Review: Marzocchi Bomber Air - Shock Week 2023

Aug 25, 2023
by Matt Beer  
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Marzocchi Bomber Air



Marzocchi made its name back in the mid-90's for their burly forks that helped launch the freeride era. Since then, the brand was purchased by the Fox/Race Face group and continues to carve its name in the world outside of race tape and timing systems. Coil suspension is what made Marzocchi famous in that genre, but the addition of the Bomber Air shock has been a welcomed addition to the lineup for riders seeking more progression.

Bomber Air Details

• Low-speed compression - 180-degree dial
• Rebound - 13 clicks
• Weight: 504 grams
• Price: $479 USD
marzocchi.com
This straightforward air sprung damper comes in at $479, nearly half the cost, and half the size, as the larger, more complicated shocks in our group test. With only rebound and compression adjusters, does that mean that the Bomber Air is any lesser than the big dogs?


Setup

Set it and forget it - the Marzocchi Bomber Air is the rotisserie oven of air shocks, at least on our Nomad test sled. Aside from altering the air pressure and rebound to match the spring rate, there was little fussing with the Bomber.

Finding the 30% sag mark was deterred by the position of the shock in the Nomad, though. The shock body is arranged on the rear half of the shock and hides the O-ring sag indicator inside the frame's tunnel, like the DVO Topaz X. 200 psi was the first spring rate I set off with and rotated the rebound dial out 4 clicks from closed. The LSC sweep adjuster was left open during those runs but I was seeking a slightly lower ride height.

I found more stability by moving to 195 PSI and unwinding the rebound two more clicks. The smaller air can size of the Marzocchi provided plenty of progression so adding volume spacers wasn't necessary.

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Climbing

No climb switch, no problem. These days, most popular trail and enduro bikes, like the Nomad, have enough anti-squat or the force that resists compressing the suspension during pedalling, so firming up the shock with a LSC adjuster can hamper the climbing traction on trail. That's a different story when you're on a smooth road and steep hill though, so is that sweeping compression adjuster on the Bomber Air at all useful?

There's still a noticeable change in how much the shock compresses when pedalling, although for a bike of this size, it's not a make or break factor. Compared to the DVO, the sweep adjuster can be turned with less effort, however, the lack of indexing does mean you'll have to remember how far through the 180-degree rotation you prefer while descending.

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Descending

Similar to the Ohlins, the manual compression adjuster isn't reserved just for climbing. When I sought more support after lowering pressure in the shock, I found closing the sweep adjuster added a moderate platform - perfect for jump trails that require you to push into the bike.

Marzocchi sent over the Bomber Air with the smallest volume spacer installed - 0.1 cubic inches. Combined with the small air can, this equated to a progressive, but not overly "rampy" spring rate. The smooth breakaway force did lead to mellow mid-stroke which is where that sweep adjuster can come in handy.

Whether it's the simplicity of having fewer clickers to worry about, or that there's less to "get wrong", there's no denying that Marzocchi have made the most of the price point rear shock.




Pros

+ Performance to cost ratio had us pondering, "Why bother spending more?"
+ Ultra smooth breakaway


Cons

- Non-indexed compression adjuster means you'll have to remember exactly where you prefer to clock the dial
- Smaller air can may not be as tuneable as other larger volume shocks, depending on the frame's kinematics




Stay tuned for more Shock Week content, including a roundtable discussion of all the air shocks we tested.

Author Info:
mattbeer avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2001
375 articles

