Marin Bikes' San Quentin 1 "Enduro" Hardtail Will Empty Your Pockets of Just $1,100

San Quentin 1 7 photos
Photo: Marin Bikes
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I've recently realized that most people don't want massive bicycles with which to fly down mountains, obtaining gold medals in the process. Instead, most of us seem to enjoy just a light touch of adrenaline while out on the trails.
This brings me to today's topic of discussion, the San Quentin 1 (SQ1), a hardtail MTB designed and built by Marin Bikes for only one purpose, to meet the needs of "the aggressive hardtail trail rider looking for a blend between singletrack capabilities and extended air time." In layman's terms, an "enduro" bike. However, the only reason I choose to bring such a bike to light is the price tag that accompanies it, $1,100 (€1,080 at current exchange rates). That's it!

How is this even possible? Well, if you're up to date with Marin's history, you'd know that this company has been around since 1986 and is known for its dedication to offering riders "high-caliber bicycles," ones that can be accessed by folks like you and me, the non-Red Bull athletes.

Speaking of Red Bull athletes, one of the essential aspects of the SQ is that it takes cues from another bicycle that Marin designed and built, the Alcatraz, and the Alcatraz was developed in conjunction with British MTB rider Matt Jones. So, the SQ1 is the sort of bicycle you could very well be seen grabbing some mean air if needed and wished for.

San Quentin 1
Photo: Marin Bikes
The question remains as to what the heck you can do with such a trinket. Overall, Maring creates each SQ1 frame with Series 2 aluminum, meaning it's double and triple butted, runs cables internally, has a tapered head tube, and the hardtails feature bridgeless seat stays. What's this mean for you as a rider? Go ahead, toss it down that great big hill, pick it up, and then ride down that very same hill. Why not throw a ramp at the end? If you do manage to destroy an SQ1, at least you won't feel bad as it only cost you a tad over a grand.

On the other hand, there is still some room for improvement on the SQ1. For example, the front fork on this bugger is nothing but an SR Suntour XCM32 Boost with 120 mm (4.7 in) of travel and lockout in case you also take to the streets. But you can always go for something tougher like a Fox or RockShox fork; that's just me.

San Quentin 1
Photo: Marin Bikes
As for the drivetrain, here, too, you may find some budget-friendly brands. For example, the nine-speed cassette is from Sunrace and sports an 11-46T range, while the derailleur is a MicroShift RD-M9195M controlled by an SL-M9195-R. A KMC chain wraps everything up nicely and smoothly. As for braking power, this is one area where Marin brought the heat with a pair of Tektro disc brakes with 180-millimeter (7.1-inch rotors on the front and 160-millimeter (6.3-inch) rotors on the rear.

Personally, I own a hardtail and love it. Of course, my attention was drawn to the SQ1, but mainly for that price; another reason why you should consider this bike for your subsequent hardtail purchase. But my one and only question is how well this puppy can perform while grabbing some airtime, and there are two ways to find out: buy one or test one.

At the end of the day, I could sit here and tell you all about the fun you could or couldn't have with such a bicycle but testing it out for yourself is always the way to go. All you have to do is search for a local dealership that may have the San Quentin 1, give them a call, and get moving because summer is coming to an end soon.
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About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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