September 18, 2013
Bombers? Own them!
Marzocchi rose to fame with the orange Bomber forks back in the mid-90s; one of the first long travel (5in!) forks. Bombers offered an open bath damping system and a supple, responsive fork compared to the, often elastomer sprung, cartridge-damped forks of the time. After riding the Bomber wave for many years, Marzocchi started to fall behind the technology of the bigger US brands and its attempts to modernise its forks left them over-complicated, with a reputation for unreliability. A new owner and a return to ‘what do we do best?’ basics has resulted in the current crop of forks, which seem to have gone down well and gone some way to return to Marzocchi’s reputation for quality and durability.
One of the perils of testing products for a long time is that by the time you come to review them, there’s a danger that they’re no longer in production. And this is what’s happened here. However, there is a near-identical 2013 fork now made by Marzocchi that has had a travel-adjust mechanism added (instead of the adjustable air volume on these 2012 ones). The fork tested is the MicroTi and the current production is the MicroSwitch, which carries a £50 premium over this one.
The 44 MicroTi is a 140mm 29in fork and I’ve been running it on a 110mm rear travel Orange Gyro for a deliberately slack ride. Having reviewed the 26in version of the 44s a couple of years ago, the forks were pretty familiar and easy to set up.
The 32mm stanchions are nickel coated aluminium to give a hard, low-friction surface. The lowers are familiar magnesium, although the 15mm bolt-through axle differs a little from both Fox/Shimano’s QR15 and RockShox’ Maxle, but is just as easy to use. There’s a quick release lever and a 15mm axle that threads into a captive nut on the non-drive side. Thread in until the nut spins and you’re ready to close.
At the top of the fork, it’s pretty simple too. The right leg houses the air valve and the air volume adjust dial. The left leg houses the lockout/platform switch and the ‘force’ control for it, which allows you to adjust the force required to override the platform and allow movement. The fork is air sprung, but with a titanium negative coil spring that helps ease the stiction that air forks can have. Apart from a bolt-on cable guide, that’s it for features.
The 44s are Marzocchi’s regular trail fork, intended for everyday use over a variety of terrain. Having spent a lot of time on the forks over everything from country roads to the ‘World Cup’ trail that’s part of the Dyfi Enduro, I’ve not found them lacking in performance. They work with typical Marzocchi flutteriness over smaller bumps, but have sucked up the bigger stuff too. Riders preferring a less linear, firmer ride can decrease the air volume to get more air ramp-up, but I found I was happy with a more active fork. The TST Micro switch is also easy to engage and can offer everything from slightly increased compression to a full-on lockout, so it can be instantly engaged when you want a stiffer fork for the Steps of Death and to return to flutter-land for the rest of the ride.
Overall: Trouble-free and easy to use for the duration of the test. Marzocchi’s wake-up call and return to basics really seem to have paid off.