2021 Marin El Roy & San Quentin Hardtails - Across the Pond Beaver

Sep 4, 2020
by Dan Roberts  
2021 Marin El Roy Photographer Andy Lloyd

2020 is shaping up to be the year of the hardtail, and for someone who comes from the UK, it's exciting to see all these bikes coming out. Marin's new El Roy is bound to strike a chord with UK, and worldwide, metal hardtail enthusiasts, or anyone wanting to attempt the ultimate underbiking challenge.

Aggressive with a capital A, the El Roy uses a 4130 CrMo frame with double butting and formed tubes. It's based around 29" wheels with a 140mm travel fork.

2021 Marin El Roy Photographer Andy Lloyd
2021 Marin El Roy Photographer Andy Lloyd
Aggressive geometry all round and a gear mount on the underside of the top tube gives essential carrying options.

2021 Marin El Roy Photographer Andy Lloyd

2021 Marin El Roy Photographer Andy Lloyd
2021 Marin El Roy Photographer Andy Lloyd
The 4130 CroMo frame is electro plated, which should keep corrosion at bay for a long time. Neat little cast dropouts round of the frame and use 148 x 12mm spacing.

The frame features cast 148 x 12mm dropouts and external brake routing. There's top tube storage mounts on the underside of the tube, something we're seeing more and more on all bikes and a great option for carrying spares, a tube or even strapping on an enduro banana for the longer rides.

The whole frame is electro plated with an anti-corrosion coating, meaning it should last for years to come, even in the wettest of UK winters.

Marin offers the El Roy in Regular and Grande frame sizes, with both being on the longer side of things with 480 and 510mm reach numbers respectively.

There's a 63° head angle and a 120mm long head tube that uses an integrated, or drop in, headset. Out back there's 435mm chainstay on both sizes and the frame has a 65mm BB drop with an estimated 318mm BB height.

A 78° effective seat height is nicely steep, and with only a small deviation in the actual seat angle, due to the hardtail construction, the seated position in real life should be somewhat closer to the on paper numbers. The Regular is aimed at 67 - 79.3cm seat height and Grande at 70 - 81.5cm seat height.

Both sizes come with 35mm long stems, 800mm bars and 170mm cranks. The El Roy is available in one complete build and a frameset, which includes an FSA headset, thru-axle and seat clamp.

Complete build highlights are the Marzocchi Z1 Grip fork, Shimano Deore 12-speed drivetrain, Shimano 4 piston brakes and Maxxis Assegai 2.5" Maxx Grip tyres front and rear. It retails for $2,499 USD.
Marin El Roy Geometry Table


2021 Marin El Roy Photographer Andy Lloyd





2021 Marin San Quentin SQ3 Photographer Andy Lloyd

San Quentin

More hardtail goodness to add to the bumper crop of 2020. The San Quentin name comes from the most "rough and tumble piece of Marin County". The San Quentin is the maximum security California State Prison, and Marin's go anywhere, do anything hardtail that they developed with Matt Jones. Although there's no link between Matt and the Californian jail.

A mixture of the Alcatraz dirt jump hardtail and a more trail orientated hardtail bike, the San Quentin is intended to be taken everywhere from DH runs, pumptracks, dirt jumps, singletrails and all manner of riding that comes in between.

The aluminum frame is built around 27.5" wheels and features ISCG chain guide tabs and semi-internal cable routing.

2021 Marin San Quentin SQ3 Photographer Andy Lloyd
2021 Marin San Quentin SQ3 Photographer Andy Lloyd
There's neat and clean details all over the aluminum frame and the cable routing is internal in the down tube and external along the chainstays.

2021 Marin San Quentin SQ3 Photographer Andy Lloyd

2021 Marin San Quentin SQ3 Photographer Andy Lloyd
2021 Marin San Quentin SQ3 Photographer Andy Lloyd

It's available in S to XL sizes with reaches ranging from 422mm on the S to 484mm on the XL, all with a 65° head angle.

There's a 75° effective seat tube angle on all sizes and a 50mm BB drop giving a BB height of around 317mm. Shorter 425mm chainstays are on all sizes.

