Marin Kentfield Review
A stylish urban commuter
This is a product review on the Marin Kentfield after owning the bike for last 2 years.
The Kentfield is under Marin's hybrid category in their flat-bar group of bikes. They describe it as a "retro-modern, stylish, yet affordable bike that can do it all, the new Kentfield is ready to take you to school, the bike path, or through the back alleys to B-line to a coffee date."
We wanted a short distance commuting bike for use in our town running errands or meeting friends for lunch. It needed to offer an easy ride and also look smart - this is why we picked the Kentfield. It seemed to tick those two boxes for us.
We went for the Kentfield ST 2 which had a step through frame and is also the higher model tech-wise in the group.
For those of you who don't know, Marin is a bike company originating from California who since 1986 have been renowned for making amazing mountain bikes. They have since branched out and now produce a range of drop bar bikes, a few of which we have had the pleasure of riding and reviewing. This is the first hybrid bike from Marin we have used and so we were excited to see what it had to offer.
I will go through each section of the bike in an attempt to keep some order to this, and at the end summarise our overall feelings.
We traditionally ride road and gravel bikes and with that comes a certain type of saddle, which if you get it right is absolutely fine. However, when you are presented with the La-z-Boy style saddle that comes as standard on the Kentfield you are spoilt with how comfortable a large padded seat can be. Now obviously the riding position on a road or gravel bike would not allow for this large saddle to be appropriate, so the comparison is a little pointless, but if you go from your road or gravel bike to a Kentfield, you will be blown away with the saddle comfort.
The next positive is the riding position. Unsurprisingly it is nice and upright. This was expected and with the padded seat makes for a pleasant and easy position - like a traditional Dutch bike.
The one aspect which makes it all a little strange is the super wide handlebars. They are the sort of width you would expect of a mountain bike. They come in at 740mm, which is a bit less than the Bobcats at 780mm (hardtail mountain bike), and more than the Fairfax 680mm (flat bar fitness bike). When you get going you don't notice it but it definitely is something that feels different to other bikes.
The tyres are 40mm width which offer good absorption of the bumps on the road which overall lead to a very comfortable ride. These tyres have also been designed for cyclocross so have good puncture protection.
This was one of the main factors when buying this bike so it's reassuring that it passes the test.
We obviously don't use this bike for long trips - anything between 30-45 minutes generally. In that time it's all very relaxed and smooth chatting as we go.
Conclusion: Very comfortable with a great saddle and easy riding position.
Comparatively to the other Marin bikes we have used in the past the volume of use this bike has had, and the type of riding we do on it, we haven't trashed it as much as the others. As a result the bike still looks and performs as you would expect due to this. It ultimately still looks and rides like new. Which for a 2 year old bike is very reassuring. I feel this bike is the type of bike you get as an introduction into cycling, or to supplement your bike collection for that one you just pick up and go without too much thought for the short coffee rides. If so then it's great you don't have to worry about it. We have had one piece of maintenance in the two years, which was a faulty disc pad, which was our fault for incorrect storage over a long period.
Conclusion: Fulfils the expectation when you buy a bike in this price point.
Practicality and Features
I gauge practicality from a standpoint that when I take it out the box, how much more work do I need to do, and how many things do I need to change? For the Kentfield there was zero extra work needed. The only addition was some plug-on universal mudguards that I attached. Which was easy as there was plenty of tyre clearance.
As I mentioned I believe this bike is aimed at someone who is not going to do particularly technical or serious rides. For that you need a nice easy and comfortable bike that is practical to use, and so far the Kentfield ticks this box.
The gearing on the bike is very forgiving with a ginormous rear cassette with its big ring at 51 teeth. This is the same as mountain bikes and bigger than most gravel bikes. The result here is a super easy pedal option for any hill you come across or to simply get away from the traffic lights quicker. Having no derailleur on the front saves on weight and also reduces servicing costs. So a big win on the gearing side of things.
The brakes a mechanical disc brakes which work absolutely fine. My only concern would be the ability for the average at-home mechanic to service and fix these should they go wrong, or to perform some basic maintenance along the way. Perhaps I am doing them a disservice and they can equally maintain disc as they can rim brakes. They work well and are no concerns, and this shouldn't be a factor against the bike.
The wheels use Schrader valves which I think is a great idea. This allows them to be inflated at petrol stations and with most bike pumps, saving the hassle of someone getting a Presta valve pump instead. The tyres as well offer a great balance to be used on tarmac and also compact gravel, allowing the rider to explore more and not be limited to just the asphalt. In the two years we have been riding it we have had only one puncture.
There are mounts for bottle cages, mudguards and a kickstand - all you could possible need to attach to the bike. This makes it even more practical and ready for comfortable dry riding.
I won't go through the geometry in too much detail here as the style of frame lends itself to the upright Dutch style riding position. A low bottom bracket height and low headtube angle offers a stable ride with a low centre of gravity. The step through frame helps of course when getting on or off the bike without having to swing your leg round. Overall an easy riding position.
Finally, the pedals that come as stock have some amazing grip on them and are nice and wide with a large surface area. They offer great traction when riding thanks to these small plastic raises on both sides. These little touches just add to the ease of the whole experience that you aren't slipping on the pedals at all which if you are using it around town especially in the wet can be really helpful.
The Kentfield offers a stylish and comfortable ride at a reasonable cost. Thanks to Marin's quality in build and the components it has there is minimal upkeep required, which for the type of riding you will most likely be doing is really handy.
If the aesthetics of the Kentfield wasn't your thing at a similar price point there is the Larkspur which looks amazing. There is also the Stinson which is priced about £150 less which could be another option if your budget was a little smaller.
We have been very impressed and happy with the Kentfield and it offers that easy Sunday coffee stop bike ride on an awesome looking ride.