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Just to clarify, I owned a 38 for half a year and rode that in comparison to my Lyriks, the last ten model years of the 36s and lots of other forks. I do ride terrain that warrants long travel forks on several long travel (160-180mm) 29er bikes and I am fairly sensitive (critical) to how my bike feels with different parts.
And I absolutely do agree that the Zeb and 38 feel much more precise in some situations. For me it was especially felt in bermed corners where you jump in or out. Also when you take the front wheel between your knees and flex the bars. And when you brake on asphalt. There is quite a bit of flex going on.
36s are fairly soft, torsionally especially. They are perfectly rideable and hold off camber stuff fine.
Lyriks are a step up in stiffness compared to the 36.
And the 38 and Zeb feel unphased by most twisting and bending and it is astonishing how smoothly they slide up and down. Lot more sensitivity and consistency. All the upgrades on the 38 and certainly on the new RSs solve some niggles of the older chassis.
Still - I dont race and I feel the added weight far out front from my hips and I felt that to be the tipping point for my long bike to go from still fun and playful, but immensely capable, to DH-sled which sucks the fun out of MY riding to some extent. It was a lot of back to back testing and finally selling the big expensive forks for less. But of course that will be a personal preference.
btw: We met Isabeau in Whistler, I‘d wager she‘s under 50kg…
But she also probably looks more for performance for her race runs than pure comfort or fun-factor.
I have more than two handfuls of riding buddies who snagged up the burly forks when they came out two years ago and after a honey moon they almost all went back to Lyriks or 36s, citing comfort for all day riding. There are very good and very fit riders among them. They also killed several CSUs on Zeb and 38 forks. The Era seems to be more durable in that regard.
Only the very heavy guys and the ones on e-mtbs stick to fat stanchions.
I might give an updated ZEB another chance though, just for fun :)
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