding 1x11 with SRAM Force CX1 on two different bikes. For most gravel rides, it was okay, but it lacked the gearing range with an 11-32T cassette. On very steep gravel climbs, I was missing a small gear, and on paved flats, I could have pushed a bigger gear. When I replaced my black Volagi Viaje CX with the Nordest Albarda, I went back to two chainrings up front. SRAM’s 1x12 XPLR drivetrain in the flavors Red, Force, or Rival extends the cassette both ways (10-44T). Combined with a 42T chainring, I now feel like I have the gear range to ride everywhere. Years ago, I preferred the tight gear steps of smaller cassettes. I no longer mind the larger gear jumps of a 12-speed XPLR cassette. I often didn’t find the right cog with the old 11-32T cassette in climbs. I don't seem to have that problem on the wider XPLR cassette now. It’s been such a positive experience that I’m going to convert my Nordest Albarda and my Volagi Viaje to 1x12 as well. The Nordest will be first at the end of the year. The Volagi will follow in the spring of 2024.