Historically, Marzocchi has always seemed to draw a different type of consumer than the other two big brands. Although generally known for using open bath technology to keep things super plush and well lubricated, the Italian brand recently switched to a very different cartridge system as well as a chassis overhaul. Their new cartridge dubbed the “DBC – Dynamic Bleed Cartridge” is a departure from the past to say the least. We reached out to them a few months back to test their latest mid priced DH offering. Here is what we found.
Out of the box
Straight away you can feel that the fork is burly and well reinforced. It’s arch’s tire clearance boasts plenty of room for a fender and room for mud to spare. The pinch bolts for the axle on the lowers have steel inserts so that even the most meat fisted mechanics won’t be stripping them out. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it feels well made.
Oh, actually this is a bit different – a standard brake caliper just bolts up to a 200mm rotor without any adapters. We like this. Anyone who wants to run a 180mm rotor on a DH bike is a knob so why require 20mm or 40mm adapters and complicate things for normal people? We welcome this added simplicity. So, overall it looks good on paper. Let’s see how it treated us on the trails…
In our opinion, Marzocchi’s choice of 38mm stanchions is quite refreshing and we think it’s where more fork’s stanchions should come in at. With a Rock Shox Boxxer feeling ever so slightly flexy at 36mm and a Fox 40 coming in a bit on the “stiff/deflects a bit” side of things, we think splitting the middle at 38mm is the magic number, so hats off to Marzocchi. The crowns and lowers feel sturdy and the pinch bolts and axle were easy to work with.
Everything in terms of build had a nice overall quality. On the trail – as we suspected, the fork felt great in regards to stiffness and responsiveness in the corners/turns. Great overall chassis, but if we had to pick apart one thing it would be the stanchion’s finish. We experienced a bit of a sticky feel and we likely attribute it to their coating. In contrast, with a bit of dabbling on Marzocchi’s 380 C2R2 Titanium fork we noticed far less stiction and couldn’t help but associate that with the more refined “Espresso” treatment on its stanchions. Other than that and the addition of a ti spring/lower weight, it’s basically the same fork. However, you have to pay to play – the Titanium version will cost you $720 more.
Nothing shocking to report here. The spring is a standard coil and the fork features a preload adjustment. The 380 C2R2 offer 4 spring ratings : soft, medium, hard and extra hard. We felt out medium out of the box was quite soft so we immediately put in a hard spring. Our test fork shipped with both and they were wrapped in spring insulators to keep things running quiet. They did the trick and the fork surely ran quietly. In our efforts to make the fork less sticky, we greased the insulators amply to keep things running smooth. We also slapped some slick honey on the upper seals/bushings. Neither efforts seemed to help unfortunately.
This ties in to what we mentioned earlier about the chassis – we’ve already given it away, the fork’s stiffness is just right and it handles perfectly. The fork offers a fair amount of adjustability in ride height/head angle with respect to crown height. The offset felt just right and it steered precisely. It felt pretty firm fore and aft under heavy late braking in blown out turns with braking bumps leading into them. Fantastic handling in terms of the chassis. How it handled in terms of suspension action was a slightly different story.
The 380 C2R2 felt pretty light in its action up top and seemed to get into its mid stroke pretty easily based off of the stock settings. We found ourselves using a fair bit of extra low speed compression to keep the fork up in the stroke and to encourage it to resist diving. The adjusters were effective and running some additional low speed compression was helpful without causing the fork to feel harsh or rough. Dialed so far.
However, once we got deeper into the stroke, the fork got quite harsh rather abruptly – it almost seemed to hit a shelf and felt a bit two staged. We had proper sag and used full travel, bottoming now and then during the “oh shit” situations, but it just didn’t seem to make effective use of that last 40% of travel very nicely.
The bottom line is that at $1130.00, this fork sits right in the middle of the spectrum in terms of price. In terms of construction, adjustability and quality, the sum of the parts here are pretty solid. We had a hard time getting past the stiction and did our best to combat it, but the fork just never seemed to break in and get better. The damping could be buffed out a bit as well. Keep in mind, our frame of reference for how a fork would ideally feel is based off of our impressions from riding flagship ~$2,000 DH forks, so maybe we’re a bit jaded.
How does it compare to forks like that? Pretty damn good considering it’s just slightly over half the cost. It comes down to the rider really. If you’re an extremely discerning, picky consumer who takes notes and geeks out on tuning, perhaps you should be saving a few extra bucks and opting for the latest and greatest anyways. It was quite durable and caused us no major grief save the stiction. Most riders will be quite pleased with this fork when looking for a solid mid priced offering. Although it could feel slightly more refined in it’s damping stroke, the 380 R2C2’s major selling points are its solid chassis, wide range of adjustability and quality construction.
TRAVEL – 200 mm
WEIGHT – 2950 g / 6.50 lbs
WHEEL – 26(tested) – 27.5
AXLE – Taperwall 20 mm
DAMPING – “DBC” – Dynamic Bleed Cartridge
SPRING – Coil
STANCHIONS – Ø38mm Natural Anodizing
STEERER – 1-1/8″ Aluminium Steerer
BRAKE SYSTEM – 8″ post mount – max disc 230 mm
COLOR – Flat Black