Deniz merdano Marzocchi Super Z ryan walters - C
MEDIUM-ISH TERM REVIEW

Marzocchi Super Z

Photos Deniz Merdano
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A burly new single crown from Marzocchi - just don’t call it a 38.

If you remember the heady days of mountain biking around the turn of the millennium, then you’ll certainly remember the classic Z1, the Shiver, and of course - the undisputed heavyweight champion of bicycle suspension, the Monster T. The Marzocchi brand holds a special place in my heart - it was the late 90s when the original Z1 fork came along and absolutely blew the doors off everything else on the market. Weight be damned, it didn’t take much convincing to chuck my elastomer-sprung, temperature dependent 50mm travel Judy XC in favour of the coil-sprung, open-bath damped 100mm travel of pillowy plushness that the glorious orange fork offered. Marzocchi was absolutely changing the game in those days, and it’s safe to say that the sport of mountain biking would look very different now without the early innovations from the folks at Zokes.

The recently released Marzocchi Super Z marks a departure from anything the brand has offered to date. For starters, it’s the first time a 38mm single crown chassis has graced the Marzocchi lineup. Coincidentally, my last Marzocchi fork had 38mm stanchions, albeit with an extra crown. As has been the case for some time now in the Marzocchi lineup, the damper is a Fox* unit - GRIP X to be exact. Fox recently updated the dampers across their upper crust forks, and the Super Z also benefits from the update. If you’re familiar with the outgoing GRIP and GRIP 2 Fox dampers, the new “X” series marks a ground-up redesign. While GRIP 2 gets replaced by GRIP X2 as Fox’s premiere gravity focused damper, the GRIP X found in the Super Z (as well as Fox 36 forks) is somewhat of a “middle ground” approach - offering one less rebound knob, and saving some cost and weight over the GRIP X2.

*Fox acquired Marzocchi in 2015.

Deniz merdano Marzocchi Super Z ryan walters 1

Super ZED? Super ZEE? At least one video posted by Marzocchi themselves seems to support the north-of-the-border interpretation.

It’s no secret that the Marzocchi brand is being soft sold as the budget-friendly but shred-ready alternative to premium Fox products, and the inclusion of the GRIP X damper in the Super Z allows for some cost savings over the Fox 38 Factory. A less obvious difference between the Super Z and the 38 lies in the air spring architecture. The 38 features a reduced diameter “sleeve-within-a-sleeve” air spring that helps reduce piston friction due to stanchion flex under load, a design that adds cost and weight. The Super Z features a standard air spring, where the piston rides directly inside the 38mm stanchion - a design which is more in line with industry standards across brands.

Deniz merdano Marzocchi Super Z ryan walters 18

Black goes with everything, but there's just something about a red fork...

Other notable Super Z features include the user-friendly 15x110mm QR axle, as well as bleeder valves on the lower legs. For the uninitiated, these push-button valves allow the rider to equalize the air pressure in the lower legs with atmospheric pressure, compensating for ambient pressure changes when riding at different elevations. The Super Z has fender mounting holes, and these are conveniently designed to play well with Fox 38 specific fenders. For both 27.5” and 29” wheels, travel ranges from 150mm all the way up to the once seemingly absurd 190mm. Answering the call from Rampage athletes looking for a burly single crown to allow barspins off 40-foot drops, the 190mm travel Super Z has similar axle-to-crown measurements as the current crop of 200mm dual crown forks. Offset is limited to 44mm regardless of wheel size, but you do get to choose between gloss black or red lowers. Claimed weight is a very respectable 2,180g, and the Super Z will set you back 1,339 CAD, or 999 USD.

Unboxing the Super Z, the brute styling and girthy dimensions strike an impressive presence - this is an awesome looking fork. Fit and finish are excellent, and while it’s far lighter than those Marzocchi forks of yesteryear, this thing just looks and feels massive. The distinctive Marzocchi “M-Arch” lower casting design can still be found on the Super Z, albeit in a laughably watered down version. I can’t imagine there’s any performance based reason for this arch shape, and it feels like a feature whose time has come and gone. We get it, Marzocchi starts with an M. Moving on…

Deniz merdano Marzocchi Super Z ryan walters 9

No floating axles or pinch bolts to be found here. Marzocchi opted for a simple QR axle to keep things rolling.

Mounting the Super Z was as straightforward as can be. I opted for the 180mm travel 29er variant to replace the 180mm RockShox Zeb Ultimate that is usually found up front on my bike. There are two noteworthy things to mention at this point - the first being the absurd amount of paint covering the brake mount faces. It’s nice to know that Marzocchi didn’t skimp on that luxurious gloss red, but it does no favours glopped all over the brake mount. Annoying, but not an insurmountable problem. Taking a few minutes to carefully remove the paint and expose the raw metal mount face ensured that I’d have a flat and rigid interface for my brakes.

