Marzocchi is back in the Cross Country 29er Suspension game. This year they introduced a bright red Corsa with a full carbon crown, ultra light weight (for a 29er) wonder fork and a MSRP of $929.00. We were in lust, however, we did not get that fork! Instead we got a Corsa SL LR , 1 1/8 steer tube, 100mm travel, white with black slider and crown, with a MSRP of $489.00. This puts this fork in the lower end price point within the high end Cross Country fork market. Not as flashy to be sure, but probably where more riders live as far as budget. We will be expecting a lot out of this fork, as $500 is a substantial amount of money for most of us.
The intended use of the Marzocchi Corsa fork is Cross Country (XC) riding. The fork can be raced, and we intend to do that. Marzocchi defines XC as, basically, keeping the wheels on the ground. By this definition, terrain should not exceed smaller roots and rocks. No jumping, no log riding, no drop offs, no disc brake rotors over 185mm. This brings up an interesting point. When shopping for things like forks, make sure you read the manufacturer’s intended use - one rider’s XC may be another’s All Mountain, so you need to make sure what you are getting will serve your needs. If you like to find stuff to jump off, and seek tougher terrain, look at the 44 ATA or TST 2 micro forks that Marzocchi offers for that style of riding.
The fork we received is set at 100mm of travel, which is the stock setting. All the 29er Corsa forks can be adjusted internally between 80, 100, and 120 mm travel with spacers. Seeing the longer travel settings one might be inclined to think of uses beyond those described above. However, just because the fork has more travel does not necessarily qualify it for a different intended use.
The Marzocchi Corsa SL LR has tapered 32mm stanchions. The steer tube in 1 ⅛ diameter and made of aluminium. If you want a 1.5 tapered steer tube, you have to move up to the mid tier model, the Corsa SL with a price of $669. The Corsa 29 series all come with 15 qr axle systems. The Marzocchi system is simple to use and has an axle with a female threaded end. First thread the axle into the female end while holding it. Then get the correct amount of resistance while lifting the quick release lever up. The concept is very similar to using a standard QR system, but without the annoying little springs. However, it gains a completely closed drop out and the added stiffness that comes with an oversized axle.
Marzocchi uses fitted and slotted bushings on the Corsa line of forks. The bushings conform to the shape of the internal casting machine seat and they have vertical slots that allow oil to lubricate. Marzocchi claims this aids in suppleness.
Now onto the acronyms; AER and LR. AER is a low pressure air system with a coil negative and closed system air piston. The lower pressure relieves the seals of pressure creating a smoother feel and less seal wear, according to Marzocchi. The LR feature works, as the Marzocchi website explains:
"Combining the damping feeling and the reliability of the open bath cartridge with the lightweight of a closed cartridge? Impossible? Not for our engineers! Thanks to the compensation port any exceeding quantity of oil will flow out in the lowers keeping bushings and wipers lubricated. As soon the oil level in the cartridge decreases the quantity gets restored by bringing the previous expelled oil back inside. Combined with the Rebound and Lockout adjusters the LR damper is easy and effective for your best ride experience ever."
Impressive techno-market speak ! Really, this fork is fairly simple. It has air preload and rebound. Put a small amount of air pressure into the air chamber until you hit the desired amount of sag or spring rate, set the rebound and ride. The owner’s manual is very little help, so a little bit of experimentation is required.
Jamie is the first person to ride this fork and, at his race weight of 165 pounds, we have about 60 psi in the chamber. It is plush and active. Although we have some ride time on it, we are not even close to giving real feedback. Keep an eye on our FaceBook account for periodic updates or random thoughts and, of course, keep your eyes on the site for our final review.