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Marin Cortina

Review: Marin Cortina

scottmares's picture

Right Out of the Box


First Impressions

When you first pull a bike out of the box, you immediately notice the color, graphics, and overall what it looks like. I really liked the copper color and black paint job. Marin incorporated a unique paint line that starts on the head tube and continues down to the fork. However, they did not put black paint on the fork, instead opting to partially paint the fork copper, leaving the remaining portion natural carbon.

Ease of Assembly

This bike went together fairly easily. In fact, right out of the box, the Cortina was fully assembled in less than 20 minutes, which is faster than it normally takes to put a bike together.

Bling Factor

With the Cortina, the bling is clearly in the crank, seat post, shifters and striking copper and black paint job. You can't help but notice the FSA SLK carbon crank and seat post, both of which are very sexy.

Road Test Ride



The bike climbs decently for as big as it is. For a 60cm bike, the wheel base is a little longer than I expected, which is evident by looking at the space between the rear tire and the down tube. With a longer wheel base, the bike stability increases, which is a good thing.


No surprises here on this one. But with cyclocross, you really don't want a lot of surprises. Especially in corners. The Cortina was predictably stable in the corners. Easy going into them and easy coming out of them.


The Marin was well behaved with regards to climbing and corning. The bike was very stable in its manners, and was not twitchy or squirrelly in any way.

Ride Feel

I bet you can see where this is going by now, but ride feel is only part of the bike behavior. The ride feel is the transmission of the road to the rider. In general, it's more challenging to get this on a cross bike as there are bigger tires that are involved with this part of the evaluation.

Dirt Test Ride



For this portion of the evaluation, the Cortina was taken on short dirt climbs. With this size, I could definitely feel the longer wheel base as it seemed a little slower on the acceleration.


The bike corners just fine on the dirt. However, it does takes a little more effort with sharper turns (anything more than 90 degrees). With turns that were 90 degrees or less, the bike was just fine and required normal input.


Again, I will say that this bike is not twitchy at all. The Cortina is very stable in it's handling and is less likely to get away from you. Additionally, the rider is less likely to over steer or over correct.

Ride Feel

The ride on the dirt was stable and secure which allows you to focus on putting power to the pedals to speed across the Terra Firma. Put away your concerns of the bike getting away from you or your rear wheel sliding out from underneath you. The Cortina will make you feel like you could just blaze right over anything.

Trainer Test Ride


Ride Feel

I enjoyed the way the Cortina rode on the trainer. There was a little bit of flex in the bottom bracket while pedaling, but I had to look for it. It may sound funny, but some bikes react like they don't want to get put into the trainer (i.e. trainer skewer sticking, problems with lining up, docking, and release). When putting the Marin on the trainer however, it went right in without any fuss.

Race Test Ride


Race Performace

In cyclocross, it's challenging to have one bike that does it all in any  race situation. I raced the Cortina in one of the Cross Crusades  races held out at Portland International Race Way. What a mud  fest! The PIR course was flat but extremely muddy, which should have  suited me but didn't. The motor, not the bike, is to blame for the  poor performance.  However, there are two things that I would  changed on the Marin in preparation for this course. First, I would have preferred some mud tires.  The stock round  Vittorias are fine for dry courses, but ill-suited for muddy  courses. The edging performance was awful for this tire  especially considering that there were several off camber  sections more than 25 meters in length. I would also recommend changing the pie plate off the crank as  the big chain ring was simply too big. Marin needs to put a  proper cross chain ring on there, such as a 46t vs. the 50t. After  providing Marin with my recommendation, they have addressed  this issue with the current model. If it was a dry course, the  outcome might have been different.

We Liked

There are a lot of things we appreciated about the Cortina. The group package is really nice. The FSA kit is banging with the carbon crank and seat post. The stock bike comes with a good set of race/ training wheels. The black and copper paint job gets a two thumbs up, as it looks cool without being overtly flashy. The down tube was oversized, making a stiff and stable ride.

We Didn't Like

While the FSA handle bars are nice on the tops, the curvature of the drops is too shallow for my hands. This style of drop would work for individuals with small hands, but not for medium to large sized hands. As mentioned in the Race Performance section, the 50t chain ring selection is not appropriate for a cyclocross race bike. Please put a 46t on the crank. The 44cm chainstays on the Cortina are simply too long. If Marin shortened the chainstays by approximately 2 cm on the Cortina, the overall performance would dramatically increase enabling faster acceleration and quicker cornering.


If you are racing with the Cortina, you will be much happier upgrading the cranks to a 46t. If you have medium to large-sized hands, you will be more comfortable with a different set of FSA bars with an anatomical grip. Next in line would be upgrading to mud tires.

The Final Say

The Marin Cortina is a fine platform for the first-time buyer of a cyclocross bike. It's hard to go wrong with what Marin has produced. Right out of the box, you get a 19.6 lbs. stock bike with a ton of features that need only a few upgrades, which is a great place to start. Any upgrades that you make on it will only make the bike lighter.

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testy's picture


posted 8 years ago