09 June 2010

bikefix Review Update: Marzocchi 44 Micro Ti QR15 suspension fork

Back in April, I mentioned in my initial review that Marzocchi's new 140mm 44 Micro Ti cross country/trail fork had a fantastic "magic carpet ride" when set up with the recommended 40psi- but sat 20mm, unweighted, into its travel. Increasing the fork's pressure to 55psi found the missing travel but made for an uncomfortably harsh ride under my 145lb. After talking to the company's US office, they mentioned knowing of an internal fix that made most riders much happier with the fork. I sent the Bomber back for service under its generous 3 year warranty and waited...

A couple of weeks later, I returned home to find the 44 waiting on my doorstep. I converted my front wheel back to QR15, threw the fork back on my 5in travel XC/trail bike, and headed for our local mountains, which are finally clear of snow. With 50psi in the spring chamber and the air volume adjuster set three clicks in from its largest setting the fork sat up in its travel- if not at 140mm, then darn close. Rather than trying to rephrase my earlier observations, here's what it feels like: In the middle of the air volume range, the Marzocchi feels uncannily smooth but never bottoms out harshly. In the loose, rocky terrain that makes up much of our local riding, the fork feels great- supple on slow climbs and fast descents without wallowing when standing. Wide open, the rebound damping is nice and light- allowing for fast recovery in washboard and rough sections without being bouncy. In short, the 44 Micro Ti feels like everything that I look for in trail bike suspension. Except now, I'm getting full travel.

So, the Marzocchi now feels like I had hoped it would. It's remarkably smooth in most conditions, only occasionally feeling overwhelmed on really rough, fast descents. In fact, the 44 is the first fork I've felt that makes promises that my rear suspension can't keep- I'm going faster and hitting obstacles harder than with other forks and my rear wheel is paying the price. That's hardly a complaint- in fact it's a compliment. I could see the 44 being a great match for plusher 5in travel bikes like Commencal's Meta 5.5 and would probably advise against fitting it to an all mountain hardtail- that seems like that would be a recipe for getting into real trouble.

Now, I'm not a big guy, but it does seem like the legs on the Marzocchi are flexier than I would like. It's not something I can necessarily feel, but it is certainly visible on washboard and worse than my 9mm quick release Rock Shox Revelation. Coming off of the Revelation, the Marzocchi does feel extra smooth- but I also miss that fork's external travel adjustment. For long or particularly rough descents, I've been backing the volume adjuster off, making the fork even smoother and probably lowering the starting air pressure a bit. The flipside is a very linear spring rate (made worse by my light weight/low air pressure), and I have occasionally found myself on the downhill side of a log or drop wondering where all the travel went.

At 4.2lb with its skewer (4.0lb without), the 44 Micro Ti is no lightweight- but light weight has never been Marzocchi's strong suite. The suspension action is fantastic, though, and may be even better under heavier riders. Though there is a fair amount of fore-aft flex, the fork has never felt to me as though it wasn't tracking properly. As my fork was apparently one of the first 11 off of the boat, I can accept its needing some tweaking- and the company's service was quick. Word of mouth on past years' and early 2010 44's was pretty awful, but the factory fix has saved this fork for me. The 3 year warranty should also help to put quality concerns to rest. $740 from your friendly local bike shop.

marc

www.marzocchi.com

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling us about the mod. I emailed Marzocchi and they got me set up. Huge, huge difference, I'm much happier and the fork is super plush, a keeper for sure.

TZBKR said...

Hi Marc,

I'm planning to buy a fork like this for my XC hardtail, can you recommend it to me?? I like ride some light downhill tracks with it...

I like this fork because it is lockeable!!

Actually I use a MX Comp ETA 2005, but I want more travel hahaha

Greetings from Mexico!!!