Legendary Italian fork brand Marzocchi was brought back to life by Fox last year with the 36- and 40-derived Z1 and 58 forks. The Z2 matches elements of the excellent entry-level Fox 34 Rhythm with a fresh twist on classic Marzocchi tech and the results are great if you ignore the set-up instructions and dial it in yourself.
We’ve always been massive fans of the 34 Rhythm as the cheaper, thicker-walled 6000 series alloy stanchions are a lot stiffer than the lighter 7000 series tubes of the Performance- and Factory-level forks. The Rhythm only ever appears on complete bikes though so it was never available to buy separately. Great news then that the structural topend-plus seals, air-spring and volume spacers of the Z2 are the same as the Rhythm. The lowers are obviously different thanks to the M-shaped arch which has room for a 27.5x2.8in or 29x2.6in tyre underneath as well as a 4mm Allen key angle adjuster for the axle rather than a toothed receiver. You get Fox’s 15QR lever though which is a definite plus compared to the awkward lever on the Z1. 160mm rather than 180mm rotor mounts are an odd choice for a hard-riding fork that can easily handle bigger MTB discs.
The Rail damper is an all-new take on Marzocchi’s classic ‘open-bath’ design, with no separation between generous amounts of damping oil and the air in the leg. The pistons sit directly against the stanchion rather than in a separate cartridge for a simple but very effective design. Service intervals are also extended considerably as the damping oil acts as a seal lubricant, too.
Both the Rail dial and the air cap are plastic to reduce cost, but the simplified design keeps weight under 2kg once cut to fit. You also get a recommended pressures sticker on the leg.
Unfortunately from first impressions, those recommended pressures are about 15 per cent lower than we’d suggest. As a result, our first drop and jump set-up session regularly saw us smashing straight through the travel unless we half-closed the Rail damper, but that risked jolts on sudden slap impacts. Given the very linear feel we took off the top cap expecting to find no volume spacers but it actually comes with two pre-fitted (plus two in the box). Fitting the third spacer stopped it blowing through travel as easily and meant we could run the recommended pressures but left it slightly numb. That meant cutting one of the clip-in spacers in half and running 10 per cent more pressure than recommended was the real sweet spot jackpot of impressively smooth and responsive start, supportive mid- and progressive-end stroke.
The Rail damper is impressive though. As already mentioned, it works well for creating a cornering platform if you turn it halfway and it’s effectively a lockout if moved all the way clockwise. Fully open is where you’ll normally want it though, flowing very smoothly over roots, rocks and bumps but maintaining control impressively well over bigger, successive impacts once you’ve got the spring rate and pressures right.
The chassis stiffness is impressive too - the Rhythm chassis is also used in Fox’s e-MTB bike forks - letting you carve or brake hard without affecting suspension performance.
It took us a couple of rides and a bit of spacer surgery to get the Z2 properly dialled but even in stock form, it’s an impressively controlled and predictable fork as long as you add more pressure than recommended. Once dialled though and it’ll happily chase down significantly more expensive Fox siblings or RockShox competition particularly where precision steering is key.
Value is also boosted by the long service intervals and while we’ve only had a few months on our sample, Rhythm’s have always been very reliable. The pricing makes it more competitive with RockShox’s Reba RL and cheaper than X-Fusion’s McQueen HLR too, although that gets a more adjustable and refined ‘Roughcut’ damper.
- Weight: 1980g
- Travel: 27.5in 100, 120, 140, 150mm 29in 100, 120, 130, 140mm (tested)
- Offset: 44 or 51mm