Is Marin Headlands 2 A Perfect Selection? – [Marin Headlands 2 Review]

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Marin Headlands 2 Review

  • Price: $3,099
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Tires: 700c Aluminum
  • Drivetrain: 1×11

What we like about it: Hydraulic disc brakes deliver silky-smooth and efficient braking.

What we don’t like about it: The bright colors may not be friendly to some people who like a clean body.

Rating: (4.85/5)

2023 Marin Headlands 2
Marin Headlands 2

As the Marin family’s premium line of gravel bikes, the Marin Headlands has always been built on the principle of quality first. In terms of performance, it is efficient, timely, and surprising. Today, we bring you a gravel bike for professional riders and complex roads – Marin Headlands 2.

Below, we will analyze the riding experience, key features, components, and specifications as well as other versions of the Marin Headlands 2. And at the end of the review, we will also compare several best bike models. If you want to know more about bike reviews, don’t hesitate to follow us.

Riding Experience

As a “World of MTB, Best of 2024” gravel bike, the Marin Headlands 2 naturally piqued my interest. After I unboxed the bike and evaluated its professional performance, I chose Alviso Marina County Park, San Francisco, where I could test the bike’s stability on the wonderful gravel roads around the ocean and the high winds. In addition, the ascents and descents were a good test of the drivetrain and braking system. So I was excited to order a local hotel on Skyscanner and head out.

How does Marin Headlands 2 perform? Without further ado, read on with me!

Gravel road around the lake

Since the gravel roads here are unprotected, the bike’s performance was vital to the test. Thanks to the good quality GRX 800, FSA, and Shimano components, I was confident to take on the gravel. The 700c’s large diameter wheelset was good for speed as I crossed the gravel, and the 44-inch wide outer tire provided a good grip on the other side. In my quest for stability, I adjusted the height of the dropper seatpost, which I found very easy to operate and did not require me to get off the bike. I have to admit that the gentle geometry allowed me to keep riding in an upright position, and I didn’t feel any discomfort after I finished rounding this closed loop of gravel roads. Then I came to a road with climbs and descents.

Slope Road Riding

Heading to the road, I gave up my quest for stability and threw in speed instead. Thanks to the 1×11 Shimano drivetrain consisting of a Shimano GRX RDX812 Shadow Plus rear derailleur and a Shimano 11-Speed, 11/42T flywheel, I was able to climb different grades at different speeds with ease. Apart from that, the clutch on the rear derailleur made shifting very smooth. During the ride, the Marin Shock Absorbing Tape handlebars were aerodynamically shaped to give me an exciting speed experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the feeling of breaking wind. Going downhill, the Shimano GRX hydraulic discs and the Shifter and Integrated Dropper Lever on the brake levers gave me a fast and smooth braking experience, guaranteeing my riding safety. Before I knew it, it was already dusk, and my riding trip was over.

This is a scenic but somewhat dangerous ride. If you want to take on the challenge, I suggest you bring a good performance bike, such as my Marin Headlands 2. I have to admit, it was a perfect ride, and the Marin Headlands 2 is really good.


The Marin Headlands 2 is a gravel bike that focuses on lightness and practicality. It uses a carbon fiber frame and fork that can improve the stiffness and wear resistance of the frame while keeping it light. The Gloss Black / Roarange/blue paint body gives it a very bright and enthusiastic look. The Marin Shock Absorbing Tape has an aerodynamic handlebar design that allows you to ride with less drag, while the dropper seat design provides shock absorption on gravel roads and helps you adjust your seating position to relieve fatigue.

The Marin Headlands 2 is designed to be compatible with multiple tire sizes, with a 700c x 45mm/650B x 50mm wheelset that can be swapped out to meet your needs for speed or stability. Its vacuum inner tube can be supplied with tire sealant fluid to repair holes in the tire. In terms of drivetrain, the Shimano 40T cassette and 11/42T flywheel bring 1×11 speed, allowing you to find the best speed, whether on flat, hilly, or gravel roads. In addition, the hydraulic disc brakes of Shimano GRX provide a smooth, silky, and efficient braking effect, which can protect your travel safety.

Finally, the Marin Headlands 2 uses components from GRX 800, FSA, Shimano. The high-quality components greatly enhance the whole bike’s performance and are less prone to damage. The Marin Headlands 2 is a great choice for some riders seeking professional performance.


What do we like about it?

