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Chapter 2: Fork with a lot to prove

Marzocchi Bomber Z1 Coil 29" 160mm

Words Deniz Merdano
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Jun 9, 2020
Reading time

Set it and Forget it

The Bomber Z1 platform sprung on to the scene in 1997 with a burly fork that was lightyears ahead of its contemporary competitors. Coil sprung and reliable out of the box for years to come, it became hard charging riders' favorite in no time. Fast forward 23 years and the latest version of the Z1 has retained its heavy hitting DNA.

This Bomber is built around the familiar chassis of the Fox 36 platform. If this is a shock, you may have missed the news that Marzocchi was acquired by Fox in 2015. Since that time, the brand has been trying to navigate the tricky balance of incorporating the brand into the Fox family without killing what made Marzocchi an iconic and much-loved suspension brand.

The fork has unique-to-Marzocchi lowers that display the angry-looking M-shaped arch. The arch not only provides fantastic tire clearance but is also significantly meaner looking than its 2021 fox 36 and 38 cousins. It does however lack a proper fender-mounting interface, a big design flaw in today's market.

As I mentioned in Forbidden Druid Multi Part Review, I am evaluating the 160mm version of this fork, which is what you will receive from the factory if you get the 29er option. The 29" version comes from the factory set at 160mm. There is however a spacer combination stored above and below the coil that quickly lowers the travel to 150mm or raises it to 170mm. Opting for the 44mm offset version to comply with the Druid's specifications, I chose the BLUE MEDIUM spring for my 160 lbs riding weight. I also asked for the GREEN FIRM coil to potentially go up a rate, cause you know, I ride hard and stuff.. *eye roll

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Graphics are nothing to write home about, but simple is good

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Grip dial and preload adjuster to setup the fork's composure

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Hard to tell the Coil and the Air version apart, if it wasn't for this little sticker

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Dial in the GRIP

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Clear stantions should be a thing

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The spring chart and decal guide..

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Spacer combinations to adjust the travel of the fork. Super simple.

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Never out of shape in any terrain. period

Setting up the fork takes no time. With Marzocchi/FOX's excellent and simple GRIP Damper providing an infinite compression adjustment and effective and easy to set rebound, I left things pretty much wide open.

Preload adjustment was set to 1 full turn from open just to load the spring unit enough to prevent rattling. Compression never made it past 1/4 turn because PLUSH! and rebound was set at 4-5 clicks from undamped. The spring never rattled and non of the dials needed any fiddling. How exciting is this for a fork review?

The Grip damper just works. It is a proven platform and provides very good recovery on repetitive medium sized hits. The fork never gets overwhelmed. You don't have to compromise between small hit plushness and big hit ramp up. Nose heavy landings? not a problem.

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Plenty of tire clearance for up to 29"x 3.0 rubber

How does it work on the Forbidden Druid?

A serious long travel bike fork seems a little out of place on a "trail bike" like the 130mm Druid. The frame is designed around a 140-150mm fork, so 160mm option didn't seem too much off the mark. The active and stable rear end called for a fork to match. I wanted to make the Druid a mini DH bike that pedals.

The front end generates traction through the greasiest conditions. No matter where you are in the sag, the linearly increasing support is predictable and forgiving. Hands are less fatigued and vision is less shaky. 2550 grams (5.6 lbs) of traction factory up front won't shave weight but the benefits are obvious.

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The Spring Swap in minutes.

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32mm non-chamfered socket to get to the spring

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One of the spring spacers immediately under the cap

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out comes my boy blue

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Colour coded spring sleeve for quiet operation and easy identification

So how did the spring swap go?

Well not great. The firmer spring felt way too harsh unless I was giving it the absolute beans. Which is not a place I can comfortably ride all day long. I would however swap it in if and when the Bike parks open. Higher speeds and bigger hits could require a front end that sags less and is ready for more misjudged landings.

I can't say i've noticed a harsh bottom-out on the Medium Spring, which is surprising considering the lack of ramp-up with coil. But If i were to slap this fork on say a Rocky Mountain Slayer I would up the spring rate for all the 'huck-to-falt' riding.

In Conclusion...

