At some point, many mountain bikers will set out to build a dirt jump bike. I suspect this year has been a bumper season for those looking at that old dirt jump frame in the shed wondering what could be. With a limited number of options available for suspension forks, it seems Marzocchi timed the release of their new Bomber DJ fork just right.
The new Bomber DJ, as the name suggests, evokes memories of the Marzocchi brand of old, back when it ruled the roost for a period of time. Based on the same chassis as the Z1 fork, the 36mm stanchions are made out of 6000-series aluminum, similar to the Fox 36 7000-series aluminum, making this fork a stiff and robust option. That’s good given the abuse these types of forks are likely to take. However, the ample stanchions and robust aluminum also explain the 2040g weight, making the Bomber DJ no XC fork.
The fork is built for a chunky 20×110 boost axle, and Marzocchi offers a conversion kit (for an extra $60) that enables owners of 15×100 axle front wheels to use the Bomber DJ as well. It comes with a GRIP damper and an EVOL air spring (Extra VOLume negative air spring, as seen in Fox’s fork range). Buyers can choose from either the classic Marzocchi red color option or the more toned-down, black option which is available as well. A Bomber DJ retails for $699 (available at online retailers like JensonUSA and Amazon).
Currently, there is not a lot of competition in the dirt jump scene for the new Marzocchi fork. The main competitors out there are the Rockshox Pike DJ and the Manitou Circus Pro. Both competitors are more expensive at $850 and $750 respectively and are lighter at 1839g and 1906g. At the same time, the competitors’ forks both have narrower stanchions. It seems like Marzocchi put their efforts into the stiffness and affordability, but did that pay off?
This fork is extremely easy to set up. Setting sag was enough to get me going. I never again had to fiddle with any settings making this truly a fit-and-forget fork. I set up the sag using the manufacturer’s recommended settings for my weight and it felt spot on. The fork came with 8 volume tokens installed and whilst that might seem too much, it does make sense when you think about the purpose of this bike. Heavy ramp-up at the end of the stroke seems like a perfect setup given that you will want the bike to stay high in its travel and only really compress for big hits.
The fork was tested on a 2016 Commencal Absolut Purple DJ frame with 26” wheels. It replaced an older generation Rockshox Pike that, despite its age, was doing a great job at keeping me afloat. It is hard to compare those two forks against each other, especially as that particular Pike was probably not meant to be used on a dirt jump bike and the technology in suspension has advanced greatly in the last few years. However, with all that said, the Bomber DJ is considerably better all around.
Using the thick, 36mm stanchions from the larger Z1 fork gives a really stiff and robust feel. You’re not going to easily flex this fork no matter how badly you stack it. The GRIP damper feels predictable, smooth, and composed throughout its stroke. You can adjust both low-speed rebound and low-speed compression, which is about all you are going to need for a DJ fork. Locking out or fully firming up the fork works really well when you are railing the pump track.
Despite being a fairly stiff fork, designed to take big hits, I was quite surprised that the Bomber DJ could also deal fairly well with small bumps, which comes in handy when riding our local jump spots that aren’t all that smooth. The tires are able to track the ground on the uneven, gravelly pump tracks and jumps I have been testing it on, taking the pressure off my hands. It’s also pretty clear to me that this fork would work well on a pump-track or slalom bike, provided you could live with a bit more weight than some competing forks.
The burly chassis contributed to the predictable and supportive ride through corners and compressions. The Fit Grip damper may not be best-in-class these days, but at no point did the fork surprise me in terms of dipping or diving, even during some vigorous pump track sessions.
One of the things that this fork does not offer is a wide range of adjustability, but that is hardly surprising for its use case. You can adjust the feel a little with the damper and by adjusting the air spring volume, but that is it. There are no external high-speed adjustments. Personally, I did not struggle with bottoming out using the recommended settings and the rebound adjustment felt pretty spot on in terms of being able to move back through the travel after a big hit before the next obstacle.
This fork is a great investment for your dirt jump bike if you require something bombproof that you would be happy with installing and forgetting. It is a well-performing component at a reasonable price that gets the job done. A lot of cheaper dirt jump forks, and XC forks being repurposed as DJ models, can leave you feeling a bit uncertain that they will survive the next bad landing, but not the Bomber DJ.
Being one of the few DJ forks offering an adapter for 15×100 axles, this is an excellent option for the lockdown dirt jump bike build, especially if you have some older wheels lying around. If you don’t need a smorgasbord of adjustability and are looking for something that will withstand fails and bails, this fork should be on your DJ build shortlist.