The second minor issue worth noting is that I wasn’t able to install my OneUp EDC tool into the steerer tube of the Super Z. While the steerer tube falls into the tolerance zone for threading to accept the OneUp top cap, its inner diameter seems to neck down in size before flaring out towards the crown of the fork, creating a pinch point that doesn’t allow the EDC tool to pass through (as far as I know, newer versions of the Fox 38 share the same issue). The Super Z is intended for very rough play, and the thicker walls of the steerer tube are likely contributors to a stronger chassis overall. If you’re hell-bent on running a tool in your steerer tube, you’ll have to consider other options, and I can’t say for sure which (if any) will fit.

I started my time on the Super Z with curiosity and guarded optimism. While I’ve been mostly satisfied with recent experiences on Fox forks, I’ve never truly loved the last generation GRIP 2 damper. Even with all the knobs to twist, I’ve never quite gelled with the compression damping in the GRIP 2. The high speed compression circuit in particular has always baffled me, as it seemed more effective at making my hands and wrists sore, rather than reducing the frequency of harsh bottom-outs. I know I’m not the only one with compression damping gripes with the GRIP 2, and I’m hoping the much-hyped “X” series dampers address these concerns.

Ok, but how does it ride?

This being my first time spent on a Marzocchi product since Fox acquired the brand, I started out with assumptions that were to be expected, if a little unfair. It wouldn’t be a surprise to hear that the Super Z was a less polished, less adjustable and less capable version of the Fox 38 - a conclusion that couldn’t be farther from the truth. At the risk of getting ahead of myself, I’m trying to figure out how the Super Z performed so damn well. My Zeb Ultimate is the benchmark against which I judge every other fork - it’s reliable, rides great, and is relatively easy to set up for my weight and riding style. The Zeb is a fork that seems to work better the harder you push it, and my only minor gripe is its small bump sensitivity leaves a little to be desired. Right out of the box, the Super Z exhibited incredible suppleness in the beginning stroke, developing velcro like traction when bombing across slippery, off-camber terrain. Without the bells and whistles of a floating axle, or a sleeve-within-a-sleeve air spring, this fork was still able to deliver class-leading traction in nearly any situation. Even when leaning the bike over at high speeds in rough terrain, the Super Z remained eager to slide into its travel. No doubt the new and improved lower leg bushings from Fox, and stout construction helped in this regard.

Since writing this review, both Rock Shox and Fox have released updated versions of the Zeb and the 38, with much of the improvements coming in the form of new dampers - Charger 3.1 and Grip X2 respectively. I’ve yet to spend any time on these new forks, so my comparisons relate to the Zeb Charger 3.0 and Fox 38 Grip 2).

Deniz merdano Marzocchi Super Z ryan walters 11

Traction for days. The Super Z was incredible when bombing across roots, rocks and off-camber slippery sections.

While small bump sensitivity on the Super Z was excellent, mid-stroke support was equally impressive. For a fork that is so supple off the top, the Super Z ramped up comfortably and seamlessly, and did an admirable job of keeping things in the middle third of travel - only getting into the red zone on truly heavy hits. More often than not, suspension is a game of compromise - small bump sensitivity often comes at the expense of mid-stroke support, and vice versa. Try to add bottom-out resistance to the mix, and you might as well be hunting for unicorns. The Super Z secret sauce includes a healthy dose of all three ingredients. While the air spring had a progressive feel to it, it wasn't wallowy in any way, and certainly the new GRIP X damper had a part to play here. My worries of a GRIP 2 repeat in the compression damping were unfounded - the GRIP X equipped Super Z dispatched big hits with ease, and didn’t make my hands sore in the process. On the rare occasion that I did fully bottom the fork, it was never with the nightmarish metal-on-metal clang of some forks, but with a dull thud that quietly suggested: “That line choice was really dumb - maybe don’t do that again?”.

While I played with settings a little bit throughout the review period, I eventually settled on the following (all damper settings stated in clicks out from fully closed):

  • 92 psi with 3 volume spacers.
  • HSC - 11 clicks out.
  • LSC - 6 clicks out.
  • LSR - 8 clicks out.

More often than not, suspension is a game of compromise - small bump sensitivity often comes at the expense of mid-stroke support, and vice versa. Try to add bottom-out resistance to the mix, and you might as well be hunting for unicorns. The Super Z secret sauce includes a healthy dose of all three ingredients.

