Depending on when you started mountain biking, there's a good chance that the Marzocchi name still brings back memories of open bath, coil-sprung forks that were dead simple to set up and service. When the original Z1 came out in 1997 it helped fuel the fire of the freeride movement, and the years that followed saw the release of classics like the Monster T, Junior T, and then the 888 and 66.
Marzocchi returned the Z1 to their lineup in 2018, but it was air-sprung, and despite its excellent performance, fans were still left clamoring for a coil-sprung option. Well, the wait is over, and the coil-sprung Z1 is back. The $749 USD fork is nearly identical to the air-sprung Z1
– it still uses a Grip damper for compression and rebound adjustments – except that now there's a coil spring sitting inside the left stanchion, with a dial on the top to adjust preload.
Z1 Coil Details• Intended use: all-mountain / enduro
• Grip damper
• Wheel size: 29" or 27.5" options
• Adjustments: compression, rebound, preload
• Travel: 150mm (29 only), 160, 170, 180mm (27.5 only)
• Offsets: 37mm (27.5"), 44, 51mm (29")
• 36mm stanchions
• Weight: 2,552 grams (29")
• Price: $749 USD / Conversion kit: $175 USD
Four different coil spring weights are available, which should accommodate riders between 120 – 250 pounds. Additional springs are priced at $45. Perhaps even better is the fact that it's possible to convert an air-sprung Z1 or Fox 36 Rhythm fork to coil for just $175 USD. At the moment, those are the only forks that can be converted to coil - the kit isn't compatible with any other series of Fox 36 forks, such as Factory, Performance Elite, or Performance, at least for now.
The 29” Z1 can be configured to have 150, 160, or 170 millimeters of travel, and the 27.5” version can be set at either 160, 170, or 180 millimeters. Not a fan of the flashy red lowers? There's also a black version available.Chassis Details
The chassis of the Z1 Coil is the same as the air-sprung version, with 36mm stanchions constructed from 6000-series aluminum. A Grip cartridge damper, which uses a spring-backed internal floating piston to compensate for the displaced oil as the fork is compressed resides in the right leg. Low-speed compression is adjusted by rotating the big gold dial on the top of that leg, while rebound is adjusted via the red knob that's hidden under a black cap at the bottom of the right leg.
It's on the spring side where things are a little different than the air-sprung model. The top cap has a dial that's used for preload adjustment, which is used to adjust the amount of sag. Remember, just like on a coil shock, preload doesn't affect the spring rate or curve. In other words, if you're reaching the end of the travel too quickly, adding more preload isn't the answer. On that topic, Marzocchi designed the coil spring unit to have built-in bottom-out resistance thanks to the air and oil that's trapped in the lower leg. The amount of ramp-up isn't adjustable, but the design should help give the fork a slightly less linear curve as it nears the end of its travel.
Looking for even more adjustability? One potential option would be to install a Fox Grip 2 damper. At around $300 it's not a cheap upgrade, but it does add the ability to adjust high-speed compression and rebound.
Marzocchi's quick-release thru-axle holds the wheel on, although, as I mentioned in the original Z1 review, I wish a bolt-on axle was the stock configuration. A bolt-on axle may be ever-so-slightly less convenient, but they're also cleaner looking and there aren't any moving parts to deal with.
The 29” version of the Z1 coil can be set at either 150, 160, or 170mm, and the best part is there's no need to buy any additional parts to make a change. If you're comfortable doing a lower leg service on a fork, the procedure should take less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Once the lower legs are off and the C-clip at the bottom of the stanchion is removed, the spring unit slides out. Adding a spacer below the shelf that the main spring rests on reduces the travel, and putting one above the main spring increases the travel.
Over the course of the last few months I've had the Z1 in all three travel configurations – it spent time at 150mm on a Nukeproof Reactor, at 160mm on a Norco Sight, and at 170mm on a Banshee Titan. Ride Impressions
Marzocchi's spring rate charts put me on a blue / medium spring for the 160 and 170mm configurations, but I ended up preferring the green / firm spring for all setups - the blue spring was too soft for my liking. Bumping up a spring rate helped ensure there was still travel left over for the really big hits, and more of my time was spent in the middle of the stroke.
On the air-sprung Z1, I ran the compression lever about 1/8 of the way through its range, while on the coil Z1 I ended up running the lever in the midpoint of the range. That additional low-speed compression helped give me the ride height I was looking for and helped prevent the fork from diving too deep into its travel. There aren't any detents in that compression lever, which means riders might want to make a mark on the crown with a paint pen to denote their preferred position. That'll make it easier to get back to that spot quickly if the lever gets bumped, or rotated to add even more compression for a long climb.
The air-sprung Z1 isn't exactly lacking when it comes to its overall trail feel - when I reviewed it last year I wrote, “I have zero complaints in regards to stiction... There's minimal breakaway force required to get things moving, and small bumps were dispatched without any issues.” Those words still hold true, but going the coil route takes the level of small bump sensitivity to the next level. The coil Z1's smoothness is very impressive, and it delivers a welcome amount of additional traction when it comes to dealing with wet, slippery, and off-camber sections of trail.
Of course, if your trails tend to be smoother and flowier the Z1 Coil isn't going to deliver much of a performance difference compared to the air-sprung version – it's on rougher sections of trail where the benefits of a coil spring really stand out. Hard, fast and repeated hits melted away nicely, which helped keep my hands and forearms happy on long, sustained descents. My ears were kept happy too - the plastic sleeves that surround the Z1's spring worked very well, and I didn't encounter any annoying knocking or rattling.
On bigger hits, the end-stroke ramp up is much less abrupt than what an air fork full of spacers feels like. I used the full amount of travel every once in a while, usually on larger drops to not-that-steep landings, but overall the ramp-up is very smooth, just enough to keep the fork from going through all of its travel too quickly.
Are there any downsides to the Z1 Coil? Well, there's that 2,500 gram weight to consider, which is around a pound more than an air-sprung 36 or a RockShox Lyrik, or approximately 340 grams more than the air-sprung Z1. There's also the fact that it's not really possible to fine-tune a coil shock in the same way you would with air, which means some riders could potentially end up between spring rates and need to settle on a slightly stiffer or softer setup than they'd typically run.
Extremely easy to set up and adjust+
No extra parts needed to adjust travel+
Super smooth & supple in rough terrain
Not for gram-counters -
Only four spring weights-
Some riders may want more adjustments