A less-expensive fork that takes big hits in its stride and values comfort over mid-stroke support
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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.
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
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
27.5in: 130, 140, 150, 160, 170mm
29in: 150, 160 (tested), 170, 180mm
29in: 51mm (tested)
This video shows how we tested the forks and how they compare.
Seb's been riding and racing mountain bikes for half his life. Since getting hooked on mountain bikes aged thirteen riding a tiny 24Seven Crosser, he's raced downhill, enduro and cross country, and while no athlete, still enters the occasional race. Seb studied experimental physics at university, and he's now happily using (wasting) his degree experimenting with different bike setups, trying to work out what works best and why. You'll often find him riding the same track ten times in a day, changing just one thing to pin down the differences. Seb's much happier back-to-back testing suspension on a wet Welsh hillside than riding the latest five-figure bikes on some sunny press trip - although he quite likes that too!