106 Comments
  • 39 0
 It seems that Marzocchi is killing it these days. I put a Bomber CR on my DH bike and it is very comparable to the Rock SHox Ultimate I had on it before at half the price. Saw lots of 58's on peoples DH bikes and everyone seems to like them as well again at half the price.
  • 54 2
 I guess you could say Fox killed Marzocchi and now Fox is killing it with Marzocchi.
  • 2 0
 Did the same to my 2016 V10 which had a 2018 Fox X2. Better is an understatement.
  • 4 0
 Had it on a new Session, switched it to a ttxm2 which is a little bit better across the board, but no drastic improvement in any one area, but better altogether. was it worth the extra £600, yes. Is the cr worth it, yes.
  • 5 4
 @i-like-toytles: .......and at this rate, Marzocchi gonna kill Fox?
  • 9 0
 Bomber CR = fox van RC. When did fox release the van rc ? Propably 2010 or something and it does still keep up today.
  • 4 0
 @emptybox: it’s also one of the best performing shocks when tuned out to this day
  • 7 1
 Yeah, the Z1 fork is fantastic too.
  • 4 2
 @dthomp325: I had the super expensive Cane Creek Helm MKII on my bike for a year - could not get it to feel right, ever. Just weird. Bought a Z1, first ride without messing with any settings thought "oh THIS is what my bike is supposed to feel like."
  • 4 4
 its a rebranded, budget Fox. So all the quality and tuning and tech are there, just dumbed down abit
  • 1 0
 @i-like-toytles: had the gen 1 helm and also did not get along with it, despite all sorts of tinkering. bought a basic lyrik rc (or whatever it was called) and it felt so much better
  • 5 4
 I can't agree. In my experience Bomber CR is complete BS, same as Van R was always. Was installed on two new DH frames me and buddy bought recently - complete disappointment. Super Deluxe DH Coil Select within same budget works much better.
  • 3 1
 Check-check. Got a Cane Creek DB and had a shop set me up on a 2019 Capra. Rode & rode it - just couldn't get it right. Slapped a Bomber CR on and blammo, insta-plush & 2 years later - still loving it. Maybe just luck and its dummmmmmmb....and I mean just easy. Comp & rebound... correct spring rate and man - I have 2 of em now, one to put on while the other is being serviced.

I'm sure the Cane Creek DB is a great shock - but just didn't seem to work with my bike. Could just be different bikes & leverage ratio's however and the fact that the DB has so man damn possibilities (and I'm too dumb to get it). But meanwhile - set & forget the Bomber...plow on.
  • 3 0
 @twonsarelli: Yeah, they aren't bad, but not for me. I think the dampers in them reward really hard riding - they feel better the hard they're pushed. But the chassis and stanchion doesn't really match up to that feel as they aren't the stiffest thing out there. I think for the average rider like myself who just wants comfort to come easily, the Marzocchi stuff is really ideal.
  • 3 0
 @emptybox: I had a fox Vanilla rc on my 04 RMX
  • 1 0
 @chmeldh:
Did you have stock tune? What frame?
  • 2 0
 @chmeldh: same here, even had my Bomber CR tuned, never rode that great, got a Mara Pro and it was smiles all the way around.

You’re not gonna get a better shock for less, that makes no sense, but you might get an adequate shock for less.

It really comes down to how discerning you are and how deep are your pockets.
  • 1 0
 @lightone: New Trek Session frames, they are sold with Bomber CR shocks installed, so might have custom tune, I don't care really. It worked like crap on both frames - is what I can say. And I really tried to make it work, tried different coils. Compared to Super Deluxe Ultimate DH Coil I had on my previous DH bike - it was like night and day.
  • 1 0
 @chmeldh: can't say why without damping forces grapths...
  • 38 2
 Worth mentioning: this shock is basically a rebranded Float X with no climb switch
  • 2 0
 It is exactly that.
  • 6 0
 In the UK though it costs the same as Fox Float x Performance elite - which is odd to me
  • 5 0
 @tomo12377: its also damn expensive in NZ, makes no sense to buy this.
  • 2 0
 I really don’t see the point of this shock when the Float X Performance Elite is only $40 more and has an indexed LSC dial.
  • 4 0
 @inter71: because there’s this weird crew of diehard free riders that are willing to spend more money on an inferior older product, just to have the namebrand
  • 25 2
 the takeaway on all these shocks seems to be pretty similar - once you get it dialed, it is quite good. buy whichever one matches your budget, take the time to get it tuned to your bike and preferences and then enjoy
  • 14 8
 You must not be including a Fox X2 in that statement.
  • 3 2
 Not sure if that's what I'm getting from these. Definitely some drawbacks on the DVO that is beyond just getting it dialed. Getting a shock dialed though, for me, has made the biggest difference to riding along with tire pressure.
  • 6 0
 @rrolly: that's fair. the dvo seems to be the outlier in this group. however, if you check the comments and forums, lots of people rave about them after owning them for more than a few days
  • 13 0
 @twonsarelli: Unless a piece of equipment dies, most people will say good stuff about the things they spent money on. I always ask what people had before. I find that more helpful context.
  • 12 0
 @twonsarelli: I have owned RockShox, Fox, DVO and X-Fusion. I found the DVO takes a little time to dial in but the previous version Topaz has been great for me and I have called reached out to DVO by phone and email and gotten setup recommendations that really dialed in their products performance. The topaz is less supple then the X2 but much more poppy IME. I think these reviewers have ridden so many bikes with RS and Fox products they know how to dial them in really quickly. DVO's and other less popular manufacturers are at a disadvantage during these tests because they use different approaches and mechanisms for tuning/adjusting the fork and these reviewers may not get them dialed in within a short time frame.

