Saturday, January 22, 2011

You Can't Keep a Good Bonty Down

Back in August 2020 I talked about my Bontrager Privateer S and My Road to Singlespeed
“Although I bought the “S” Sport level, I upgraded the hubs, shifters and cranks to XT, resulting in a XT gruppo with Avid brakes. The original shock was a Rock Shox T2; an elastomer version of a Judy XC, that is upgradeable with cartridge kit to the equivalent of the Judy. After attempting such an upgrade, I blew out the cartridges at a rate of 1 a month, so I replaced it with a Marzocchi Super Fly”.

The Bontrager with the Judy was a good race bike (with a crappy fork). The upgrade to the Marzocchi resulted in a bike to die for; in my mind the two are inseparable. As I mentioned in my previous blog, after riding the bike for about three years I converted it to a Singlespeed. After I had a custom Singlespeed made by Rocklobster, I reassembled the bike as original as I could; the primary missing components are the OEM shock (of course) and the OEM "Comp" seatpost I used when I built another bike and then sold it. I have since replaced it with a similar "Select" seatpost. You can imagine then my dismay when I sent the shock to Marzocchi and they told me a corroded stanchion made the shock un-rideable and new stanchions are no longer available. I immediately started going through the stages of grief. 1) Shock and Denial; well maybe it’s not as bad as they say. Yes, that’s it Marzocchi simply has super high standards on what they will rebuild due to liability issues. There was actually some validity to this, as the corrosion was a single pit on one stanchion. Unfortunately my wife picked up the fork and they put the fear of god in her that I should not try and re-build the shock as it surely would catastrophically fail. This of course led to pain and guilt. It was all my fault for not rinding the bike and keeping an eye on it. I just let it hang there in the garage for years as the corroded pit became deeper and deeper.

Next came anger and bargaining. I went back and forth between retiring the Bontrager and buying a new fork. Marzocchi had offered by $150 off a new fork, meaning for about $220 I could have a new middle level fork to replace the Superfly. Replace the Superfly? What am I saying? I can’t replace the Superfly, it’s what makes the bike “the" bike. One issue regarding the buying of a new shock is the travel limitation. One consideration in the geometry design of mountain bikes frames have a to do with the length of the fork. The first mountain bikes did not have suspension forks, so the frames were built around a fairly standard size fork; the first shocks were designed around this standard size. As forks developed more travel, bike frames were designed around them. My Bontrager Privateer was designed around a 63-80mm or 2.5-3 inches of travel, anymore could degrade the handling of the bike; also the fork needs to have brake bosses Most of the used shocks on ebay are around 4 inches or 100mm. However I did some bargaining in my head and picked up a Marzocchi EXR Pro for $40 (the price was actually $5, but the shipping from Canada was $35; shipping, the bain of ebay. The shock is a dreaded 100mm and I when it arrived the steerer looked very beat-up and I suspected it was bent. Indeed it was bent, the beat-up condition appeared to be the result of someone trying to straighten it.

Oh well, back to the bargaining board. I checked ebay again and saw a Marzocchi Z5 X-Fly. While it was quite a bit down the food chain from a Superfly, it was available in 80mm and according to the seller had been expertly rebuilt, so I bid a “buy it now” for $130 ($115 plus $15 shipping). After I bought the shock I suddenly has an epiphany, what if this guy can rebuild my Superfly. I sent the fellow, Mark an email and I jumped over 3) Depression right to 4) the upward turn; Mark said he had a stanchion and could rebuild my Superfly. Mark explained that he has a passion for Marzocchi forks, especially the older Bombers, and makes it his hobby buying up forks, rebuilding and selling them. He also agreed to cancel my purchase and put the X-fly back on ebay. So much for grieving!

I sent the fork off to Mark and about a week and a half later it came back. Now, granted the exterior of the shock was still in good shape, but Mark did a remarkable job; he didn’t just rebuild it, he re-manufactured it. Here is the work order;
it came back at least as good as new. I took the bike out for a ride, the first time I have ridden the bike in over 5 years and it was a pleasure. I had forgotten what a ride to die for the bike is with the Superfly fork. Unlike other forks I’ve rode with, you can’t really feel the Superfly working, it just does. It eats up small bumps and washboard like it isn’t there and takes a good part of the edge off bigger bumps. While the bike will remain an 8 speed, it will be ridden and hopefully passed on to my 12 year old son. Regardless I am really happy that the shock and bike are working together again; really stoked!

5 comments:

Justin said...

I've been going through a similar process with my Superfly. Could you point me in Mark's direction? Thanks!

Ricardo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ricardo said...

Ha! I sent this link to Mark.. -He was surprised you had written about him. Mark is very knowledgeable when it comes to Marzocchi's. Cool article, I want a superfly for my Zaskar now.

PK's TdF updates said...

Brad-

I am finally getting back to the mountain bike after 8 years of road racing and I am faced with your same delimma...my superfly needs to be rebuilt and I just don't want to try to find another fork.

Can you forward Mark's information, if you still have it?

Thanks,
Phil

lewisab said...

Hey Brad,

I am in a similar situation with an old Bontrager Race that needs a 1" fork. Was thinking of one of the older coil/oil marz forks like the atom race because of their reliability and ease of rebuild. The 70mm of travel would be better for the Bonty geometry though. Do you think the superfly would be better for an old bonty than an coil atom or z3?