All bikes come with 780mm bars and a 45mm long stem. S size gets 170mm cranks with the rest running 175mm cranks.

The San Quentin range starts at the top San Quentin 3 and 2, both with a 130mm fork and dropper post. The lowest priced San Quentin 1 uses a 120mm fork and a fixed post.

The San Quentin 3 retails for $1949 and is available in red. The 2 retails for $1299 and is available in a blue/green colour combo. The 3 retails for $869 and is available in either full silver or a blue and pink colour combo.
Marin San Quentin Geometry Table

2021 Marin San Quentin SQ3 Photographer Andy Lloyd





2021 Marin San Quentin SQ24 Photographer Andy Lloyd

San Quentin 24" and 20"
Carrying on the go everywhere, do anything mantra from the adult San Quentin, the 24" and 20" versions take that lively and fun theme and scale down the size.

Bikes feature neat details such as adjustable forks, hydraulic brakes and wide range 1x drivetrains to help out with setup and while out on the trail.

The aluminum frames use 135mm open dropouts and not only take design cues from the adult San Quentin, but geometry ideals too.

2021 Marin San Quentin SQ24 Photographer Andy Lloyd
2021 Marin San Quentin SQ24 Photographer Andy Lloyd

2021 Marin San Quentin SQ24 Photographer Andy Lloyd

The 24" bike has a 345mm reach and the 2ß" has a 310mm, with both frames using a 65° head angle.

Short 90mm head tubes keep the stack and standover low and 75° seat tube angles give a modern seated position to the little aggro frames.

The 24" San Quentin has a 30mm BB drop and 370mm chainstay. The 20" has a 10mm BB drop and a 340mm chainstay.

Both bikes come specced with 590mm wide bars, 35mm long stems and the 24" bike has 152mm long cranks while the 20" version has shorter 140mm cranks.

The San Quentin 24" uses a RockShox Judy fork with 100mm travel, Microshift 9-speed drivetrain with an 11-46T cassette and 30T chainring, Shimano MT201 brakes with 160mm rotors and 2.6" wide Vee Tire Crown Gem tyres. It retails for $949.

The San Quentin 20 uses an SR Suntour XCM 80mm travel fork, Microshift 8-speed drivetrain with an 11-32T cassette and 28T chainring, Tektro hydraulic brakes and 2.6" wide Vee Tire Crown Gem tyres. It retails for $599.
Marin San Quentin 24 20 Geometry Table

2021 Marin San Quentin SQ24
Marin San Quentin 24"
2021 Marin San Quentin SQ20
Marin San Quentin 20"

2021 Marin San Quentin SQ24 Photographer Andy Lloyd





Across the Pond Beaver 2020






92 Comments

  • 125 1
 Marin. A brand I wouldnt have considered 5 years ago who are now knocking every bike out of the park in spec, price, geo and color.
  • 36 0
 Hopefully they offer the El Roy as frame only. I would be very keen. As a side note it's good to see Marin getting back into steel - they used to make some lovely steel frames.
  • 3 0
 @fartymarty: I hope they do offer, very nice looking frame
  • 11 17
flag elmaar (Sep 4, 2020 at 1:06) (Below Threshold)
 2500 $ for a steel hardtail with no name tubing and low and spec is quite expensive, isn`t it?
  • 5 0
 I wouldn’t have considered them until they brought out the rift zone a couple of years ago.

Well, Except I always wanted a Bear Valley in the late 80s early 90s !
  • 3 0
 As a Nail Trail rider, I think they have been quietly producing great riding bikes for a few years, with some dodgy paintjobs and challenging looks!

They do have some work to do on specs - my bike came with a need for three different tools to undo rear disk ( extra long cassette tool), front disc (old school BB tool for Octalink), BB (undersized shimano tool for XT BB's)....and a cheap unbranded BB that lasted three rides combined with a crankset that has a proprietary plastic spacer that Marin don't have and you cannot find aftermarket - so after a year I had to bin perfectly good but unusable cranks.

