The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 46 - The RockShox Zeb vs Fox 38 Deep Dive

Feb 4, 2021
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich.

Fox's new 38 and RockShox's also-new Zeb are both burly single-crown forks that employ 38mm diameter upper tubes, high-end dampers, and a lot of travel to be ready for the rowdiest of riding. Our own Dan Roberts has spent more than the last six months riding both, including countless back-to-back laps on the local steeps of Champéry, Switzerland, and all over Europe. You can check out his head-to-head review to find out all the details, then listen to today's podcast with Dan and Mike Kazimer where we do a deep dive on the ins and outs of each fork.

February 4th, 2021

All the travel, only one of the crowns.

Fox 38 Details

• Travel: 160, 170, 180mm
• Wheel size: 27.5" or 29"
• Stanchions: 38mm
• Lower leg bleeders
• Damper: Grip 2 w/ VVC, Grip
• Offset: 37mm, 44mm, 51mm
• Optional mud guard
• Weight: 5.42lb (Factory w/ uncut steerer)
• MSRP: $949 - $1199 USD
• More info:

RockShox Zeb Details

• Travel: 150, 160, 170, 180, 190mm
• Wheel size: 27.5" or 29"
• Stanchions: 38mm
• Damper: Charger 2.1 RC2
• Offset: 38mm (27.5"), 44mm (27.5", 29”)
• Optional mud guard
• Weight: 5.01lb (Ultimate, w/ uncut steerer)
• MSRP: $699 USD - $999 USD
• More info:

Hosted by Mike Levy (usually) and featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike Podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?
Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?
Episode 10 - Getting Nerdy About Bike Setup
Episode 11 - Are We Going Racing This Year?
Episode 12 - What's the Future of Bike Shops?
Episode 13 - Are Bikes Too Regular Now?
Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?
Episode 15 - What's Holding Mountain Biking Back?
Episode 16 - Who's Your Mountain Biking Hero?
Episode 17 - XC Field Test Insider
Episode 18 - Electronics on your Mountain Bike: Good or Bad?
Episode 19 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 20 - MTB Conspiracy Theories
Episode 21 - Stuff We Were Wrong About
Episode 22 - Does Your Riding Style Match Your Personality?
Episode 23 - Grim Donut 2 is Live!
Episode 24 - Why Even Buy a DH Bike?
Episode 25 - Fall Field Test Preview
Episode 26 - The Three Most Important Mountain Bikes
Episode 27 - The World Champs Special
Episode 28 - All About Women's Bikes
Episode 29 - Freeride or Die
Episode 30 - Would You Rather?
Episode 31 - Wet Weather Riding Tips & Tricks
Episode 32 - What Needs to Change in the Bike Industry?
Episode 33 - Behind the Scenes at Pinkbike Academy
Episode 34 - Grilling Levy About Field Test Trail Bikes (and His Bonspiel)
Episode 35 - Story Time - Stranger Than Fiction
Episode 36 - Grilling Kazimer about Field Test Enduro Bikes
Episode 37 - The 2020 Privateer Season with Ben Cathro
Episode 38 - Editors Defend Their 2020 Best-Of Picks
Episode 39 - Predicting the Future of Mountain Biking
Episode 40 - The Pinkbike Awards!
Episode 41 - Racing Rumours and Team Changes
Episode 42 - Mountain Biking's Guilty Pleasures
Episode 43 - Dangerholm's Wildest Custom Mountain Bikes
Episode 44 - Mountain Bike Suspension Decoded
Episode 45 - What Makes a Good Riding Buddy

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 32 0
 These guys pump out podcasts like the Octomom pumps out babies.
  • 13 2
 it's their job. they get paid for it.
  • 5 0
 With the help of medicine and all at the same time?
  • 3 1
 @jamesbrant: hey I'm not complaining
  • 6 0
 @jamesbrant: so does she
  • 25 0
 1600 euro is the 38 in EU. That price is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous!
  • 3 0
 That is rediculous, the 38 factory is not much more than 1600 Canadian.
  • 11 0
 Fox 38 here is almost the same price as the base model Giant Stance.
  • 28 2
 @ChazzMichaelMichaels: When you put it that way the 38 sounds like a good buy.
  • 5 0
 Especially considering the Zeb Ultimate is usually somewhere around 800-900€...
  • 2 0
 @lukesky: especially considering the Lyrik which sits at around 700-800.
  • 2 1
 are you blaming Fox for that pricing or the EU?
  • 3 2
 @conoat: no, this is 100% Fox and retailers.

