FOX 38 vs. ROCKSHOX ZEB

Step into the ring for the Fox 38 vs RockShox Zeb bout. Two heavy hitting single crown forks designed to push the envelope of eMTB and aggressive enduro/trail shredders and bike park freeriders square up. Ever since we reviewed the Fox 38 several months ago and proclaimed it as the best fork we’d ridden, yet, we have been waiting to put this comparison together. Our testers rode many different Fox 38 and RockShox Zeb forks over the last six months, but most notably we put both forks on our dedicated test sled for some back to back comparisons on the same trails. By having one bike as a dedicated test sled we could isolate other variable like suspension platforms, varying shock life and tire pressure to give us the best chance of walking away from this test with educated impressions of the fork. Then, in the name of science, and to ensure we didn’t get a hot-rodded, customized fork with some special treatment from either of the brands, we also rode no less than three other Zeb and 38 forks on other test bikes we’ve received recently, all with similar findings. While both forks are undoubtedly capable and impressive, there is one that we would pick as our dream fork and this video explains why.

FOX 38 FACTORY 29

Price: $1,249
Website: Ridefox.com

THE DEETS

Travel: 160, 170, 180mm
Stanchion Material: Kashima-coated aluminum
Lower Material: Magnesium
Crown Material: 7000-series aluminum
Wheel Size: 29in
Steer Tube Diameter: 1-1/8 – 1-1/2in tapered
Stanchion Diameter: 38mm
Rake: 44mm & 51mm
Spring Type: Float air with EVOL
Damper: Grip 2 with Variable Valve Control
Adjustability: HS Compression & Rebound: 8-clicks each | LS Compression & Rebound: 16 clicks each
Axle: 15 x 110mm Boost, floating axle
Rotor Compatibility: 180 – 230mm
Manufacturer Warranty: 1 year limited

OUR TAKE

CHECK OUT THE FULL REVIEW HERE

What makes the new Fox 38 fork great is not just that it’s a stiffer version of the 36 that means less flex for aggressive enduro riders and ebikers, but that it also has so many enhancements to the damper, oil and air flow and compression/rebound circuit tuning that it makes you rethink what a fork should feel like. It offers the sensitivity and plushness of a coil with the on-trail tuning of an air damper in a stout and good-looking package. Our testers all hope to be seeing these forks spec’d on a lot more of our test bikes next year as they’ll certainly make our test rides even better.

BUY NOW @ COMPETITIVE CYCLIST

ROCKSHOX ZEB ULTIMATE

Price: $999
Website: SRAM.com

THE DEETS

Travel: 160mm, 170mm, 180mm, 190mm
Stanchion Material: Fast-Black coated aluminum
Lower Material: Magnesium
Crown Material: Forged, hollow aluminum
Wheel Size: 27.5 & 29in
Steer Tube Diameter: 1-1/8 – 1-1/2in tapered
Stanchion Diameter: 38mm
Rake: 44mm
Spring Type: DebonAir
Damper: Charger 2.1
Adjustability: Rebound / High-speed compression / Low-speed compression
Axle: 15 x 110mm Boost
Rotor Compatibility: 200 – 220mm
Manufacturer Warranty: 2 years

OUR TAKE

CHECK OUT THE FULL REVIEW HERE

When it comes to hard-charging, long travel single crown mountain bike forks, the Rock Shox Zeb is certainly a force to be reckoned with. With travel up to 190mm, impressive stiffness, damping and tune-ability, our crew liked really liked the Zeb. The fork sets up quickly, looks sharp and performs well. The stiffness is certainly there and should be a topic of discussion when considering a purchase. If you live in an area with lots of loose terrain or ride tons of wet roots, you may prefer the Lyrik over the increased stiffness provided by the Zeb. If you are a hard charger, weigh over 180lbs or enjoy pushing the limits of your eMTB, the Zeb will deliver.

BUY NOW @ COMPETITIVE CYCLIST

THE WOLF’S FINAL VERDICT

At the end of the day you can’t really go wrong with either of these forks on the front of your bike but when it comes to our crew, we’d all prefer to see a new rig pop out of the box with a Fox 38. When we were testing the Fox 38 vs the RockShox Zeb, we found that each fork has a uniquely different feel and depending on your terrain, riding style and preferred feel, you could go either way. Our testers tend to like the way the Fox 38 feels just a little bit more over a wider range of terrain. There’s no denying that RockShox’s 2-year warranty and cost savings are hard to deny when looking to pull cash out of your own pocket, so ultimately, the choice is yours but we doubt you’ll be bummed in this win-win scenario and are thankful brands are making such rad products to help progress the way we ride.