As another example, some of the most advanced riders I know love Manitou products, but I don't see those products with glowing reviews. I think it is for the same reasons.
  • 16 0
 You know it is good when there is just 2 Cons , one of them is that you have to be able to count to 20
  • 4 0
 and the other says that there MIGHT be an issue
  • 2 0
 In fairness the ability to count to 20 is not a given these days.
  • 9 1
 I like these part reviews a lot, and I'm guessing that these sort of reviews take a lot of thought, planning, and work. Perhaps next shock week instead of highlighting individual shocks each day, reserve each day to a selection of each brands shocks (fox and marzocchi on one day, cane creek the next, dvo the third, rockshox the fourth, and a random assortment of small batch manufacturers the last).
  • 1 0
 That would take so long, especially if they would be expected to ride each of them. Maybe do a "shootout" within a category (Enduro / trail / XC shocks).
  • 7 0
 maybe you guys could at least pull the air can and let us see what the damper shaft and seal head look like. that would be cool. since it's shock week and all. maybe also talk about whether you can retrofit a larger Float X can if needed. just saying. might be helpful.
  • 7 0
 Set & forget, but you have to remember where you set the dial

You guys have to stop with this stupid rhetoric that more dials means you can't set & forget, especially when you explicitly mention having to _remember a setting_ on a shock with almost the bare minimum of settings.

Perhaps a shock with more dials would let you tune the LSC for slowing climbing bob, while keeping HSC set for descending traction. Then you could actually set & forget.
  • 6 0
 I know this isn't the Float X, but it is similar. I personally think the Float X is a very easy shock to set up and get along with. And speaking to that, it turned out to be one of my favorite shocks I have ridden. You can find them new, or a new take-off, on Pinkbike buy and sell for less than the Marzocchi new.
  • 1 0
 Just picked up a Float X off buy/sell for $400 CAD, pretty stoked to try it out on my Stumpy
  • 8 0
 Imagine if average consumers could put a grip 2 damper in a white z1. Might be the best fork on the market
  • 10 2
 A heavier fox 36 would is the best fork on the market?
  • 9 0
 You can
  • 1 0
 @wellbastardfast: you’re definitely right. Maybe OP was thinking of the air spring? Pretty sure rhythm/z1 springs aren’t compatible with others
  • 11 0
 Actually a Z1 Coil with the Grip 2 damper would be pretty rad... and cheap.
  • 3 0
 Nothing is stopping you. I think Dale Stone over on YouTube does this with his z1.
  • 1 0
 @mahargetan: you are correct. The rhythm / z1 platform does use a different air spring, but the damper units on the right leg are the same and cross compatible. So you could in theory run a spring in the left leg and a grip 2 on the damper side and have yourself a unique ride.
  • 2 0
 @thustlewhumber: I did this and it was amazing. I highly recommend.
  • 1 0
 yup, same deal as the fox rhythm, I have a grip2 in mine.
  • 3 0
 z1 coil with grip 2 damper was very common on the North Shore just pre-covid, but are less common now that Zeb and 38 are on the market
  • 8 0
 Bummed to not see a Mara Pro on the table for review and comparison....
  • 5 0
 Or a tri air 2
  • 3 0
 Years ago, Fox debuted the GRIP damper as a cheaper, simpler alternative to the FIT damper. Turned out, GRIP is a waaaaay superior unit, and now only weirdos who demand a fork lockout tolerate the poorer performance of FIT damped Foxes. Now with a different brand decal, Fox is once again making a simpler damper....that works as well or better than more expensive options. And with fewer parts I'll bet it'll be more reliable too.
  • 4 2
 “Non-indexed compression adjuster means you'll have to remember exactly where you prefer to clock the dial”
I guess now that’s such a big deal to make it to the cons column… oh well. Meanwhile they highly regard the Yari’s Moco…
  • 7 0
 I have the z1 fork on one of my bikes. I never found putting it in the place where I wanted it a problem. It was always a "turn it a third" type of thing.
  • 2 0
 my Intend Edge has no index adjusters for rebound and vompression either and works very fine
  • 2 0
 @vhdh666: I have this shock, and true.... if that's the biggest con, that's saying the shock is good (it's really good for the $). However, not having index on the lsc of the fork where you're looking right down on the knob, and not having index on the shock (where on most bikes you can't see it and doing it all by feel), are different things. With the shock you can't just look down and see where you are... you have to remember, or else turn it all the way one way, and then come back to where you want it.
  • 1 0
 @deez-nucks: you're right, I honestly didn't think of that
  • 1 0
 @deez-nucks: or use your notepad app on your (prolly) expensive smartphone. Also, how many clicks are you changing on a 1-2h local ride?
Would it be nice to have? Yes. Is it detrimental not having it and bad enough for it to be a con? Absolutely not…
  • 1 0
 I made indexing kit for grip damper. You can find me at Instagram: @wytoczywiscie
  • 4 0
 Once you've found a good setting, just put a silver sharpie mark on the body or something...
  • 2 0
 For someone just getting into the world of full suspension MTB, is there a good way to quickly tell what travel range/bike type a shock is designed for? Reading reviews of forks it's easy enough, just look at the travel numbers, but shocks aren't as clear.
  • 1 1
 You need to know the eye-to-eye and stroke measurements to determine how the shock will fit. Marzocchi makes the shock from 190x45mm all the way up to 250x75mm, allowing fitment on trail bikes all the way to DH bikes.
  • 9 0
 Metric shocks actually make this fairly easy. You can quickly judge the travel range and intended use by the eye-to-eye measurement. To break it down:

