Updated: 24 May 2024

Are you after a gravel bike that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg? And is a perfect introduction to the world of gravel riding? The Marin Nicasio + is a bike you should consider, and all for $1,049! It is not quite the bike for bikepacking and adventure riding. As Marin offer other bike options for such explorations. But the Nicasio falls into Marins drop bar gravel and beyond road category of bikes.

Our Verdict

The Marin Nicasio+ is an excellent budget-friendly option for those new to gravel biking, priced at $1,049. It offers a durable steel frame with Beyond Road Geometry for stability and comfort on light gravel and easy off-road trails.

However, it falls short for bikepacking and more rugged adventures due to its limited tire clearance and mid-range components. While heavier than some competitors and lacking high-end features, it’s a solid choice for beginners seeking a reliable and enjoyable ride on mixed terrains. For those prioritizing wider tires or steeper climbs, other options might be more suitable.

Marin say “these endurance models let you take any path you feel comfortable, whether it be on the asphalt or up a gravel road with a secret view.”

More specifically the Marin Nicasio + is considered by Marin as an Adventure road and off-road bike. The Beyond Road Geometry offers a blend of endurance road handling with enhanced stability for off pavement use.

I have had the chance to test this bike out extensively over the last few months after I picked up the 2021 model, which is not really any different from the 2020 or 2022. It came 6th overall in our list of the best value gravel bikes. Mainly lacking due to a lesser quality drivetrain, smaller gear range for climbing, and limited tire clearance.

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The bike is built from the Series 1 Double Butted CrMo Beyond Road frame. Yes steel! My favourite. If steel is your thing then check out this article with some of the best steel gravel bikes. It has become a staple in gravel riding and cycling in general. CROMO provides incredible strength to weight properties. That means it is up to 5 times the fatigue strength as 6061 aluminium. In my opinion it is the best material for those looking to undertake adventures on their bike.

But yes that does mean a heavier bike. Some people criticise the Nicasio Plus for being “too heavy” but I personally think it is not much to worry about. It weighs in at around 12.9kg or 28.44 pounds.

The frame is designed to house 650b x 47c tires. For max tire clearance this means the same you will only be able to fit a max 650b x 47mm tire on this bike. Which is a little disappointing. Because this is one of the pitfalls I had with this bike after riding some looser gravel type roads and terrains. The WTB Horizon tires do lack traction from time to time. This could be attended to with other gravel bike tires around 47mm. But you will struggle to fit any type of mountain bike tire. For me I would have preferred this bike to have bigger tire clearances to make it just that much more capable.

The Nicasio seems at home for those looking to get their first gravel bike and ride mainly light gravel roads and maybe some easy singletrack. It is very capable on long gravel roads and a blast to ride on such terrains. That doesn’t mean you can’t ride this bike on more gnarly singletrack, but it just lacks in traction and manoeuvrability.

The Nicasio has a generous amount of eyelets you could need for bikepacking or touring adventures. You get multiple mounting options on both the fork and frame of the bike, for fenders, bottle cages, racks and even cargo cages on the fork if you wanted with the double mounting on each side. I believe the double braze-ons on the fork is an update from previous models with only the one. You also get 3 spots for mounting water bottle cages, two inside the frame triangle and one underneath the down-tube.

As the bike is only around $1000 it doesn’t have some of the highest quality components and parts which is completely expected. You do get mechanical disc brakes, in the form of Tektro Road 160mm brakes. It has mid-range components with the MicroSHIFT Advent and FSA groupset. You get a bike with 1×9 speed which is plenty enough for gravel grinding. The rear cassette is the SunRace 9-Speed, 11-46T with a FSA Vero Pro 1x, Narrow Wide Rings, 42T crank. Resulting in a 24.15 inch climbing gear. Which is acceptable for a gravel bike. It is better than something like the Kona Sutra LTD but not as good as some other gravel bikes, like the 2021 Poseidon Redwood which boasts a 21.88″ climbing gear. But considering the Nicasio isn’t intended for steep MTB trails the gearing works well enough for long gravel road climbs.

It is comparable to the 2021 State Bicycle Co 4130 All-Road, Breezer RADAR Expert, 2021 Poseidon Redwood and maybe the 2021 Cannondale Topstone 4. Which all made the list for the best value gravel bikes. Also if you want some other gravel bike options around $1,000, check out this article. Which are all around the same price. But my point is that the Nicasio fits somewhere near the bottom of the list of all these gravel bikes. Being better then the State Bicycle Co 4130 All-Road. It is one of the cheaper bikes, but there are better gravel bikes options out currently for very similar prices.

However if you want a budget and best value steel gravel bike! I would definitely consider this bike or if you want slightly larger tire clearance the Breezer RADAR Expert.

Taking a look at the bikes geometry I can better describe how this bike performs. The trail is in that mid-range for comparable gravel bikes at 57 mm which means the ride feel up front is more responsive and predictable. It is not overly stable as this type of bike is not designed for carry heavy loads of gear.

The rear end is considered shorter when compared to other gravel bikes. It is jumpy and quick, not taking long to get up to speed and mainting that while riding fast up a hill for example. Chainstay length is 420 mm.

It does come with the Marin Butted Alloy, Compact 12º Flared Drop bar. It is not very wide. Maybe I am use to my 50 cm drop bars but it just doesn’t feel the best when riding. I also did find the MicroSHIFT Advent groupset a bit sluggish at times. Out of the box it was not running smoothly and jumping gears. But once this groupset is serviced and dialled in it works fine, especially for the overall price of the bike.

So is this bike for you? Well if you are just getting into gravel grinding and only want to ride light gravel roads and easy off-road. As this bike is best suited for such terrains. The only things that lets me down with this bike is the option for wider tires to make it more capable off road. If you are on a limited budget this is one of the better budget gravel bike options to choose from! Before pulling the trigger on this bike I would consider taking a look at the few other bikes I mentioned earlier in this article.

Compare The Nicasio to Other Bikes

Marin Nicasio+


Adventure Ready


Tire Clearance




Comfortable Geometry




About The Author



Codey Orgill, a seasoned bicycle adventurer, has been exploring the world on two wheels for over 10 years. Since embarking on his initial cycling journey, Codey Orgill has traversed numerous countries, experiencing a series of epic adventures.