With more than 30 years of innovation, Marin’s range of mountain bikes has produced hits and misses. Thankfully, its new El Roy is definitely a hard hitter enduro bike-like hardtail.
El Roy is a capable and ready hardtail perfect for hobbyists and professional bikers alike. Its ultra-aggressive and progressive geometry makes for a comfortable drive in hurdled and demanding Australian terrains, all the while enjoying a swift, fast, and low ride.
However, nothing is perfect. In this Marin El Roy review, we go over the pros and cons of the bike and possible improvements. To do this, we will look at the fundamental factors that make up an excellent hardtail bike: design, frame, geometry, specifications, and drivetrain.
Keep reading to see if it’s the ideal bike for your needs! You also might be interested in our review of the Marin Alpine Trail.
Overview of the Marin El Roy
The 2021 Marin El Roy is a big, low, long, and slack hardtail capable of braving the steep enduro trails.
This mountain bike has a 29-inch wheel size, weighing around 14.8 kg without pedals. It is not very lightweight, but all its parts are labeled with quality gears. It has adjustable bottom-out steer control with its Marzocchi Bomber Z1 Air Fork. El Roy also employs many easily adjustable Shimano components like the powerful Shimano Deore drivetrain.
Overall, El Roy is a great steel hardtail for a reasonable price. Its radical geometry allows it to do what is usually limited to full-suspension bikes: cycle through enduro trails. With its well-engineered and quality components, easy to maintain, and handle build, the Marin El Roy bike is a hallmark of what a good mountain bike should be.
- The Marin El Roy geometry follows the long, low, and slack format, making it useful in Enduro trails.
- It has very powerful Shimano Deore-series components that will make descents fast, safe, and smooth.
- The top-tube has extra space for cargo, water bottles, or any accessories the biker might want to bring.
- The steel frame could weigh you down in towering trails.
- There are only two sizes to choose from; medium and grande.
- Keeping it planted on flatter trails is challenging because of its long geometry.
The Marin El Roy only comes in one motif: an ink black pigment embellished with glossy red letterings. Although you have no other colors to choose from, the bike looks regal under the sun, then fierce and bold under the night sky. Its vibrant hints of red bring out the brand logo plastered on its sleek black frame. The white glitters splashed on it compliment the black hue that hides the scratches and scuffs the El Roy gets from challenging trails in daylight.
El Roy is already a long bike, so to make technical climbs easier, unnecessary components that may weigh it down were removed. Still, there are extra bosses beneath the top tube to carry spare tools, and the bottom bracket shell neatly holds the threaded parts.
If there is any flaw in this design, it is the positioning of the cable routing. Because it is awkwardly positioned underneath the downtube, it is susceptible to damage from abrasion and mechanical stress. This tends to result in rusting and fraying. However, external cable routings such as this are also easier to maintain but harder to clean.
The El Roy frame is a steel frame made from the sturdy Series 3 CrMo. This frame is a custom investment cast dropout made from chrome-alloy combination that makes the steel more robust than the standard carbon steel. This is effective in maintaining a durable and moderately lightweight frame. Since it also has a double-butted tubing, the weight of the tubes is adequately balanced by having thicker walls at the end to keep the joints stronger and thinner walls in the middle.
The El Roy has a smooth front end with an integrated drop-in headset, making it look cleaner. The external rear derailleur and brake housing then swiftly shifts the chains. It also has internal dropper post routing, boosts rear space, and post-mount brake mounts. A secondary bottle cage can be found mounted in its front triangle and down tube.
The external cable routing and the frame itself has full electronically plated anti-corrosion coating inside and out underneath the paint. Since most of its cables are placed externally, they should be consistently maintained to avoid premature wear from the constant dirt and grit.
The El Roy’s boost hub spacing with thru axles also helped secure the components, particularly the wheelset. You wouldn’t have to worry about your wheels giving up in the middle of a hardtail.
The Marin El Roy geometry is no stranger to the long, low, and slack formula:
- Long literally means the bike’s reach is long, making the wheelbase long, consequently giving the El Roy a more stable speed. There is also more space to fiddle around the bike with a long reach.
- Low means a short seat tube and low bottom bracket. This would make your cornering more stable.
- Slack means a loose or very slack head angle that can absorb impacts directly.
There are only two available sizes for the Marin El Roy, the “Regular” and “Grande.” These two sizes are built for bigger or taller individuals, but their difference is not much. Regular’s seat tube is just 10 mm smaller than Grande, with a 300 mm difference in its wheelbase.