also, the EU retailers are acting like a small cartel; in two days, all of the jumped up the price to the exact amount, all of them, without consideration to the age of the stock(production model 2020 or models that have arrived new in stock). Where 1 week ago I could have brought a 180mm 38 factory with 1300 euro, now, on all websites(german, italian, french, etc), the 38 factory is 1600 euro.
That means two things. 1., they think that we will buy regardless of the price. 2., they think we are probably stupid effs, as only a stupid eff would pay 1600 on a effin fork... or a guy with lots of money, case in which he is not stupid, he just does not care about the money.

I do want to blame someone... and those who I want to blame are the brits.. well, half of them. Due to their - lots of things here, long discussion -, now, an RS or a factory Nukeproof has a 1500 euro and above increase in price.. soo, eff them!
  • 1 3
 @eugenux: Ok, chap. you tilt at all the windmills you would like....

question for you: did you get this angry a few years back when China was dumping steel and aluminum in North America and driving prices in the gutter, only to then limit supply once the american market was destroyed?

I doubt it. you sound like a self centered twat, that really only cares about things in regards to your price on bike parts. lmao. but yeah, you keep blaming people that wanted out of a bad deal....or is it you quietly recognize you are still stuck in said bad deal?
  • 3 1
 @conoat: ooh.. you're one of those. "out from a bad deal?" , what a joke.
I'm a twat because I want a free market and resonable prices from ganged up greedy retailers?,

yeah.. conversation over.
  • 1 3
 @eugenux: you think the EU is a free market?????

in-f*cking-deed. can't teach long division to a parakeet....
  • 5 0
 @conoat: @eugenux

easy boys, we're all twats here
  • 2 0
 @eugenux: How is it our fault that European retailers jacked up the price?!?
They used Brexit as an excuse, that's what you call a free market.
Just so you know, UK retailers haven't changed the price, so what does that say about your beloved Europe?

I believe in being part of Europe, but not this version. British people generally aren't anywhere near as socialist as European nations, hence we've always been an awkward fit.
It's faux socialism too, because everyone wants everyone to have a cushy state job, 30 hours a week, retire at 50... but you still want your iPhone, Starbucks latte and an eight grand bike.

You keep telling yourself it's all our fault.
  • 1 0
 @78danh: the brexit rant was about Nuke jacking up the prices from 400-500 euros for a frame to 1700 euros and above for a full carbon bikes of their own. 1600 euro forks is actually free market..demand and supply. It can't be helped.
  • 2 0
 @eugenux: Re. Nukeproof; Brexit has stiffed us both there, I get that, because all of the big EU + UK brands source from Asia.

But I'm trying to take the positives. If it's made in the UK or EU there's no tariffs either way, so homegrown brands like 77designz, Hope, Stanton and Burgtec can flourish.
If there's closer parity on price between an Asia special (Canyon / Whyte et al), and a locally sourced frame and parts for a custom build, I know which I'd choose.
It may even encourage the previously more affordable EU + UK brands like Nuke to manufacture homegrown parts (more industry Jobs) if the tariffs negate the cheap Asian labour.
  • 20 0
 Hey @mikelevy Serious question here: Since there is a lot of effort being placed in trying to create stiff single crown forks and those forks are offering close to the same weight for the same levels of travel, but with still less rigidity compared to a similar travel dual crown, would it make sense for Fox, Manitou, RS, etc... create an enduro specific dual crown? Opens air volume options as well.
  • 4 0
 Hard to imagine enduro racers wanting a dual crown, considering the tight corners in some of the EWS stages.
  • 2 0
 I think a dual crown would be a pretty big jump up in weight. Possibly pushing some enduro bikes over the 40lb mark.
Edit: Nevermind Saw the weights listed below. Not a massive jump honestly.
  • 1 0
 @benman3000: I have seen them nose manual into a corner and whip the rear around. I do not think it would be as big of an inconvenience as one imagines it could be.
  • 16 0
 Perhaps time for another story teller podcast. Radek as a guest? Or one of the og freeride guys to get nostalgic about monster Ts, skinnies, etc.
  • 11 0
 Radek's gotta get on the podcast soon!
  • 5 0
 @brianpark: Radek should know that Crunchbase still shows Pinkbike as having been acquired by Drunkcyclist back in the day. Best April fools ever apparently!
  • 3 0
 @brianpark: and dig up tyler klassen and or dylan tremblay. The coolest guys to ever bike.
  • 2 0
 @makripper: Dylan still rides and also collects and restores rad old MTB’s.
  • 2 0
 @mikedk: I know. I'm friends with him
  • 12 0
 No dog in this fight but would love to see a full comparison with these, the Mezzer, and some of the other offerings from some of the smaller companies as well.
  • 12 0
 Would be great to get that kind of fork field test from PB. Enduro-Mtb just put out such a test only a week or so ago, I believe their test included the Mezzer, DVO Onyx, and several others.

