Who wants coil?
Bikes and riding styles have progressed rapidly over the past few years as bikes have become more capable and terrain has opened up to challenge these bikes and riders. With these demands, coil suspension has experienced growth as rear suspension designs and damping technology have advanced. They're pretty dialed now with many bikes sporting rear coil shocks from Push, Fox, and Marzocchi.
But front forks are still dominated by air suspension for a variety of reasons. One is the stunning performance of current air forks like the Fox 36. Weight and cost are still concerns when it comes to front forks converted to coil as well.
The result is a growing imbalance between front and rear suspension on bikes sporting the best available rear coil shocks. Until now that is.
Enter the Bomber Z1 Coil
The new Bomber Z1 Coil delivers a simple, dependable, quiet and supple suspension reminiscent of the old Bomber Z1 coil introduced more than a decade ago when the Rockshox Mag 21 dominated the marketplace. This is a fork with up to 170mm of controlled 29er travel, weighing in at a respectable 5.25 lbs at a friendly price of $750. Impressed or intrigued? Still offended by the weight and the price? Listen in and find out about how much fork you're getting.
It's the proven 36mm chassis of the modern-day Bomber Z1 and the new Z1 Coil retains the simple dial-in Grip damper but swaps out the air spring assembly for the most advanced coil spring system Marzocchi has ever made. At the heart of this new coil system is a lightweight silicon-chromium steel spring, silenced by a noise management system to prevent knock. Also featured is an integrated air assist for progression and bottom-out control, and an external preload adjuster to dial in sag and firmness off the top. And travel is easy to adjust from 170-180mm depending on wheel size.
And let's not forget that Marzocchi is now owned by Fox which grants most of this higher-end technology to bring performance to a wider market. $750 is a lot of money but it compares very favorably to the comparable high-end forks that are now $1000 and beyond.
But How Does It Ride
We were lucky enough to receive the Z1 Coil last month and Marzocchi paired it with a Marzocchi Bomber CR coil rear shock for us. 170mm on a 29er was our configuration as it replaced our favorite Fox 36 Grip2 with 160mm travel.
We've been riding it for a month and we can truly say that it's noticeably smoother on terrain that can use its buttery action. The front fork is just planted on the roughest terrain like Rocky Ridge and Stiles in our local Santa Teresa Park. This results in more control and more traction as the front tire sticks to the ground. And it results in less hand and arm fatigue to add to the control advantage as well. The fork is fast, controlled and quiet, thus keeping up with supple Bomber CR shock in the rear.
When it comes to jumping, this is a delight because it's easy to try things, go outside the comfort zone and learn. This suspension has your back and will not buck you even as you land on rocks, roots or miss the transition. I've always thought that the bike and great suspension take over when talent runs out and this setup certainly proves that. And with this suspension, we're more apt to try things and progress as this suspension always seems to stick the landing.
The suspension is quiet and controlled and it's easy to adjust. I'm a big fan of the four dials of the Grip2 damper but this simple Grip adjustment actually works well in this case. If there's one downside to coil, sometimes it's too supple and active and it can rob energy as it moves too much during climbing. With Grip2, it's easy to flip the lever and get a pedaling platform when the need arises.
Coil or Air
This is a wonderful option to have but is it for everyone? No and we'll help you decipher the decision matrix.
If you're concerned about weight and want the lightest and most efficient pedaling platform, then air is a better option at this point.
And if you love the tunability of an air fork, love and use the Grip2 adjustment knobs and constantly play with volume spacers, then the high-end air options are key. And coil requires that you get the correct spring stiffness right. So it is a bit more finicky at purchase time and it is only for riders of a specific weight range (unless you purchase different springs).
But if what you want is the most supple initial travel available and a spring rate that is very consistent and linear, then you owe it to yourself to give coil a try. The comfort, control, traction of the bump-eating, monster truck action of these new Marzocchi coil options is a great option to have.
• Light-weight Tempered Silicon-Chromium steel spring
• Air Assist for progressivity / bottom-out control
• Spring preload easily adjustable via top cap
• Noise management system for quiet performance
• Chassis: 36 mm
• Travel: 150 (29 only), 160, 170, 180 (27.5 only)
• Wheel: 27.5 or 29
• Axle: 15QRx110
• Damping: GRIP (compression + rebound)
• Spring: Tempered Silicon-Chromium Steel
• Steerer: 1.5 Tapered Aluminum
• Stanchions: Ø36 mm Black Anodized
• Rake: 37 (27.5 only), 44, 51 (29 only)
• Color: Matte Black or Gloss Red
• Starting Weight Complete Fork: 2,525 g
• Availability: January 14th, 2020
• MSRP Z1 Coil fork: $749 USD
• MSRP Conversion Kit w/o coil spring (Plunger Kit): $130 USD • MSRP Coil Spring: $45 USD
Upgrade path for Bomber Z1 owners?
Marzocchi is offering coil conversion kits, also in 4 choices of spring rate. $175
Complete coil forks are available now and coil conversion kits will be available in mid-February.