Retrospec Mars Hybrid City Commuter Bike ReviewThe Retrospec Mars city commuter hybrid bike is affordable, durable, and offers a more comfortable ride compared to a traditional bike. In fact, it offers the type of riding experience that’s perfect for the cyclist who commutes. This model isn’t the fastest on the market, but it’s well-built, loaded with some great features, and it offers a smoother, reliable ride, for a hybrid that’s reasonably priced. 

Our Verdict: If you’re on a budget and need a reliable hybrid for shorter commutes or for recreational purposes, then the Mars hybrid is a great option. If you’re looking for a hybrid that excels at longer commutes, we urge you to keep looking. The bike’s heavier frame can make it difficult for people who are not in top shape, to use this bike daily. Unlike other commuter hybrids, which are made out of aluminum, this model features a frame constructed out of high tensile steel. It’s also a single speed hybrid, which means riding up a steep hill or over challenging terrain can be a real struggle for the new cyclist. The lack of gears combined with the heavy frame make this bike a poor choice for longer commutes. Click here to see how to order one today…

Read on to learn more about what the Mars has to offer.

Overview and Features 

Retrospec isn’t a major manufacturer in the industry. In fact, you’ve probably never heard of them. Those cyclists who do have experience with Retrospec bikes know that these bikes are often pretty basic in terms of design and features. This manufacturer has a reputation for producing affordable, durable bikes that don’t have much to offer in terms of flash.

Right off the bat, you can tell this model is well-built. The frame is made from tensile steel, just like most hybrid bikes in this price range, so it may not be the best choice for long commutes. The bike’s simple design features a vintage flair that will definitely turn heads as you ride around town. 

True to a commuter style hybrid, the bike also features a relaxed upright riding position, which minimizes shoulder and lower back pain. 

It comes with some pretty basic features including a stock saddle and front and rear fenders. It doesn’t come with a fancy shifter system or other extras. Because this bike is designed for cyclists on a budget it’s as basic as it gets.

Frame Design 

Unlike the Tommaso La Forma, which features the classic hybrid bike lightweight aluminum frame, the Mars has a frame designed for rugged durability.  Again, this is another compromise on the manufacturer’s part that’s designed to keep the price low. While for some the heavier frame may be a deal breaker, other cyclists will prefer it because it offers better than average shock absorption, making this bike suitable for moderate off-road riding. 

If you’re shopping for a lightweight commuter hybrid, click here to take a look at our epic buyer’s guide which also features popular models of best-selling hybrid bikes. 

Brakes 

It also features powerful brakes that are simple to adjust if you have experience but can require the assistance of a pro if you don’t. If you do decide to take your bike into a local bike shop for an adjustment, make sure the staff give you some pointers on how to fix bike brakes, so you can fix any issues on your own, later down the line. 

Of course, learning how to maintain your new hybrid isn’t as difficult as it seems. Even a beginner can provide basic routine maintenance when needed. Fortunately, the bike’s simple design makes it very beginner-friendly, so you should have no trouble keeping this model in top working order. Keep in mind, if this is going to be your daily commuter, you’ll need to check out the tire pressure, brakes, and more, before each ride. 

Off-Road Riding 

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While the bike is marketed as a commuter hybrid, we feel that it actually offers an equally good off-roading experience. If you have a long commute and you’re new to cycling, then you may find yourself struggling, especially if your commute consists of hilly terrain. The bike doesn’t come with a suspension fork, which means riding on uncultivated terrain can be uncomfortable for the cyclist. However, considering the frame’s heavy-duty construction you won’t have to worry about damaging or bending the frame when you put this bike to the test with a little moderate off-roading. 

Assembly

The assembly process requires you to attach the saddle, tires, and handlebars. The included instructions are vague but do include images for each step. If you have prior experience assembling bikes you should be able to put this bike together in about fifteen minutes. Beginners will have to rely on the included instructions, but overall, the process should take no longer than half an hour. 

Performance

This model from Retrospec offers a new and improved design compared to their hybrid bike line produced two years ago.  The included commuter tires are perfect for rides around town. They’re also puncture resistant, which is a huge plus if you plan on putting some serious mileage on this bike every week. 

The real drawback here is the heavy frame and lack of gears. If you have realistic expectations regarding what this bike can do and where you can ride it, then this model can be a great choice for recreational purposes. We’re  not sure why this bike is heavily marketed as a commuter considering most commuter bikes are made out of a lightaluminum and designed for speed. In terms of riding performance this bike handles well enough, but it;s steel frame equals a sluggish performance.

Handlebars 

The handlebar design promotes a more relaxed rider’s stance, while the soft grips provide a more comfortable riding experience. 

Vintage Appeal

The bike’s vintage-inspired look gives the bike a unique appearance that makes it stand out from other models in this price range. Despite the fact that the bike is heavier than the average commuter, we felt it was a fair trade off for the bike’s improved durability, and easier handling. On the other hand, don’t let the bike’s classic looks sell you on it. If you have a long commute to and from work, this single speed model, combined with its heavier frame will not be a practical choice. 

This bike is a better choice for running errands or recreational purposes such as rides around town on the weekend. While it’s true it does feature a heavy-duty, durable frame, in a commuter bike you need a frame that’s lightweight and designed to reduce user fatigue, not a heavy bike you’ll struggle to ride on hilly terrain. For some cyclists,  the lack of  shifters can be a total deal breaker. If you want to get this bike up a steep hill, it’s going to require a lot of leg power and energy.

Fenders 

Since the bike is marketed as a commuter, the manufacturer has included a front and rear fender, which will keep the cyclist nice and dry when riding around in rainy weather. Typically, these accessories are sold separately, so the fact that the bike comes equipped with some solid fenders is a huge plus for cyclists on a budget. 

Required Upgrades 

Unfortunately, the pedals on this bike are made out of a cheap plastic, which reduces the bike’s overall quality. In the even of an accident, these pedals can easily crack. We recommend upgrading them as soon as possible. 

The stock saddle is also in need of an upgrade. It’s a basic, stiff, low-quality saddle that can make a long commute pretty uncomfortable. Of course a poor quality stock saddle is par for the course with most bikes on the market. Fortunately, this is an affordable upgrade. 

Pros 

  • Priced affordably
  • Vintage look 
  • Durable tensile steel frame
  • Front and rear fenders included 

Cons 

  • Frame may be too heavy for longer commutes
  • Uncomfortable stock saddle
  • Lack of gears can make riding over hilly terrain difficult
  • Plastic pedals 
Retrospec Mars Hybrid City Commuter Bike Conclusion and Rating

Joy Bicycles.com Product Rating Updated July, 2020: (4/5)

Retrospec Mars Hybrid City Commuter Bike

The Mars offers a clean look with sharp lines, giving it the type of vintage appeal that many cyclists know and love. But if you’re searching for a hybrid you can rely on for your daily commute, then you need a bike that has more to offer.

This is a reasonably priced hybrid bike that would be a perfect choice for running errands, rides around town, and shorter commutes, this model’s heavier steel frame can make this model a bad option for longer rides, especially if the cyclist is a beginner. 

However, this bike does excel at off-road riding and can handle dirt roads and uneven terrains with ease. Keep in mind that this bike is priced low, so it doesn’t come equipped with many top of the line components. If a low price is your priority, then the Mars is a solid choice. With a few simple upgrades, this can be a great bike for recreational use, but we wouldn’t recommend it for long distance commutes. While it’s not a light hybrid compared to other leading models on the market, it’s relatively sturdy and well-built.  We gave this bike a rating of four out of five stars.

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Retrospec Mars Hybrid City Commuter Bike
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