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Mileage Junkie
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently (6 weeks go) purchased a 2004 Marathon S in 105mm for my hardtail. Fork feels OKAY, but could be better.

Here's some info. I'm 145-150 pounds, ride only xc, but the trails are ROUGH thanks to some flooding rains we've had around here over the summer. I can get the sag set right, but the fork just feels like it isn't getting much more than 2.5 inches of travel. Confirmed I'm getting about that with the zip-tie.

I'm wondering if there is either too much oil in there, or the springs are too stiff. I've tried fiddling with the air preload, having no preload is horrible, the fork rides too far into it's travel, but then is too stiff to move for me, 5 psi is about the same, and 10-15 psi are far too stiff.

Now that I am reading this over, it sounds like I should use softer springs, and more preload.

What weight are the stock springs in the 04 model? Cheapest place to buy replacements (if that is the issue)?

Thanks for the help,

10k
 

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At your weight, it is likely that the spring weight is a little much for you. The stock (heavy) springs were designed around a rider in the 180-220 range. You could switch to the medium springs, which are available through your LBS. They'll order through Quality Bicycle Products Part # FK9851 (Marzocchi Part # 850346/c).

At 6 weeks, you are at the point where you should do your first oil change. During break-in, the tight tolerances and metal-on-metal contact puts a lot of metal shavings into the fork oil. You will be amazed at how gray/dirty the oil is. The oil change will really help to smooth out the fork too. Fill the fork with some 'Golden Spectro 125/150' synthetic motorcycle fork cartridge oil (this is what came in the fork from the factory = 7.5w). The correct oil height is between 45mm (highest=most progressive) and 55mm (lowest=most linear travel). I would try about 50mm to start with.

Instead of buying new springs right away, I would experiement with removing one of the stock springs and using the air preload only on that side. I would probably remove the rebound side spring and leave the ETA spring. This is a similar set up to the new Marzocchi forks and Marzocchi has actually suggested this tip too. Add air pressure until you are hitting about 25mm of sag.

Give it time, this is a great fork, but it takes forever to break-in as well as a little patience with tuning. Click on the link in my signature for a bunch of tuning information (I have an '03, but the '04 tuning tips will be the same except for the air cap removal).

Good luck.
 

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Mileage Junkie
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108 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you.....

I actually have your site bookmarked!! Very informative.

I'm not finding the springs online anywhere, I may have to do the LBS thing.... I'll search around a bit more though. I hate having to spend 40+ bucks to tune the thing, that's where the air forks really are more convenient (not when they pop on the trail though).
 

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Mileage Junkie
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108 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Actually....

Is that spring the same for the 2003 model? I used the number in a few google searches, and it is coming up as a "2003 Marathon" spring kit. If the 2004 and the 2003 use the same spring, that'll be a help.....
 

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10kman said:
Is that spring the same for the 2003 model? I used the number in a few google searches, and it is coming up as a "2003 Marathon" spring kit. If the 2004 and the 2003 use the same spring, that'll be a help.....
You won't find a "2004 Marathon" spring kit because Marz says that the spring air preload is supposed to 'eliminate' the need for other spring kits. However, one size doesn't necessarily fit all. I'm pretty sure that the 2003's will fit, but you may want to measure the springs in your fork and compare them to the measurements of the 2003 springs that I have listed in the FAQ on my web site just to be sure.

I would still recommend trying the spring removal option. The new All Mountain forks run this configuration, and it reduces the weight a bit. The psi that you'd have to run wouldn't be too high since you have a large air volume and you already have a spring in the other side.
 

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Mileage Junkie
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Reliable??

Is that "air preload" chamber large enough to hold enough air to support me riding? Will it be over-working one side of the fork, or is that a non-issue?

That is a cheaper way to go for sure, I just don't want the chamber to burst while riding, and then be stuck with only one spring holding me up for a ride home.
 

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10kman said:
Is that "air preload" chamber large enough to hold enough air to support me riding? Will it be over-working one side of the fork, or is that a non-issue?