Performance wise, my only real gripe with the Super Z was how loud it was on the rebound stroke. Fox would have you believe that the new X series dampers are the quietest they’ve ever made, and some other online reviews back this up with real world testing. I’m not sure why my fork was so loud, but the damper seemed to work very well regardless. After a couple rides, I got used to the wheezy damper, and it actually seemed to quiet down a bit after several rides.

A feature on the Super Z that had me scratching my head a bit was the “Firm Mode”, which is activated by turning the high speed compression knob fully closed. I tried the feature once or twice while climbing, and didn’t really see the point. If you’re actually causing your fork to bob that much, you might be better off improving your pedalling technique rather than fiddling with your fork! Adjusting the HSC knob while riding was also quite awkward, and given the lack of any kind of visual indicator, forgetting to deactivate Firm Mode when dropping into a descent would be more than likely.

Deniz merdano Marzocchi Super Z ryan walters 19

A classic brand, on a classic feature.

I’ve spent enough time on the Super Z to realize that this is a suspension product that may not get the attention it deserves. When cash-flush mountain bikers are staring down labels like “Factory-this” and “Ultimate-that”, it’s unfortunate that this fantastic fork might get lost in the noise. That said, the new top-of-the-line Fox 38 Factory is $1669 CAD - $330 more than the Super Z. While not exactly chump change, $330 isn’t going to hold much sway over anyone about to drop well north of a thousand dollars on a bicycle toy. At $1339, it’s hard to say with a straight face that the Super Z is “budget-friendly”, and it begs the question: If the Super Z is that good, what will another $330 get you? Maybe a lot? Maybe nothing? Maybe there’s something special going on in the sum of parts that is the Super Z that can’t be replicated in another fork? Whatever it is, my nostalgic self is glad to see Marzocchi come out swinging again.

Marzocchi Super Z: 1,339 CAD / 999 USD

rwalters
Ryan Walters

Age : Old enough to remember square taper bottom brackets.

Height : 1803 mm

Weight : 13.54 stone

Ape Index : 1.03

Inseam : 2.582 ft

Bar Width : 30.7"

Preferred Reach : 0.2663 fathoms

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Comments

Roxtar
+8 Cr4w Jotegir Sandy James Oates Ryan Walters BarryW Bryce Borlick Dogl0rd sebbrugs

"For starters, it’s the first time a 38mm single crown chassis has graced the Marzocchi lineup."

I hate to be "That guy" but me and my (I believe) 2008 Zoke Bomber 66 would beg to differ. A monster 180mm single crown freeride fork with 38mm stanchions and straight 1.5" steerer that I had mounted on my Opus Nelson.

Opus Nelson

Reply

rwalters
+1 Cr4w

Oh wow! I stand corrected! I’ll have to look this one up. Doesn’t surprise me too much as I think this was the era of the 40mm Rock Shox Totem.

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Roxtar
0

I think it weighed more than a current Fox 40.

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rwalters
0

Haha!

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BryceB
+1 capnron

Being the guy who mentions marzocchi lore is always ok in my book 👍

Reply

Jotegir
+5 Bryce Borlick Ryan Walters Hardlylikely capnron hardtailhersh

Ryan, how can you accurately review a fork when according to the photos your front wheel doesn't spend any significant time touching the ground?

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rwalters
+1 capnron

Ha! Possibly the most important characteristic in a suspension product around these parts - how it touches down.

Reply

Timer
+4 bushtrucker roil BarryW Bryce Borlick

There might not be any financial or technical reason to go for this instead of a Fox 38 Performance, but the red color is just soo much better than anything Fox has to offer.

Reply

rwalters
+1 BarryW

I got along with this fork much better than I did with the Grip 2 38 Factory.

Reply

JMLAD
+2 JVP dhr999

The thicker steertube was a running change on the 38 in 2022 (likely to stop the creaking early models were suffering). You can still fit an EDC Lite if your steertube is long enough, OneUp have the details on their website. If you're not sure which steerer you have on your 38 you can try passing a standard CO2 cartridge through the tube. Too narrow and you have the updated steertube and hopefully a creak-free fork.

Reply

craw
+1 werewolflotion

Claimed weight is quite low. Is that what it actually weighed on the scale? Saving some bucks and 200g over a Fox 38 or a Zeb is pretty appealing.

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werewolflotion
+2 Bryce Borlick Ryan

I'm also curious about the weight. I was expecting 2,500 grams, or at least in line with Zeb/38. This is in Mezzer/Lyrik/36 territory if the claimed weight is true.

