Sea Otter 2018
2019 Fox & Marzocchi Hands On
Fox wasn’t shy about showing the Marzocchi connection at Sea Otter, with the classic freeride brand displaying the new Z1 and 58 in the Fox pit. Both brands have a lot to be pumped about, with Marzocchi making a return with some competitively priced forks and Fox rolling out some very significant updates, especially for the 36 and 34 forks.
Fox released the new range of suspenders a couple of weeks prior to Sea Otter but Fox staff were on hand to discuss the updates – which include the new improved FIT GRIP2 damper in the brand’s 36 model fork. The FIT GRIP2 is the evolution of the GRIP damper and it’s the first time Fox has released a trail fork with high and low-speed rebound damping in addition to the high and low-speed compression damping that the RC2 level 36 has featured for some time.
Fox's 36 & the New FIT GRIP2 Damper
The new GRIP2 damper includes the coil-sprung floating internal piston of the original GRIP technology and the system allows excess oil to flow out of the cartridge and into the rest of the fork. Fox says this allows for more consistent damping while also improving durability with that oil lubricating the seals throughout. Fox says it’s a minor amount but enough to be of benefit without having a negative effect on anything else. It improves the glide of the fork's internals and bumps performance in the process.
Friction is further reduced because the GRIP damper requires fewer parts and seals. On its own, this allows for lighter action and better sensitivity off the top but a more robust negative air spring amplifies this as well. With the fork being lighter through the initial use of the stroke, Fox worked to improve the mid-stroke and developed an improved 'mid-valve.' The mid-valve design allows for more support and Fox claims it does so without adding harshness to the travel. The compression adjustment now offers a wider damping range than previously, allowing for the increased support without adding unwanted harshness.
There's another large development in the rebound circuit; Variable Valve Control – or VVC. This patent-pending technology allows for high and low-speed rebound adjustability, with the high-speed circuit adjusted not by adding preload to the valve but rather, Fox says VVC allows users to alter the flex of the high-speed valve’s leaf spring. It’s a change that alters the stiffness of the valve, similar to tearing the fork down and adjusting the high-speed shims manually, but without a need to disassemble it.
With the exception of the updated external rebound adjuster to include the high and low-speed adjustments, the 36 looks identical from the outside. The new FIT GRIP2 damper is available on the Factory and Performance Elite models and there will continue to be a FIT4 model of each available as well.
- Factory FLOAT FIT4 GRIP2 – 1,065 USD
- Factory FLOAT FIT4 – 994 USD
- Performance Elite FIT4 GRIP2 – 973 USD
- Performance Elite FIT4 – 899 USD
The New Fox 34 Step-Cast 120mm Fork
Unlike the 36, the 34 has some external changes to go with tweaked guts. Fox found there is a market for a slightly more aggressive fork than the current 34 for riders on a lightweight trail bike (think B.C. Bike Race). The result is a dedicated 120mm travel 34 Step-Cast.
Step-Cast refers to a narrowing of the fork's lower leg as it approaches the axle. This is accomplished with a shorter upper tube length which allows the floor of the magnesium lower leg to be raised, making space for this narrowing. On the 32 Step-Cast, material is removed from the inner profile of the leg while on the 34 the outer wall gets the nip and tuck. The 27.5 variation of the new fork weighs a claimed 3.5lb/1.59kg and despite being nearly 0.5lb/0.23kg lighter than a 140mm 34, it’s said to offer the same stiffness. The fork features the FIT4 damper or the original GRIP damper for less money. It’s a unique fork that could suit anyone that rides hard or in rough terrain on a shorter travel platform.
- Factory FLOAT FIT4 – 943 USD
- Factory FLOAT FIT4 w/ Remote – 1,024 USD
- Performance FLOAT GRIP – 789 USD
Float X2 2019 Updates
Tweaks have also been made to the Fox Float X2 rear shock. Gone is the little grub screw that was part of the brand’s solution to air sleeve retention at high pressures. The new sleeve, labeled the XV EVOL, features a clip at the base which Fox says has allowed the max. pressure rating to increase from 250 to 300psi. There’s also a new bottom out bumper integrated into the shock which is said to improve the feel through the bottom end of the stroke, even in the absence of an extreme bottom out event, and the schrader valve has been angled a little for more convenient access on a range of bikes. It’s available in either imperial or trunnion mount metric sizes.
Head to the Fox website for more on the 2019 range and stay tuned for our review of the new 36 and Float X2 later this year.
Marzocchi 2019 Z1 & 58
Marzocchi was proudly showing off the new Z1 and 58 forks at Sea Otter. With the brand now part of the Fox family, there are obvious similarities but the Marzocchi forks remain true to their heritage of being a little more overbuilt. The new line is also hitting a price point on the market that should be well served if it lives up to expectations. The forks feature the FIT GRIP damper and EVOL air spring technology but come in a burlier package. While Fox does have a 36 optimized and rated for e-bike use, it is a separate fork while the stock Z1 is rated for e-bike use.
Before you lose it over the mention of e-bikes, there is a benefit to the one-horsepower purists. A fork rated for the e-segment is going to be beefier which means better durability. It's also a good option for riders looking for more stiffness and better tracking; a great option for those riding in the Clydesdale class.
This burliness results from thicker stanchion walls and a bigger crown. This produces a slightly smaller diameter air volume spacer meaning you can't swap between Fox and Marzocchi. The Boost-spaced fork will accept either a tooled axle or the quick release shown in these images. The Z1 will retail for 699 USD and it packs in a lot of quality tech that we see in the lower tier of the Fox line.
The 380, which was the classic 888, is back as the 58 and like the Z1, it shares many features including the FIT GRIP damper and EVOL air spring but like Fox's dual crown it has 40mm diameter stanchions. The fork will only be available in a 20 x 110 DH axle (non-boost), has 203mm of travel and fits a 27.5-inch wheel. Retail will be 999 USD.
Unfortunately, it looks as though the Marzocchi site is yet to be updated. We'll try to keep readers posted but you can also keep an eye out for a review of the new Z1 later in the season.