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Review

Marzocchi Bomber Z1 Reviewed

Words Timmigrant
Photos AJ Barlas
Date Nov 7, 2018

For those that weren't aware, some years ago Fox bought Marzoccchi. It took a little time but recently Fox re-launched the Marzocchi brand. This was quieter than expected, mostly because we were accustomed to jacked up monster trucks and scantily clad ladies serenaded by death metal. And of course bros jumping stuff and tossing the horns bro brah! I'm the first to wax whimsically about some of the fantastic products Marzocchi has made in the past. My best race results came on Marzocchi forks, and I always liked the small bump compliance and reliability (I know, an Italian product and reliability are rarely used in the same sentence). In short, I was excited when I heard Fox was relaunching the Marzocchi brand... really excited. 

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Of all my childish expectations, only the M-arch was realized. This does give good tire clearance around a 2.35" Schwalbe Magic Mary on a 30 mm internal width rim.

I expected some big coil springs, a juicy open bath damper, a big 'ol M-arch, and maybe some pinup girl decals on the side, or some flames. F*&k yeah bud! To my horror I learned that Fox had done the opposite. They designed a cheapened Fox 36, painted it red, and slapped some Marzocchi sticks on the side. Blasphemy! To me, this was like Ford buying Ferrari, painting a Mustang red, and throwing a prancing horse on the front. "It's not a Marzocchi!!" I yelled, "show me the springs!!"

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The crown looks burlier because the crown is made from cheaper 6000 series aluminium than the Fox 36 and Lyrik.

The Marzocchi box arrived, and I mounted the red fork on my Norco Range. I got the fork later in the season than I would have liked, but I had a couple weekends left in the Whistler Bike Park, and figured that'd be a good testing ground. Coles notes of features read like this:

  • 36 mm stanchions
  • Fox FIT GRIP Sweep damper (same as the GRIP damper, but without the detents)
  • Fox Float EVOL air spring
  • 6000 series aluminium crown
  • Magnesium lowers
  • External Adjustments: Compression and Rebound
  • Travel options for 27.5" wheels: 150, 160, 170, 180 mm
  • Travels options for 29" / 27.5"+ wheels: 130, 140, 150, 160, 170 mm
  • 15QR x 110 Boost axle
  • Price: $699 USD 

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One air valve in the left leg is used to set the spring rate.

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The FIT GRIP Sweep damper sits in the right leg. I added some markings so I could return to spots I like.

Setup

I initially prepped the fork with the recommended settings: 85 psi air and 6 clicks out on the rebound adjuster. Compression was set to the 2 o'clock position. After my first ride the fork felt a bit harsh, and it looked like I was only using 140 mm of travel. The fork seemed to gradually soften and break in over subsequent rides. I checked the volume spacers, saw the fork had come with 2. The removal of a spacer made a significant difference, and I wound up having to increase the air pressure to 90 psi (which is a bit higher than the suggestion on the chart on the lowers) to prevent bottom out. I'd heard another tip, which was to remove the compression adjuster and try rotating it clockwise on the mating hex (60 degrees). This meant the fork would have less compression damping when returned fully counter clockwise. I found I used this "even more open setting" on high speed, and rough trails, like you often find in the bike park. On the steeper, slower trails in North Vancouver, I would run the damper at the 1 o'clock position, which is only a little bit off full open in the stock configuration. 

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The Z1 comes standard with a quick release axle, but can be upgrade to the lighter bolted option: the Fox Kabolt.

Ride Impressions

I've had the Marzocchi Z1 on the front of Norco Range for a while now. It's been to the Whistler Bike Park and a number of locations around Vancouver. I've ridden the fork through a variety of trails ranging from fast to slow, smooth to rough AF, flat to mega steep. It's also had its fair share of weather, with an uncharacteristically wet and cold September. Through the wide variety of terrain and weather, the Z1 so far has impressed. And here's why.

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The black cap on the bottom of the right leg protects the rebound adjuster.