That is a cheaper way to go for sure, I just don't want the chamber to burst while riding, and then be stuck with only one spring holding me up for a ride home.
The air chamber is very large compared to most air forks. In fact, the air chamber is larger than my wife' SID. I think that it is a non issue. It won't be overworking the fork's air side. The Marz MX Pro ETA uses this exact same configuration.
 

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Mileage Junkie
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Will give it a go....

I'll give it a go, it should work, it sounds right. Having one of the springs in there with maybe 15-20 psi of air may get me pretty close. Those springs are pretty stiff.....

Thanks for all the help.......
 

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10kman said:
I'll give it a go, it should work, it sounds right. Having one of the springs in there with maybe 15-20 psi of air may get me pretty close. Those springs are pretty stiff.....

Thanks for all the help.......
If you go by the recommendations for the MX Pro ETA, they are suggesting about 35-40psi for your weight.
 

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Mileage Junkie
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Fwiw......

I actually had a call in with Zokie about this, and they just called me back.

Jist of it.....

Just fine to take out the spring in the right leg, and then pressurize accordingly. He said the air chamber can take up to 50 psi (big volume). I asked for a starting psi, he said to give a try around 30 (I was a little low on my guess).

Stock spring weight is for 180-220 pound rider, as noted above.

No adjustments needed in oil levels, just said that when you pull the spring out, let it dangle there and drip the oil off, or else you'll pull out quite a bit.

No damage will be done, no warranty issue, works just fine and said it would be a really nice setup for my weight.

Spot on advice from bikerx, you da man, thanks for your help, and kudos to zokie for getting back to me and not pushing me to buy a spring kit when it wasn't needed.

10k
 

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10kman said:
I actually had a call in with Zokie about this, and they just called me back.

Jist of it.....

Just fine to take out the spring in the right leg, and then pressurize accordingly. He said the air chamber can take up to 50 psi (big volume). I asked for a starting psi, he said to give a try around 30 (I was a little low on my guess).

Stock spring weight is for 180-220 pound rider, as noted above.

No adjustments needed in oil levels, just said that when you pull the spring out, let it dangle there and drip the oil off, or else you'll pull out quite a bit.

No damage will be done, no warranty issue, works just fine and said it would be a really nice setup for my weight.

Spot on advice from bikerx, you da man, thanks for your help, and kudos to zokie for getting back to me and not pushing me to buy a spring kit when it wasn't needed.

10k
Oil levels - it's really worth carefully setting the level, since they often come with wrong oil levels, and changing the oil in a newly broken in fork is always a good idea, like bikerx says.
 

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fsrxc said:
Oil levels - it's really worth carefully setting the level, since they often come with wrong oil levels, and changing the oil in a newly broken in fork is always a good idea, like bikerx says.
Fully agree! I know that it's not the easy way to go about it, but you will be amazed at how disgusting the oil will look when you are removing the spring. Do yourself a favor and get some new oil from you local motorcycle shop and do an oil change. It's really just a matter of letting the oil drain out and fillin' it back up again with the proper height. You wouldn't want those metal particles acting like liquid sandpaper on your new stanchions!

Zokes (and I guess, all manufacturers) are notorious for coming with funky oil heights. Apparantly, no manufacturer has come up with a descent way of filling forks accurately from the factory. This amazes me because 2-3mm in oil height makes a huge difference in the amount of travel that I get. With 52mm I can easily bottom out the fork, but with 48mm I can only get about 90mm of travel! It's worth checking the oil height for sure.

Good luck and let us know your results.
 

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Daniel the Dog
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I agree 1000%....

10kman said:
Recently (6 weeks go) purchased a 2004 Marathon S in 105mm for my hardtail. Fork feels OKAY, but could be better.

Here's some info. I'm 145-150 pounds, ride only xc, but the trails are ROUGH thanks to some flooding rains we've had around here over the summer. I can get the sag set right, but the fork just feels like it isn't getting much more than 2.5 inches of travel. Confirmed I'm getting about that with the zip-tie.

