In July 2022, I picked up a Marin Presidio 2 commuter bike. This is not my usual type of bike or riding at all. I’m typically on a mountain bike or road/gravel bike and ride 2-7 hours at a time. I decided it was time to try something different.
Here’s why I wanted a commuter bike, why I chose the Presidio 2 and what I think of it after about 100 miles of rides to coffee shops and grocery stores.
Why I Wanted A Commuter Bike
This year, I’ve had a pretty serious drop in my mileage. Some of that is because of changing my work hours. But some is because I decided to start playing hockey again. For various reasons, that took away my window for weekday pre-work rides. I wanted an easy way to get a few extra miles in.
Also, I started to feel ridiculous getting into my car for a round trip of less than 5 miles. Even though I’m driving electric, which is four times the efficiency of a similar gas-powered car, it just seems like I was adding wear and tear to my car and adding to Scottsdale’s traffic for no good reason.
I wanted a bike I could hop on and ride on a 5-mile round trip without wearing bike shoes, shorts and gloves. Just put my helmet on and go.
Why The Marin Presidio 2
A few years ago, my brother and I teamed up to get my dad a Kona Dew. It’s well set up as a commuter bike, so that was the first bike I considered. Then I started diving further into the selection of commuter bikes on the market.
The belt-drive commuter bikes with internally geared hubs started to catch my eye, especially since my mountain bike is a belt-drive singlespeed. If you’re unfamiliar with belt drives, they use a belt similar to a car’s timing belt rather than a chain. They’re quiet, strong, low maintenance and light.
Marin, Priority Bicycles, Momentum, Canyon and Lekker all make belt-drive bikes. None of them, of course, were in stock during my research phase. Phoenix is kind of a hard place to find some specialty stuff like a belt-drive commuter bike!
Anyway, aside from the possibility of a belt drive and internally geared hub, I also wanted hydraulic brakes — preferably Shimano because they’re the brake kings. I was a bit agnostic on wheel size. I also knew at this price point I wouldn’t get cooler stuff like thru-axles.
The Marin Presidio 2 checked a lot of boxes, but it doesn’t come with a belt drive like the more expensive Presidio 3. But it does have the frame break to install a belt. It has hydraulic brakes. It gets a 7-speed Shimano Nexus hub and shifter rather than the 8-speed Nexus that’s on the Presidio 3. I could live with that.
And guess who just happens to have spare belt drive parts for when this chain wears out? This guy right here.
Also, I’m a longtime fan of Marin bikes. They’ve had many models over the years that I’ve coveted. But I’ve never owned one before.
Riding The Presidio 2
The Presidio 2 is by far the quietest geared bike I’ve ever ridden. Shifts are quick and confident, though there’s a ticking sound in fifth gear. Even the seat surprised me — I expected my butt, which is used to bike shorts and fancy but minimalist seats, to rebel at the generic seat on the Presidio 2. I’m happy to report that it hasn’t been an issue.
Handling is pretty solid and it rolls pretty fast on 700c wheels. The riding position of my large size Presidio 2 fits me (6’2, 195-ish) nicely.
There’s also a wealth of attachment points for racks on its aluminum frame. All the frames in the Presidio line are aluminum, but they’re not all the same: The Presidio 1 doesn’t have a belt drive-compatible frame.
There were a few disappointing bits. I’m not a fan of the square-taper bottom bracket. I can’t tell you how many problems I’ve caused (as a rider) and fixed (as a mechanic) with rounding square-taper cranks. But I don’t plan to spin up nearly as many watts on this bike as I would grinding up a steep incline on my mountain bike.
The Shimano brakes are also disappointing, surprisingly. Maybe it’s because I’m used to Shimano SLX brakes. While SLX are not the top tier, they’re what I consider an exceptional value. Tons of performance at a reasonable price. Next to SLX, the Shimano U300 brakes are sub-par though nowhere near as bad as the Clarks Skeletal brakes I used on a bike once. Definitely a candidate for eventual replacement, probably by a Shimano Deore brakeset.
I’ll eventually replace the stem and handlebar, likely with spares I have lying around. I’ll also replace the stock handlebar grips — they rotate downward, so I’ll find some locking grips.
If you’re used to upper-tier road and mountain bikes, you’ll find the Marin Presidio bikes very mellow. The Presidio doesn’t have that instant acceleration and the ability to hold speed like what you might be used to. But that’s its niche — it’s calm and relatively confident within its boundaries. But those boundaries are more narrow, as I learned when I stuffed the Presidio into a muddy mess at a nearby park after a rain storm. I was thrown to the floor for my trouble.
A Few Additions For The Presidio 2
I picked up a pretty solid Kryptonite chain lock for those occasions when I have to go inside somewhere I’m more than 5 long strides from my bike.
But I could also use a bell for dealing with pedestrians. A small percentage of them are pretty much off in space while walking. Most of the cyclists on bike paths are OK.
I also have to dig up some lights for riding at night — not so I can see, but so cars can see me.
I’m also looking into basket-style racks.
Finally, I’ll wear the stock tires out and replace them with something wider, probably up to 38C.
With all this in place, the Marin Presidio 2 will be an even better commuter bike and errand machine.
The Bottom Line on the Marin Presidio
I’m a pretty harsh grader considering that my other bikes are titanium-framed, performance-oriented bikes with far better components than what’s on the Marin. Still, it’s getting the job done well.
The Marin Presidio 2 is listed at $969 on the Marin website.
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