Highs: Like riding on air suspension
Lows: Not the lightest bike out there
Buy If: You want a unique bike that can handle all types of bad city roads
JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) products have always been sought after here in Malaysia and the simple reason is because they are all relatable. We can all relate to how the Japanese do things because it is in their culture to make things with thorough thought and consideration of heritage, passion and usability. This also applies to the way they approach bicycle designs, and it’s no surprise that a lot of international companies are making bikes just for the Japanese market.
It’s no surprise either that Californian bike company Marin have also made a bike specifically for the Land of the Rising Sun - because they are also all about heritage, passion and usability. We also have to thank Marin Bikes Malaysia for being brave enough to import one of these sweet rides here. The bike at hand is called the Marin Nicasio SE 650b and honestly what a lovely piece of machinery it is.
The Nicasio SE 650b is a member of the Marin Nicasio family, a range of models which are made using Chromoly steel metal and designed to be robust so that it can take you as far as your heart’s desire without even a hint of a major mechanical breakdown. The SE 650b is a JDM specific bike based on the Nicasio RC, a bike that in itself is laid back and primarily targeted at commuting or just outright fun city riding.
What they did with the RC to turn it into the SE was to chuck away some of those laidback components like the swept back handlebar, fenders, internal hubs and 42T crankset and fitted it with go-faster parts such as a FSA Tempo Compact 50/34T crankset, 11-32T cassette and a Tektro disc brake setup. By replacing these parts, the Nicasio RC base has been transformed into a somewhat faster street bike perfect for zooming in and out of city traffic.
Naturally, we tested this bike in the heart of Kuala Lumpur (since it is a city bike and all) but after the urban test we really did ponder whether it can go further than that. The first thing you would love about this bike is how it feels to ride it. No doubt this is due to the voluminous tyres that it has. The WTB Horizons tyres are simply lovely and really did give an air suspension-like ride, making the road feel super smooth.
The second thing that you would love about the bike is how it acts like a torpedo, if you’ll forgive the war reference. Due to its weight it does takes some time to get it up to speed but once it is, it just kind of cruises at that constant pace without much effort, just like a torpedo in water.
Speaking of weight, that is the only thing that this bike has against it. Being a Chromoly frame bike, it’ll never be the lightest, but you tend to forget about the weight when you ride it. This was evident when we climbed up the hill to the iconic KL Tower. We did not feel that it was particularly heavy during the climb as it always had momentum, helped by the nicely thought gearing ratio. With a compact crankset you can always use the 50T for flats and the 34T for climbs.
Even today with the many choices for riding in comfort, we still see many people buying hardtail mountain bikes just to ride it on tarmac.
Ditch the idea because the Nicasio SE would be a better option.
It has comfortable slick tyres for fast rolling road cycling as well as volume in the tyres to give you suspension.
The weight aspect of the bike might put people off but trust us when we say that when it gets going, the relatively heavy weight really is easily forgotten.
Frame: Marin 4130 CrMo, Beyond Road Geometry
Rim: Marin Aluminum Double Wall
Tyres: WTB Horizon, Wire Bead, 650B x 47mm
Groupset: Shimano Claris 8-speed
Crankset: FSA Tempo Compact 50/34T
Bottom Bracket: Square Taper, Sealed Cartridge Bearing
Brakeset: Tektro M280
Finishing Kit: Marin handlebar, stem, grips, seatpost, saddle.