I'm wondering if there is either too much oil in there, or the springs are too stiff. I've tried fiddling with the air preload, having no preload is horrible, the fork rides too far into it's travel, but then is too stiff to move for me, 5 psi is about the same, and 10-15 psi are far too stiff.

Now that I am reading this over, it sounds like I should use softer springs, and more preload.

What weight are the stock springs in the 04 model? Cheapest place to buy replacements (if that is the issue)?

Thanks for the help,

10k
Oil level is everything! One cool thing about the Marathon is you can make the fork more progressive or linear by adjusting oil levels. I think someone wrote that. A great fork! Enjoy. This fork should out live your frame.

Jaybo
 

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Mileage Junkie
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Follow-up for anyone who cares......

I finally tracked down a 21mm socket and took apart the right leg of the fork. My intention was to pop the spring/spacer/washers out of there and then re-install, inflate to 30psi, then test her out.

So, I pulled it apart, lifted out the spring/washers, and realized something. There was practically NO OIL in the right leg of the fork. I got a flashlight and shined it down in there to make sure my eyes weren't fibbing me. I could cycle the fork fully and the oil level was pretty much not there. And no, it wasn't leaking, wet anywhere, anything, it is a new fork.

Shocked, then angry, then finalizing a solution in my head, I just put it back together how I was planning to (no spring/washers). I inflated to 30psi, and sat on the bike, rocked it, pushed the zip tie back down, checked sag, it was close, much better than with 2 springs. I cycled it a few times and it was getting close to 3 inches of travel, much better than what it was.

My guess is, that at this point, the oil level in the left leg is probably way off. I didn't open to confirm, I have oil coming and then I'll do the oil change. I think it'll be okay after I go over it, but the stock springs are WAY TOO STIFF (for me).

Now my rant, so if you aren't interested.........

Why is it necessary for me, as a consumer, to check over the work of the factory? How can the oil levels be THAT far off? Somehow, Minute Maid is able to fill an orange juice container to the right amount EVERY SINGLE TIME, but Marzocchi can't get the oil level right in a dinky fork? Come on, get real. Either there is very little QC, or I was just unlucky, but after searching around, it sounds like it's common.

Ranting time is over.

10k
 

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Glad to hear that the spring rate part seems to be working. Just curious if you were estimating the oil height with both springs out and the lower legs compressed and the cartridge rods pushed all of the way down? Sometimes it looks really low when the fork is fully extended, but measures pretty close when fully compressed.

10kman said:
I finally tracked down a 21mm socket and took apart the right leg of the fork. My intention was to pop the spring/spacer/washers out of there and then re-install, inflate to 30psi, then test her out.

So, I pulled it apart, lifted out the spring/washers, and realized something. There was practically NO OIL in the right leg of the fork. I got a flashlight and shined it down in there to make sure my eyes weren't fibbing me. I could cycle the fork fully and the oil level was pretty much not there. And no, it wasn't leaking, wet anywhere, anything, it is a new fork.

Shocked, then angry, then finalizing a solution in my head, I just put it back together how I was planning to (no spring/washers). I inflated to 30psi, and sat on the bike, rocked it, pushed the zip tie back down, checked sag, it was close, much better than with 2 springs. I cycled it a few times and it was getting close to 3 inches of travel, much better than what it was.

My guess is, that at this point, the oil level in the left leg is probably way off. I didn't open to confirm, I have oil coming and then I'll do the oil change. I think it'll be okay after I go over it, but the stock springs are WAY TOO STIFF (for me).

Now my rant, so if you aren't interested.........

Why is it necessary for me, as a consumer, to check over the work of the factory? How can the oil levels be THAT far off? Somehow, Minute Maid is able to fill an orange juice container to the right amount EVERY SINGLE TIME, but Marzocchi can't get the oil level right in a dinky fork? Come on, get real. Either there is very little QC, or I was just unlucky, but after searching around, it sounds like it's common.