190mm (standard eyelet) or 165mm (trunnion equivalent) - XC bikes ranging from 100-130mm travel. Stroke ranges from 40-45mm and a shorter stroke usually means less travel.

210mm (standard eyelet) or 185mm (trunnion equivalent) - Trail bikes ranging from 130-150mm travel. Stroke ranges from 50-55mm and a shorter stroke usually means less travel.

230mm (standard eyelet) or 205mm (trunnion equivalent) - Trail/enduro bikes ranging from 150-180mm travel. Stroke ranges from 57.5-65mm and a shorter stroke usually means less travel.

There are always exception to this based on frame manufacturers. One bike with the same eye-to-eye as another bike and a shorter stroke could have more travel. That just means that the bike has a higher leverage ratio and you will most likely have to run higher pressure (or a larger spring rate if it's a coil) than you would on the other bike. Hopefully this helps!
  • 1 0
 @probikesupplynewport: That was actually helpful, thanks!
  • 6 1
 Love my marzocchi z1. Raddest brand in the suspension game
  • 5 1
 I set my dials after a few days and then tape them into position.
  • 4 4
 Or save a little more, get yourself a Bomber coil, and get all the small bump responsive plushness and traction you'd ever want, without the ridiculous ramp up at the end. For me as a heavy rider, the combination of a progressive linkage with a set-and-forget coil is gold. If I were concerned about weight, I might get a lighter spring and still come out ahead on cost. No air can service needed, and the damper on the Bomber coil, while very simple, performs rather well.
  • 1 0
 Are you the person my Bomber CR coil is tuned for? I've had to fit a 600lb spring just to stop it packing down with the rebound wide open. I'm hoping it'll respond well to a re-tune.
  • 3 0
 People selling rhythm 36 and float x performance dirt cheap and buying mazzochi is laughable.
  • 3 0
 Favorite shock of all time
  • 2 0
 The stock Z2 on my smuggler is an amazing fork. I want the bomber air shock just to complete the Marz setup.
  • 1 0
 I really wish the Bomber CR Coil and Bomber Air had a lockout. That was my one complaint with the CR Coil. Replaced it with a Kitsuma Coil and I've been happy ever since.
  • 3 0
 But, why is the reservoir crooked??
  • 1 1
 Better fitment on some bikes such as Specialized stumpjumper
  • 6 1
 It's for people that are left hung, to balance out the bike.
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325: To better suit your PM's persona and maybe get him into biking around Great Slave Lake nowadays.
  • 3 3
 I would give this shock a chance if Marzocchi/Fox hadn’t mounted the reservoir at an angle. I don’t buy the whole “it gives better frame clearance for random frames” thing. The cant bugs me to no end.
  • 1 0
 +1 for use of cant.
  • 2 1
 This sort of gaper aestheticism is why we don't have design features that would notably improve bike performance like asymmetrical rear ends/evenly dished wheels and external cable routing
  • 1 1
 @wyorider: please tell me what performance upgrade comes from the canted reservoir. Also your “your opinion differs from mine so you’re wrong and I’m going to insult you” really comes across as being immature.
  • 2 1
 @Keegansamonster: Canted reservoir is for clearance in some frames. And I'll stand by my strong dislike of "I don't like how it looks" attitudes towards bike design (frankly, all design). Form should follow function. Sometimes that makes for asymmetrical products.
  • 1 0
 I have a bike that can't fit the newest shock of a famous brand just because of the reservoir (dogs) design. I hate what you're doing. I'd also put the newest high-tech brakes on my imaginary 60's car, no matter the blasphemy. I'd also kill everyone that routes cables if I wouldn't get caught...
