The history of the Marzocchi Z1 dates all the way back to 1997, when the very first version of this fork hit the market with 4” of travel, a bright orange paint job, and performance that put the noodly XC-oriented forks that were considered high-tech at the time to shame. Sure, it was heavy, thanks to an overbuilt chassis and an open-bath, dual coil spring design, but it also worked, and helped the early freeride pioneers push the sport in a new direction, thanks to its ability to withstand most of the abuse that was being dished out during that era.
Fast forward a couple decades and the Z1 is back
, a fork that was designed with many of the same principles behind the original in mind, although the only coil spring to be found is the tiny one in the GRIP damper – otherwise the new Bomber is a fully air-sprung affair.
Bomber Z1 Details
• Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
• Air sprung, GRIP Sweep damper
• 36mm stanchions
• Travel: 130-170mm (29"), 150-180 (27.5")
• 15 X 110mm spacing
• External adjustments: rebound, low-speed compression
• Weight (170mm, 29"): 2210 grams
• Colors: gloss red, matte black
• MSRP: $699 USD
Of course, there have been some significant changes at Marzocchi over the last few years, namely the fact that they were acquired by Fox in late 2015. That's the reason you'll find a number of features typically found in a Fox 36 inside the new Z1 – the new fork takes advantage of Fox's manufacturing and technological know-how, but it's aimed at the Marzocchi crowd, the riders who would rather have a tough, reliable, and relatively affordable fork that's easy to set and forget instead of an expensive option with a mind-melting number of adjustments.
The Z1 is available for either 27.5” or 29” wheels, with travel options that range from 150-180mm for the 27.5” version, and 130-170mm of travel for the 29” version, in 10mm increments. Not a fan of the bright red lowers? No problem - there's also a more subdued matte black version. The 29" fork is available with either 51mm or 44mm of offset, while the 27.5" model is available with 44mm of offset. No matter the wheel size or travel amount, the price remains the same: $699 USD. Details
The Z1 uses 36mm stanchions constructed from 6000-series aluminum (compared to the 7000 series aluminum used in a Fox 36). The use of a different alloy helps keep the cost down, although it comes with a bit of a weight penalty, to the tune of approximately 150 grams over a 2019 Fox 36 GRIP 2 fork.
As far as adjustments go, the Z1 is fairly simple. Air pressure is adjusted on the left side, and the amount of end-stroke ramp up can be adjusted by removing the air spring side top cap (after letting all the air out, of course) and adding or subtracting plastic volume spacers. The right side of the fork contains the GRIP Sweep cartridge damper, which uses a spring-backed internal floating piston
to compensate for the oil as the fork is compressed. Low-speed compression is adjusted by turning the big gold dial on the top of the right leg, while rebound is adjusted via the red knob that's hidden under a black cap at the bottom of the right leg.
For now, the Z1 is only available with a quick-release style thru-axle, but riders looking for a bolt-on thru-axle can purchase a Fox Kabolt as an aftermarket accessory. Performance
Getting my 170mm, 29" test fork dialed in and performing to my liking was about as easy as it gets – I was able to find settings that worked for my weight and riding style after only a couple of laps, and I never had to deviate too far from those starting numbers over the course of the last four months. For reference, I weigh around 160 pounds, and ran 73 psi with one volume spacer, with the low-speed compression dial positioned approximately 1/8 of the way through its range of adjustment.
The Z1 felt super smooth right out of the box, and that smoothness has persisted even after plenty of mud, dust, and long runs in the bike park. It may be positioned as a more affordable option, but I'd place the Z1's overall feel right up there with the best of the best – I have zero complaints in regards to stiction or overall trail feel. There's minimal breakaway force required to get things moving, and small bumps were dispatched without any issues. All of the Z1's adjustments are effective, and while there's no high-speed compression or high-speed rebound adjustment, I never found myself missing those features either.
Where the Z1 really shines is its ability to deal with repeated large impacts – there's a portion of the Joyride trail in the Whistler Bike Park that's the perfect spot to experience that type of situation. It's a section that's full of boa constrictor sized roots, followed by a series of awkward drop-offs where the dirt has eroded away – challenging conditions for any fork. The Z1 never felt like it was packing up, and it handled every hard impact without showing any signs of faltering. There was also enough support to keep it from diving too deep into its travel - a trait that's even more important when you're talking about a fork with 170mm of travel. I also never experienced any arm pump, which was a testament to just how effective the Z1 is at taking care of the rough stuff.
Really, it's how little I had to think about the Z1 that impressed me the most. It saw action mounted to a Nukeproof Mega 290, a YT Capra, and a Commencal Meta 29, and no matter what bike it was on it just worked – there were no unwanted creaks, and no strange squelching noises, nothing that would take away from my riding experience. I'm sure there will be some riders who bemoan the lack of a coil sprung option, pining for the old days when an oil change required a full quart of oil, but I don't miss those days at all, and the new Z1 is just as plush as those vintage options, with more effective adjustments and an overall better feel to boot. Issues
The Z1's performance on the trail was excellent, but there are a couple little design features that I wouldn't mind seeing altered. The first is the low-speed compression dial – I wish there were detents between each position. It's a minor detail, but detents would make it easier to ensure that the dial was in the exact same spot every time you descend, especially if you're the type of rider who turns the lever to the firmest position while climbing or when spinning on pavement on the way to the trailhead.
I also wish there was a bolt-on thru-axle option as the stock configuration. The Marzocchi quick-release style thru-axle's action isn't as smooth, and it feels a little cheaper than what you'd find on a Fox fork; personally I'd rather go with a Kabolt and not need to deal with any unnecessary moving partsPinkbike's Take