Ranting time is over.

10k
 

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Mileage Junkie
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Looked way off....

I compressed it with the top cap of the left leg all the way loose, but I didn't pull that side apart. The oil level didn't get close to where it should have been, the spring was practically dry actually, I set it down on a paper towel and it literally had like a dime-sized wet spot on it when I moved it, that was it. I was expecting a mess like I had with my first generation Z1, that had tons of oil on it.

Not a huge deal really, it just irritates me.

I'm going to empty both legs out when the oil comes, fill again, cycle, swish and swirl, empty that oil out, then fill for real, just to get any grit out of there from the break-in. Oil is cheap enough, may as well.

10k
 

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... as for the springs...

Very informative thread, guys... excuse me while I butt in...

Did either of you find out if the '03 spring kits are appropriate for the '04 Marathon S?

I'm about 260 lb., and thinking that the stock springs on an '04 will be too soft for me.

Thanks in advance for any info...

Rich
 

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I work in .001 tolerances
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10kman said:
Recently (6 weeks go) purchased a 2004 Marathon S in 105mm for my hardtail. Fork feels OKAY, but could be better.

Here's some info. I'm 145-150 pounds, ride only xc, but the trails are ROUGH thanks to some flooding rains we've had around here over the summer. I can get the sag set right, but the fork just feels like it isn't getting much more than 2.5 inches of travel. Confirmed I'm getting about that with the zip-tie.

I'm wondering if there is either too much oil in there, or the springs are too stiff. I've tried fiddling with the air preload, having no preload is horrible, the fork rides too far into it's travel, but then is too stiff to move for me, 5 psi is about the same, and 10-15 psi are far too stiff.

Now that I am reading this over, it sounds like I should use softer springs, and more preload.

What weight are the stock springs in the 04 model? Cheapest place to buy replacements (if that is the issue)?

Thanks for the help,

10k
Just an FYI, I own an '03 Marathon S and the oil that came in it was at the improper height, so check and make sure it is correct. (should be around 50mm). Also the fork felt like it had to overcome a lot of stiction initially. I found that applying a healthy layer of grease to the inside of the wipers help out A LOT!. That will help the fork ease into it's travel with little to no stiction.
 

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Grease and open-bath = mess

Don't go too crazy on the grease. The Marz S is an open bath design- meaning the damping oil also serves to lubricate the bushing/stanchion interface. So, this means that your thick layer of grease could contaminate the oil and goop up your damping cartridge, shims, ETA, etc. A thin layer of Slick Honey in the seal "pocket" should do the trick. During break-in, I find that sliding a zip-tie between the wiper and stanchion and then dripping some Tri-Flow or Stanchion Lube under the seal helps to eliminate excess friction. I do this about every 5 rides too.

Good luck.

P.S: Assume that all Marz forks have improper oil-height until you can actually tear the fork down and measure:)

HomegrownMN said:
Just an FYI, I own an '03 Marathon S and the oil that came in it was at the improper height, so check and make sure it is correct. (should be around 50mm). Also the fork felt like it had to overcome a lot of stiction initially. I found that applying a healthy layer of grease to the inside of the wipers help out A LOT!. That will help the fork ease into it's travel with little to no stiction.
 

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Yes, the '03 springs will work. When Marz switched to 'Air Assist' preload, they seemed to stop advertising other spring kits?! Anyway, the internals of the forks are nearly identical except for the air-assist top caps. I'd go to your LBS and order up a set of 'Extra-Firm' springs for the '03. Then, you'll be able to use far less air-assist preload to get the proper sag setting, which will improve the reliability of the fork (Marz only recommends a max psi of like 50, so this will help you stay in this range).

rweklein said:
Very informative thread, guys... excuse me while I butt in...

Did either of you find out if the '03 spring kits are appropriate for the '04 Marathon S?

I'm about 260 lb., and thinking that the stock springs on an '04 will be too soft for me.

Thanks in advance for any info...

Rich
 
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