  • 1 0
 Not sure why you got down voted, SR suntour used to do this so the time with their higher end stuff. They may still do it.
  • 1 0
 @MarzocchiMTB is this the "off the shelf" tune, or a custom tune for the Nomad?
  • 1 0
 So tell me @mattbeer, and there is no wrong answer, what do you think an air shock is?
  • 1 0
 Favorite shock of all time
  • 1 1
 The issue with this shock that it costs more (50-150 €) than RS super deluxe ultimate in eu
  • 7 6
 Get a cheap Bomber coil. Send to Avalanche for custom tune. Set for life.
  • 2 3
 Yeah I love mixing oil weights just to service my shock.
  • 1 1
 @noodlewitnosteeze: Jesus is that really what you need to do?
  • 1 0
 @bigmeatpete420: It's a pretty common joke with the Avalanche stuff, not sure how true it is. Only people I know who had the avalanche kits were super nerds about suspension though. Changes the Marzocchi from a set and forget, to an always fiddle with it suspension.
  • 1 0
 Is this shock available in 205x65mm trunnion?
  • 2 0
 Yes, I am running one on my 2021 Specialized Enduro.
  • 1 0
 @madocreg2: only seeing a 62.5 one, I’m assuming there is a spacer in the air can I can remove.
  • 1 0
 I believe it only goes to 62.5mm stroke. That is the longest available on the site anyways.
  • 2 0
 Bring back the roco
  • 1 4
 Manufactures need to come up with a shock rental/try-before-you-buy program. It would be nice to pay like $50 to rent/try out a shock for a few weeks before dumping $600 on one.
  • 1 0
 If they offered that, you’d get people that perpetually “rented” new shocks.

What would be far more enticing is having more brands offer in-depth training for bike shops to be able to actually set up your suspension properly, because just having the suspension set up the right way will make a HUGE difference for how a bike rides.

We have people locally that do it for motorcycles and depending on how far off the settings were, it can give you a “whole new bike” feel.
  • 2 0
 @nickfranko: My state has a MTB “suspension specialist” shop. That’s all they do. www.avalanchedownhillracing.com
  • 1 0
 @sfarnum: Yeah, that's the equivalent to my motorcycle guy. That's all he does: fork and shock rebuilds for street bikes, but he can tune suspension perfectly. Unfortunately, it's a very limited service and so many people don't know how to adjust suspension, and many of the videos for it are honestly pretty terrible.
  • 1 0
 Not sure why you got down voted, SR suntour used to do this so the time with their higher end stuff. They may still do it.
  • 4 5
 Does it have the top out issues like the float X?
  • 9 0
 Never seen a top out issue from a Float X....it has hydraulic top out and an o-ring to bump against. Likely something is not right.
  • 2 0
 @bikebasher: float x does not have hydraulic top out.
Decreasing negative air chamber volume would be the most efficient. Decreasing positive champer would also give some good results but you'll probably mess up progressivity.
  • 1 0
 @lightone: Sure it does. Have you ever looked at the shape of the hole in the damper shaft for the rebound needle circuit? It's tear shaped for a reason.
Or the cup shaped spacer that sits below the piston that has a hole in it?
Both of these features provide a hydraulic top out effect.

Similar to what Ohlins has done with their new damper shaft for the coil shocks, the current ones have a very noticeable top out.

Decreasing the negative chamber volume would produce even more top out....like a Fox RP2 from the early 2000's.

But like I said; I own 4 currently, and have worked on maybe 50 and have never seen a Float X top out. Something is wrong; maybe the damper is aerated, the negative chamber is not equalizing, or something is loose.







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