According to Marin, the Regular frame is recommended for 5’5 0 5’10 ft. tall riders, while the Grande frame is recommended for 5’10 – 6’4 ft. tall. Still, it would help if you did a test ride first to get a feel of which size is most comfortable for you.
The Marin El Roy is mainly equipped with Shimano branded specs, but it also occasionally deviates from that lineup with new, cheaper, and up-and-coming gears. It also uses Marin-developed grips, saddle, handlebar, and rims.
For more detailed specs, check out the Marin website.
The El Roy bike comes with Shimano brakes. Its front and rear use a BR-MT420 4-Piston Hydraulic Disc Brake to better downhill confidence and control. It also increases braking power and wear resistance. For its price, it has a good lever and adequate power.
The brake lever is a BL-M4100 Hydraulic Lever that, teamed up with the MT420 brake calipers, makes for intuitive and powerful braking and shorter free stroke. These are all compatible with the I-SPEC EV system, which is designed to make the adjustment range easier and provide a wider range of riding styles.
El Roy uses an aggressive enduro fork, the Marzocchi Bomber Z1 with an air spring and GRIP damper. It fits 20-inch wheels at 203 mm travel and utilizes the EVOL spring. It is supple and offers great control. A little warning though, as it lacks a little adjustability. It also has no rear suspension so you might drift easy.
Rims and Tires
El Roy’s rims are its own Marin, 29 mm internal double-wall alloy secured to 29 x 2.5 Maxxis Assegai wheels and MAXX Grip Double Down rear tire. These tires are a little slow rolling, so you could swap it for something else and use it for backup.
The big 29-inch wheel size is also advantageous for consistent long rides because it’s better momentum guarantees faster speed and more travel distance with less effort. Also, the El Roy corners well with its well-balanced wheel. However, the slow acceleration may put you at a disadvantage if you frequent stops due to traffic impediments or anything of such. Shimano MT410 hubs are also a little slow, engaging but durable and help improve stiffness with minimal increase in weight.
The tubeless tire is already airtight so you don’t have to use an inner tube. Since the tires are tubeless, you can avoid getting flats thanks to a latex sealant that automatically prevents air from coming out in case something punctures your tires.
Also, because tubeless tires have low pressure, it acts as suspension. This way, vibrations are easily absorbed making your ride comfortable despite the bumps. Less rolling resistance also relates to the decreased tire pressure.
Tubeless tires are especially good for off-road conditions like trails because its low pressure deforms the tire and absorbs heavy impact – allowing the bike to move along swiftly by decreasing the reaction force from hitting hard trails.
Tubeless tires are especially good for off-road conditions like trails because the low pressure deforms the tire and absorbs heavy impact. This conveniently keeps the wheel rolling swiftly by lessening the reaction force from the hard trails. Not having to bring equipment such as an air pump and patching kit helps if you want to travel light and hassle-free. Your rear wheel may also rest easy with a carcass supporting your wheels to make sure it does not get immense damage during bumpy rides. The downside is that it costs more to mount this kind of tire.
Marin saved a few bucks and used a KMC X-12 chain instead of the usual Shimano. The KMC chain isn’t bad, and it is durable, lightweight, and easy to assemble. However, if you prefer an all-Shimano ecosystem, you could do so with an upgrade. This will save you from possible difficulties in pedaling, shifting, and accidentally dropping your gears.
Drivetrain and Cassette
El Roy has a Shimano Deore 12-Speed drivetrain with a 10-51T cassette combination. The Deore is pretty looking and easy to install, and it functions well for its affordable price. However, it is also a little heavy. And though it is compatible with the KMC chain, shifting is better using the Shimano chain replacement.
The El Roy comes with a reliable FSA Comet crankset with 32T direct mount chainring performance that coincides with the modular 1x crankset. The chainring is easily changeable, and with the MegaTooth Technology, the chain Is not prone to falling off.
Derailleur and Shifter Lever
The El Roy manages tension in the pedaling using a top-grade derailleur, the Rear Derailleur Shimano Deore. It does not have a front derailleur. This decrease in components makes it look classier and simpler while removing unnecessary extra weight.
The derailleur is also paired with a Shimano Deore, M6100, 12-Speed shifter lever. The Shimano Deor shifter lever allows light and accurate shifting up to 3x at a time. This will highly improve your handling control and increase the adjustment speed of the bike. This way, you can easily shift from the lighter to the heavier pedal.
Shifting is made less complicated because there is only one derailleur and only one shifter lever. You wouldn’t have to worry about cross-chaining messing up your components. It is also less prone to chain drips because of the 1×12 speed.