A bird whispered in my ear that the new FOX Grip 2 damper slides right into these forks, potentially turning them into the best fork ever created. I am reaching out to FOX to see if this is possible. Having ridden many of the high-end forks on the market, I don't see the Marzocchi Bomber Z1 as a budget alternative. Performance compares very well to the premium forks. It required minimal fiddling and delivers a low maintenance option for your long travel steed.

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Comments

Eurosquirrel
+2 Deniz Merdano Pete Roggeman
Eurosquirrel  - June 9, 2020, 3:35 a.m.

Thanks for the 'quick and dirty' review. I am planning to swap the RockShox Lyrik RCT3, Dual Position Air on my 2018 Trek Remedy RSL for the Z1. My main issue with the Lyrik is that it doesn't stay high in its travel unless you add significant pressure, which ruins the other aspects of the ride. I am living close to Final Ligure, trails are steep and rocky, and I hate the feeling of my fork diving down once you hit the challenging parts. How do you rank the Z1 in this context? Thanks for sharing.

Reply

Ouch
+3 Deniz Merdano James Vasilyev Pete Roggeman DMVancouver thaaad
Ouch  - June 9, 2020, 6:09 a.m.

I installed the Debonair C1 "upgrade" sealhead/footnut on my 2020 Lyrik Ultimate, it now supportive in the initial stroke. NSMB did a review on it recently, and was a factor in me getting one. Totally happy with my Lyrik now!

Here's the link to the article- https://nsmb.com/articles/riding-and-installing-new-rockshox-debonair-spring/

Reply

mrbrett
0
mrbrett  - June 9, 2020, 6:42 a.m.

I replied with a duplicate comment about this!

Reply

Eurosquirrel
0
Eurosquirrel  - June 10, 2020, 2:19 a.m.

Thanks, Ouch. Regrettably, the Debonair C1 upgrade only fits the DebonAir forks, not the Dual Position Air models. Any suggestions on other options instead of dishing out cash for a new fork, even if it is a Marzocchi;-) Anyone having any experiences with the Vorsprung kit?

Reply

D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - June 10, 2020, 9:38 a.m.

You might be able to do a coil conversion (like Vorsprung or Push) on your Lyrik. The dual position forks lack the dimple on the inside of the stanchion to equalize positive and negative pressure, but I don't see why that would be an issue with coil.

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Eurosquirrel
0
Eurosquirrel  - June 11, 2020, 1:47 a.m.

Thanks, DMVancouver. I'll look into these options.

Reply

Tremeer023
0
Tremeer023  - June 13, 2020, 6:34 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

mrbrett
0
mrbrett  - June 9, 2020, 6:41 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

denomerdano
+1 Pete Roggeman
Deniz Merdano  - June 9, 2020, 8:24 a.m.

I've always enjoyed the initial suppleness of the pre 2020 Lyrik and Yari Forks. But as you experience, the initial travel loss and dive has made for less than optimal rough/steep terrain riding unless you went up a travel bracket (160mm for instead of 150mm, etc.)

I don't have any miles on the new the new debonair C1 upgrade but looking forward to it at some point as the improvements seem to be well worth it!

Z1 coil would be hard to compare to an air sprung rockshox but the physics behind the linear support you get from a coil is quite noticeable. Fork doesn't have to go through a whole alot of travel before the pressure builds up enough for a mid stroke support. The support comes in early and consistently. It is a feeling I appreciate on the absolutely deadly moves we sometimes have to pull on the North Shore.

Reply

Eurosquirrel
0
Eurosquirrel  - June 10, 2020, 2:21 a.m.

Thanks for the info, Deniz. The C1 upgrade, regrettably, only fits the DebonAir forks, not the Dual Position Air models. Sounds like the Z1 will deliver the performance I am looking for without the Fox pricetag.

Reply

hongeorge
+4 Poz Mammal Pete Roggeman Nouseforaname
hongeorge  - June 9, 2020, 4:56 a.m.

Typo in the first paragraph, unless Fox bought Marzocchi two years before the original Bomber came out.... ....the darkest timeline

Reply

denomerdano
0
Deniz Merdano  - June 9, 2020, 8:05 a.m.

Thanks for the heads up. Corrected to 2015 now!

Reply

slimshady76
+1 Pete Roggeman
Luix  - June 9, 2020, 6:30 a.m.

