Marzocchi 55 RC3 Titanium Review

by Brian Mullin on September 2, 2010

For the last several months, I have been bashing the new 2010 Marzocchi 55 RC3 Titanium through the wringer, and the titanium coil fork, with its shiny Nickel, coated stanchions, has the legendary Zocchi buttery feel, and the fantastic linearity of a coil and the apply named Bomber certainly fits the bill.

Marzocchi 55 RC3 Titanium
The 55 RC3 Ti has 160mm of travel, and uses their open bath RC3 cartridge damper, which offers excellent lubrication, cooling and damping properties, and uses slotted bushings for improved oil flow. The RC3 which resides on the right leg has an MDU bottom out bumper for those big hits, and it has adjustments for rebound, air preload, and hi and low-speed compression. The custom wound titanium spring, uses a high-quality titanium, and has an adjustment for coil preload. The internally butted 35mm Nickel coated alloy stanchions, connect into beefy lower legs with a stout arch, in a nice speckled titanium gray color scheme. Their new QR20 system works and feels like a normal thread on QR lever, but still offers the rigidity, strength, and security of a bolt on axle.

Impression
For the entire testing period, I used the 55 RC3 Ti on my new loyal steed, the All-Mountain Yeti ASR 7. It was hooked up to a Sun Ringlé Charger Pro front wheel, and the fantastic Continental 2.4 Rubber Queens tires. The Colorado terrain is predominantly rocky conditions, with many sections of long steep downhills, rock gardens, and ugly loose gravel.

I have to admit that I had never ridden a coil fork before the 55 RC3 Ti, and I was pretty amazed how wonderful it felt. It only took a short distance in a rock garden to appreciate the characteristics of a coil fork. The smooth linearity of the coil is something to perceive, and words like buttery and plush exemplify what is felt. Plenty of forks have nice small bump compliance, but the portion from small-medium through medium-large bumps, in which we spend a great deal of our riding time, seem to be haphazardly handled by most forks. The 55 RC3 Ti just acted exactly the same throughout that lengthy mid travel stroke section, and never had any sudden changes in its characteristics, it was always smooth as silk. When the big hits came to the fork ramped up pretty quickly, and though it took the sucker punches without a whimper nor any harshness, I wasn’t able to extract the last vestiges of travel. I am beginning to think that the amount of usable travel of a fork is around 80-85% of it specification?

Tuning
The 55 RC3 Ti has quite a few tunable settings, although any of the alterations (outside of the air preload), only make minor and subtle changes, at least in direct comparison to an air fork. The RC3 cartridge (right leg) has adjustments for rebound, air preload, and hi and low-speed compression.The rebound adjuster is on top of the leg, and the air preload is in the middle of the rebound dial, while the high and low speed sits on the bottom, and one dial does the adjusting for the high and low speed, with both compression curves crossing in the middle for ease of set up. On the top of the left leg is the coil preload. I set the rebound in the middle (13 of 27 clicks), the compression halfway to soft (3 of 11), and the coil preload all the way soft (1 of 28).

As I stated earlier, the changes are fairly subtle, but they do allow some tunability for rider requirements, whether that is personal, terrain or bike specific. One huge gripe is that the dials are sharp and difficult to turn (2011 have different dials), and they have too many clicks. The air preload is really meant for big riders, although I did play with it to alter some fork dive when I was doing a trials type riding. Even small amounts of air, such as 5psi make a huge difference, but it really castrates and chokes the stroke, so be careful with its adjustment. It is also a pain to add the air, since a nefarious cap covers the air slot, and then a special adapter is required for your shock pump. The good part is that the fork really doesn’t need any tuning, and it runs just fine in all the default settings.

