When the Marzocchi Bomber Z1 first saw the light of day over 20 years ago, it was a game changer that was years ahead of its time. Since the takeover of FOX two and a half years ago, it has become quiet around the former cult brand, but now Marzocchi returns with the legendary Bomber Z1.

Like a resplendent red phoenix rising from the ashes, the Marzocchi Z1 Bomber is back! Once the performance benchmark to which all other forks were judged, can the new Z1 live up to expectations? In ‘96/’97 brands were still messing about with elastomers in their 75 mm travel suspension forks. Then along came Marzocchi with a 100 mm, open bath cartridge and twin coils and showed mountain biking just how good suspension could be.

After the acquisition of FOX, the future of Marzocchi seemed unclear for a while, although FOX always stated that they want to keep the brand alive. With the new Bomber Z1, as well as the Bomber 58 DH fork, the company is now repositioning the brand as an affordable alternative to established FOX products. With their new value proposition, Marzocchi is marketed to trail riders and bike park riders on a budget:

“The Marzocchi rider—like the FOX rider—wants world-class suspension performance, but the reality is they’re more price conscious for various reasons. These are hardcore trail riders that spend many hours/days on the trail and at the bike park each season, but they are willing to give up some external adjustability and accept some added weight in favour of price and durability. It’s all about getting the most bang for their hard-earned buck to make their riding experience the best it can possibly be.”

The Marzocchi Bomber Z1 is based on the technology of the FOX 36 but gets its own lower legs made of 6000-series alloy. The 15×110 mm Boost axle either comes with a QR lever or as a tooled axle. Inside the Bomber Z1, there’s is an EVOL air spring and a GRIP sweep damper unit with adjustable compression and rebound damping. The Bomber Z1 comes as a 29/27.5 + fork with 130 to 170 mm travel and as a 27.5″ fork with 150 to 180 mm, each in 10 mm increments. The MSRP for the Bomber Z1 is € 899 ($ 699), riders can choose between glossy red (only 29 “/170 mm and 27.5” /180 mm) and matte black.

Riding the Marzocchi Bomber Z1

The original Z1’s were Bomber; super plush, overbuilt and super reliable, so the new Z1 has some big shoes to fill. Short term impressions are good. Straight out of the box, the EVOL air spring felt super plush especially in the initial part of the stroke, even when running 10% sag the small bump sensitivity wasn’t affected. Stiffness and tracking were spot on, as you’d expect, from the chunky 36 mm lowers, Marzocchi’s signature ‘M’ brace and the GRIP Sweep damper keeping the Z1 well composed when pushing hard.

As Marzocchi is now owned by FOX and you would be forgiven for assuming that the Z1 is nothing more than a rebadged FOX 36 Performance, that is an OEM only product. We rode the fork for two weeks before we knew the price and debated where the Z1 would sit; the forks performance was hard to put a price to and on par with far more expensive units. When you take into account the price and long travel options, the Marzocchi Z1 Bomber is a strong contender in the market. Time will tell if the fork can prove as reliable as its namesake but we’re happy to put the hours in.

More information on the Marzocchi website

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Words: Moritz Ditmar, Thomas Corfield Photos: Trevor Worsey