Marzocchi has been offering high-end performance at a reasonable cost for some time now. With their Bomber CR coil shock establishing itself as one of the highest performing entry-level options on the market, it was only a matter of time until an air version made an appearance. The brand new Bomber Air hits the market with a price of $479 and aims to complement its coil counterpart with similar user-friendliness without sacrificing ride quality. The newest addition to the Marzocchi lineup forgoes multiple high and low-speed adjustments in favor of simplicity for a newer rider or someone who is uninterested in suspension puzzling. With 12 clicks of rebound and a non-indexed compression adjustment, finding a baseline setup is simple. Having used the Bomber Air for the last two months, I have gotten a solid feel for how it performs on a variety of terrain.
Not wanting to annoy my friends by constantly turning dials or checking sag, I typically ride alone while familiarizing myself with new suspension components. I had intended a similar solo first ride before being persuaded to join some co-workers for an after-work lap. Having only set the sag at my usual 30% and setting rebound six clicks from closed, I went out unsure of how the shock would behave on my Transition Patrol. Over the course of that first ride, the terrain varied between flowing single track, jump lines, and high-speed technical descents. The Bomber Air provided a ride quality as hassle-free as its setup. The most resounding takeaway from that initial ride was that it just flat out works. At no point during that first ride did I find myself distracted by having a new component on my bike. Either I got lucky on the initial setup, or the Bomber Air is as “set and forget” as rear shocks come; I’m leaning towards the latter.
It’s been two months since my first ride with Bomber Air and the only adjustments have been a few additional clicks of rebound to speed things up a bit. There is a noticeable difference between the twelve clicks, covering a range of speeds from slow to alarmingly responsive. Preferring a faster setup, eight clicks from closed provided the liveliness and overall setup balance I was looking for.
The sweeping compression adjustment knob is similar to those found on Marzocchi forks. Easily adjustable, it can be set anywhere from its soft to firm positions based on the amount of compression damping desired. Most of the time I left the compression near fully open on descents. When I did experiment with more compression damping there was a tangible difference in the perceived progression of the shock, making the last bit of travel more supportive. Lacking a climb switch, I found firming up the compression adjustment also helped with pedal bob on longer fire road climbs.
My time testing the Bomber Air culminated in a day of shuttling and pedaling the Diamond Head zone in Squamish. The terrain varied from steep tech moves to faster double-wide DH tracks on any given lap. On fast repeated hits the Bomber Air stayed composed, handling each hit in stride before preparing for the next. Slower rock and tech moves were a non-issue, as the rear of my bike conformed to the ground under load. No matter what terrain I threw at it, the Bomber Air was predictably capable.
Over the test period, I swapped between my RockShox Super Deluxe and the Bomber air intermittently. The transition between the two was far more seamless than expected, requiring conscious attention to detail to tell them apart. The most notable difference was that the Bomber Air provided a little bit less mid-stroke support, which I primarily attribute to it being sent for testing with only its smallest volume spacer. At 170lbs, this less progressive setup wasn’t ride-ruining but I would be interested in experimenting with volume reducers to achieve more support in the last third of travel.
Compared to the Fox Float X
The Bomber Air shares a similar profile as a Fox Float X aside from its eye-catching asymmetrical reservoir. The slanted design allows for a better fit in most frames, limiting clearance issues when the bike is deep in the travel. However, profile aside, they are two different shocks entirely. When contacted about their differences Marzocchi replied, “They may look similar, but the Bomber Air is actually built on the active, supple, and totally bulletproof Bomber CR architecture. In a sense, you could compare it more to an air-sleeved Bomber CR.”
Sharing much of the same internal tech as a Bomber CR, the Bomber Air shouldn’t be generally categorized as a lesser Float X. The Bomber Air was designed with an intentional emphasis on usability whereas the Float X offers a more precise tunability for those that are willing to take the time fine-tuning their setup. The Float X has 16 clicks of low-speed rebound and 11 clicks of low-speed compression compared to the Bomber Air’s ten clicks of low-speed rebound and non-indexed compression dial. The Float X also comes equipped with a 2-position adjustment for its firm mode, providing a more supportive pedaling platform. For some riders, the increased adjustability of the Float X will offer a welcomed opportunity to dial in their suspension, albeit at a higher price point of $599 for the Kashima coated version.
Marzocchi has designed the Bomber Air with the intention of it being their “do-it-all” option for rear suspension. Available in Trunnion and standard eyelet mounting options, with strokes ranging from 40mm to 75mm, it can suit applications ranging from shorter-travel trail bikes to long-travel downhill rigs. This is one of the largest differentiators between the Bomber Air and Fox’s offerings, as it spans a broader range of sizing than any single Fox model.
Metric: 190x45, 210x50, 210x52.5, 210x55, 230x57.5, 230x60, 230x65, 250x75
Trunnion: 185x52.5, 185x55, 205x60, 205x62.5, 225x75
Marzocchi honed in on the ever-elusive balance between price and performance with its newest shock, bridging the gap between entry-level suspension and more complex offerings. For riders looking to upgrade their rear shock while keeping a budget in mind, the Bomber Air offers an easily tunable platform and dependable performance. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see this shock spec’d on a range of stock bikes in the coming years due to its outstanding price-to-performance ratio.