Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The legend: 1997 Marzocchi Z1 Bomber

The 1997 Z1 changed the way we rode bikes, and for me personally was the most influential piece of bicycle kit I ever bought.
1996 style, proflex and Z1...
Pre-Bomber forks were skinny, in-active or just plain unreliable. Marzocchi's previous model fork was called the DH3, which in function terms was brilliant once you fitted the optional coil spring kit. I remember at the time you used these or Judy DH's, but the Judy's sealed plastic cartridge used to explode as soon as you looked at them so the DH3 got the nod, but with just 3" travel and skinny legs the Z1 was a big step forward.
Z1 vs DH3
The fork was for the model year 1997, so that’s on sale time of September 1996 - to summer 97. Pre-production models featured STEEL stanchions and were very heavy and were given to a select few to race on, including Rob Warner.
Z1 prototype
check out Rob Warner in Kaprun, 1996, Britain's and Marzocchi's first world up win on the Bomber Z1

The production fork featured twin formula standard disc mounts and an optional canti support (pictured). The pre-load adjusters were round and the cartridge tops, plugs and adjusters were quite tall which could sometimes foul the downtube of the frame they were fitted to. For 1998 this model became the Z1 Alloy and featured new low-profile top caps and adjusters for better frame clearance.
2007 Z1 Bomber
Reviews of the time were extremely positive, winning many magazine awards and fans along the way.
What mountain bike test
MBUK award now lives on the wall of the gents...
Z1 poster still on our office wall!
Internal wise the Z1 featured twin adjustable rebound open bath cartridges, twin coil springs with adjustable pre-load. It may sound over built by today's standards but these were built for hard use and built to last with many forks still being used today.
exploded diagram
Here is the full catalogue specification in Marzocchi's own words.

1997 Z1

Moto X cartridge serves as the Bombers hart n’ soul. This ‘open bath’ hydraulic cartridge directly descends from our famed Magnum moto fork. The revolution is the most reliable & sophisticated cartridge ever designed and here’s why;

Internal oil pressure is eliminated which makes seal failures a thing of the past.
All alloy CNC cartridge assembly.
Infinitely adjustable “speed sensitive valving”.
CNC alloy pre-load adjuster.
Seal-less ‘no blow’ cartridge design.
Large oil volume for quality damping performance.
Open Bath Design
Cartridge sits in a bath of oil keeping it cool & eliminating damping fade.
Oil keeps the fork feeling buttery smooth & stiction free.
Oil circulates from the cartridge leg into the leg via a high-pressure valve.
Coil Springs
15mm pre-load adjustment.
Non – temperature sensitive.
Extremely durable long life.
Superior sensitivity & hyper-speed reactivness.
Lightweight open wound design.
3 spring rates available (soft, medium, hard).
Easily interchangeable.


Weight: 3.9lbs
Travel: 100mm/ 4”
Function: coil & hydraulic design. Dampers: dual open bath cartridges control compression & rebound fully adjustable. Springs: coil spring, open wind, 15mm pre-load, 3 available.
Steer tube: Easton EA70 alloy.
Stanchions: 30mm Easton alloy, hard anodized.
Crown: Forged T-6 alloy, CNC machined & polished.
Arch: Forged T-6 alloy, CNC machined, removable brake hanger.
Sliders: Marzocchi cast alloy.
Length: 473mm/ 18.6”
Colour: Tangerine dream orange.
                               catalogue page

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