I've read a couple of working man reviews of this fork, they both stated it suffered from high speed spiking. Meaning the transition from low to high speed compression was a bit harsh, specifically in square bumps/obstacles. Could you comment on this Deniz?

Also, while on it, what's your impression on that Michelin front tire?

Reply

denomerdano
+3 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Luix
Deniz Merdano  - June 9, 2020, 8:32 a.m.

Lets set the parameters about what High Speed Means here, 

Yesterday, I was death gripping(no fingers on brakes) down a ski run on a local mountain and it is absolutely littered with fist to butt cheek sized rocks. Occasional drainage ditch thrown in for a good measure too. 

I think the fork is very well mannered in those conditions. I will pay more attention to the spiking as and if the trails dry out enough for higher speed riding.

The Michelin tire definitely has a play in how well this fork works. The casing support and traction provided are absolutely top notch. I think it also works very well as a rear tire in these parts!

Reply

slimshady76
0
Luix  - June 9, 2020, 1:15 p.m.

Thanks for the quick reply. I was referring to high shaft speeds, not high bike speed, such as when you hit a square bump which causes the fork to compress suddenly at a high rate, or when dropping off/hucking to flat.

I'll be looking for updates on your experience with this fork.

Reply

denomerdano
+1 Luix
Deniz Merdano  - June 10, 2020, 8:24 a.m.

I've experienced no spiking at high shaft speeds. I was speeding down a long rock slab with a snaggle-tooth rock sticking out halfway through it, I hit the rock head on not being able to correct on the slab and it felt like I didn't even go over the rock.

The damping is really that good!

I will update if I find instances that spiking is an issue. Perhaps something that will be more evident with the aging of the damper seals.

Reply

hbelly13
+1 Pete Roggeman
Raymond Epstein  - June 9, 2020, 7:50 a.m.

BITD, one of the many great things about the old Bombers was how user friendly servicing them was. In addition you could make slight tweaks to the amount of ramp up the forks had by adding or subtracting oil. Is this still in the cards with the modern Z1 without too much fuss or risks?

Reply

denomerdano
+1 Pete Roggeman
Deniz Merdano  - June 9, 2020, 8:34 a.m.

Looks like there is an air assisted ramp-up built into the coil side in these forks. I have not found much info about the technology on the internet. I will hopefully fully tear the fork down at some point to investigate further.

Reply

n0ndvcordvc0
0
n0ndvcordvc0  - June 10, 2020, 6:55 a.m.

the design of the coil spring is almost the same as the old 36 and 40s, only on the z1 the negative spring plate is sealed. so the air in the lower leg is your ramp up and changing the amount of oil in spring side will affect that. dunno how much pressure the lower leg seals can take though.

depending on how badly u need that bottom out it might be an upgrade to remove the seal on the spring plate to get rid of some friction

Reply

RG
0
RG  - June 9, 2020, 1:08 p.m.

Can you compare this one to the MRP Ribbon Coil?

Reply

denomerdano
0
Deniz Merdano  - June 10, 2020, 8:19 a.m.

I can't make this comparison, but the MRP Coil is a fork I would love to get some miles on.

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - June 9, 2020, 9:01 p.m.

Looking forward to a long-term review and thoughts on this fork. I had a new Z1 in the day, Tossed the JUdy XC with the 100mm DH cartridge/MRP Speed Sprung in the garbage LOL. Also owned a 2012 66RC , so much love for the coil . Also curious as to how it matches up with the rear coil over from Marz. Next bike is a full coil machine.

Reply

Brocklanders
0
yahs  - June 10, 2020, 8:13 a.m.

Nice review, looks like a fork I would be interested in buying. Looked into it and looks as though its completely sold out for the year.

Reply

oldschoolsteel
+1 Niels
oldschoolsteel  - June 10, 2020, 11:09 a.m.

After riding chargers and fit-4s, I bought a bike with a 34 Rhythm a few years back expecting to hate the fork. I didn't. The Grip damper was... fine. The air spring was really no different from most other forks. The 34 build was... ok. I'm not sure how to describe this, but I just didn't feel the need to replace that fork. I went about my usual process of spending way too much money replacing all the parts on my bike (I like to try new stuff).

