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Review of Marin Bikes

Jeff Balton

Marin-Bikes-review

Photo Credits: MarinBikes.com


Even though Marin Bikes has been around for more than 30 years, they used to be an underdog recently for no good reason. Today, Marin is back in the game with high-end carbon bikes used by elite cyclists to win competitions, as well as entry-level and mid-range models for the average Joes. Should you get one? Let’s find out!

Ever since the company’s beginnings, Marin has been specializing in making ground-breaking full-suspension and hardtail bikes that turned heads.

That is still very much the case, though Marin is informed about the newest trends, so it has a decent offering of Gravel, All-Road and E-bikes as well.

In addition, Marin’s hybrid, urban, and fitness bikes are also quite popular, allowing average people and enthusiast cyclists to stay fit, commute daily, and ride more.

Marin’s bikes are also commonly seen in top-class MTB and gravel competitions, where they’re ridden by successful athletes such as Matt Jones, Juliet Elliott, Martha Gill, Nikki Whiles, Mark Matthews, and others.

Read our Marin Bikes review to learn more!

 

The Marin Story: Where It All Began

Marin got its name after Marin County, California, which is the birthplace of the company and the mecca of mountain biking.

mountain-bikingMarin Bikes was founded back in 1986 by Robert Buckley who took up mountain biking during the sport’s early days when the availability of mountain bikes was scarce.

Faced with the lack of bikes that suited his riding style and allowed him to develop his skills, he decided to come together with a group of local enthusiasts to create their own, better bikes.

Their first mountain bicycle, the Madrone Trail, was a huge success and ultimately led Marin to establish themselves as one of the leaders in the growing MTB niche.

What followed were dozens of hardtail and full-suspension mountain bikes, hybrid and road bikes, and most recently gravel and all-road bicycles.

Marin’s progress had slowed down up until 2013 when the company was sold and received new management which has completely overhauled the lineup and once again brought Marin to the very top of the market.

 

Marin Mountain Bikes

When it comes to mountain bikes, Marin is an expert. Marin’s full-suspension mountain bikes and hardtail mountain bikes are intended for all types of riders.

2021 Alpine Trail Carbon 1

ALPINE TRAIL CARBON 1

Full-Suspension

Marin’s lineup of full-suspension bicycles is pretty decent. It incorporates models that fit in almost all categories of mountain biking, including trail, all-mountain, enduro, and downhill.

Marin makes their FS mountain bikes in all price categories, so they are suitable for different types of riders. At the moment, three distinct model lines are available:

 

2021 Hawk Hill 1 c1 Color

Hawk Hill

For example, trail beginners who don’t want to break the bank can get the Rift Zone 1 model for around $1,600 which offers 130mm of travel, hydraulic disc brakes, slack trail geometry, and a Shimano Deore 11-speed drivetrain.

Apart from Rift Zone, one of the most popular models has to be Alpine Trail, which is a selection of super-slack aluminum 29ers with massive tires and 160mm of travel on RockShox suspension. The headtube angle is just 63.5°, so things don’t get much slacker than that.

Hawk Hill is possibly the most playful trail bike Marin has ever produced, and one of the most affordable ones as well. It’s ideal for beginner and intermediate riders who need a two-wheeler to use, abuse, and practice skills on.

Hardtail

When it comes to hardtail bikes, the selection Marin fans have is VAST. At the moment, there are eight models to choose from, including both 27.5″ and 29″ bikes. Riders can choose from trail, XC Race, and dirt jump models.

  • San Quentin
  • El Roy
  • Team Marin
  • Bobcat Trail
  • Wildcat Trail WFG
  • Bolinas Ridge
  • Pine Mountain
  • Alcatraz

 

2021 Alcatraz Frame Kit Color

Hardtail | Aluminum Frame

All of the bikes on the current roster are made with aluminum frames, so they will be most suitable for beginner and intermediate riders. However, that does not mean that some of them are not race and competition ready.

For example, the Bolinas Ridge is a lineup of entry-level XC bikes intended for recreational riders and weekend warriors. They’re excellent for exploring local trails and singletracks, but they might lack in some areas if put to the real test.

On the other hand, the San Quentin bikes were designed in collaboration with Matt Jones, the freeride legend, so they’re built to be sent. They come with massive 27.5″ tires and RockShox suspension but are still pretty reasonably priced.

