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RockShox ZEB Release

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RockShox has entered the thick boy market with an all new fork ready to smash through whatever is in your way.

This is the brand new RockShox ZEB.  

What is it and who is it for? Keep reading and you’ll find out.

rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper

2020 is the year of COVID-19, murder hornets, video conferences from your bedroom in your underwear and thick forks meant for aggressive riding with larger diameter stanchions to create a more stiff and burly suspension setup.

For years, the RockShox Lyrik has been been a staple in the mountain bike community as a fork that’s plush, reliable and stiff. But, with riding becoming more and more aggressive over the years and longer travel bikes becoming more efficient to pedal uphill and therefore more popular, forks on the front of bikes are trying to keep up with the paces they’re being put through. Just recently, Fox released the 38, with 38mm stanchions which feels nearly identical to the stiffness of a dual crown downhill fork. And now, RockShox has their foot in the door...

I present to you the RockShox ZEB.

rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper

The ZEB has 38mm stanchions, and a purpose built chassis adding stiffness in all the right places. It uses the tried and trued RockShox Charger 2.1 RC2 damper and Debonair air spring. RockShox has bumped the travel knob up to eleven and offers travel from 150 all the way up to 190mm. Plus, it looks damn good with a beefy chassis design and comes in two colors to make mostly everyone happy.

Alright let's take a closer look at how this fork works.

The ZEB: What is it?

In a nutshell, the ZEB is the burlier big brother of the Lyrik. The Lyrik has 35mm stanchions while the ZEB has bigger 38mm stanchions. Plus, the chassis was designed differently from the Lyrik to take on more aggressive riding and longer travel applications. All in all, this is a single crown fork for aggressive riding, bridging the gap between the Lyrik and the downhill dual crown Boxxer. 

Alright, so what’s with the name? What the heck is a ZEB? Welp, the RockShox global design center is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado and right around the corner is a little tiny mountain called Pike’s Peak (14,115ft, North America's 53rd highest peak).

Back in 1806, a man by the name of Zebulon Pike (what a sick name) was the first person who attempted to summit that mountain. Does that last name Pike sound familiar...? Well, his first name shortened is ZEB, and they named this fork after him.


rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper  zebulon pike

The man himself, Zebulon Pike

Now that we have that out of the way, I wanted to say that after popping a ZEB on my bike, I could immediately tell the difference in stiffness. Now, I will admit that some "upgrades" may not give you that immediate satisfaction that you actually made an improvement to your bike.

But, I’m serious, this is something that I could immediately feel a difference in.

My front end plowed straight through holes, my steering felt more precise and I could hold my line better with more stability. And why could I feel an immediate difference? Well overall, RockShox's goal was not to build the stiffest fork they possibly could, but more so a fork with a balance between stiffness, weight, control and sensitivity. The goal was to add more stiffness in the right spots to increase performance without making the fork so stiff that it rattled your bones and tore your hands off your arms. So let’s look at some numbers:

Compared to the Lyrik, the ZEB is 21.5% more torsionally stiff, 7% more laterally stiff, and 2% more fore/aft stiff.

rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper


So obviously this fork offers tons of increased stiffness torsionally, which is basically the forks resistance to twisting. This will be most applicable during cornering to give your front end a much more precise chassis rigidity when turning. The side bending and fore/aft stiffness doesn’t seem like a big change, but all three of those improvements combined makes a big difference on the trail.

rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper  debonair air spring


Up top you’ll find the new purpose built aluminum crown which looks awesome with its burly design which was carefully machined to make it nice and lightweight. Threaded into that crown is the tried and trued Charger 2.1 RC2 damper with lots of adjustments, and the same damping characteristics of the Lyrik damper. You can independently adjust the high and low compression up top, and the rebound on the bottom.

rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper  debonair air spring
rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper


The ZEB’s arch is freaking meaty for that torsional stiffness which looks awesome and has a bolt on fender mount on the back. RockShox will offer a bolt on mud guard for $20. The arch offers more clearance for larger tires, up to 2.8's, and more mud clearance. It’s also positioned a bit more forward to clear larger head tubes and bikes with reach adjust headsets.

Another familiar face lies within the air side stanchion, the DebonAir air spring. The DebonAir is designed to ride high in it’s travel while still maintaining crazy small bump sensitivity and just the right amount of mid-stroke support. The ZEB’s DebonAir air spring was built off of the most recent revision of the Pike and Lyrik Debonair, but with a bit more negative air volume in order to give the ZEB more of a downhill fork feeling.

And of course, you can adjust your bottom out resistance with tokens under the air cap using the same gray tokens as the Lyrik. The ZEB uses Maxima Plush oil and SKF dust wipers to decrease friction as much as possible. One other cool feature is the post mount 200 rotor mount, so no adapter is needed for a 200mm rotor, and 203 rotors will only need very small spacers.

So there’s the rundown on the brand new ZEB. But just a bit ago I mentioned a little tidbit on how the ZEB rides, but I think we should dive a bit deeper back on that subject, so let’s talk about HOW THE ZEB RIDES.