After replacing everything else I came back to the fork, but it was still... fine. However, I wanted just a little more travel and a slightly stiffer platform.  The choice came down to the Z1 coil or the Mezzer (remember, I like to try new stuff). I went with the Z1 coil due to the service interval, price, and a decent dose of late 90's marzocchi coil/oil fanboy nostalgia.

The extra travel is nice and the fork is stiffer, but the coil-spring impressed me the most. It also gave up the biggest benefits. The fork moves with so little effort that after it broke in a bit, I found myself leaning forward to look at the fork because I couldn't feel it moving. It was dancing all over the place (I guess you get used to that feeling caused by a little stiction). Despite all that small bump sensitivity, the fork still eats anything. It has serious "oops" potential and has allowed me to recover from some serious high-speed mistakes. I'm not sure about high speed "spiking" I'm just glad I kept the rubber side down.  

The Grip damper is still... fine. Though it seems to work better with the coil. I may end up opting for the Grip 2 next season. The 36 chassis stability is (for me) unmatched by other single-crowns. I no longer feel any need for a stiffer fork. I'm sure the Mezzer and 40's new higher diameter stanchions have similar or better stability. However, it probably isn't something that I personally need.  

It is a heavy fork, and I noticed the weight initially when lifting the front end. However, I don't feel it anymore. 

The fork also moves when climbing... a lot. I find that I now use the compression knob to lock the fork out when I have a long climb on the road to a trailhead.  However, I don't touch that knob at all when climbing on the trail.  

I am a little concerned about the spring rate. I think I might like a slightly stiffer spring, but I'm certain I would run into the same problem that Deniz did. 

And the fender... Well, I ended up moving a syncros fender over to the Z1 with no problem. Admittedly, this is a minimalist fender. But I bolted it on with no problems or cutting. It doesn't quite cover the webs in the back of the arch, but nothing has collected in there yet.  I'm not sure I would agree that it lacks a decent fender mount.

Reply

grizzlyatom
+2 Deniz Merdano Niels
grizzlyatom  - June 10, 2020, 11:28 a.m.

I am glad to finally read a review by someone who actually knows how to set up a fork. Particularly in the rebound department. So many people are WAY off (mostly overdamped) and refuse to experiment with different settings from the factory recommendations. Also, did you perform the damper hack by removing the top cap, rotating it 60 deg clockwise, then reinstalling? This allows you to go into super plush mode. I installed a Grip 2 damper in my first Z1, and I actually went back to the Grip Sweep on my next one. I love the simplicity, and there is no appreciable difference between the two when setup correctly.

I also think that most riders' issues with "spiking" comes from either not bleeding the excess air from the lowers before riding, or running too many volume reducers in the air version of this fork. After riding 36's and Pikes and Lyriks, I've ridden the Z1 for the last two years, and I'm still amazed at how good it is. It really is not a compromise at all compared to any high-end fork, you just have to know how to get the most out of it.

Reply

denomerdano
0
Deniz Merdano  - June 12, 2020, 3:22 p.m.

Funny you mention the re-clocking hack, I've definitely contemplated the idea as I've done similar mods on Fit4 equipped Scott ransoms before.

Will give it a go this weekend..

Glad you enjoyed the review..

Reply

ohio
0
Marc Fenigstein  - June 10, 2020, 12:29 p.m.

So Grip2 might fit Into this fork... any chance the Z1 spring side would fit Into a Fox 36 Grip2? Seems like a nice "factory" option vs PUSH or Vorsprung.

Reply

n0ndvcordvc0
0
n0ndvcordvc0  - June 11, 2020, 2:46 a.m.

i think the inner diamater is different on z1s stanchion, so the plunger and neg plates will only work with z1s or rhythm 36s.

a 36 Van assembly might work

Reply

Heinous
0
Heinous  - June 11, 2020, 9:51 p.m.

I wonder if there's a way to run them at shorter travel? It would be a cheaper alternative to the Smashpot at 120/130mm in a 36...

Reply

Polo17
0
Polo17  - July 22, 2020, 5:52 a.m.

Hi, Does any body knows if the Bomber Z1 coil con be used in a Ebike, specifically a Levo which by this new model year will be fitted with a 160mm fork .... I think the Z1 coil will be a nice fit.

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