We took a look at Marzocchi's 2012 line back in the summer and now the first new products have begun trickling in for testing. First up is the latest version of their 888 downhill fork.
With its titanium spring, the 888 RC3 EVO V2 Titanium is said to be the lightest coil-sprung triple-clamp on the market. Actual weight on our scales with an uncut steerer is 2,960g – lighter than an air-sprung Manitou Dorado (claimed weight for 2012: 2,974g) but 300g heavier than the RockShox BoXXer World Cup Keronite (2,689g, claimed).
The most obvious change for 2012 is a new upper crown which has weight-saving cutouts and is now colour matched to the lowers. It also has bolt holes for a standard BoXXer-style direct-mount stem; Marzocchi previously used a two-bolt fitting that severely limited stem choice. These aren't the only changes, though – plenty has been done inside the fork, too.
Dan Jones from Marzocchi's UK distributors Windwave tells us: "The 888 has been reworked quite substantially using the feedback of Marzocchi’s World Cup riders. First off the rebound piston now uses shims – this is called V2 – which enables more accurate control and customisation of the rebound stroke. Secondly, the compression range has been modified to give a firmer, more ‘race-like’ feel to it. The EVO valve retains the shim damped high- and low-speed compression adjustment, as before."
The 888 RC3 EVO TI V2 is available in white only. It has 200mm of travel, a 20mm axle, nickel-coated tapered aluminium stanchions, post-mount brake tabs for an 8in rotor and titanium hardware throughout. RRP is £1,399.95/US$1,649. We loved the original Evo Ti so we can't wait to get some time in on the V2. Look out for a review in Mountain Biking UK in the new year.
Marzocchi's top-end 55 all-mountain fork has also been updated for 2012. Our 55 RC3 EVO Titanium sample weighs 2,390g and offers many of the same features as its big brother, including a titanium spring, nickel-coated tapered stanchions (35mm vs 38mm on the 888) and 20mm axle (with a quick-release lever).
Travel has been increased to 170mm-travel (6.7in) and the new RC3 EVO cartridge, as used in last year's 888, gives shim-controlled high- and low-speed compression damping. RRP for the 55 RC3 EVO Ti is £879.95/$1,019 (£899.95/$1,049 for the tapered steerer version). Marzocchi forks are available in the UK via Windwave.
Also in for testing is the new RockShoxLyrik RC2 DH Solo Air fork, in BoXXer red. It offers a similar amount of travel to the 55 – 160mm (6.3in) or 170mm (6.7in) – but use of an air rather than coil spring means it comes in a couple of hundred grams lighter, at a claimed 2,180g.
As with the Marzocchi, the Lyrik boasts 35mm stanchions, a 20mm quick-release axle (Maxle Lite), post mount brake tabs and a choice of straight or tapered aluminium steerer tubes. The Mission Control DH damping offers Dual Flow rebound plus high- and low-speed compression adjustments, via new BoXXer-style dials. The RC2 DH is available in black, white or Diffusion Black, for £849.99/$965, via Fisher Outdoor Leisure in the UK.
Just in from UK-based Burgtec are their new RideWider riser bars. An evolution of the company's original Ride Wide bar, which helped drive the trend for wide handlebars in downhill, they're a whopping 780mm wide, with a choice of 15mm or 30mm rise.
Both bars have a nine-degree backsweep and four-degree upsweep, and are available in black only. The 15mm rise version weighs a claimed 310g, with the higher rise adding an extra 20g. RRP is £79.99. Both bars have cut marks in case 780mm is too wide for you.
The rapid spread of neck braces in the pro and amateur downhill ranks has brought with it one major problem: not all body armour is compatible. Leatt's protective gear suffers no such problem as it's designed to mesh perfectly with the company's braces.
Leatt offer everything from a full armoured jacket (Body Protector Adventure, £189.99/$229) to more minimal pieces like the Body Vest Adventure Lite (£109.99/$129) seen here. Don't be fooled by its roost-guard looks, though – the Adventure Lite still packs in an articulated SAS-TEC spine protector (the same impact-absorbing material used by O'Neal and POC, the latter under the name VPD).
The back of the vest is shaped so it doesn't clash with the rear of your brace. You can also connect the two pieces of equipment using Leatt's BraceOn system, where tabs on each side of the brace slide under elasticated straps on the shoulders of the vest. This means you don't need to use the brace's chest straps to hold it in place, making the whole process of getting it on and off while wearing armour much less fiddly.
Also new in from Leatt is the Element hydration pack. As you'd expect, this large-capacity pack won't foul your neck brace and offers more than enough storage for all-day riding. Features include a two-litre bladder, a plethora of pockets, a removable waist belt and a waterproof compartment. RRP is £86.99. Leatt gear is available via Hotlines in the UK.
Alpinestars have also dropped some brace-compatible armour off for testing – the latest evolution of their Bionic jacket. Designed to integrate perfectly with their Bionic brace, this has two particularly neat features: the arms and back protector zip off if you don't want full protection, and the top section of the spine guard can be removed (it attaches via Velcro) for improved brace compatibility.
The shoulder pads have also been shaped to work with a brace. Initial testing suggests the jacket is very comfortable, thanks to its mesh construction and strapless elbow pads. It's available in eight sizes for £219.99. Alpinestars kit is distributed by Extra in the UK.
JT Racing were a big name in the 1970s/80s motocross and BMX scenes. Well now they're back, with UK distribution from Decade Europe. Seen here is the Pro-Tour jersey (£50/$49), Classick ALS pant (£150/$169) and Flex Feel Performance gloves (£25/$25), all available in a choice of eight colours. Check out www.jtracingusa.com for more details.
Also new on the riding gear front is some good looking kit from Scott. The 2012 DH Racing Shirt (£54.99/€59.95) comes in black (shown here), lime or red, while the matching DH Racing Pants (£79.99/€89.90) are available in black only. The jersey has mesh panels for breathability while the trousers have zipped pockets – something we always like to see in pants that are unlikely to be worn exclusively for racing. Shorts are available for £10 less.