Performance

Right off the bat on my first ride with the ZEB I noticed an immediate increase of stiffness and support. Just in the first few bumps and holes I noticed the front end felt more planted. The further I got into my ride, the more I felt like I wanted to push the ZEB.

Now I’ve spent a bunch of time on the Lyrik, and while it isn’t exactly a flexy noodle of a fork and is still plenty stiff for most riders and situations, I always felt like there were situations I would avoid. I would often avoid taking lines with specific sized holes and aim at riding around them, but when you get bumped off line and ride through said holes you’d have an “oh shit” moment.


rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper

Photo from RockShox


With the ZEB, I feel more stable through rough sections, and feel more confident riding fast with the ability to smash through whatever’s in front me. I would look for the smooth line a little less, and if I got bumped over into the rougher line, I could just ride it out and didn’t feel uncomfortable in given the situation.

On jumps, I was over shooting landings on purpose and landing flat to see what this thing could do. With a fork like the Lyrik, you could land flat and of course ride it out, but it would be pretty jarring and you’d get a bit of "huck-neck." But, the ZEB made it feel like I was an airplane landing on a runway with total control and stability with less head buck, and was able to ride away more smooth and controlled.

rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper


The farther down the trail I got, the more aggressive I was riding and the more I wanted to continuously ride even more aggressive. Overall, the ZEB is a bit more confidence inspiring on rough terrain, when compared to the Lyrik, and begs to be pushed harder and harder. Tuning the fork was super easy since I’ve spent lots of time on this same damper in the Lyrik. There’s enough adjustments to be able to dial in the fork without creating confusion. The recommended air pressure was pretty spot on and I only made a very small adjustment to get it feeling perfectly how I wanted.

Alright, you’re probably sifting through your couch cushions for pennies to order a ZEB. But before you start clicking buttons, let’s chat more about who the ZEB is best suited for!

Who Is The ZEB For?

For me, when given the choice between the Lyrik and ZEB and taking my style of riding into account, I will choose the ZEB. Out here in the PNW we have steep, rough and gnarly descents and I typically always have a bike with 160mm or more of travel in the fork up front.

But, not everyone is me, in fact only I am me...

First, figure out which travel fork you’d like on your bike. You can run the Lyrik at 130, 140, 150, 160, 170 or 180mm. You can run the ZEB at 150, 160, 170, 180 or 190 millimeters. The sweet spot for the Lyrik is 150 or 160 millimeters of travel, and the sweet spot for the ZEB is 170, 180 or 190.

So if you are running a 150 or 160 fork up front, the Lyrik is probably the better fork for you. The Lyrik will be lighter, less stiff, and be more forgiving on your hands. However, if you’re a larger or super aggressive rider, then the ZEB’s increased stiffness would make it the better fork for you.

Now if you’re running 170 or 180mm up front, the ZEB is hands down going to be a better fork for you. With longer travel comes more leverage tugging on the fork, and the increased stiffness of the ZEB is much more pronounced and beneficial to keeping your bike stable. And if you’re wanting 190 millimeters of fork travel up front, then the ZEB is your only option.

Long story short, if you have a Lyrik and want a stiffer fork, then the ZEB is your answer.

rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper

There will be 4 different models of the ZEB to fit your budget and desires:

1. The ZEB Ultimate is the top tier fork with all of the best features, and available in that cool Slab Grey or Gloss Black paint and sells for $999.

2. ZEB Select which has the less adjustable Charger RC damper. This is only available in Gloss Black and saves you a bit of cash selling for $799. Both of those forks are available for 27.5 inch wheels with either the standard 44mm or the short 38mm offset. The 29" form comes with only the shorter 44mm offset. No 51mm offset options on the ZEB, which we’re happy about since we always recommend the 44mm offset anyways.

3. For e-bikes, there’s the ZEB R with the Charger R damper which does not have adjustable compression and sells for $699

4. ZEB R Dual Position, with the 150 to 180 travel adjust switch, sells for $799.

rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper

ZEB Ultimate in Slab Grey

rockshox fork zeb ultimate zeb select devinci spartan mtb mountain bike charger rc2 2.1 damper

ZEB Select in Diffusion Black

Well there you have it, that’s the rundown of the all new RockShox ZEB. We're stoked on this new offering from RockShox, and think you will be too!

If you're interested in a stiffer, beefier forks, then click on this link, and check out the ZEB.

Until next time, Happy Trails!

(360) 306-8827



ABOUT THE RIDER/WRITER

NAME AGE HEIGHT WEIGHT LOCATED

Mike Randol

29

5'7"

150 lbs

Bellingham, WA

Current Bikes: 2020 Kona Process 153 CR/DL Custom Build
 
Bike Size: Medium
 
Favorite Trails: Dirt Merchant in Whistler, Chuckanut Mountain Trails in Bellingham

About me: I grew up hucking my bike off curbs in the suburbs of Chicago. I moved out to the PNW in 2014 and opened The Lost Co in 2016. I freaking love riding long rough descents and really pushing my body to the limit. I'll straight up ride any type of bike but really prefer long travel 27.5" bikes. However, mid-travel 29r's are growing on me...
 

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