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Just in: Marin Ignacio

Kickshift two-speed urban steel with clean lines

You might remember that earlier this year we tested the Marin Dominican and found it to be a 'well built urban fixer that's fun to ride and easy on the eye'. Well now we've got out hands on the new Ignacio, which shoehorns a bit of kickshift fun into a similar package.

2010's Ignacio was a drop bar fixer with leather fittings but for 2011 it's sporting narrow risers and using the same Cromoly frame as the Dominican. The difference is the rear hub, which is a Sturmey Archer S2 kickshift. This is a long way from being a new invention; the original S2 was released in 1966 but it fell out of favour fairly quickly. However the current revival of interest in the clean lines of fixed/singlespeed bikes has led to its revival, as it offers two ratios – direct drive and 138% overdrive – without any switchgear or cabling at all. You just backpedal to switch between the ratios.

It certainly takes a bit of getting used to, and you're never quite sure what gear you're in when you're not pedalling, but it certainly does give you two very different ratios without sullying the clean lines of your machine. With the 44/17 transmission that equates to 68" in direct drive and a pretty steep 94" in overdrive; good for barrelling along on the flat but for hilly Bath we'll probably swap out the chainring for a 39T to give us a nice 60" climby gear and and an 82" for cruising.

The butted steel frame and fork are unchanged from 2010's Dominican and we liked the platform then so we're hoping to again; the other kit is all dependable stuff, if not flashy. That S2 hub is laced to an Alex rim (you get a high flange hub at the front) and the wheels are shod with dependable Vittoria Zaffiro 28mm tyres. As for the rest of the kit, it's all unbranded – as is the frame, nearly, with just the bike's name wrote small on the top tube – and the overall look is very lean. We'd guess that Tektro, Dia Compe and FSA were responsible for most of what's hanging from the frame.

Price-wise the kickshift hub adds £150 to the price of the Dominican; this bike retails for £699. Whether that extra spend is justified will depend on how useful and usable that S2 hub turns out to be. When we know, so will you...

Dave is a founding father of, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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