The El Roy’s head tube accepts an integrated drop-in headset, the FSA Orbit 40 No. 42 ACM. It is specifically designed for high end roads to make biking smooth. It is easily adjustable and makes zero noise.
The first noticeable aspect of this fun bike is the long wheelbase, and slack head angle which makes it an excellent option for tall riders. It starts with good leverage on a usual ride as it is high enough for the rider not to slouch down with a steep seat angle. For shorter people, this might come off as a very awkward posture. Once the trails come to steeper degrees though, it will make sense because it demonstrates a good bike-to-ground balance.
Climbing on long gravel road climbs – even those that are steep – feels smooth with the El Roy. But at more technical curves and spots, it isn’t easy. The ride requires a learning curve when standing up to get over a challenging climb because you have to lean forward to lift the weight off of the heavy and grippy tires.
The forward pedaling is smooth. However, the backward pedaling throws the derailleur off once gaining incline and drops one to three gears down. Their overall weight and anchor on the tires could be making the ride slow.
The bike is sluggish and does not pick up much speed even on flat ground, nor does it get much velocity going downhill. While you may not go as fast as you want, this results in a more stable bike. Another upside is that the front ends are planted to ground, so you can trust that you won’t tip over. You may need more accentuated movements to get the long front end into the air, but it can also mean that the bike can handle being a super aggressive ride on any extreme angle.
With slight modifications, El Roy performs best in flying down fast downhill. It can overcome technical descents even on double blacks without tipping over, especially while moving really quickly.
The El Roy bike is for ultra-aggressive hardtail riders who like to challenge themselves by steeping fast and hard on steep descents. And though hardtails are ideally suitable for beginners, the El Roy has a learning curve and is more suited for experienced bikers especially for turns and covering upturn spikes with its radical and aggressive design. Aggressive riders who love the challenge and appeal of a hardtail will get the most out of this bike.
This bike is not for cross-country riding and parkland trails, but if you’re biking somewhere with bumpy, descending, dry and dusty terrain, then this bike is for you.
Is it worth the price, and is there a warranty?
Marin definitely outdid themselves with the 2021 El Roy. It has a reasonably affordable price for its quality and high-end build. It does come with a warranty but it varies per country. You may inquire about warranty matters to your Marin Bikes dealer.
What is the El Roy specifically good at?
El Roy is great at climbing long gravel trails with its steep seat angle and perfect reach to the bars. It is also great in stable, slow acceleration downhill rides, especially on rocky terrain.
How do I find the perfect bike size for me?
Go for the regular size if you’re on the shorter, lighter side. Opt for the grande frame if you’re taller, bigger, and heavier. You could also get a bike fitting from a specialist to determine the right size for you.
The Marine El Roy is a good pick for those seeking stable and forgiving mountain bikes for enduro trails. It is suitable for steel hardtail lovers looking for a full-suspension bike and are regulars to fast downhill descending. It is easy to maintain with a well-thought-out design.
The El Roy is a handy hardtail bike that can compete with an enduro bike and tackle extreme handling and angles. Its geometry consists of a long wheelbase and a low seat-to-bottom bracket ratio. The brakes are also powerful enough to absorb impact. The tire set is decent, but the combination makes for some rolling resistance. The grip from it, though, is commendable for offering a dependable front-wheel ride which may be a concern when popping it up on technical moves. It pedals efficiently on low log drops and gets loose on smooth terrains but gets sluggish.
Most notably, its slowness is dependable on front-ended delivery on off-roads from the grip and durability of its front tires but can be a dealbreaker to some. This characteristic indicates a stable ride, even sacrificing some speed, which is not expected for a bike with aggressive geo numbers. Those inclined to steep enduro patches with extreme angles can maximize this, but those willing to get over the learning curve can climb well with the bike. Riders can swap the aggressive tires with lighter and smoother ones when tackling trails with more paddling and less elevation.
For its price point and aggressive geometry, Marin bikes are not too far out against its competitors but are still very well a dependable bike for intermediate and skilled bikers.
In short, the Marin El Roy is an excellent niche pick for Australians looking for a competent and ready hardtail with great climbing performance. Its MTB geometry and Long-Low-Slack formula is perfect for those who frequent rocky downhills with climbs that are not too technical and are looking for a stable and robust bike. El Roy is primarily for experienced bikers looking for a second bike different from the usual hardtail.
The terrain may be rough, but with decent bike handling skills, you can enjoy a sleek ride with the 2021 Marin El Roy bike. If you enjoyed this Marin El Roy review, feel free to check out our reviews for the best hiking bike in Australia!