That said, hugely fast all-rounder and great fun to ride Smile
  • 6 0
 This was like kona for me years ago. Definitely looks like they've got a solid team over there at Marin. Now bring back that matte grey and fluro paint!
  • 6 0
 @fartymarty: I asked them on Instagram and yes, they will sell frame only. Dont know the price though
  • 2 0
 @fartymarty: I think my next build is a rowdy 29er hardtail and this frame is now on the list. I hope it comes in at a reasonable price.
  • 2 0
 @fartymarty: They've made the Pine Mountain range in steel for a few years now. I have a 2017 Pine Mountain and loved it so much I bought a 2018 Pine Mountain 2.
  • 2 0
 exactly, got my kid a rift zone. half the price of my Smuggler and darn near as good. They are building really good bikes that regular folks can afford.
  • 1 2
 @elmaar: agree. You can get a Polygon FS for less $. Maybe apples v oranges to some, but I'd much rather have the Polygon for riding in the PNW
  • 2 0
 Yup. They're obviously listening to what the people (Pinkbikers) want. Cool brand.
  • 1 0
 Marin was killing it in the early 2000s with the Quad Link suspension design though.

I rode Marin bikes from the 90s until early 2000s, and they were stellar bikes (though sometimes steep at the HT)
  • 1 0
 I built up a 2017 Marin Mount Vision 8 and really loved it. Everyone who rode it commented that it felt like it had a lot more travel than it did. Plus it was actually a pretty sexy bike. I'll be strongly considering another Marin for my next bike!
  • 1 0
 @fartymarty: marin europe said 1100€ for the frame, a bit too much
  • 2 0
 @Noeserd: That's well pricey. You can get a custom steel HT frame for similar / less.
  • 32 1
 The San Quentin looks like the perfect bike for my kind of riding
  • 12 3
 just spotted that someone gave you a down-vote for your comment. I literally cannot fathom this?

But defo looks like a fun bike. And I shall support your opinion that this bike would be good for you! Smile
  • 10 0
 @v7fmp: I didn't do it, but I have neg voted on accident before. Big fingers and tiny little up down buttons on the phone.... Wink
  • 2 1
 @v7fmp: Nevermind, just saw the new Orange Crush and it looks even better.
  • 3 0
 @slimjimbikes: Ready to down vote yourself now? Smile
  • 1 0
 same here, i think i will be going back to non carbon bike frames again.................
  • 3 0
 @slimjimbikes: WTF dude, it's 1800 GBP using SRAM SX Eagle, that's f*cking bullocks priced !
  • 16 0
 The San Quentin is an awesome bike - my mate has this years version, and the only reason I don‘t is that they sold out (I ended up with an equally awesome Orange Clockwork Evo custom build).

As a dad to 2 little rippers, I’m most excited about the smaller versions - mini full suss bikes are cool, but in the real world an aggressive hardtail is the sweet spot for kids shredding trails without shredding my wallet!
  • 1 1
 Also, not bad pricing. At least in the US. I wonder what would be the price over here.

I'm not sure that I would choose this 20" over BMC Blast 20 I purchased this Summer, but 24" looks like the winner.
(Commencal became just way too expensive)
  • 11 0
 I don’t know how anyone in the market for a new bike isn’t considering Marin. It’s the brand I recommend to everyone and I don’t even ride one.
  • 4 0
 Exactly the same here. I've ridden a couple and really enjoyed them, but don't own one. Still it's the brand I keep coming back to when asked for advice. I think they really appeal to 'bike people'. The future looks bright for the brand. If they can hit the right niche for my needs I'd love to put my money where my mouth is.
  • 5 0
 Intrigued by the San Quentin having some BMX and DJ / pumptrack background, but I'm hesitant about the slack-ish 65 degree headtube angle. The frame is DJ inspired, but I'd be concerned of losing too much nimbleness and quicker handling (though the shorter chain stays help).

Liking hardtails for some of the simplicity, but prefer if it can run single speed without the need for derailleur-type chain tensioners. Don't find many frames with sliding or horizontal dropouts in trail bikes (there are some).

