The battle for long-travel single-crown supremacy has begun. OnePointFive has promised to change the way we all think about suspension design, headsets and frame building. The whole idea of changing the “standard” has many people up in arms. “We don’t need a larger head tube!,” cry some., while others sing it’s praise as the greatest new invention to hit mountain biking since suspension was invented.
The idea behind OnePointFive is that head tubes and steerer tubes would be stronger and less susceptible to ovalizing, which is typical of most DH race frames over a season of racing. Headsets and bearings would last longer and suspension designs could dramatically be altered to take advantage of the stronger steerer tube.
Well, now the new OnePointFive “standard” is here and likely it won’t be going anywhere. With top name manufacturers jumping on board like Intense, Turner, Ellsworth, Cannondale and others, it’s hard to deny it’s a legitimate design. On the other hand, Marzocchi isn’t about to let anyone in on its freeride supremacy–especially with a new head tube standard. At Interbike, Marzocchi unveiled a 6-inch single-crown fork dubbed the Z150. This fork boasted 6-inches of Marzocchi plushness with a standard-sized 1-1/8″ steerer tube. How could it be? We were all duped by the OnePointFive camp that a 6-inch single-crown fork wasn’t possible. Well, with an overly beefed-up steerer tube, the Marzocchi Z150 has hit the shelves of a local bike shop near you.
I’ve been lucky enough to log a good amount of time on both the Manitou Sherman Breakout and the Marzocchi Z150–few people have had that opportunity. Here’s my take on both forks.
Manitou Sherman Breakout
The Sherman is one tough fork. This thing just looks beefy with the reversed arch design and Model-T inspired color scheme. You can have any color you want as long as it’s black. Actually, you can get a camo version, but I have yet to see one in person.
I had the Sherman mounted to my one-of-a-kind Turner Route 66 (below) frame, so the 6-inches of travel was evened out by 6-inches of Turner lovin’. I also spent considerable time on the Cannondale Gemini 900, so I’ve had the Sherman on two entirely different suspension designs.
My first impression of the Sherman was how well it tracked. This thing is stiff! Coming from a 2002 Super T Pro to this, I didn’t lose anything in tracking ability. It corners and steers without any noticeable flex at all. Also standard is a switch that reduces the travel by almost an inch–this came in handy on long climbs, but really didn’t change much. I did notice that the mechanism which decreased the travel seemed flimsy. I have heard of some people breaking that mechanism, but mine functioned just fine on both forks tested.
My biggest disappointment with the Sherman was in its overall feel. I was expecting Manitou to enter the freeride market with something to knock Marzocchi off the block, but the overall feel of the fork through its travel left me wanting a Marzocchi. Don’t get me wrong, the Sherman has some strong points, but I felt the suspension was too stiff throughout the travel and not so plush throughout the stroke. It felt like it got much less than 6-inches of travel because it ramps up so much. I never felt like I was getting the full spectrum of the 6-inches–even if it was.
I’ve talked to a lot of people and some people say they like the ramped feel of the Sherman because it doesn’t just mush out throughout the travel like people say Marzocchi’s do. It will compress and then still have more to compress if needed.
Overall, the Sherman is a really nice fork with more positives than negatives. I like how well it tracks and it is as stiff as all get out. I just felt like the quality of travel was lacking. I like a more supple, squishy fork than the Sherman is. If you like a stout fork and don’t mind the ramped-up suspension travel, then the Sherman should suit you just fine. If you want something supple and smooth, take a look at the Marzocchi Z150
After placing an order for the Z150 in January, I felt confident the fork would arrive soon thereafter. I had heard that many people had placed orders at Interbike and that it should arrive sometime in mid-March. I thought nothing of it as I got my 2003 Balfa 2Step with the RockShox Psylo. I would ride the Psylo until the trails thawed out, then have the Z150 just in time for the serious stuff.
Well, needless to say I was disappointed as I didn’t even see the Z150 at my doorstep until the first week of May! To look on the bright side, at least I hadn’t placed the order way back in October!
When the fork arrived, I had mixed feelings on the color scheme. I’m not too sure I’m stoked on the flame-like motif, but it looks great with the 2Step’s orange/red color. Well, forget about looks… how does it ride?
Rebound controls on the fork are adjusted via air valves at the top of each leg. The problem is that typically these pressures are very low (about 10 – 15 psi.), so the shock pump I have doesn’t do me much good in fine-tuning the pressure. The scale on my pump is intended for much higher pressures, so I’m basically guessing the pressure–I have no idea what my pressure is set at.
Similar to the Sherman, the Z150 has an ETA cartridge which lowers the travel for climbing. The only bad thing about this is that the suspension action is significantly decreased while engaging the ETA switch, whereas the Sherman keeps it’s normal attributes.
Enough about the little things… honestly, the Z150 blows the Sherman or nearly any other 6 to 7-inch travel fork out of the water. Coming from the Super T, I don’t miss much with the Z150. The ride is very similar–soft, supple and smooth–just like Marzocchi’s should be. It tracks straight and is just as stiff as the Sherman as far as I can tell.
The bottom line with the Z150 is that you get a bomber single-crown fork that delivers the classic Marzocchi plushness you deserve. If you hate dual crown forks, but want more than 5-inches of travel, get the Z150. This fork delivers a super plush and quality ride every time. I totally dig it!
On a side note, if your bike can handle a dual crown fork and you don’t mind the extra weight, I’d just go for the Super T Pro over both the Sherman and the Z150. Where the Z150 shines is with those who don’t want a dual crown fork and/or are afraid of adding an extra pound with a Super T.