From Dirt Issue 110 – April 2011…
Words by Steve Jones. Photos by Steve Jones and Marzocchi.
The Marzocchi Bomber has been a constant in Dirt from the very first issue 14 years ago. There are others – Peaty, Warner, DMR, MRP, Will Longden, Yeti’s in turquoise and yellow. Vouilloz is still winning and they all still wear lycra. Gone however are the riser bars, 100mm stems and a whole raft of fork manufacturers back then that never made it out of the twentieth century.
One that did, and continues to offer reliability and performance when others are either stuck in the garage or on the hard shoulder, is the Marzocchi Bomber. The name at least. The Z1’s orange legs with a massive four inches of travel were certainly not light compared to today’s offerings due to their steel steerers, but hell did they work so much better than anything else at the time for the privateer racer.
Even though they became available to the public in 1997 it was obviously not new. It had emerged sometime before on the World Cup circuit with the Sintesi team and the UK’s Rob Warner. On a stinking day in Kaprun he overcame the mighty Nicolas Vouilloz to gain both Marzocchi and the UK’s first World Cup win. He was on the Bomber Z1 naturally.
“I loved those Marzocchi forks, I can’t quite remember when I first got them but think it was ‘96. Until then it had been Pace, then RockShox elastomer Judy’s I think, then in ‘95 it was those spindly air Marzocchis, they were like chop sticks they moved so independently of each other. The Z1 was definitely the first proper fork I’d used, relatively stiff but the movement was what made them, I think me and only a couple of others had the factory polished steel stations, real slippery uppers, and as a result they where so sensitive and plush, and spring and oil, I loved them. They were just like the motorcycle trials forks I was used too, I ran them super soft and drove the Marzocchi engineers’ mad by insisting they were sticky after every run meaning they had to pull them apart and clean them. Just young, factory and mental I suppose. Did win them their first ever World Cup though.”
By issue four of Dirt things had become somewhat looser and longer. Animal’s Tim Ponting was moto style on the cover with triple clamp Bombers. The usuals were still skinned up and Bas de Bever had won South Africa, the opening round of the World Cup series. I wonder how many Marzocchi riders will be on the podium this month in the same event? Yup 1997 was a hell of a year. The year downhill heated up into something special, the year Corrado won the World Cup for Marzocchi, the year top Spaniard David Vasquez was sponsored by a fag company, the year that concluded with Marzocchi offering riders a triple clamp six inch fork – oh and with series winner Herin on the cover.
If Corrado was the first and last Italian to cover of these pages, the Z1 Bomber was also the beginning and end of single crown forks at World Cup races. From four inch to Monster forks happened very quickly.
Whilst it’s been a decade of American owned fork domination at the sharp end of the World Cup circuit the Marzocchi 888 and bomber has been the rock of reliability most riders want. Open bath, always working, a two–year maintenance free fork that is the faithful servant to riders worldwide. Sadly the Bomber name will not be dominating the company’s dampers from now on. American giant’s Tenneco (who bought the company in 2008), one of the largest suppliers of shockers to the automotive industry will obviously be keen to stamp their mark on the brand. A refresh and all that. It looks very likely to be the start of something very special, the re–emergence of the name Marzocchi big time. So just as the Bomber ends it could mean a whole new beginning for one our most faithful friends of the past 14 years. It might just kick off… >>