For context, I'm trying to find a quick, responsive bike that can handle some intermediate trails with rocks, roots, drops, but doesn't feel too stretched out of downhill oriented... basically a little larger, trail-capable DJ with maybe 120mm suspension and 27.5 wheels. Any reco's? Or am I going to niche with it? (Honestly would like to see more 26" bikes again with more modern geo and wider tires.)
  • 7 0
 Kona Honzo
  • 3 0
 Surly Karate Monkey isn't super slack. Not very long reaches but it doesn't sound like what your're looking for. Or a surly lowside for your 26+ dreams.
  • 1 0
 @LeoTProductions: thanks. I actually have a 26 lowside. I have liked it but it’s rigid and not sure I want to add suspension fork (only tested for 100mm) or not. Changes the geo a fair amount and concerned of over investing on it. But thinking about it.

Looked at the Big Honzo too.
  • 2 0
 @alreadyupsidedown: honzo or big honzo? The normal honzo looks like it’s 29s. Not sure how much playfulness I’ll lose at the bigger wheel size with that geo.
  • 2 0
 Maybe the previous model Santa Cruz Chameleon could be interesting. If you can find one used.
  • 2 0
 @amlbike: In my opinion the plus tires take away much of the playfullness of the 27.5 The 29 honzo is certainly playful.
  • 2 0
 @amlbike:

Well, I’m not quite sure what you’re looking for exactly?

You’re writing off the San Quinten because you’re worried about the aggressive geometry, but you say you wish there were 26” bikes with updated (aggressive) geometry? Other than the insignificant change in wheel size, that’s basically what the San Quinten is. Why not test ride it?

To make a DJ bike trail capable, you have to add some high-speed stability, and something to take the edge off the obstacles. You can go about that in different ways.

The Honzo has had geometry not far off a long DJ bike, but jacked-up on 29er wheels. This doesn’t make it the best for actual dirt jumping, but it still feels very agile and steers like a dirt jumper, and is an excellent all-around trail bike. (With sliding dropouts!)

The San Quinten takes a different approach... It keeps its form factor low to the ground with small wheels like a DJ, but pushes the front end forwards and adds some extra suspension. This loses a bit of the classic steering feel, but feels better in rougher terrain at higher speeds, and still small and agile overall.

Two different approaches, both valid, IMO. If you really still crave the feeling of riding a conservative geometry 26” bike, why not just do that? I took my DJ bike out for a trail ride last year and had a blast.
  • 2 0
 Cotic BFe prior to the current version.
  • 1 0
 Dartmoor Hornet4x and set it up as a mullet. It'll only work if you're 5'1" - 5'5", though. I used it for pumptracks, trails, and a couple of enduro races.
  • 2 0
 RSD Middle child? I bought their Big Chief steel frame on clearance on Black Friday. It's a little shorter reach than more modern bikes. I put on a 2 degree Works headset to bring it to 65 degrees and am very happy. I think the middle child would be ideal for you, and they come in steel, aluminum or titanium if money is no option . If you like the dirt jump feel you might want to size down on the frame?
  • 1 0
 @alreadyupsidedown: Thanks for the expanded feedback and your experience. Didn't mean to say I'm writing off anything (intrigued by the San Quentin still), but just trying to find something that's perhaps not so aggressive where it feels like it comes alive mainly on downhill and thus wanders a bit in the steering for slower, tighter handling. By modern I mostly meant the shorter chainstays and wider tires, not necessarily overly long or slack. Really haven't spent time on a 29er, but am also interested in the Honzo (looks like it's mainly the steel version that has the sliding dropouts).
  • 1 0
 @Andykmn: nice, thanks.
  • 5 0
 As a proper grande person I can tell you that 78' ESTA on a HT is very very steep. I can only imagine how crazy it is for short legged people without major seat extension to mellow it out. At 6'6" I settled on 76' and my saddle is still run mostly back on its rails.
  • 2 0
 Yeah totally. The sagged seat tube angle would approach 80.
  • 4 0
 Looks sweet! When I finally came to proper trails with my new trail hardtail, i stopped dreaming about full suspension bikes. Probably at some point I will go for full susp bike, but trail hardtails are so capable, so fun.
  • 1 0
 i love HT, you can do pretty much what FS does but have more skillful fun at ir...............HT is so under rated but also last few years is getting WAY too pricey. For me FS is for down hill maniacs..............
  • 2 0
 I really wanted to like the el roy, but why route the cable/lines under the down tube? That makes no sense. Unless it's so a frame bag could be mounted in the front triangle for bike packing. But if it was for bike packing it'd have lots of other bottle mount bosses all over.
  • 4 0
 480 reach is the smallest for the El Roy? Maybe the slacked head angle will bring the bars back a little but man that is seems to big for many people.
  • 1 0
 and a 617 top tube length is pretty big. 5'10" and up for sure.
  • 1 1
 Head angle is independent of reach. The reach is the horizontal distance from the bottom bracket to the (top of the) headtube
  • 1 0
 because of how steep the sta is (80* at sag), the seated position will 'feel' like most 460 reach bikes. im 5'11 and ride a custom hardtail frame with 510mm of reach and a 78* sta.
  • 1 0
 Liking the El Roy. Seems to be a great contender to the Growler.
Typical bike company - build a new bike with very progressive and out there geometry, but release a ‘safer’ bike at the same time. I expect the SAN Quentin will easy to get hold of while finding an El Roy will be like hunting for rocking horse shit.

