Rider Review: Rockshox ZEB 29

There’s no denying that as the modern mountain bike continues to evolve so will one of the most important parts of the bike, the suspension. It’s no surprise that late 2020 Rockshox and Fox launched a 38mm stanchion fork and a lot of the modern enduro bikes are now coming spec’d with them on board. We took a look at the Rockshox Zeb 29 and have put it to test over the last 12 months to bring you the nitty gritty….

By Mike Branch | Photography by Jess Branch & Jack Datta

Product: Rockshox Zeb 29 Ultimate

RRP: $1549.95 AUD

Available at: MTB Direct and all good bike stores

The test fork we had initially utilised for the review was a ZEB Select, but after a few rides the damper had a catastrophic issue that led to SRAM replacing it under warranty and upgrading the internals to a Charger 2.1 damper with RC2. This is the same as the Rockshox Zeb Ultimate and as such this review will be based on that fork.

The Rockshox ZEB is a hard hitting enduro fork that was aimed squarely at the heavy hitting enduro market, those riders that want to race enduro, ride hard down technical trails and hit some downhill runs as well. It’s a no nonsense fork made to plow with no compromise and stiffness not yet found in any of Rockshox’s trail forks. It’s a fork that has many people asking the question, is this too much fork for a trail bike?

The Nitty Gritty

The Rockshox Zeb that has some features that increase stiffness and provide a burlier fork to chase the gnar…. but this doesn’t come without cost. It weighs in at 2297g, a total of 278g more than it’s sibling the Lyrik – a weight penalty that may scare some riders away. Here’s the other tech specs to look at:

  • Weight: 2297g
  • Stanchion diameter: 38mm
  • Travel: 160-190mm
  • Wheel size: 27.5 & 29″
  • Air Spring: Debonair
  • Damper: Charger 2.1

Test Results

The Zeb is a fork that we instantly gelled with, a fork that still uses Rockshox’s Charger Damper and a fork that performs well. Moving from a Lyrik to the Zeb the feel wasn’t vastly different and that similar buttery smooth feeling was there. The Zeb is definitely the big brother of the Lyrik and is built from the same foundations.

Photo | Jack Datta

The Zeb has the performance of the Lyrik without the flex that is sometimes found when the terrain gets rough and rowdy. It definitely feels stiffer and even more confidence inspiring than the Lyrik, something we really loved about Rockshox’s burliest trail fork. Is it as stiff as a DH fork? No definitely not, but if Brendan Semenuk is hucking off cliffs at rampage on a Zeb you can be sure that the performance is pretty darn good.

The Zeb is a fork that’s probably overkill on anything less than 170mm of travel and shouldn’t take the place of the Lyrik in Rockshox’s lineup – rather it should be an addition. For us we found the fork performed best when the trail pointed down and got rowdy, it can still be a little cumbersome on flatter trails that don’t demand the travel of an enduro bike.

The Final Word

The Rockshox Zeb is a fork that means business, a fork that when the going gets rough, the fork starts performing. It’s in it’s element on rowdy enduro or downhill trails and has a home on our Commencal Meta AM 29. It is not without cons though and shouldn’t replace the Lyrik on a playful trail bike. The weight penalty may scare some riders away adding nearly 250g to the weight of your rig, something that won’t scare the riders it was intended for anyway.

The Zeb is here to stay and it certainly has made it’s mark on the World stage……

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