Product Review: Marzocchi 380 C2R2 Titanium Forks – 20mm 2016

The 380 C2R2 forks are ideal for extreme freeride or downhill use, nailing big drops and negotiating fallen trees and boulders. Featuring C2R2 damping and the super efficient Dynamic bleed cartridge. Performance is an attitude.

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Marzocchi 380 Review:

The Marzocchi 380 is a king-sized fork that is utilized in freeride, downhill, and slopestyle applications. Typically, an air shock is the preferred choice for enduro riding and racing, but Marzocchi showed off the 380 at the 2015 Sea Otter Classic, and got a lot of attention from the event’s attendees. Marzocchi took advantage of this and decided to build its first suspension fork in over a decade. Marzocchi’s decision to build the 380 fork as a dual crown fork was surprising, but Marzocchi’s decision to utilize the material titanium for the fork’s stanchion tubes was not. Titanium is a material that is typically reserved for ultralight artillery and aerospace applications, but it also can be found in ultra high-end bicycle components. When used in a bicycle fork, titanium is preferred because of its ability to absorb vibration, it is very rigid, and stronger than steel alloys.

Marzocchi released three fork specs, the 380FB, the 380HB, and the 380 R2. The 380FB can be found on a few production bikes, for instance, the Nicolai Bikes Spartan Carbon. Although the 380HB model features an air fork, its top and downtube protector plate used with the air fork is so huge, it weighs more than the 380 FB that does not have the protector heel guard plate or air fork. The 380 R2 features the same geometry as the 380 FB, but has the lighter weight “Titanium-X” air spring, which is made of a Titanium alloy and is very durable. The 380 FB that I used was a prototype version that featured a lower-profile Protector plate, and thus made the fork’s total weight much lighter, which I liked. The official 380 specs will be available in May, 2015, and I had the privilege of testing Marzocchi’s official 380 R2 model.

The Marzocchi 380 R2 was just what I was looking for. The Titanium-X air spring that it utilizes was light and provided a base-level amount of compression damping. With the 380 R2, I tested it with two front-end weights. On 20 pounds, I utilized narrow rims, 27.5-inch wheels with a 2.4-inch tire, and a moderate air pressure setting available in the fork’s air spring. With 32 pounds of weight added to the bike, I utilized large diameter 29-inch wheels with 2.6-inch tires.

How The Fork Performed:

My testing was completed on a variety of trails. The trails ranged from small to large in both length and incline, and were ridden by an expert rider weighing 160 pounds. I chose to not change the fork’s air pressure setting, as most forks perform the best with their air pressure set at the factory-provided air pressure. The OEM air pressure setting that Marzocchi provided with the 380 R2 were too soft for my liking on the smaller wheeled setup, and too firm for my liking on the larger wheeled setup. Normally I do not change air pressure during testing, but I preferred a firmer setting on the larger-wheeled setup.

Speed-Ups And Fast, Long Downhill:

The 380 R2 held my weight, and remained in control on fast downhill runs. I rode a few tracks that were steeper than 25 degrees for a long time, and the 380 R2 became my new best friend. I noticed that the fork had very little or no brake dive, and that the fork became more active at its maximum sag setting of 3.5 inches. The fork came alive just before I would enter a corner/boulder section, as I could feel that the fork had control of the front wheel and was going to keep me on track when it mattered most. Riding with the fork on level terrain or slow technical sections was without issue. But, when the going got rough, the Marzocchi 380 R2 was ready.

I noticed that when riding standing up, the fork did not dive and handle bumps well, and instead the fork would bob and toss me around the cockpit. I’m not sure if this was a product of the fork’s travel or rider’s novice weight, but I find that there were better forks that were made for fast, long downhill.

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One of the benefits of purchasing the mini-air fork is that it solves a few small issues that many air forks have. The main reason to purchase a mini-air fork is that they are cheaper to service and rebuild than their full-size air-sprung brethren, but they also offer added benefits. With a mini-air fork, the rider does not need to worry about their air seal going bad, or the fork losing its air pressure when traveling with the bike on a plane. Because the fork has a mini-air cartridge, I was able to ride a total of 20 hours of descent without any air loss. The fork’s titanium stanchion tubes are its greatest strength, because they not only keep the fork from failing, but they also make the fork completely impervious to corrosion from mud or water.

The beauty of the mini-air fork, is that it adds to the fork’s ride quality. A true-sized air fork allows the fork to handle bumps without causing the fork to dive when on its travel, and the mini-air fork allows the fork to handle high-speed compression without introducing unwanted brake dive. The mini-air fork has its benefits, and the floaty feel that many air fork owners covet, is also found with the mini-air fork, which is a nice bonus.

How The Marzocchi 380 R2 Operated:

With the Marzocchi 380, I found that the fork sounded hollow when I was riding slowly. Once I increased the fork’s travel to more than its base setting, the fork’s sound level decreased a lot beneath the sound of tires gripping the ground and my suspension damping’s click. This was a good thing, because although I love hearing my fork working, I don’t want to hear it working all the time when I’m tired from hanging on to a descending mountain for dear life. With a little bit of adjustability built into the fork, the rider can tune the fork to their riding preferences. All of Marzocchi’s forks are tuned to fifty-percent of their travel, and with the 380 R2, the rider can either increase or decrease the fork’s travel from two to three inches to meet their needs, based on what kind of riding they are doing.

At the time I was using the fork, I was testing the fork on trails that varied greatly due to heavy rainfall. I started out testing the fork with two and a half pounds, which is the fork’s base setting. As I increased the fork’s travel, I was able to increase the fork’s firmness. The fork’s air spring was dialled up to three pounds of travel, and I was able to compress the fork all the way down. 

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Written by Jahanzaib

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