Glad to see bigger brands willing to design and make what we want (although in true PB fashion I’d like the Seat Angle to be about 74.5/75 personally)
  • 3 0
 Why every brand that have kids bike line up offers:
12, 16, 20, 24, and then F*** 27?

why kids should move from 24 directly to 27 or 29 ?
  • 1 0
 Matt Jones was the nicest, classiest athlete we met at Crankworx last year. Our kids (7 & 5 y/o) asked if they could take a picture with him after his speed/style run and he told them to sit on his bike for the picture. He chatted for a bit and was in no rush.

We'll definitely be looking at the San Quentin 20 next spring.
  • 3 0
 Marin are so overlooked, making great fun bikes for great value with some great team / sponsored riders - top stuff
  • 1 0
 Less so these days, they are making very smart choices in bikes, spec and riders. Especially someone like Matt Jones, the reach you'll get with him has got to be worth any number of DH WC or EWS riders, save perhaps Ratboy or Brendog.

Notably they also seem to be really aiming at the UK market. Steel hardtail, how UK can you get?
  • 4 0
 Great to see more kids bike options coming out
  • 2 0
 100% as a dad, it's great to see that market sector expanding!
  • 2 0
 Those 20”s are money! My eldest needs a new ripper. But a 20” is just too big right now. Whose got a great 16” for my 4 yr old?
  • 1 0
 Early Rider you won’t be disappointed
  • 1 0
 Spawn Yoji/Banshee looks to be a great kid's mountain bike. My family's used a Woom 3 with Schwalbe blackjack tires. It's been a great all-rounder as it's very light but still durable (it's on it's 3rd kid now). The only thing I dislike about it is the gearing. The chainring is small (25 tooth) and integrated into the cranks and it came with a 15 tooth freewheel. Due to the very short crank length (95mm), a replacement crankset is hard to find, but you can up the gearing slightly with a 13 tooth freewheel which helps.
  • 1 0
 He has a Kink Roaster right now. 12”
Thing is heavy but he crushes it, even on some gnarly trails. But his little brother is about ready for pedals, and I think he could jump up, and would love to put him a more mtb stance. Anyone ever tried a Pello?
  • 1 0
 @slayersxc17: The Revo gets rave reviews. That being said, I bought a 16" rear wheel from them (2 years ago) and the hub is definitely cheap. Good luck getting any questions answered by them as I never recieved any response. Even after I placed the order I didn't hear anything until one day it just showed up on my door.