  • Outstanding Disc Brakes: Shimano GRX’s hydraulic disc brakes greatly improve the braking performance and efficiency of the entire vehicle, thus safeguarding your travel safety.
  • Dropper Seat Design: Dropper seat design, on the one hand, can provide a certain shock absorption effect on gravel roads. On the other hand, it is conducive to adjusting the sitting position to relieve fatigue.
  • Excellent Drivetrain: Shimano 40T cassette and 11/42T flywheel bring 1×11 speeds. You can find the most suitable speed whether on the flat, hilly, or gravel road.
  • High-quality Components: Marin Headlands 2 uses GRX 800, FSA, Shimano components. High-quality components greatly enhance the performance of the whole bike, and are also less prone to damage.
  • Compatible Tires: Interchangeable 700c x 45mm/650B x 50mm wheelsets to meet your needs for speed or stability.

What don’t we like about it?

  • The bright colors may not be friendly to some people who prefer a clean body.


  • Who is Marin Headlands 2 for?

Daily commuter cyclists; people who like better braking performance; people who are long-distance travel lovers; people with high requirements for bike components; professional riders.

  • Marin Headlands 2 wheelset compatible benefits?

  The 700c x 45mm/650B x 50mm Compatible expands the rider’s choice and facilitates the changing of outer tires on different terrains.

  • What other versions of the Marin Headlands series are available?

   Here we provide you with a comparison of other versions. You do not necessarily have to follow this standard. The best way to find the most suitable model is to test ride.

Marin Headlands 1$2,599CarbonCarbonHydraulic Disc1 × 9
Marin Headlands 2$3,099CarbonCarbonHydraulic Disc1 × 11



 FrameUnidirectional Carbon Beyond Road Platform, 1x Drivetrain Specific, 700c x 45mm/650B x 50mm Compatible, Flat Mount Disc, 142x12mm Thru-Axle, Internal Dropper Post Routing, Internal Housing Routing, Mudguard and Rear Carrier Mounting, Plentiful Gear Mounts
BB Standard: BSA, 68mm, Threaded
Color: Gloss Black / Roarange/blue
ForkMarin Full Carbon w/ Tapered Steerer, 12mm Thru-Axle, Flat-Mount Disc, Fender Eyelets
Bottom BracketFSA MegaExo Threaded
HeadsetFSA Orbit IS, Sealed Cartridge Bearings, 1 1/8″ x 1 1/2″
StemMarin 3D Forged Alloy
HandlebarMarin Butted Alloy, Compact 16º Flared Drop
SaddleMarin Beyond Road Concept Elite
SeatpostTranzX YSP38 Dropper Post, 70mm/105mm Travel, 27.2mm
GripsMarin Shock Absorbing Tape


Rear DerailleurShimano GRX RDX812 Shadow Plus w/ Clutch
Front Derailleur
CrankFSA Gossamer Pro, Megatooth 42T Chainring, BB386EVO Alloy Spindle
ShiftersShimano GRX STX801, 1×11-Speed, Integrated Dropper Lever
CassetteShimano, 11-Speed, 11/42T
ChainKMC X11
BrakesHydraulic Disc
Brake LeversShimano GRX Hydraulic w/ Shifter and Integrated Dropper Lever


RimsMarin Aluminum Double Wall, 21mm Inner, 21mm Tall, Disc Specific, Tubeless Compatible
Front HubForged Aluminum Alloy, Disc, 28H
Rear HubForged Aluminum Alloy, Disc, 28H
TiresVee Tire Co. G-Sport, 700cx44, Tubeless Compatible

Comparison Table

BicyclesClick to viewTiresDrivelineFrame materialComponents
Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 DriftlessClick View700c Aluminum1 × 11AluminumGRX 800, GRX 600, Shimano
Cannondale Topstone Carbon 4Click View700c Aluminum2 × 10CarbonGRX 400, FSA, Shimano
Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1BYClick View650b/700c Aluminum1 × 11CarbonGRX 800, Shimano
Giant Revolt, Advanced 1Click View700c Aluminum1 × 12CarbonRival XPLR eTap, Rival eTap, SRAM

Marin Headlands 2 vs Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Driftless

2023 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Driftless
Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Driftless

The Cannondale Topstone 1 and the Marin Headlands 1 have much in common. They both use Shimano hydraulic disc brakes with high braking power and a Shimano 1×11 drivetrain with good climbing power. On top of that, they also apply a large 700c wheel diameter to achieve faster speeds.