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The rebound adjuster inside the protective cap.

The first thing I noticed riding the new Z1 is the chassis stiffness. In using a lower strength and cheaper aluminum, Marzocchi has needed to use more material in the crown. Since the modulus or stiffness of aluminum is the same regardless of its strength, the crown is stiffer due to the additional material. I'm not sure how much stiffer, but the change was noticeable to me. This might not be something everyone notices, but I instantly enjoyed the stiffer fork. I notice the fork had less deflection fore and aft under heavy braking on steep, rough trails than I'm used to. I also haven't heard so much as a peep from the crown of the fork. If this crown proves to be creak free over the long term, I'd gladly pay the 150 gram weight penalty with improved stiffness as a bonus.

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Between the air spring curve and the damper, the Z1 felt supportive in corners, yet still made for great traction.

The exterior chassis of the Marzocchi Z1 is a departure from the Fox 36. The Z1 feels a bit cheaper than the 36, and it should, because it is cheaper. The paint is a bit glossy, and doesn't look quite as nice. Also the quick release axle feels a bit cheaper. That said the paint still looks good, and the quick release functions perfectly, never coming loose during the test period. The caps and the details are all there and function as intended. The stanchions are anodized plain black, and so far haven't shown any signs of degradation.

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I played around with volume spacers, which made a big difference on air spring progression, and controlling bottom out. I settled on one volume spacer.

The air spring in the Marzocchi Z1 is well judged in my opinion. The air spring curve is tunable through volume spacers, and each spacer makes a noticeable difference. After a few rides the air spring feels to have minimal friction, and even with a single volume spacer is nicely progressive. 

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Grip is often at a premium around these parts, and the Z1 did well to generate grip yet remain firm and supportive in the steeps and on the brakes.

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I enjoyed the stiffness of the Z1. That rigidity made the front end feel a bit more precise, which is welcome when there is little room for mistakes.

So far I've been impressed with the GRIP Sweep damper. Some might complain about the lack of detents or clicks but after a couple of strokes with a permanent marker I can return the damper to the positions I like. I'm somewhat surprised Marzocchi hasn't included some marks on the crown, but it's no bother to me. My marks have more character and took all of 30 seconds to apply. As I explained earlier I clocked the adjuster clockwise a step to allow more open compression damping range. At the closed end the fork was fully locked out, but on the properly high speed stuff I felt like the fork was a bit harsh. 

The GRIP damper is good; really good if you consider this is priced as a more entry level fork. I can see why FOX has designed the GRIP 2 around this damper, and now use it in their high end forks. I'd use a bit more compression damping for steeper trails, and the damper did an admirable job of controlling heavy braking loads, in rough terrain, and on steep trail. A little more open, and the Z1 felt great blasting through braking bumps. 

The GRIP Sweep adjuster seems to adjust both high and low-speed compression damping, as advertised. I understand why and don't disagree with Marzocchi's logic here, but I'd personally like to separate them to have more low-speed compression damping and a fairly open high-speed compression circuit. This would allow me to run one compression setting on all trails, rather than how I change the damper based on what type of trail is coming up. With no detents, and a little over half a turn of travel on the compression adjuster, I found myself using the firm settings on the climb far more than I normally would. The rebound adjuster worked well, and I really liked the rebound damping curve. The fork seemed controlled over low-speed rebound events around sag but recovered quickly from deeper in the travel. 

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The Z1 still does free riding and ladder bridges.

Overall you can colour me impressed with the Z1. This hasn't been a long-term review, so I can't comment on long term durability but it's taken a beating so far without a single issue. This isn't surprising given all the insides are well developed Fox technology. Maintenance-wise, anyone servicing Fox forks should be able to service the Z1. I certainly hope the stiffer Z1 crown means this fork won't suffer the creaky crown syndrome some other forks are known for (so far I haven't heard a creaky Z1). 

