The alternative to the Marzocchi 55 fork ultimately comes in lighter guises, such as Fox’s 36 air sprung Float at 2.14 kg but with less travel (at 160mm) or the Fox Van a coil spring but with 180mm travel and weighing around 2.7kg. An RC2DH air spring from RockShox weighs in with 160mm or 170mm options in Solo Air at 2.2kg and a whole shed load of adjusters – beginning stroke rebound plus your compression in low and high. In other words the 55 sits in a good place with the openness offered by a coil spring but without a huge weight penalty.
From Dirt Issue 126 – August 2012
AIR PRE LOAD
HI LO AUTO COMPRESSION ADJUST
The 55 is absolute dynamite straight out of the box offering up incredible sensitivity which in turn expresses itself with seriously good front end grip. Midstroke hit management is untouchable (again, straight out of the box), the 55 holding itself well allowing you to pick and drive and steer off the front end especially in wetter rootier conditions. The sensitivity allows the tyre more time to gnaw into the dirt dealing well with deflections in the fork’s path.
In terms of set–up the left hand leg spring pre–load and right hand side rebound are both pretty straight forward in their function. The air adjust on the top of the right hand leg needs leaving well alone however as it transforms this into an uptight mess affecting sensitivity. Compression is a delicate balancing act of a hi–low speed mix, Dan Jones of Windwave advising us on the middle setting to get the best blend of support – about seven clicks from either closed or open.
As much as this is a truly inspired (and from nearly every bit of feedback we’ve had) extremely low maintenance – there’s a three year warranty on this fit and forget unit – I still feel it needs more support to deal with higher speed continuous impacts. As a speed fork it needs more hydraulic muscle.
We spoke to Rob Cooklsey at Bad Ass Bikes who has been using them to race wins at this year’s gravity enduro series for a second opinion,
“You never have the air assist on ever! Out the box it’s usually a case of a few hours to run them in and they free up a bit more. You know that as with most forks the oil that comes in them is pretty much running–in fluid. Change it after a week and put some fresh oil in. It’s got a low axle to crown height and what I really like about them is that they have an amazing mid–stroke, they work slap bang in the middle. So supportive and so sensitive, but at the same time they don’t dive. I did have to up the oil height on them a bit mind. I ran a Fox Van fork most of last year (he won the Gravity Enduro series) because I don’t really like the characteristics of an air fork. Especially on a 26” bike the square edge hits are more apparent and I especially go for coil over air. I don’t believe that air springs over 140mm feel very good anyway. If you set them up for sensitivity there’s never any bottom–end on the fork, and then if you set it up with more bottom–end beef there’s simply no small bump sensitivity. And running 10% sag is unacceptable. High frequency capabilities of this fork are superb, they track the ground just so well, the compression damper makes a big old difference because on other brands you’re turning the dial and nothing is happening. The Marzocchi 55 is particularly stiff and smooth, OK the left leg doesn’t have enough fluid in it, the right hand takes care of itself if you make sure to de–pressurise after riding.”VERDICT
Needs the oil level lifting a touch (Box went to 100ml of 10W left and 260ml of 10W right), riders over 14 stone (196lbs/88.9kg) might be looking for a heavier spring and compression boosting a touch. The axle can also be a slight faff. On the plus side – superior sensitivity, support and low maintenance from the get–go.