Marzocchi Suspension Testing With the MS Mondraker Team

Jun 18, 2013
by Mike Levy  
 
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VAL DI SOLE, ITALY
MS Mondraker Team
Marzocchi 380 C2R2 Ti
Moto C2R

WORDS Lukas Haider and Mike Levy
PHOTOS Flo Smith and Lukas Haider
Marzocchi test sessions with the Mondraker team.

School is in Session

After what could only be described as a comeback season in 2012, in which Brook MacDonald took his first World Cup victory aboard his Marzocchi equipped Mondraker Summum and Emmeline Ragot stood atop the podium in Fort William, the Italian brand has launched a completely new fork and shock for 2013, the 380 C2R2 Titanium and Moto C2R. The MS Mondraker team has played a large role in the development of both, with some of their fundamental features being tested and developed incognito during the 2012 World Cup campaign. While it may have looked like last year's race bikes were fitted with standard 888 forks and Roco shocks, that was far from the truth. Despite the progress made last season, there was still some testing that needed to be done before the season kicked off in Fort William, so the team gathered in Val di Sole, Italy, to do just that.

As the location of the second round of the 2013 World Cup downhill calendar, Val di Sole offers some of the best conditions for assessing new gear in a limited amount of time, especially suspension. This time of the year usually means that the area is bathed in sun and the tracks are dusty and fast, but Mother Nature decided to throw a curve ball instead, with the weather quickly taking a turn for the worse. The team went from riding in 20 degree centigrade temperatures one day to freezing conditions and snowfall the next. While the circumstances were far from ideal, current World Champ Morgane Charre, along with Markus Pekoll and Innes Graham made the most of the slick conditions.

The session began with an introduction to the new suspension in order to give the riders a better understanding of not just the features, but the hows and whys behind them, as well as the development history that culminated with the forks and shocks being fitted to their team-issue bikes. This is an important step, as the riders should know more than the basics, and most do, when it comes to what their bike is doing under them. With school out of the way, the first day was spent with the team using last season's 2012 Marzocchi suspension. While that may sound counterproductive, it is vital for the riders to have a reference to start from on the rough Val di Sole course before having their bikes fitted with the new 380 C2R2 Titanium fork and Moto C2R shock.


Marzocchi test sessions with the Mondraker team.
  The men who make it happen: suspension technician Pietro Palladino, North American race support from Naz Evangelista, and team mechanics Andy Ward, and Hugues Postic

The Men Behind the Scenes

The Val di Sole test session was important for Marzocchi and the MS Mondraker team for more than one reason, though, with it also serving to bring together everyone who will be playing a role in the 2013 season. The Marzocchi full-spec truck that goes to the major races arrived, complete with Pietro Palladino at the wheel, the Italian who is responsible for the tuning of the suspension on the MS Mondraker team bikes. Pietro joined the program just prior to last year's World Cup race at Val di Sole where he proved his suspension mastery right out of the gate by tuning Macdonald's fork and shock, with the Kiwi going on to take an impressive victory on race day. Also on hand were Naz Evangelista, the Canadian who will be responsible for Marzocchi's North American race support during this coming season, as well as Andy Ward and Hugues Postic, the MS Mondraker mechanics who keep the team bikes running smoothly. Last but not least, Stefano Migliorini, the man behind the Marzocchi and MS Mondraker collaboration, was also in attendance.

Both Ward and Postic had their hands full early in the test as they built up fresh 2013 Summuns for each rider, with the bikes featuring a number of special tweaks and adjustments that consumers will be able to see come the next production run. Gear from team sponsors, including Mavic, Schwalbe, Renthal, Formula, and SDG, was bolted to the bare frames, as well as a SRAM X0 DH drivetrain, with the built bikes weighing in at just under 35lb depending on tire and pedal choices per each rider.

Marzocchi test sessions with the Mondraker team.
Marzocchi test sessions with the Mondraker team.
  MS Mondraker team mechanic Andy Ward gets to it, assembling the riders' bikes and fitting the new 380 C2R2 Titanium fork and Moto C2R shock.




Marzocchi test sessions with Mondraker team
  The Val di Sole track is fast, rough, and unrelenting, the perfect combination for what the MS Mondraker team was looking to accomplish.