But I do recommend the Marin Headlands 2. Because its carbon fiber frame is lighter and more rigid. Besides, the quality of the GRX 800, FSA components of the Marin Headlands 2 is better than the GRX 800, GRX 600 components of the Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Driftless. Although the Marin Headlands 2 comes with a 700c wheelset from the factory, it has a 700c x 45mm/650B x 50mm dual compatibility to support a broader range of wheelset sizes.

Of course, the Integrated framed bag mount located on the upper fork of the Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Driftless is a highlight. And it is very convenient for carrying and securing some bulky items.

Learn More: Is Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 A Good Bike? [Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 Review]

Marin Headlands 2 vs Cannondale Topstone Carbon 4

2023 Cannondale Topstone Carbon 4
Cannondale Topstone Carbon 4

The two models are like two very different persons in appearance: the Smoke Black and Olive Green paint colors of the Cannondale Topstone Carbon 4 symbolize a low-key yet profound intellectual, while the Gloss Black / Roarange/ blue color scheme of the Marin Headlands 2 represents an energetic teenager.

In terms of the drivetrain, the two cars are also different. The Marin Headlands 2’s Shimano 1×11 shifting drivetrain is superior on climbing terrain, while the 2×10 Shimano drivetrain with Shimano GRX 400 front and rear chainstays and SunRace, 11-36, and 10-speed flywheels has a wider range of speeds to choose from in the pursuit of speed. Therefore, riders who are looking for speed are more suitable for Cannondale Topstone Carbon 4, while those who are into stability can choose Marin Headlands 2.

Learn More: Is Cannondale Topstone 1 Worth Buying? [Cannondale Topstone 1 Review]

Marin Headlands 2 vs Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1BY

 2023 Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1BY
Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1BY

Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1BY has seven different sizes from XXS-XXL, which can meet the needs of all kinds of people. In addition, the carbon fiber frame and fork bring lighter weight and more propulsion to the whole bike. It must be mentioned that the textured, anti-slip brake lever provides efficient control over rough terrain. However, the more aggressive geometry design may cause discomfort to the rider on long rides.

In contrast, I prefer the Marin Headlands 2. Its gentle geometry is good for maintaining a comfortable upright riding position; the dropper searpost design provides great convenience for raising and lowering the seat tube height. In addition, in terms of components, the clutch carried on the rear derailleur makes the braking operation silky smooth without jamming, enhancing the braking performance of the whole bike. On the other hand, the auto-mending liquid inside the tire can reduce tire wear by self-repairing tire holes.

Learn More: Is Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 Suspension 1by Worth Buying? [Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 Suspension 1by Review]

Marin Headlands 2 vs Giant Revolt, Advanced 1

Giant Revolt, Advanced 1
Giant Revolt, Advanced 1

The Giant Revolt, Advanced 1 features the SRAM Rival eTap 1×12 electronic shifting system, which reduces weight and increases ease of maintenance. Its 1×12 drivetrain also has a broader range of speeds than the Marin Headlands 2’s Shimano 1×11 drivetrain, which is more beneficial on climbs. However, its lack of mudguard configuration is not conducive to blocking mud while riding, which may increase the risk of tire damage.

Fortunately, the Marin Headlands 2 is equipped with fender eyelets at the front fork for easy installation of fenders. In addition, the Marin Headlands 2 has a 70mm/105mm seat tube travel, which is very effective for shock absorption. It must be mentioned that the hydraulic disc brakes of Shimano GRX significantly improve the braking performance and efficiency of the whole bike, thus ensuring travel safety.

Those who prefer a wireless electronic shifting system can choose Giant Revolt, Advanced 1. Whereas Marin Headlands 2 is suitable for those who need fenders.

Learn More: Is Giant Revolt Advanced Pro 0 Worth Buying? – [Giant Revolt Advanced Pro 0 Review]


These are our tests of the Marin Headlands 2, an excellent gravel bike with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and 1x shifters for silky smooth braking and strong climbing power. Its high-quality GRX 800, FSA components greatly reduce the risk of damage.

In my opinion, the Marin Headlands 2 is a bike worth buying. All together why we give it a high score of 4.85.

Of course, if you’re interested in exploring other gravel bikes, we have reviewed a variety of bikes at different price points that you might find interesting. Feel free to check out our other reviews as well.

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