When suspension forks started becoming popular reliability wasn’t great. Blown up oil dampening cartridges were a regular affair and it really made you love/hate your forks. The Marzocchi Bombers were the first forks I owned that were, well – bombproof. Their open oil bath coil spring design meant they needed very little maintenance and didn’t fail nearly as often as the stuff by other companies like R*** S***. I had two different flavours of Bomber forks on my MTBs back in the late 90’s and they left me smiling. Eventually the lightweight of air springs took over and these forks became obsolete. I never had a good experience on modern Marzocchi products and pretty much have ignored them since my Bomber days.
As I built up my Surly 1×1 MTB recently I pondered the idea of adding some front suspension to it. I’m no stranger to riding rigid MTBs. I pounded stiff framed fat tire rigs up and down the trail for the better part of a decade. Having said that I am not a luddite. Suspension is popular for a reason – it lets you ride faster, with more control and better comfort. Checking the specs of my 1×1 I found it is suspension corrected for an 80mm travel fork which is really short travel these days for a 26″ wheeled MTB. I regretted not keeping any of my old forks around and figured I’d troll EBay and the LBS to see if someone had a decent old skool fork I could have cheap.
Then it occurred to me that I overhauled a Santa Cruz Heckler for my buddy Sean and pulled an old Bomber from it. I couldn’t remember if I had kept it or passed it on at the time. So I went hunting in the garage. I was really happy to find it leaning against the wall in a dusty corner of the garage. A quick inspection revealed a well used, but seemingly still serviceable 75mm-80mm fork with disc brake tabs as well as v-brake posts. Score!
I’m going to ride the 1×1 rigid for the next while until I head to Baja for X’mas. That will give me an opportunity to experience the 1×1 the way Surly intended it to ride. While I am doing that I’ll see if I can find someone who can service the Bomber for me. In the new year I’ll install the Marzocchi on the 1×1 and ride it as a hardtail for a spell. I’m guessing I’ll like it better with some squish up front, but there’s no way to know without trying.