When the fork is out on the trail, sweetness abounds, as it rolls with the punches when it’s needed, and then sits quietly in the background, and I mean quiet, as this fork hardly makes a sound throughout its travel. The smoothness and linearity of the fork significantly reduce hand and arm fatigue, as you are not subjected to sudden impacts due to stroke ramp up. The titanium coil offered up a neutral gait, and I especially liked the feel in the mid-stroke, which comes into play in my favorite rock gardens. The Nickel coated stanchions not only look good, but they are durable, scratch resistant, smooth and have low stiction. One of the deficits of a coil fork is that it weighs slightly more than its air counterparts, but the wonders of a coil certainly make up for that gap. I never felt nor noticed any flex in the fork, it was a stout master.

Measured Specs
Weight (uncut) – 2469.6 grams
QR20 – 122.9 grams
Crown to Axle – 547mm

The new QR20 axle system was easy to use after you got the hang of it. Just open the QR lever (which is free floating), and there is a notch in the 20mm axles end piece, in which you engage the lever to loosen or tighten as required, and like any QR, leave it slightly loose since the lever will do the last portion cinching it down tight. It reminds me of the way the DT Swiss RWS works. Once tightened down the QR20 offered plenty of security and stiffness, and I never had any issues with anything loosening up.

Bottom Line
The Marzocchi 55 RC3 Titanium exemplifies the buttery smooth plushness of a coil, ahhh! I have ridden many air forks, and although they offer a much larger degree of tunability and travel adjustment, they just do not match the pure linear feel of a coil. Once you lived with a coil, it is certainly hard to go back. The 55 RC3 Ti is a sweet fork and offers many features, such as the open bath RC3 cartridge damper, the titanium coils, the Nickel stanchions, subtle tuning adjustments, the MDU bottom bumpers, and the QR20 thru axle. The adjustment dials are hard on the hands, and difficult to move (2011 have different dials), but aren’t really needed with a coil.

The Marzocchi 55 RC3 Titanium has been durable and tough with the abuses, I have tossed it at, and it sure is quiet. “Nothing rides quite like a coil”.

Strengths
– Coil Preload
– RC3 cartridge
– Titanium Spring
– Nickel Coated Stanchions
– QR20 quick release axle
– Linear and buttery smooth coil!

Weaknesses
– Adjuster dials: tough on hands & hard to move
– Heavy
– Ramp up steeply on big hits

MSRP: $1029

Marzocchi Specs:
55 RC3 Titanium 1,5″ / 2010
55 RC3 Titanium / 2010

Tech specifications
– 160mm Travel
– Coil Preload
– RC3 (Air Preload, Hi/Lo Compression, Rebound)
– Titanium Spring
– 1,5″ Alloy Steer Tube and Crown
– 35mm Nickel Coated Alloy Tapered Stanchions
– New fitted and slotted bushing
– 6” Post Mount (Max Disc 8”)
– 20mm quick release axle

Stroke: 160mm
Fork length: 548 mm
Steer tube-wheel offset 44mm
Weight: 2438 g

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kanute February 10, 2011 at 12:10 am

Gram,

How is this fork doing after a few months? I am looking at a fork for a Mojo HD riding all our front range trails north of you. Just looking for an update and or recommendation.

thanks,

Kanute

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet February 10, 2011 at 12:17 am

The fork is still holding up fine. I have been riding my new HD with the TALAS 180, and it totally rocks. I only use the 140 when it gets really steep for climbs, but you can make do without it, so the lighter Float 180 would be nice.

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Anonymous November 10, 2011 at 11:22 am

I have a 2012 van 180 and could not say that I experience the buttery feel when I ride like I hear about the marz….i weigh 215 and rode it with the proper spring for that weight…..had 4 clicks of preload and 4-6 of low speed in it…any thoughts>? cool HD ….

Reply

Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet February 28, 2012 at 5:53 am

I like the VAN 160 that I am riding, the mid-stroke doesn't have the same buttery smoothness as the Marz, and the VAN sits higher in the sag than I would like. But the small bump and the end of the mid stroke are nicer. Plus the VAN works better in technical terrain, and feels like it has a firmer platform. You might try the next lower spring, that is what made my VAN come to life?

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