I have been riding my Cove G-Spot with the Marzocchi 55 RC3 suspension forks for the last few months. I’ve done plenty of mountain biking in plenty of different places and have got a good feel for the forks now. My first mountain bike holiday guests arrived a month ago so I have also guided most days on these forks. That includes guiding some holiday trips to the Pyrenees and some filming with Dirt Magazine, so plenty of fast riding. Over the next few months I will be doing a mountain of riding so it’s going to be a great test for the proclaimed reliability of the Marzocchi suspension forks. I will write a long term review of these forks at the end of the Basque holiday season.
The summary of this review is that I like the Marzocchi 55 RC3’s a lot. They have impressed me in almost every way. The Fox Van RC2’s which I used previously were great forks, there is no denying that. The Fox suspension forks are adjustable, plush, stiff and proved reliable for me over a year of use. I was very happy with them. The selling point for the Marzocchi forks for me was the 3 year, service free warranty and I never expected them to be better than the Fox Vans in terms of suspension performance. It is fair to say that the Marzocchi 55’s have exceeded my expectations in almost every way. I think that the best way to write this review is to list the areas where the Marzocchi’s suspension performance has really stood out for me.
It’s really hard to talk about suspension fork performance without talking about the technicalities of damping, I’m really going to try hard to do that though. It’s not that I don’t understand it (well actually, maybe I don’t!) but it’s just that I think what is important is how the forks feel on the bike. I would like to write this review with as little technical jargon as possible. Let’s see if that’s possible!
Why do we have suspensions forks on our mountain bikes? In my opinion the biggest advantage isn’t to smooth out the bumps, we don’t want a magic carpet ride. Shit if we wanted that we could ride on the road; mountain biking is bumpy and all the more exhilarating for it. What we are looking for in our suspension forks is control and grip over rough terrain. This is one area where I have found the Marzocchi forks to reign supreme, they seem to find grip in rough corners where it just shouldn’t exist. The number of times I’ve turned into a rough corner in the last few weeks and dropped a foot, expecting the front end to wash out, only to find myself carving round the corner. To me this is very noticeable; it isn’t a subtle thing. For this reason alone I would choose the Marzocchi’s every time.
I ran my Fox Van RC2’s with a few turns of low speed compression damping to stop the forks diving, both when braking heavily and when riding in slow speed, trials-like trails. Without this it felt like I was pogo-ing on the Fox forks. With too much low speed compression damping it made the Fox Van forks feel harsh so it was a trade off between dive and harshness. With the Marzocchi 55’s I don’t find much dive at all, even though I am only running mine with 3 clicks of compression damping. The forks just seem very resistant to diving. This is the case under heavy braking, on steep trails and also during slow speed manouvers where you through your body weight around a lot.
Note: You can’t adjust high and low speed compression damping separately with the Marzocchi forks. I don’t find this an issue, especially given how sweet the performance of the forks is.
It’s worth mentioning something at this point. The Marzocchi forks feel quite rubbish in the traditional bounce-in-the-car-park test. They feel like they have loads of stiction and aren’t really plush. I still don’t understand why this is. The forks really feel great when the bike is moving so why do they feel so horrible in the car park? Answers on a postcard please!
Thankfully I get to ride in far better places than car parks! On the trail the forks feel very, very plush indeed. With my Fox Van’s I felt that when the bike was going really fast they felt amazing. They were plush and controlled. It was in lower speed trails that they felt a little bit harsh and maybe uncontrolled. What my Marzocchi 55’s seem to manage, thanks to the RC3 damping I guess, is to feel plush over a bigger range of trails and speeds. Very, very plush as it happens! They stay plush and controlled whether I’m flying through smaller bumps or trying to steamroller bigger stuff. Very, very occasionally I get a strange rebound on a big hit but that really is unusual with the Marzocchi’s and I’m not sure what causes that.
I am 85kg and carry a big pack most of the time, and am I am not using any air preload but an using 20 clicks of coil preload. I found that the air preload affected the smoothness of the forks but using the coil preload leaves the forks buttery smooth.
It is worth noting that there is no travel adjust on the forks but this isn’t an issue for me… I would rather the plush reliability personally.
I have managed to scratch some of the coating off my fork, high up on the left leg so this is going to really challenge the reliability! How did I do that? Well I was carrying a full-sized adz (like a mix between an axe and a spade) tied to the top tube. I rode up fo a couple of hours and the adz pulled the front brake hose onto the fork stanchion, causing the damage. It’s a big case of user error but worth mentioning because it might impact on the reliability over the next year of riding.
Simply, these are the best suspension forks I have ever used. I really am surprised at the difference over other forks which I have used. The Fox Van’s were better than Lyrics, Talas, Pikes, Revelations etc that I have tried but the Marzocchi 55’s beat them. I didn’t expect the Marzocchi 55’s to be better but I was wrong. They are subtly but noticeably better. The service intervals and warranty are the next big things for me… let us see how they last when I start piling on the miles over this mountain bike holiday season.
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