Onto the Hill

With the riders educated and the bikes built, it was time to get to it. While hard empirical data is invaluable, the three day Val di Sole program would focus on rider feedback rather than timed runs or data logging - if the rider feels comfortable with a setup, he or she will be able to go fast regardless of what the computer is saying should be happening. Many top level riders are able to feel and offer feedback on the smallest of changes, and the riders on the MS Mondraker team are no different. Doing back to back runs on their older setups followed by doing the same on the new fork and shock allowed them to dial in the revised suspension to a point where they felt quite comfortable while at a fast pace. Each rider took a slightly different approach depending on what they were looking for, with some repeating sections of trail while making changes via the fork or shock's external rebound and compression dials, while others chose to simulate race conditions by doing non-stop runs at a good speed. The latter is especially hard to do given that nothing can push a rider to their limits like being in an actual race, but getting close to the edge during testing is vitally important. Team rider Damien Spagnolo was doing just that when he went down hard during the first day, sustaining some fairly serious injuries that will see him miss the second World Cup, ironically to be held in Val di Sole.

Marzocchi test sessions with the Mondraker team.
Marzocchi test sessions with the Mondraker team.
  Pietro working his magic, with the Moto C2R shock fitted to a vacuum pump to ensure an air-free bleed.

Shock Science

The new Moto C2R shock offers a wide range of tuning via its external adjusters, with separate low and high-speed compression, as well as low-speed rebound being adjustable, which makes it easy for the riders and mechanics to do any trail-side tweaking. World Cup racers aren't your average riders, though, and they often ask for much more from their equipment than you or I could dream of. With his extensive knowledge of the inner workings of suspension, this is where Pietro comes in. In a previous life Pietro spent many years in the motorsport arena, often working on suspension that is leaps and bounds ahead of current mountain bike technology, and he brings that know-how to the MS Mondraker team. Shocks are opened up, completely disassembled, and then rebuilt with custom shim stacks that meet the requests of the rider. It is also a matter of build quality, with Pietro's custom built truck being fitted with both a vacuum pump and a nitrogen filling station, tools that allow him to ensure that his shocks are ready for action. The vacuum pump guarantees that the shock will be 100% free of air, essential for it to provide consistent damping while being pushed hard at a World Cup rider's speed. Nitrogen is nothing new in the mountain bike world, although the large majority of shocks are now filled with air simply because it allows riders to easily adjust the pressure. The big advantage to nitrogen, however, is that it is far less susceptible to the high temperatures caused by the shock working fast, allowing it to remain at a constant pressure.

Marzocchi test sessions with the Mondraker team.
Marzocchi test sessions with the Mondraker team.
  The 380's Dual Bleed Cartridge allows for easy access for custom tuning to be done.


Into the 380

Like the Moto shock, the new 380 fork allows for a wide tuning range, including the added adjustment of both high and low speed rebound. This makes for four external damper adjustments, and the MS Mondraker team were happy to use these to dial in the fork to their liking. This didn't stop Pietro from making some internal modifications to the fork in an effort to give the riders a slightly different base tune to start with that better suited their riding style. This isn't the first time that team riders have spent time on the 2013 suspension, though, with the fork's DBC cartridge being testing during last season within the older 888 chassis without anyone noticing. The testing pays off now, with the riders already somewhat familiar with how the fork will react at speed. Now is the time for them to fine tune the fork's performance for the coming race season.




Marzocchi test sessions with the Mondraker team.
  Tools of the trade.


Testing Times

The 2012 World Cup season was the first step of Marzocchi's comeback to the top tier of international racing, and although wins were not expected to happen right out of the gate, Val d'Isere proved that their (and Brook's) hard work was beginning to pay off. The development and testing of the new fork and shock may sound like a dream job to many, and it often is just that, but it can also be an incredible amount of hard work behind the scenes. In the end it is a job that needs to be done, just like any other job, regardless of whether it is a beautiful warm day on a dry track or spending hours in the rain working on a section or problem. After three days of fun, hard work, and trying weather, the MS Mondraker team left Val di Sole satisfied with their progress. They won't stop there, though, as much in-season testing needs to take place, both during race meetings and off-time, in order to push the limits of the riders, bikes, and suspension.

www.marzocchi.com
www.ms-racing.at

69 Comments

  • + 181
 Marzocchi, this could be your ticket back to the top. Please don't screw it up.
[Reply]
  • + 26
 i love the feel of my ti 888 but the preload mechanism is clunking due to poor machining. not even worn just a bad fit. i would expect better from one of the leading fork manufacturers in the world. at least they dont leak like my foxs did. Please marzocchi put some love into these forks and give us what we expect, when we pay a shit ton of money for something you expect to be perfect.
  • + 6
 watch somebody chime in about boxxers being perfect, won't be me tho I love my 888
  • + 4
 My boxxers are great but this 380 C2R2 as caught my eyes and I want it. Looks great and I'm sure it will ride great. As it's marzocchi I'm sure it will be far more supple than my boxxers as well
  • + 2
 had this issue with '09 888s (their darker days). the fix on that fork was a 20 cent thin washer, tightened it right up. no more clunking.
  • + 3
 From what I have heard, RS needs a fat long fork like a totem made long. I won't defend the boxxer.
  • + 3
 Zoke any day. ..
  • + 4
 rs first needs to learn to actually lubricate their forks.
  • + 2
 they aren't bad damper wise but not exactly reliable and it's like rockshox doesn't give two shits about the huge amount of stiction boxxers have compared to 888s
  • + 2
 Yeah, my boxxers have really bad stiction but i tried someones wc boxxers and they felt amazing, like 888s but without the weight and clunks and all the oil sloshing around
  • + 4
 no one gave 2 shits about stiction until fox made good seals a marketing feature while marz used decent NOK seals all along for like over 10 years. why did no one give 2 shits? because idiots kept buying them.

