The 2010 44 RLO fork looks and feels like classic Marzocchi Bomber to us – big and bold. If it was put on a diet it’d be popping up on bikes everywhere. As it is, riders who want a no-nonsense fluff-free fork will still run it and ignore the weight. And they’re going to be riding into the distance while many other forks at this price are in the shop getting serviced.
With external rebound adjust, air pressure and lockout controls all easily to hand on the top of the fork, it’s rider friendly. It took no more than 10 minutes to dial it in, each click of the adjusters providing an obvious and incremental change in feel – something other fork brands could bear in mind. We ﬁtted our 100mm-travel RLO (it can be switched to 80mm by adding the supplied spacer) to a hardtail and headed out into the great British winter to see how it behaved.
This new entry-level model takes the Bomber traits we fell in love with a decade ago on the original Bomber Z1 – namely a buttery smooth action, which has been missing from ’Zocchis in the past few years, and an emphasis on class-leading strength and stiffness of chassis over absolute light weight. It’s a fork for riders who want something that makes the bike feel conﬁdent and safe without the need for constant tweaking.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the 44 RLO isn’t a waif. However, we forgive, to a point, the portly weight, which actually doesn’t feel so bad when you’re rolling because the fork is always working hard for you, tracking every root, rut and rock it comes across. It’s only when you try to loft the front wheel over a ditch or log that you sense the mass hanging off the head tube.
The riders who will get the most from the RLO are heavier guys who simply ﬂex the bejesus out of lighter cross-country forks, and those who like to go large and want a fork that can be ridden in an aggressive, ﬂat-out manner, put away wet and do the same again tomorrow.
For big-hitters the 44 RLO is also available in a 120mm version, which can be extended to 140mm travel by taking out a spacer inside the fork. We’d have preferred a 100/120mm option instead of the largely redundant 80mm setting, but then we’re rarely satisﬁed.
We felt happiest with our RLO when we took extra time over the rocky sections. There the fork showed its physical composure with negligible ﬂex and enough damping control to not end up on the bottom-out stops at every opportunity. The RLO is good value for money, with forks from the competition lighter on the scale but not technically better on the singletrack and that, as we know, is what really matters.
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