If weight's not a huge concern, another bike to look at is the Cleary Hedgehog. It's a more agressive stance than most kids bikes, the fit is slightly smaller, it comes with a flip flop hub for changing gearing, and it's steel framed with no weight limit (I've seen a picture of an adult tester riding the 16" Hedgehog bike). And I've had Jeff Cleary (owner/founder) call me back about a question I had. I don't own one, but I'm seriously considering one for my eldest. I can periodically find them used also as they've been around longer than Pello.
  • 3 0
 Marin bikes be killing it now a days.....and El Roy and the San Quentin......muy bueno senor!
  • 1 0
 Anyone know where I can get me one of those tool bag setups that was one the El Roy? Or even just a multitool in a box I can mount to the underside of my top tube on my Remedy 9.9?
  • 2 0
 The El Roy is definitely a necessary evil. I used to ride a Pine Mountain aggressively, and am interested in a proper steel trail HT.
  • 1 0
 Stoked for this el roy, but sadly I'm afraid I'll be too small for it. The pine mtn 2 shares the same rear triangle as this bike, and it was the most compliant harstail I've ever ridden. so comfy.
  • 1 0
 Seat tube is only 420 though and stem is 35 so...maybe?
  • 1 0
 @mmleach829: I'm tempted to try one, but a 480mm reach for someone 5'6" is a little wild. Who knows, maybe it'll be the secret sauce that makes hardtails even better. That's why we experiment.
  • 1 0
 @hardtailparty: As someone at the same height recently starting to ride a ~480 reach bike (geometron), I would not want to go back to something smaller for my main rig. I went in with some hesitation but was more than pleasantly surprised.
  • 2 0
 Im not sure whether I prefer a size L San Quentin or this super fuk&ing awesome 24" version!
  • 1 0
 unfortunately for me,the next batch of marin mtb will only available for me on February 2021....... 1st batch of 2021 marin mtb model already fully booked..damn it..
  • 1 0
 On a hardtail, you can pick it up and sling it over your shoulder to move around sometimes. Why put the bosses and junk right in that corner!?
  • 2 0
 That last picture looks like Matt Jones is about to land right on top of that kid!
  • 3 0
 Price price price is quite nice
  • 1 0
 I feel like a bit of a dummy asking this, but are the San Quentin and El Roy aimed at the same type of riding? Or is one more trail/all rounder?
  • 1 0
 The San Quentin I get. Cheap 650B budget hardtail for people who want an entry level option.

But the El Roy - why though? Why would anyone buy this?
  • 3 0
 El roy is rad!
  • 1 0
 510 reach with a 420 seat tube? What kind of contortionist is that size designed for?
  • 4 1
 My 525 reach hardtail has a 430 seat tube, 210mm OneUp dropper and it's golden. I'm 6'8", 37" inseam and no contortionist. 520mm seat tubes on XLs make me cry...
  • 1 0
 @Caza1232: Would love to see what the inside of your knees and dropper looks look like! I'm literally half an inch shorter with the same inseam and 210 dropper and from ownership experience anything below 480 ST kills my knees!
  • 3 0
 @tristanpalmer: I can understand the extra force on the dropper, but i am within minimum insertion line so not too worried. I wouldn't have been adverse to 480, and 430 is definitely minimum but it does create some nice frame lines Big Grin
Though not sure how the seat tube length affects my knees?
  • 1 1
 @Caza1232: I hear you on the aesthetics, no denying the lower the better in that department. As for knees, if the frame ST is too low then so would the max saddle height, so your bike fit would be pretty horrific for your knees in the pedalling position?
  • 1 0
 @tristanpalmer: yep, i can immediately tell if the seatpost as slipped slightly, but thankfully i can achieve the correct saddle height within max saddle height, just Wink
  • 2 1
 People were complaing about the orange crush mx being expensive but it seems to have a better spec and quality
  • 1 0
 I love Marin bikes... Just bought my first Chromag and I wished Marin would offer a Frame-Only option
  • 1 0
 I wish I could still ride my hardtail. Stupid knee.
  • 1 0
 Wheel sizes for the grom,s and verticle challenged. Brilliant!
  • 1 0
 Where is the XS for the juniors?????
  • 3 2
 Steel is Real bro's
  • 1 1
 Owwwwww shiiiiit..... I need new underpants. :-0 This steel thing is hot.
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