When RockShox launched the Zeb Ultimate last year the heavier hitters among the riding crew here at 99 Bikes all got a bit excited. 38mm stanchions and up to 190mm travel are more than enough to tame any terrain the UK has to offer. RockShox Zeb Ultimate sits between the Lyrik and Boxxer in their range. A DebonAir air spring delivers the plushest travel while a Charger 2.1 RC2 damper allows independent high and low-speed compression designed to reduce rider fatigue.
With bikes more capable than ever before, the demands placed on our equipment are greater than ever. The Zeb Ultimate is designed with modern long-travel mountain bikes and e-bikes in mind. Suited to just about any Enduro and Bike Park rider’s needs and in a multitude of travel options, if you’re looking for an upgrade on your ride and this fork fits, this might just be the fork for you.
As the fork is designed for long-travel and big terrain, we fitted a set to Rich our Technical Buyer’s Transition Sentinel and sent him off to the Afan Forest in Wales to give them a proper test. Here’s what he had to say about them.
“Upgrading from the Lyrik Ultimate and their 35mm stanchions, straight away the Zeb Ultimate is visually more impressive. Peering over the bars at the machined crown and 38mm chassis goes a long way in making the front end of my Sentinel appear as burly as possible. Opting for the 170mm travel versions to work in harmony with the bike’s geometry the forks sit perfectly at the business end of my bike, I may be a bit biased but I think it looks pretty sick.
Out of the box once fitted the 200-gram additional weight over the Lyrik wasn’t noticeable on my big enduro bike. I love the fact that you don’t need any adapters to run a 200mm rotor along with the additional Bolt-On Fender making for a very clean-looking front end.
Setting the fork up was just as easy as the Lyrik, RockShox really lead the way on user-friendly setup. I did find that I used less pressure which is down to the larger volume of the DebonAir air spring and larger stanchions. The recommended settings for myself provided by the TRAILHEAD setup guide were spot on, with just a few tweaks of the rebound throughout the first ride. Once everything was set up the Zeb felt firm underhand but as soon as I started riding the bike properly, the real ride feel became very clear.
On the first climb the fork just worked, riding high in its travel with very little bob meant no need to reach for extra compression. It was on the first descent that the fork really came alive with the additional stiffness giving that extra confidence in the corners and the burliness creating a monster truck I could blow through anything in front of me.
Anyone who has ever had the pleasure to visit Afan knows how brutal the rocky descents are and how quickly it takes a toll on your arms and body, this is where I really noticed the difference compared to the lighter Lyrik. I felt considerably less arm pump, with the fork just absorbing all that chatter. The bigger stanchions really reduce binding along with the larger volume air spring this really improves the small pump sensitivity, something that every rider will appreciate.
The ZEB is a monster, it feels like you can ride over just about anything knowing that it will hold its line and absorb the terrain, it really did feel like a upgrade over my Lyriks, which is exactly what I was looking for. I’d highly recommend if you’re in the market for a new enduro fork opt for the Zeb Ultimate, so much so in fact that after my demo weekend the ZEB’s have become a permanent fixture on my bike.”