A Taste of Italy: Marzocchi Suspension, Alpinestars Sprint + Faster Packs, and Dainese Propack


ENDURO!! Sorry, I added a little Enduro to my cappuccino this morning.

At Interbike I saw several great new items for riders who like to go downhill really fast and use climbs as a means to an end (enduro, if you like). If you’ve ever been to Italy, you know the Italians know a thing or two about tight, twisty, and rocky terrain. With nearly an entire country that’s suitable as an amazing test ground, many great MTB manufacturers call Italy home.



Marzocchi has revamped much of their suspension lineup for 2015. The company has been around for 65 years and the mountain bike division is even celebrating its 25-year anniversary this year!

Admittedly, Marzocchi was a bit behind on releasing 27.5 forks but this season the company is back up to speed. Marzocchi used that extra bit of time to develop the new 350 and 320 series forks for 27.5 bikes in both the 140-160mm and 80-120mm travel ranges.

The new 350 (and in fact the whole line) features Marzocchi’s new Espresso coating. The Espresso coating, like the drink, is a strong, yet smooth, treatment. This proprietary anodizing treatment is physically smoother to the touch compared to the conventional type-3 hard anodizing. Add to that matched low friction seals from SKF, and you have a fork that gains improved small bump sensitivity on the trail.


I was also very impressed with the new 320 series 29er forks. The top model 320 LCR was something I wish I had on my bike. That is, if I had a 29er. Jeff does have a 29er so hopefully you will be reading more about this fork once he gets a chance to test one.

Needless to say, this super light 320 LCR (1515g 29er, 1494g 27.5er) 100mm internally adjustable (80-120mm) fork really caught my attention. The uni-directional carbon crown holding the Espresso-coated 32mm stanchions was a real eye popper. Add to that a remote and the LCR damping control and you’re set to rip.


Pair the 320 LCR with the new 023 S3CR rear shock and you have a awesome combo. Unlike some mountain bike shocks, this one uses independent compression and rebound and features three-level lock-out controls. The threshold itself is adjustable using a hex key, making for a capable and tunable rear shock. I personally like the easily accessible adjustment knobs for on-the-fly tuning, though if you’re one who rides knees in, watch out!


For longer travel bikes, the new 053 S3C2R may just be for you. The Espresso-coated main shaft, low friction SKF seals, and the new bladder system (IFP-free system), makes for a very low stiction rear shock. This shock is also highly tunable with independent high/low speed compression controls, rebound, 3-position URD valve, and threshold adjust.



Alpinestar made an appearance this year with some cool looking gear and a bit of something for everyone. Perhaps the biggest news is the introduction of some Trail / Racer (Enduro) oriented packs.


The Faster and Sprint backpacks are designed for single day rides. The Faster can be used for Enduro racing as it incorporates CE Level 2 back protection along with 18L of storage capacity for tools, food, and anything else you need with you on race day (like a full face lid).

The Sprint is a lighter, 8L pack without integrated back protection and is designed for those who need the bare minimum when riding. Both bags are sold without a hydration bladder; Alpinestars sells the bladders separately.


Alpinestars also unveiled an entirely new clothing line with some great color combinations at Interbike.  With fabrics made for each discipline of riding, each piece balances durability, breathablilty, and comfort. Performance design features like mesh vented underarms and chest areas, eyewear cleaning patches, and smartphone pockets are nice touches found in many of the new items.


Alpinestars also produces a large line of both hard and soft armor gear options and a neck brace as well. With bike park trails and slopes being divided between flowy and down right gnarly, Alpinestars has something for everyone.





Dainese had a small but strong showing at Interbike last week. Way back in the day when DH mountain biking first started, Dainese was there producing armor for the first wave of DH racers. This year the company showed a balance of new gear, new colors, and innovative products for the growing Enduro market.


With a mix of patterns and both soft and bold colorways, Dainese has kits for DH to Trail riders. But the highlight of the show was their Propack. This unit is designed with an integrated back protector as well as a hydration pack. The back protector itself is segmented to improve fit, unlike others on the market that use a solid piece running the full length of the pack.

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The whole outside pack can be removed for a sleeker fit (minus the ability to tote around some gear of course). But if you do choose to keep the pack portion, you have a waterproof pouch to hold your phone plus other small compartments to carry some snacks and tools. The bag easily holds a full face helmet as well as an open face helmet and a hydration bladder (sold separately). And unlike most packs, the arrangement of the strapping system allows the Torso strap to run a bit lower on the beltline to improve stability. If you choose, you can even remove the strap all together.


Rounding out all things cool, Dainese showed these hybrid knee and elbow guards. The new hybrid design uses a combination of both the Oak line and the thinner Trail Skins guard. There promises to be plenty of ventilation through both the perforated padding and mesh-like sleeve, and the thin, hard shell knee and shin outer layer adds extra protection while maintaining flexibility and strength. Velcro top and bottom plus elastic cuffs hold everything in place.