However, the lack of full carbon models at the moment means that more serious riders who want to win races don’t really have much of a choice in Marin’s lineup.

See Bikes On evo.com

 

Marin Gravel Bikes

Marin’s most recent innovations include the addition of gravel and all-road bicycles with drop bars to their offering. Gravel riding is the latest trend in cycling and time has shown that it’s not just a fad—it’s here to stay. 

2021 Headlands 1 Color

HEADLANDS 1

Right now, Marin’s Drop Bar section consists of the following model series:

  • Headlands
  • Four Corners
  • Nicasio
  • Lombard
  • Gestalt
  • Gestalt X

 

These include bikes that are intended for pure gravel grinding, commuting, bikepacking, bike touring, as well as for a mix of pavement and dirt.

2021 Headlands Frame Kit Color

Headlands Frame Kit | Carbon Fiber

This is reflected in the materials used, the frame geometry, mount options, and wheel/tire sizes. By this, we mean whether the bike is made from carbon, aluminum, or steel, whether or not it can take front and rear racks, and if it’s tires are versatile or intended for pure off-roading.

For example, Nicasio 1 is an entry-level bicycle made from a steel frame and fitted with 30mm tires. It’s ideal for commuters, all-weather riders, as well as adventure riders both on and off-road.

On the contrary, Marin Gestalt X is a more aggressive and more robust gravel bike with a 1x drivetrain, huge tire clearance, and even a dropper post for descending. It comes with 40mm tires but can go much higher than that.

So if you need an all-road bicycle to use as your winter bike, to commute no matter the weather, or explore those tempting gravel and dirt trails in your area, Marin has a pretty decent offer.

Marin Hybrid Bikes

Marin’s production of hybrid bikes started in the early 90s when they decided to diversify their offering, which included only mountain bikes until then.

2021 Terra Linda 1 c1 Color1

TERRA LINDA 1

This turned to be the right move and they never stopped. Today, they make dozens of hybrid bikes in different categories, such as fitness, urban, commute, etc. Check out the list below:

  • Fitness
  • Presidio
  • Urban CrMo
  • Dual Sport
  • DSX
  • Kentfield
  • Stinson

 

2021 Fairfax 1 c1 Color

Fairfax, Flat Bar | Aluminum

The most attractive of these are probably the fitness models—Fairfax and Terra Linda. These are affordable aluminum bikes with sleek tires, disc brakes, and comfortable endurance road geometry. Fairfax is made for men, whereas Terra Linda is advertized towards female riders.

Chromoly fans can choose a model from the Urban CrMo lineup, which includes Muirwood and Larkspur models. Larkspur has a unique step-through frame design that turns heads when taken for a commute around town and all builds come with disc brakes.

There are also models with front suspension in the Dual Sport lineup, which are excellent for mixed-terrain riding. But versatile riders will like the DSX models as well, which are basically gravel bikes built with flat bars.

All in all, the success of Marin’s hybrid bikes lies in the fact that they are very reasonably priced and look pretty unique, both in terms of frame colors and frame designs.

 

Marin E-Bikes

Another cycling trend that has been sweeping the market in recent years is electric bikes. Our Marin Bikes review would not be complete without mentioning it.

2021 Pine Mountain E2 Color1

PINE MOUNTAIN E2

While Marin’s selection of e-bikes is not as impressive as, for example, Trek’s or Cannondale’s, it is far from limited. 

At the moment of writing this review, Marin offers a few hardtail mountain e-bikes and a few more urban e-bikes. These are:

  • Pine Mountain E
  • Sausalito

 

2021 Sausalito ST E2 Color

Sausalito ST E2

Pine Mountain E1 and E2 come with 120/130mm of travel in the fork and huge 27.5+ tires that are 2.8″ wide. Don’t get fooled into thinking that these are not proper MTBs just because they are electric—they are.

They’ll help you get a few more laps around trails and allow you to send it down your favorite descents without crushing your hopes and dreams on the way up the hill.

On the other hand, Sausalito e-bikes are intended towards tamer riders who want to spend more time on the saddle, in spite of injuries, old age, or challenging terrain.

They’re ideal for commuting, cruising, and multi-surface exploring. Plus, the offering includes both step-over and step-through models, which is good news for riders who have trouble mounting and dismounting.