what i find funny is while fox went through all the trouble having custom seals designed for their forks so they can brag about it, marz again has better seals (at least on this fork, hopefully they become a standard item) using off the shelf moto part and they didn't even mention it (yet)
  • + 1
 Good seals are a bandaid for the real cause of stiction: flex. The boxxers suffer it the most. Proper geo on a good bike helps, but the truth is, RS needs a fatty DH fork.
  • + 3
 that's not stiction, that's bushing bind. yeah, stiffer chassis is the only help there but seals make a huge difference not only reducing stiction but extending service intervals and the overall life of the fork (something rs and fox don't really want) so don't go saying they're a band aid. more like essential
  • + 2
 I disagree, I think the main cause of stiction isn't flex but the seals and the oil the the lowers, the difference between old and new seals is night and day, it's like a new fork, I think boxers are more a race fork that needs regular servicing ....
  • + 4
 I stand corrected. (it's true, I don't have a chair at my computer)
  • + 3
 Still waiting for rockshox to make a Totem DC. They did it with the domain why not the totem?
[Reply]
  • + 21
 Am I the only one who is far more interested in the shock, than the fork ??
  • + 9
 I've been riding Roco WC on my last 3 bikes, no you're not the only one interested.
  • + 4
 Yes, the roco shock is the best shock I have used to date, both the air and coil.
I have had them in both long and short sizes but the only problem with them is you can not buy after care parts, seals and ect...

The new shock with high and low speed compression looks top notch for sure!

www.pinkbike.com/video/262764

RideOn!
  • + 2
 no, had a roco and hated it compared to my vivid air, when I switched I would ride through sections differently because I had traction I didn't have before, but I want both the new fork and shock, I love my 888 and if they fixed the roco then I want the new shock
  • + 1
 Yes, I now ride a vivd and love it but, the roco air was just as smooth. The Vivid is too soft for me. My roco on the same bike only took 180psi in the main chamber but my vivid needs 380psi to get proper sag. Once set the Vivd is a dream. Quite and silky smooth but it rides very soft which is good for DH.
  • + 1
 I found the roco coil didn't track as well, no matter how you set the rebound or compression it did have a great bottom out though, barely felt bottom outs compared to the vivid air
  • + 1
 Well, its funny what one likes others dont, hahahhah Depending on the bike too damping plays a huge role!
[Reply]
  • + 10
 And this is something Marzocchi has that no one else does. Please don't lose it, Marzocchi.
  • + 7
 We all know the feeling that you get when you're like: "How in the hell did I ride away from that???" OHHHH, and the the sound they make, THE SOUND OF PURE AWSOMENESS!!! I don't know about all you guys and gals but every time I go ride my bike it's like Christmas morning...
  • + 2
 jimeg - don't worry, those blue seals actually reduce stiction (even though marz's have been pretty stictionless already) so it sure as hell won't get worse.
[Reply]
  • + 9
 Hey Marzocchi feel free to stop by my house on myrtle ave any time. I'll have a tray of baked zitti waiting then you can hook up my 3 marz forks.
[Reply]
  • + 9
 The Moto shock is by far the sexiest! So many great products coming out, I'm loving the GT Force carbon team as well...I love this sport but my savings account is shat!
[Reply]
  • + 8
 The actual 888 RC3 is allready the step back into the serious business. The downside is just the weight of the non ti version. For me ist works great since 2012. Running the 2013 Evo now.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Well Marzocchi better have a bounce back season. I'm on my last leg on supporting them. I've rocked them since 2004 (888, 66, AM forks, old school dirt jumpers). I know of their fall in 2008 with their move to Taiwan. The growing pains years (2008-2010). Their almost rise to supremacy in 2011 when the started to get their shit together, only to add another fall with the loss of Martin Sr. and crew. Then the move of their company to Long Beach this year to lose even more valuable employees. Now currently they have a shortage of parts on current models (Distribution issues), fork models, ands most importantly the stock of the old trusted forks pre-2008. Please Marzocchi/Tenneco, Get it together and return to your dominance form of 2007!! If this Fall's release of 2014 components come up short, I will have to move on to another company. Ive had girlfriends come and go and yet I still support you guys over the years. Please get your stuff together!!!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Dear marz.
Please can I have a your fork and shock to try.
I will compare it to rs and fox offerings on local dh tracks and give you real rider feedback from a senior development engineer and ok dh racers perspective.
I tested rs vivid air against vivid coil a few weeks back (both of which I own) and on my scalp the air was surprisingly close on the clock to the coil (within 0.2s)
As my coil died and I am waiting for a 2013 model under warranty I tested an rc4 against the vivid air last night.... well the vivid took a comfortable win. 1.39, 1.37, 1.37 compared to 1.35, 1.35, 1.34 on the air. I could even tell you why and what is not right with the rc4.
Funny how the rc4 gets significantly hotter on a run than the vivid!
[Reply]
  • + 8
 I still have no idea what 'ms' does or means...
  • + 9
 MS = Markus Stöckl, he's the man putting and keeping the team together, with his man Lukas Haider. Maybe you've heard about him hen he went for the speed world record in 2007, when the team was an incarnation of the Intense factory team, with Kovarik and Claudio and that crew. Cheers!