On a separate note, I'm surprised the 38 is .41 lbs heavier than the Zeb (must've zoned out on that detail during the press release) and apparently less stiff. A Boxxer only weighs an extra 150grams or so.
  • 9 0
 Throw and Ohlins 36m2 and EXT in the mix as well.
  • 17 0
 Would also love to see a brake shootout. SRAM Code vs. Shimano vs TRP vs. Magura etc.
  • 5 0
 New Pinkbike hire and former Bike Radar tech guy, Seb Stott, has provided what you wish.
  • 4 0
 @gemma8788: Are you serious? A double crown DH fork only weighs an extra 150g? Thats incredible. I'd be running the Boxxer then instead.. might as well!
  • 1 0
 @CDT77: Zeb: 2265 Boxxer: 2565 So, 1/2 pound difference
  • 3 1
 @brandaneisma: throw shigura in for good measure
  • 5 3
 @jmhills: So basically nothing and thus we should all be running 180-190mm Boxxers instead of similar travel Zebs.
  • 3 0
 @SintraFreeride: Not sure if serious but I kind of agree? I get that a single crown fork is a bit more maneuverable due to the single crown but there is so much emphasis on attempting to make a long travel single crown fork chassis rigid when for 1/2 of weight at the front, you can get something that is rigid and will inherently offering less flex. I do not race enduro but I am wondering when the manufacturers of long travel forks will call a limit to what a single crown can handle and put a little effort into a lighter weight dual crown fork. The travel of these forks is basically at DH level anyway.
  • 1 0
 @fartymarty: Are any of those available in 180mm?
  • 4 0
 @jmhills: 2458 grams for the Fox 38, so even less or more depending on how you look at it.
  • 1 0
 @jmhills: My 150 gram comment was approximate and in reference to the 38. The 38 is listed here at 2458 grams (5.42 lbs). So really the Boxxer is only ~107g heavier than a 38.
  • 1 0
 @ChazzMichaelMichaels: Air goes to 180mm, coil goes to 170mm and you can swap between air and coil.
  • 1 0
 @SintraFreeride: But why would I take a 300g weight penalty and have to dick about reducing the travel when the Zeb is a great fork which does exactly what I need anyway?
  • 2 0
 @jmhills: I was being dead serious. I don't use single crown forks because of the terrible flex under braking and the stiction that flex causes. I choose performance over weight every single time. I was very disappointed the 38 and Zeb didn't come out in dual crown version.
  • 1 0
 @chakaping: Because the added stiffness and precision of the a dual crown is way better and you'll never suffer from creaking crowns. That is worth adding a tiny bit of weight to your bike in my opinion.
  • 2 0
 @SintraFreeride: I've had a few rides on the Zeb (at 190mm) and it has more than enough stiffness and precision. I'm lucky that I've never suffered creaky crowns, but I wouldn't deny it's an issue. I just think these beefy single crown forks are a very useful product - and they don't stop you buying a Boxxer if that's what you fancy.
  • 1 2
 @chakaping: Hey if it works for you great. I haven't tried the Zeb nor the 38. I have ridden the Yari/lyric 35mm chassis and the Fox 36 both were unimpressive. You can see and feel the fork flex under braking. Doing nose turns with those forks is terrible because you have to compensate for the flex. I'll be sticking to my super stiff and precise Manitou Dorado.
  • 2 0
 @jmhills: you mean like MRP Bartlett?
  • 1 0
 @jmhills: 300g is nearly 11oz. so much closer to 3/4lb
  • 1 0
 @gemma8788: a boxxer is less stiff than a 38. lol. absolute noodles for a DC fork. I have had the luxury(misfortune?) of riding them back to back on the same bike with a Fox 40 and it's absolutley no contest. the Boxxer is the worst DC fork going.
  • 9 1
 While we're on the topic of forks... can we make a list by reply on where to get your fork/shock serviced and where?

