Marzocchi Bomber Z1 fork review

A less-expensive fork that takes big hits in its stride and values comfort over mid-stroke support

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Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £749.00 RRP
Suspension fork for mountain bike

Our review

A great performing, big-hit-swallowing fork at a relatively reasonable price, but not as supple at the beginning of its stroke as the RockShox Yari
Pros: Comfortable, big-hit capable and stiff; out-performs many more-expensive forks; swallows bigger bumps with less feedback than its RockShox Yari rival
Cons: Relatively firm beginning-stroke unless the air spring pressure is dropped and volume spacers are added; slight lack of mid-stroke support when pushing hard; heavy
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In 1997, the original Z1 put Marzocchi on the map. Its dual coil springs and open-bath adjustable damping earned it an enviable reputation for reliability and suppleness.

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Die-hard Marzocchi fans will be disappointed that the rebooted version is basically a Fox 36 Rhythm in disguise, but on the trail, this is no bad thing.

The GRIP damper used here, and in some Fox forks, is somewhat reminiscent of those open-bath dampers used by Marzocchi in that the damping oil is the same as that used to lubricate the fork chassis. The recirculating damper is designed to ingest lubricating/damping oil when the fork bottoms out, and then purge it out the top later.

This allows Fox and Marzocchi to use looser-fitting damper seals, which reduce friction without affecting damper performance or longevity.

The compression adjuster alters high- and low-speed damping together and has a continuous range (there are no clicks to delineate settings) from open to a firm lockout.

Like the Rhythm 36 (which is the most budget-friendly and OEM-only version of the Fox 36), the upper tubes are lower-grade aluminium (and therefore heavier) and the air spring doesn’t have as much negative volume as a top-end Fox 36.

  • This fork was tested as part of a group test including ten of the best enduro forks. All forks were tested back-to-back on the same tracks, keeping all other variables as consistent as possible to ensure our findings are as reliable and accurate as they can be.

Marzocchi Bomber Z1 setup

Suspension fork for mountain bike
The Marzocchi’s GRIP damper has a continuous range from open to a firm lockout.
Steve Behr

The Z1’s smaller negative spring means that with the recommended air pressure it was relatively reluctant to settle into its early travel yet pushed through its remaining travel easily.

Adding a third spacer (it comes fitted with two) and reducing the air pressure by 5psi to 75psi provided me with 31mm (19 percent) of sag and just enough bottom-out resistance.

Marzocchi Bomber Z1 performance

With this lower-pressure setup, the beginning-stroke sensitivity, which greatly affects flat-turn traction, was respectable but not class-leading. With three volume spacers fitted, it rarely bottomed-out as the spring force ramps up towards the end.

But it still lacks mid-stroke support compared to the best forks I tested, so it rushes through the middle of its travel until it hits that ramp-up in spring force near the end.

As a consequence, it’s not as reserved in how it uses the middle part of its travel than some of its rivals, particularly when stabbing on the brakes or riding through steep steps, where it sits noticeably lower.

The flip side is that it sucks up medium-large impacts brilliantly, with very little feedback through the bars. So, hand pain was impressively manageable on long descents, particularly those with lots of square-edge hits. The stiff chassis tracks well when pushed hard into blown-out berms and big holes too.

How does the Marzocchi Bomber Z1 compare to its main rivals?

Unsurprisingly, the Z1 is noticeably less refined than its pricier sibling the Fox 36 GRIP2, and more readily ploughs through the middle of its travel until those volume spacers come into play near the end.

It’s not quite as supple over high-frequency chatter either, but the difference is subtle considering the £390 price difference, even if the setup I used to get the two forks working at their best is quite different.

It’s appreciably more forgiving on square-edge impacts and heavy landings than the similarly-priced RockShox Yari, but it’s not as supple off the top and requires a touch more care when skimming through pitter-patter roots or loose rocks. It’s heavier and a bit more expensive too.

The Z1 is more than a match for many higher-priced forks from other manufacturers though.

Marzocchi Bomber Z1 options

Travel:

  • 27.5in: 130, 140, 150, 160, 170mm
  • 29in: 150, 160 (tested), 170, 180mm

Offset:

  • 27.5in: 44mm
  • 29in: 51mm (tested)
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This video shows how we tested the forks and how they compare.

Product Specifications

Product

Price GBP £749.00
Weight 2,249g (29in)
Brand Marzocchi

Features

Features Crown to axle length: 569mm
Offset 51mm
Travel 160mm
Wheel size 29in/700c