Kids Bikes by Marin

2021 San Quentin 24 Color

SAN QUENTIN 24

What’s the best time to start riding a bike? The right answer is as early as possible. Luckily, Marin manufactures a decent number of kids’ bikes as well, intended for recreational and more serious riding.

  • Hawk Hill JR
  • San Quentin 24/20
  • Bayview Trail
  • Hidden Canyon

 

2021 Hidden Canyon c2 Color

Hidden Canyon 20″

The Hawk Hill JR model, for example, is a serious full-suspension bike ideal to shape the talent of any young future pro. It’s available with either 26″ or 24″ wheels, so it suits teenagers and school-age kids. With a light aluminum frame, 120mm of travel, and wide knobby tires, it’s more than any young trail rider will ever need.

The other models are available with 24″ and 20″ wheels and are intended for more recreational type of riding. They’ll easily get any child hooked to riding and the trails.

See All The Bikes On evo.com

FAQ

  • Are Marin bikes any good?

Yes, Marin makes some of the best mountain, gravel, and hybrid bikes in the world. They use different high-quality materials, such as carbon, aluminum, and steel, as well as reliable components sourced from Shimano, SRAM, Fox, RockShox, and other manufacturers. Marin also sponsors dozens of successful cyclists who regularly win high-profile races and championships on these bikes.Frequently asked questions

  • Are Marin road bikes good?

Marin does not make purebred road bikes, but their lineup does contain a few gravel and all-road models that can be ridden on the pavement as well. All of these bicycles are modern and reliable machines, made from quality materials and fitted with tried and tested components. They are good for amateurs, enthusiasts, and pros alike.

  • Are Marin hybrid bikes any good?

Yes, Marin hybrid bikes are good. They receive excellent ratings and reviews both by riders and by reputable cycling websites. Marin’s hybrid bikes come in different shapes, suitable for commuting, fitness riding, urban rides, as well as for off-road rides. Most hybrid models are quite reasonably priced, which makes them accessible to most riders out there.

  • Are Marin mountain bikes good?

When it comes to mountain bikes, Marin’s full-suspension mountain bikes and hardtail bikes are some of the best in the world. They include both 27.5″ and 29″ models with different amounts of travel, intended for various MTB categories like trail, XC, enduro, DH, etc. It’s not uncommon for Marin’s mountain bikes to be seen winning podiums all around the world, ridden by some of the most successful athletes in the sport.

  • Where are Marin bikes made?

Just like the majority of bicycle manufacturers in the world, Marin bikes are produced in Asia to lower the costs. However, the bikes are still designed in Marin’s headquarters in Marin County, California.

  • Are Marin bikes good quality?

Yes, Marin bikes are of very good quality. Marin uses only the best carbon, aluminum, and steel materials in the production of their frames, coupled with reliable components from Shimano, SRAM, and other popular brands. Marin bikes are made to last, no matter if you get an entry-level, mid-range, or a high-end model.

  • Are Marin bikes made in the USA?

No, Marin bikes are not made in the USA. Marin cuts down on the cost by designing their bikes in the USA, manufacturing them in ASIA, and then shipping them worldwide. This is a business model used by almost all top bicycle manufacturers in the world right now.

  • Is Marin a good bike brand?

Marin is one of the oldest bike brands in the mountain biking niche. They have been in the business since the beginning of the MTB trend, helping it grow by pioneering technologies and constantly improving their bikes. Today, Marin is still one of the best bicycle brands in the world, as it has a diverse line of MTB, gravel, hybrid, electric, and kids’ bikes.

  • Where to buy Marin Bikes?

Marin bikes can be bought from authorized dealers, which you can find on this link. Marin bikes can also be bought online from popular online retailers such as Jenson USA or evo.com

  • Who owns Marin bikes?

Marin Bikes has been owned by Minestone Limited since 2012, which is an investment firm based in Europe. The founder of Marin, Robert Buckley, has remained the president of the firm.

  • Are Marin bike frames good?

Yes, Marin bike frames are some of the best in the industry. They are light, stiff, comfortable, and efficient. Marin makes their frames using carbon fiber, aluminum, or steel, depending on the price point. Marin offers 5 years of warranty on their carbon fiber frames and forks and full-suspension frames, whereas their rigid frames and forks come with a lifetime warranty.