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Flatted-again
0

If 2500g is in line with the 38, adding a smashpot into this could be about the same weight. That’s wild to me that a coil fork and an air fork could be that similar.

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shouldknowbettor
+1 Ryan Walters

Claimed weight is correct. I have a set I weighed before fitting, came I in at 2185g

Only a couple of rides in, but I can safely say this fork is the bomb(er).

Reply

JVP
+5 werewolflotion Timer chrod sebbrugs ohio

Figuring out actual weights on these big forks is harder than it should be. 

  • 38 Rhythm Grip is ~2425g (with axle, star nut, 220 brake mount, cut steerer for L). I own this on a new bike and weighed it since online I saw a portly 2700g, which was false.
  • New 38 Grip X2 was measured (by PB? saw it on a review) at 2380g, cut steer, axle, 220 adapter. Fox claims the damper is 120 grams more than Grip X.
  • New Grip X is claimed by fox at 2194.
  • Zeb was 2320, same test as the X2 above. In specs it appears heavier than X2, but it's marginally lighter.
  • Mezzer is claimed at 2030.
  • This Marz Super Z is claimed at 2180, right in line with the 38 Grip X.

I'm not a weight weenie, but if I could save 600 grams vs the Rhythm, that's starting to catch my attention. As it is, I'll wait to upgrade. Maybe my dream of a DC Mezzer will come true, lol.

Reply

werewolflotion
-1 Bioradler

Thanks for taking the time to share this. It's frustrating finding weights, and they never list them for both 27.5 and 29, it's always just 29 usually in the heaviest configuration (180/190mm). Most bikers care about weight, even if they aren't weight weenies.

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chrod
+1 JVP

My measured weights:

  • 29" Mezzer at 170mm: 2042g (7.5" steerer + star nut + axle, no fender)
  • 29" Ohlins RXF38 at 170mm: 2343g (7.5" steerer + star nut +axle, no fender) 
  • 29" Ohlins RXF36 at 170mm: 2126g (7.9" steerer + star nut +axle, no fender)

Not sure how the Marzocchi Super Z will live up to that claimed weight for a 38mm fork.

Reply

rwalters
+2 werewolflotion chrod

I’ll try to weigh it when I get back home in a week. I just heard online chatter about it being “sub 5lbs with a cut steerer tube”, 5lbs =2268g. 

So, my guess is the claimed weight might be for a lower travel, 27.5 fork. Still, it’s not heavy!

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rigidjunkie
+1 Ryan Walters

Closing is spot on, Fox markets this as the budget option but it is still expensive.  That said if / when my 38 needs replaced this will be the answer.

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rnayel
0

Likely at the OEM level, you'll see it as a budget build/option for complete bikes.

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BarryW
+1 Ryan Walters

Love the red lowers. And NOT a Lyric. 

I get asked what is up with that Lyric on my last generation Z1 coil. Especially since I run a RS coil with the obligatory red spring. 

Good review Ryan, thanks.

Reply

Jenkins5
+1 Velocipedestrian

If Marz had a special place in your heart it's DVO for you! All the old Marz people are still there making rad product. Marz now is just rebranded Fox....Not saying that's bad, but it's just more Fox....

Reply

Sethimus
+1 Velocipedestrian

why is there a z1 coil but not a super z coil?

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werewolflotion
0

The lack of a 37 or 38mm offset in 27.5 form is a heartbreaker, I'd be all over this otherwise. I realize not everyone cares, but it made a big difference for me/my setup when I switched from 44 to 37.

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mikesee
0

What size tire is in the header pic?

And how big of a 29" tire do you think would reasonably fit?  2.8"?  3.0"?

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rwalters
0

That is a 29x2.5” Assegai. I’m sure you could fit a 2.8” in there, depending on tire/rim brand and lateral stiffness of the wheel.

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hbelly13
0

"For both 27.5” and 29” wheels, travel ranges from 150mm all the way up to the once seemingly absurd 190mm." 

At least on the US site the listed travel range is only 170mm-190mm. Kind of a bummer as I have a Zeb set at 150mm to give my rally car trail bike more plow-ability and this would not be an alternative.

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XXX_er
0

Only had 2 problems with Z-1cuz junior was really hard on equipment

those grey plastic things inside disintegrated but they were cheap n easy to replace

aheadset stems would not stay tight on the steerer tube and the head set would constantly loosen

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dirtnapped
0

Hmm so do I swap my Zeb for the Super Z or get a Smashpot for it? Questions, questions.

Reply

wkkie16
0

Do you have an axle to crown measurement for these @Ryan Walters? There's not much info or any actual reviews on these out there at the moment.

Reply

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