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markus_St%C3%B6ckl
[Reply]
  • + 8
 Strike now Marz fox are on their arss after the CTD shocks
[Reply]
  • + 5
 I would give anything to just travel around with them for a season learning the ins and outs of suspension. Any vacant positions? Smile
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Good to see Marz getting back into the pointy end of the suspension market. I hope they revamp their single crown line up soon, the thought of a new 55 is awesome. I wonder if a TST style damper would work with the DBC concept?
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Will anybody trust them after the triple flakes (88Cool as we called them after the finish kept coming off. It would be nice to try them again.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 To me, Marzo is my favorite brand. less precise than other brands, but always working good, in any conditions. I'my suspension not a pro racer, and haven't got enough knowledge to set up everything perfectly, so, best brand for me !
[Reply]
  • + 2
 "While hard empirical data is invaluable, the three day Val di Sole program would focus on rider feedback rather than timed runs or data logging - if the rider feels comfortable with a setup, he or she will be able to go fast regardless of what the computer is saying should be happening."

That's horseshit. Timed runs are critical. Sometimes fast feels slow and slow feels fast. You need the clock to tell you if your tuning methods are going in the right or wrong direction. That being said I'm stoked on their new stuff and I hope its as good as it sounds. I feel that most modern suspension could use a healthy serving of butter.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 hey, in the 4 'The men who make it happen' pictures, the last guy on the right with black tee and sunglasses is not what written. It's Stefano Migliorini, ex bmx world champ and world cups winner, and currently Marzocchi man in Italy.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 888 are next on my list . My boxxers are already leaking after only a year of use ( I don't ride that hard and don't use my downhill as much as my other bikes ) . The only forks that I've never had problems with are marzocchi drop offs , they were indestructible . The 36 van r I have now , the steering tube came loose after a year of use .
[Reply]
  • + 1
 got about two months on my 2013 888 evo ti. loving it! while changing oil i went ahead and pull the cartridges out to see how its all put together. I must say the quality is a huge improvement over what they were putting out with the previous models. thoroughly impressed! its whats on the inside that counts. The C2R wil likely be my next rear shock.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Where's Alex in all of this? I've never felt such perfectly tuned suspension like his before! My 888 feels sooooooo good! Excited to see how the new stuff compares!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i have the 2005 888rc and they are probably the best feeling fork i have used, solid , plush and work, what more do you want. Who gives a shit about the extra weight it just makes me go down the hills faster !!!,
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Notice the forward geomitry stem is not being used on this 2014 model is there a reason for this also noticed that team riders who use these stems on this set up have steering dampers unlike the of the shelf bikes.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Brook won Val D'Isere last year, not Val Di Sole.
[Reply]
  • - 1
 I am a big rock shox fan. Partly because I live in Chicago and SRAM is literally right down the street. That being said, my buddy has a 2012 Marzocchi 888 ti on his bike and it is really awesome. It is so plush and there is very little stiction. Definitely considering one for my next build.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Running a 2011 888 Ti fork w/ the works in it and they are
In my opinion the best performing fork
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Marzocchi, which is high technology, plush, hardy and undemanding suspension corporation, PLEASE, back to TOP of Bike Suspension market !
[Reply]
  • + 0
 if there are no 1st year issues with the fork, this will be the best one on the market for a while - 0 stiction, fully adjustable and even looks great
[Reply]
  • + 2
 When can I get one of these
[Reply]
  • + 2
 So the new DB cartridge will fit into the 888 chassis - hmmm...
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Keen as to try these out.. except i hate those chrome look stanchions!
[Reply]
  • - 1
 Hopefully the hard work will
[Reply]
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