If the GRIP Sweep doesn't have enough knobs for you, I've been told the damper can be upgraded to the newer GRIP 2 unit, giving independent and externally adjustable high speed and low-speed compression and rebound. I suspect this is going to be a hot setup for some hard-charging endurbros next year. 

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An icon of the shore ... 

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... guarding the gnar.

Crotchety old timers might say this new Z1 is nothing like the Marzocchis of old; the lack of coils and an open oil bath is a cry for help! Maybe so, but the new Z1 is a burly single crown fork that is fantastic and for a reasonable price, and that's not so far off the Marzocchi of old is it? I think the new Z1 offers great performance, for a lower price point, and for many folks may well suit their needs as well if not better than the more expensive options out there right now. 

Comments

agleck7
0
Agleck7  - Nov. 7, 2018, 6:02 a.m.

Can the 27.5 be reduced to 160mm?

Reply

Timmigrant
+1 Agleck7
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 7, 2018, 8:04 a.m.

I'm not sure where I got the 170 - 180 mm travel for the 27.5 variant, but the Marzocchi website shows 150 - 180 mm travel for 27.5 forks in 10 mm increments. So yes a 27.5" version can absolutely be run with 160 mm travel.

Reply

Xorrox
0
Brad_xyz  - Nov. 7, 2018, 9:46 a.m.

I wonder if it uses exactly the same air spring as the Fox 36?

Reply

Timmigrant
+1 thaaad
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 7, 2018, 11:26 a.m.

I'm not sure. But I'll try to find out.

Reply

thaaad
+2 Niels Tim Coleman
thaaad  - Nov. 7, 2018, 11:41 a.m.

They use the same CSU and air springs as the 36 Rhythm forks.

Reply

DemonMike
0
mike  - Nov. 7, 2018, 7:44 a.m.

What wheel size ? and I wonder if the Push and Vorsprung stuff will work with this fork. If so one could build a killer fork. My last fork was a 66CR and I miss it on certain trails.

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 7, 2018, 8:06 a.m.

29er and 27.5 wheel size variants are available. I can't see any reason why the folks working on Fox product would be unwilling to work on the Marzocchi forks, but best to check with them.

Reply

Brocklanders
0
yahs  - Nov. 7, 2018, 8:48 a.m.

Nice review, how would you rate it against a lyrik and a pike?

Reply

DanL
0
DanL  - Nov. 7, 2018, 10:10 a.m.

also against a push ACS spring updated pike as that is on my upgrade horizon

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 7, 2018, 11:03 a.m.

Unfortunately I haven't tried a Push ACS sprung Pike or Lyrik, so I can't comment. It sure would be an interesting comparison however! Mostly because I love coil sprung forks!

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 7, 2018, 11:02 a.m.

In terms of air spring and damper performance I'm going to say the Z1 and Lyrik / Pike are similar in that they're all really good. I removed a Lyrik from this bike and installed the Z1 so had a good back to back comparison. Where I've grown to like the Z1 a bit more is that it's noticeably stiffer than the Lyrik, which is stiffer than the Pike. This might not be something that affects everyone however. I'm fully aware that I'm heavier and ride more aggressively than most, so I'm likely more sensitive to the fork stiffness than most.

Reply

Brocklanders
0
yahs  - Nov. 8, 2018, 7:43 a.m.

Great comparison.

nice.

Reply

Bushpilot
0
Bushpilot  - Nov. 7, 2018, 9:16 a.m.

Off topic:  What rear tire are you running there?  Also, are you running the super gravity casings front and rear?

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 7, 2018, 11:05 a.m.

Pretty much always a Super Gravity Ultra Soft Magic Mary on the front of my bike. I switch up rear tires a little more often, but my favourite is the now discontinued WTB Breakout Tough Casing High Grip. I find the WTB Tough Casing High Grip tires a great compromise of casing durability, puncture resistance, weight, grip and tread life.

Reply

Xorrox
0
Brad_xyz  - Nov. 7, 2018, 9:43 a.m.

