Travel: 125-165mm / Adjustment: rebound, 5-stage compression, gate / Steerer: aluminium 1 1/8in / Weight: 5.09lb / Spring: ATA Air / Axle to crown: 550mm / Disc mount: 6in post
One of the problems we had with the pre-production Marzocchi 55ETA that we tested in the Jan ’08 issue was that the axle did not clamp the hub tight enough, resulting in play in the wheel. Well, the latest version of the QR20 axle has more threads to improve engagement and so eliminates the problem. Also, the profile of the axle’s safety tab has been rounded, making it considerably easier to slide the axle through hubs with stepped reducer caps.
We struggled to get a good balance of spring rate and air assist on the 55ETA as the ETA cartridge reduces the space available for the coil spring, so all but the lightest riders will have to use the air assist. But, with the fully air-sprung 55ATA it is possible to get a much better set-up, as you can control the positive spring via the Schrader valve hidden under the travel adjust, and the progression of the spring rate with the second valve at the base of the same leg.
The negative spring self-adjusts to match the positive. It all sounds very complicated, and it is. To make matters worse, there are no indications on the fork lowers as to recommended pressure settings or which valve does what. Instead, Marzocchi has plastered the lowers with warnings about what not to use the fork for. Give us the naked ladies any day.
Also, the pressure differential between the positive and progression chambers has a massive effect on the performance of the fork. Once dialled in, the 55ATA definitely feels good, but it requires a lot of trial and error, and that’s before you even start messing with the TST damping.
If you don’t have much patience we’d recommend getting a simpler fork.
Set-up issues aside, our biggest problem with the 55ATA was that the fork would creep down by half an inch for every half hour of riding. At first we thought that we were knocking the dial accidentally, but following closer inspection, we realised that this wasn’t the case.
Now, while it may be just a teething problem that is easy to fix, and all fork manufacturers have them, especially when they move production to a new facility, it shouldn’t be the consumer who suffers. When you’re paying this much money for a fork it should be dialled right from the start.
MBR RATING: 7/10