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Marzocchi spurn onepointfive


‘zocchi’s 6in Z1

The steerer wars have taken another step with Marzocchi’s announcement of a six inch travel single crown fork using the existing 1-1/8in steerer. In a press release, Marzocchi’s sales and marketing director Andrea Pierantoni said, “Marzocchi launched [the fork] to reply to those who think that increasing the steerer diameter to 1.5in is the only way to satisfy the market’s needs, without taking into consideration all the other components”.
The new Z1 Freeride fork just has a thicker steerer tube to beef things up. Without knowing exactly how thick it is it’s difficult to know how the stiffness and strength compares to a 1.5in steerer, but it’s entirely possible to match the bigger tube, if at the expense of greater weight. Then again, they’re not adding any weight to the frame or headset and is anyone in the market for a fork like this bothered about weight anyway?

The main appeal of Marzocchi’s approach is that it’ll retrofit to a conventional bike. Don’t get carried away though – not every frame is going to be able to handle a six-inch travel fork. We’d expect a frame that was designed to be able to take twin crown downhill forks at that travel to be OK with the new fork. The other attraction is that it’s likely to be cheaper. A lot of the parts are common to other Marzocchi forks, they haven’t had to develop a whole new fork from the ground up and thus they don’t have massive costs that they’ve got to recover from us consumers. And of course not having to buy a new stem, headset and frame helps in the cost stakes too…

As with so many things, this whole big-travel-single-crown thing is swings and roundabouts. You can see the logic behind the onepointfive standard, but you can’t help wondering if it’s just moving the weak points somewhere else. Once upon a time MTB forks used to break or bend regularly. Manufacturers beefed the fork up and then the frames started breaking. The whole assembly is only as strong as its weakest point. Sticking with 1-1/8in is attractive in a lot of ways but is it up to the job? Do people even want six-inch travel single crown forks?

And that’s the key issue. If riders want something, it’ll succeed. At the end of the day, the technical merits of the two approaches aren’t what’ll count. History is littered with the corpses of superior technologies that never made it. You can have worse tech but if you’ve better marketing and make better deals you can still win…

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