I wish I could get this extra stiffness in my Fox 36 Factory Grip 2.  Now that I've FINALLY got it tuned to my liking, my only beef with it is what I perceive to be more torsional or lateral flex than I like, although it seems fine fore and aft for my riding. Then again, at 220 lbs, I weigh more than your average rider.

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 7, 2018, 11:14 a.m.

This is why I think a Z1 with a GRIP 2 damper may well be the hot setup for hard charging heavier guys. I appreciated the stiffer fork, and had no issue with the extra weight. That said the Grip Sweep damper in the fork is no slouch either, and I've enjoyed the time I've had on it so far.

Reply

Xorrox
0
Brad_xyz  - Nov. 7, 2018, 11:26 a.m.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking.  I wonder if the extra stiffness is mainly in the crown and stanchions or if it is in the lowers as well.

It would be really nice to know more about the compatibility of parts between the Z1 and Fox 36.

Also, what offset(s) are available in the Z1 or did I miss that in the article somewhere?   Does Fox vary their offset in the lowers or in the crown assembly?

Reply

Timmigrant
0
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 7, 2018, 11:51 a.m.

To my knowledge one offset is offered per wheel size; 44mm for 27.5-inch and 51mm for 29-inch.

Reply

rnayel
0
RNAYEL  - Nov. 7, 2018, 4:22 p.m.

Unless there is a typo in the ad, the Z1 is offered They offer a 44mm offset for the 29" model.  As available for sale here:

https://www.worldwidecyclery.com/products/marzocchi-bomber-z1-170mm-29-15x110-boost-44mm-tapered-black#

Reply

UFO
0
UFO  - Nov. 7, 2018, 10:49 a.m.

I was under the impression that this fork is built around the Fox 36 Rhythm using the lower end crown AND stanchions. I haven't done much research into this, but initially understood that the Fox Rhythm stanchions are thicker internally resulting in a smaller ID, so upgrading to the Fit or Grip2 dampers wasn't possible.

Reply

Timmigrant
+1 thaaad
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 7, 2018, 11:11 a.m.

I'm not sure what the inside diameter of the Z1 stanchions is, but a number of suspension tuning shops have mentioned a GRIP 2 upgrade for the Z1.

Reply

thaaad
+2 Niels Tim Coleman
thaaad  - Nov. 7, 2018, 11:55 a.m.

The Z1 uses the exact same air side topcaps as the regular 36. I know that Fox was using identical stanchions on both sides for a couple years (and it's unlikely that's changed now) then presumably the topcap threading for the dampers would be the same as the regular 36s also. I would be very surprised if the Grip2 damper didn't work.

The inner stanchion wall is a different size on the Z1/Rhythm forks but that really makes no difference in regards to the damper, just the air spring unless I'm missing something.

Reply

Timmigrant
+1 thaaad
Tim Coleman  - Nov. 7, 2018, 2:29 p.m.

Thanks for the responses thaaad, and what you're saying makes complete sense.

Reply

UFO
0
UFO  - Nov. 7, 2018, 7:57 p.m.

Good to know. I thought it was a situation like the original Pike/Lyrik where they were both 35mm but the ID of the stanchion being thicker on the Lyrik made parts not compatible with each other. Or maybe I was on crack back then too

Reply

jan
+1 Nouseforaname
Jan  - Nov. 7, 2018, 6:36 p.m.

I guess you could summarize this fork as pretty Foxy

Reply

danielshiels
0
danielshiels  - Nov. 8, 2018, 10:19 a.m.

The damper fits both fox and marzocchi but the push acs spring for the 36 won't fit the z1, the internal diameter isn't as relevant to the damper

Reply

niels@nsmb.com
0
Niels  - Nov. 8, 2018, 5:43 p.m.

Nice review. I've ridden the GRIP Sweep damper in a 34 Rhythm and was surprised how good it is for a 'budget' fork. I found setting it up harder than I'm used to as it seems to have a pretty narrow window where it works well, but once I found that sweet spot I really liked it.

Reply

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