Re-tested: Marzocchi 44 ATA Micro fork review£699.99

Stiff but disappointing

BikeRadar score2/5

We first featured the 44 ATA fork in March, and having suffered several problems we scored it accordingly. Marzocchi were unhappy with the review and informed us we must have had a defective pre-production sample. We agreed to a re-test on a fresh production set to see if that changed our minds about their new trail fork flagship.

There are certainly some good points about the fork. The new 44 chassis with Marzocchi’s 15mm screw-in axle is definitely stiffer in rotational steering terms than the old quick-release version. At 1,782g (cut steerer) it’s lighter than any other 140mm-travel (5.5in) adjustable fork too.

In use, it takes single big hits with characteristic Marzocchi smoothness and, once dialled in accurately, rebound damping is well controlled. The ATA travel adjust lets you crank travel down to 100mm (3.9in) a few mm at a time and we’ve only had one temporary freeze of the adjuster.

The TST Micro adjusters give a broad range of compression damping, from lockout to fully open. The control knobs haven’t fallen off like they did with our first sample either.

However, this production sample still failed to impress us when things got more rowdy. While it’s acceptably stiff in steering terms, sideways shear (basically independent leg movement) and fore/aft flex make the suspension action choke and become inconsistent when you’re braking or cornering hard. It’s also very notchy over small bumps and had a definite ‘catch’ about 30 percent into the stroke.

These glitches and a naturally very linear stroke make it extremely hard to find a ‘happy medium’ air pressure. However much we’ve fettled, it’s either been insensitive and doesn’t get full travel, or feels reasonably plush but dives alarmingly over bigger hits. The 15mm axle can also start to loosen and introduce wheel wobble on long descents.

The price has also gone up £50 since we first reviewed it, making it even less competitive compared to more controlled Fox or RockShox Black Box forks.

On the bright side, if you want a quick-release fork, the £429.99 44 ATA we’ve been running all year is still going great. New Marzocchi owners Tenneco are also promising a totally revamped line-up for 2010, and sneak previews of the new forks have whetted our appetite.

The qr15 axle is stiff but can loosen when the going gets rough: the qr15 axle is stiff but can loosen when the going gets rough
The qr15 axle is stiff but can loosen when the going gets rough: the qr15 axle is stiff but can loosen when the going gets rough

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK
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