I'll start...

Fluid Function (Squamish BC) for RockShox -I send mine through the mail and its always back within 2 weeks.
  • 5 0
 @map-guy Fox Service Center in Burnaby has been doing mine. Quicker turnaround than 2 weeks too.
  • 6 0
 NSDYNAMICS in Queensland. They always call prior to and after working on your item. Turnaround from Melbourne is usually 4-7 days.
  • 8 0
 @Waldon83: Can't speak highly enough of those guys. I sent in a Ohlins TTX that had shit the bed, the guys rang me up and said it looked like an Iraqi car bomb had gone off in there, shit was toast and needed bulk parts.

2 days later, they ring again saying all done and good to go, cost was the same as a basic service, even with a raft of replacement items that had to be done.

There are tons of suspension shops locally, I'll still box it off and send it to QLD. I find I still get it back quicker than the locals too.
  • 5 0
 I have sent to Vorsprung on several occasions...they made my suspension better than stock and were pretty quick about it.
  • 8 3
 How about in your own garage. Learn to do it yourself! It's really not that complicated
  • 2 0
 @eshew: Agreed, basic stuff really isn't that bad and it's a fun learning experience. I'm much more likely to keep things in good working order when I know all that's needed is some time in the garage listening to music and getting my hands a bit dirty.

Some jobs require special tools (why I went DVO for a shock instead of float x2) so those get sent out.
  • 5 0
 The Shock Howse for riders in Seattle. Mike is super knowledgable, and will even help you dial-in your suspension.
  • 4 0
 @eshew: Yeah, fantastic recommendation...not the conversation though. I’m sure most people can do it, but the topic is ‘a list of places that specialise in’
  • 2 0
 The Shockspital in Minneapolis. It's 20 minutes from my house and the staff is super helpful and knowledgeable. I do my fork services myself, but I take them my rear shocks, especially since I have a Cane Creek rear shock on my Canfield and they're an authorized service center.
  • 4 3
 Dunbar Cycles in Vancouver, they do Fox, RS and Ohlins. No need to take anything off the bike either. No extra cost for installation and removal.
  • 2 0
 812 Suspension in central Texas, great guys and even better work!
  • 2 0
 @pcledrew: Always awesome service from the crew in Burnaby.
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 50 hour stuff I just do myself... but for a full annual service, I've been sending to Vorsprung (I'm in Victoria) and I generally get it back within the week. As long as you pre-book the service online, and then send it out Monday morning... two days there, one day of service and then two days back. If you have a morning service scheduled, they'll often get it done and shipped the same day. If you time it right (and you're a weekend warrior), you don't have to miss any riding!
  • 1 0
 @islandforlife: not sure if that was sarcasm.. but I believe he means you can just bring your whole bike in and they will remove the suspension for service and then reinstall it for you.
  • 1 0
 @brycepiwek: Ha, ya I figured that out... I though before anyone had a chance to read it (deleted my comment)... but I guess not!
  • 1 0
My own garage, offset the cost of specialized tools, by the savings of doing your own labour. Turn around is as quick as I can get my ass into the shop. Yearly rebuild of forks, every three for a quick service and lube. If you’re any good, you’re buddies will buy you beer to do there’s.....
The more you know.....
  • 5 0
 I'm constantly astounded by the quality and consistency with which these podcasts are released. (Mostly) Commercial free might I add! Thanks gang.
  • 1 0
 I love them as well. Always look forward to the next one.
  • 9 3
 Mezzer was robbed. 180mm, I guess 37mm isn't enough girth.
  • 3 0
 @mikekazimer - you mentioned doing some of the fork testing in Idaho, what part of the state were you in? I live in Boise and I'm always curious to see what out-of-towners think of our trail system.

Lovin' the podcasts!
  • 6 0
 I was up in Kellog, at Silver Mountain. I haven't had a chance to ride in Boise yet - maybe someday. And I'm glad you're liking the podcasts - we're having fun making them.
  • 2 0
 Was really excited for this podcast, but now so disappointed. Expected a crazy night of debauchery, with shots every time @mikelevy tried to say stanchion. An hour later I'm completely sober, and I keep hearing "upper tubes" over and over in my head like some earworm from the 80's.

