How good of a fork can you get for $500? I’d say Marzocchi has answered that question with the 2020 Bomber Z2. As the little brother to the beefier Bomber Z1, the Z2 is intended for aggressive trail riding. I found the fork rode pretty well overall, but its strong point seems to be smoothly handling bigger, high-speed impacts.
After a few weeks testing the 29” 150mm version this summer, I’d say the Bomber Z2 should keep all but highly discerning riders pretty happy. Realistically anyone who’s looking for a fork in this price range will likely be pleased with its performance.
2020 Marzocchi Bomber Z2 specs and features:
The Bomber Z2 is available for 27.5” or 29” wheels. Travel options for 29ers are 100, 120 or 130mm, and the 27.5” models come in 140 and 150mm. Both wheel sizes are available with 44mm or 51mm offsets. One thing to note – the 29” 150mm model I tested is an OEM fork only. Marzocchi kindly sent me this fork because it happened to fit the Knolly Fugitive LT I had on review.
The Bomber Z2 is built around 34mm stanchions, and has a tapered aluminum steerer tube. If you’re aware of Marzocchi’s current ownership, you won’t be surprised to hear this fork uses a Fox Float air spring, and of course Fox’s volume spacers to adjust bottom-out resistance.
The Z2’s damper, however, is unique to Marzocchi. Their Rail damper offers infinite adjustment from open to firm with a twist of the lever. The lever adjusts both the high and low speed compression – at this price point separate adjustments would be a lot to ask for. The Rail damper features an open bath system in the bottom and a closed system up top.
With Marzocchi’s signature ‘M’ shaped arch, the Bomber Z2 offers tire clearances up to 27.5×2.8” or 29×2.6”. One nice touch is how the Z2’s brake hose clamp keeps the housing away from the fork’s lowers where it won’t rub away at the finish. One not so nice detail is that both of the top caps are made of plastic! Their metal-like finish makes it hard to catch by eye, but one touch will give it away.
The fork’s post mount is for a 160mm brake rotor, so if you’re running a 180mm or larger up front you’ll have to add an adapter (like I did). The Z2 runs a Boost 15x110mm QR axle, and an allen key bolt inside the axle’s drive side allows you to adjust where the QR lever snugs up so you can line it up with your fork.
The 29” 150mm Bomber Z2 weighs 4.45lbs. Marzocchi recommends a full service every 125 hours or annually, whichever comes first. The Bomber Z2 is covered by a one year limited warranty.
I started out my test climbing with the fork’s compression wide open. I found its small-bump sensitivity okay but not great on the uphills. Without much weight on the handlebars, you do feel the initial hit on each rock or root as you clamber up a technical singletrack. The Z2 isn’t as supple as my Rockshox Lyric RC DebonAir 2 or a higher-end Fox fork, but it maintains good traction on bumpy terrain.
Once you point it downhill and pick up some speed, the Z2 smooths over small and medium bumps much better. When pushed a bit harder, the fork goes to work and sucks up trail inputs quite well…once you have it tuned correctly…
On an early test lap I felt like the fork wasn’t handling chattery mid-sized bumps as smoothly as it could. At that time I had the rebound at nine clicks, which is the factory recommendation for my weight. On my next ride I added three more clicks of rebound, then rode a fast and rough trail. This time the fork’s recovery was noticeably quicker, and it did a much better job of absorbing the chatter and keeping my front wheel stuck to the trail.
When it comes to big high-speed impacts, the Bomber Z2’s performance gets closer to much more expensive forks. The fork has a fairly linear curve, but I still had to drop my air pressure a few psi lower than the recommended starting point to consistently get full travel (this is not uncommon for me with any brand’s fork or shock). Once dialed, the fork absorbed large hits quickly and smoothly.
I’m not a heavy guy but I ride some rough terrain, and I didn’t find the Bomber Z2’s chassis at all flexy. 36mm stanchions would beef it up for sure, but unless you’re a fairly heavy rider the Z2 should be stiff enough to help you plow straight through rock gardens.
To test out the Rail damper’s adjustment I put the Z2’s compression dial to halfway. At that point the fork felt a bit firmer off the top but still compressed fairly easily and used almost all the travel. While the fork provides a sweeping damper adjustment, the Z2’s compression doesn’t increase as evenly as you might expect. I seemed to achieve a ‘middle’ setting by twisting the dial about 70% of the way to the firm end…to me that felt like the midpoint between open and firm modes. Every rider should be able to find a semi-firm setting that works for them, you just might have to twist that dial a bit further than expected.
When I switched the Bomber Z2 fully into its firm position, it became very firm! Riding singletrack in that setting I only used half the fork’s travel and it felt stiff going over every bump. The firm setting may be handy for road riding to the trailhead or climbing very smooth ups (fire roads or smoother!) but it’s definitely a harsh ride on technical trails.
The 2020 Bomber Z2’s best quality is how smoothly it absorbs big and fast hits, as it seems to feel better the harder you push it. Pricier forks may offer better small-bump sensitivity and more adjustments to play with, but the Z2’s overall performance should be ample for any recreational rider. The Marzocchi Bomber Z2 sells for $499, and is available now in Matte Black (Gloss Red is coming soon).