If only Marzocchi had a new burly fork on review.
  • 1 0
 They made fun of me too much so now I try to say "upper tubes" instead.
  • 1 0
 I have the rockshox zeb in a 160 mm and it comes with two tokens stock. I weigh 185 lbs and have had the pressure from 75 -85 and have bottomed out the shock quite a few times, (on some pretty large jumps)(LSC 8-9 , HSC 2) I have decided to throw another token in. But i found it surprising to hear that with the 170 / 180 no one felt the need to put tokens in .
  • 1 0
 I have 190 with 2 tokens and i never bottomed out since i got it. No token is way to go, 220lbs 55psi
  • 2 0
 I have a 170 and run zero tokens. Came close but never bottomed it. I'm 210lbs running 66psi and compression open and feels great. I'm 10psi below recommended. If I run the recommended psi I get roughly 15% sag and it feels like a jackhammer.
  • 1 0
 I have a 180mm with no tokens, unless they snuck one in, I didn't actually look, only bottoms out rarely at recommended psi.
  • 3 0

After reading this i tried to lower the pressure of my 160mm zeb and put in 3 tokens and it really feels very good compared to the recommended setting from rs.
  • 1 0
 @stevek22: Thank you! This is exactly the kind of supporting article I needed to confirm my thoughts.

Its hard to find much positive, forward moving discussion on items like this.
  • 6 2
 Pick one and be a dick about it
  • 2 2
 Neither. I’d rather have my grip 2 fox 36 with push acs3. They don’t make one for a fox38 so I’m good with my f36. At 185 lbs I’m not really in the weight range that the 38 would truly benefit anyways. After riding good coil shocks I’ll never go back to air
  • 1 0
 fox 38 is so much stiffer than the 36! been running the 36 with acs3 past year and a half now i upgraded to the 38 and its such a huge difference. no more loosy goosy feeling in hard tech, cornering, and sprinting.
  • 1 0
 @TylerG96: I’m gonna be honest with you. I’ve not felt any loosely goosey feeling on my 36 even at windrock... but I’ve never ridden anything bigger than a fox 36 either so I wouldn’t know the difference. Haha. I just prefer the coil over air
  • 3 0
 what? i just finished the biking buddies one!!
  • 1 0
 Can you really tell the difference between the Kashima coating of the Fox factory vs the black anodized on the RockShox and Fox Performance Elite?
  • 1 0
  • 2 0
 Rockshox Zeb is a contender!
  • 1 0
 Dan - how do these compare to something like an Ohlins 36m2 or other forks from smaller players?
  • 2 0
 or a DVO Diamond?
  • 1 0
 maybe someone's said it before -- any chance of adding volume control to the player?
  • 2 0
 Assuming you have a phone, install a good podcasting app like Stitcher, or Pocket Cast And subscribe to the podcasts. Then you can control everything including playback speed etc...
  • 1 0
 @IMeasureStuff: Thanks that makes sense, it's for our janky shop computer that we use for tunes and whatever (of course that has a volume control, but we use a lot of different sources). Sound system is oldschool, phones don't even have aux jacks anymore. Tech.
  • 2 0
 You haven't forgotten about the EXT Era review have you Pinkbike?
  • 4 0
 Nope, it's in the works and being ridden by a few different people for some more perspective Smile
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: Missed some comparisons of these two forks vs the Era in this podcast (at least Kazimer should have been asked to provide some comparison).
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: You know where I am if you need even more perspective. You can never have enough perspective.
  • 1 0
 I think we need some better de-Torque Capping options. Lining up a non-TC hub in a RS fork can be a pain in the ass.
  • 4 0
 Locating a non-Torque Cap hub in the lowers can be a bit annoying.
  • 1 1
 Really interesting to see the thoughts and reactions of the pros who are on the ZEB/38 vs all the content that reviewers publish on it.
  • 3 0
 Except most the pros are sponsored by one or the other so theyll be much more inclined to love what they have
  • 1 0
 Pretty sure the fermented herring is Swedish surströmming if you want to copy the rotten fish prank.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer what's your opinion on fox performance 36/38 and rockshox lyric/ zeb select(+)
  • 1 0
 Question: For a given fork/chassis, why are 27.5" wheel models usually offered in 10mm more total travel than the 29er?
  • 1 0
 Darn, really great review.
  • 1 0
 I have like, borderline ADD, but it was really great.
  • 2 5
 Just calling it like it is Your Interviewing , podcasting , videoing Is not good If you want to do well at anything you do listen to your critics And watch your competition
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