Fox 38 Harshness?

etoni

E*POWAH Elite
Sep 3, 2018
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Definitely more harsh in my experience compared to Zeb. But that harshness also equals more feel of the trail too.

I wouldn’t say it’s too harsh, but definitely a lot of feeling is transferred to the rider. Vs the Zeb, nice and soft initial stroke in comparison.

I need to play around with rebound a bit more. But I still think it’s just going to feel not quite as supple as the Zeb after all the adjustments

I also have run LSC and HSC wide open to experiment. In my experience of both the forks the Fox adjustments have a wider control. It’s a noticeable difference when making adjustments, versus more subtle with RockShox.

I think The Zeb is so good for a quick set and forget with very good performance out the box and lesser range of adjustability from closed to open on the compression / rebound

Fox the opposite.

Talking shocks for a moment, the X2 is also crazy sensitive to changes. Rebound damping control is superb, definite big differences between 1-2 clicks.Very impressive.
cool, zeb for levo 2021 160mm or 170mm?
 

Rob Rides EMTB

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I changed my mind on the Fox 38 since riding the ebike version. It’s much better in initial stroke / suppleness than the regular 38, in my experience.
 

Rob Rides EMTB

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According to Fox, it’s a different tune
- initial stroke is softer, the end stroke ramps up to provide the right amount of support for those bigger hits.


e-MTB Tuned

FOX’s e-MTB Tuned forks feature the same chassis as our standard forks except with a custom damper and air spring tune for the slightly different ways in which e-MTBs are ridden as compared to standard MTBs. For example, e-MTBs allow riders to conquer technical rolling terrain with greater ease than is possible on a standard MTB. In order to utilize the assistance provided by the bike in this type of riding the rider must keep pedaling. It’s difficult to maintain traction while pedaling over rough terrain.

Therefore, our e-MTB Tuned forks feature a custom compression tune that helps keep the wheels glued to the ground at all times, maintaining traction and forward momentum, and a more progressive air spring tune to make sure that even though the initial stroke is softer the end stroke ramps up to provide the right amount of support for those bigger hits.

These may seem like subtle differences but optimizing to even the smallest degree is a trait we’ve learned the importance of over our many years of winning races – sometimes by the smallest of margins.
 

2WheelsNot4

E*POWAH Master
Oct 17, 2021
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I keep hearing this from across their range and my own 36 rhythm also feels harsh.
It used to be a fact it was plush ,not out of the box, but with a little riding time but now even months of use doesn't really change things and the only reason i can see if an attempt to make you buy a more expensive damper or other bits in an attempt to improve it or make it more personal.
Cynical i know, but what other reason could there be ?
 

Singletrackmind

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Sep 17, 2020
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I changed my mind on the Fox 38 since riding the ebike version. It’s much better in initial stroke / suppleness than the regular 38, in my experience.
If you get the opportunity, check out the DSD Runt. Installed on my YT Decoy when I upgraded stock rear shock to a Push ELEVENSIX coil. Love the small bump compliance and it prevents diving in turns.

 

Rob Rides EMTB

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Another piece of feedback for this thread

I’ve been riding the Kellys Theos, with a 180mm Factory 38 on it.

3EDBA7FC-8F2B-410D-997A-F333020D74A0.jpeg


I instantly couldn’t find that same plush / smooth off the top that I had on the Yeti / Megawatt and my Rail for that has the ‘E-Tuned’ damper.

I couldn’t work it out, as on the fork it has the E-Bike decal, so I assumed it was the ‘e-tuned’ version. But a few days later when I checked out the Fox ID code, it doesn’t actually have the e-Tuned damper, it’s just listed as E-Bike+

D8437324-D17B-46F3-8405-88215A4DA0E5.jpeg


There’s a significant difference that I can feel between these 2 damper tunes now, and I’ve ridden enough of them to be able to tell pretty instantly the difference between them.

The non e-tuned do not have that plush off the top feel and are much more harsh.

The e-tuned feels pretty perfect to me - this is the one to go for if you want supple off the top and good ramp up 👊

Here’s an example of the e-tuned from Fox ID:
0ECD314F-2806-431E-AFBF-F38B9EC95596.jpeg
 

Bones

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I wonder if it's a DIY alteration of the shim stack or a replacement damper. Plus possibly a different air shaft. A quick Google has shown nothing.
 

Mikerb

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I wonder if it's a DIY alteration of the shim stack or a replacement damper. Plus possibly a different air shaft. A quick Google has shown nothing.
The first fork is an OEM only fork.............presumably tuned according to the brands requirements rather than the standard Fox 38 E tune
The Fox 38 does not require any E optimisation and in E MTB guise is tuned specifically to be plush off the top with a good ramp thereafter in order to maintain maximum traction for its intended use...which is Enduro. The second fork is the standard Fox 38 fork with that standard plush tune.
I assume the first fork has been tuned harder because the bike's inended use is downhill rather than Enduro??
 

Rob Rides EMTB

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The first fork is an OEM only fork.............presumably tuned according to the brands requirements rather than the standard Fox 38 E tune
The Fox 38 does not require any E optimisation and in E MTB guise is tuned specifically to be plush off the top with a good ramp thereafter in order to maintain maximum traction for its intended use...which is Enduro. The second fork is the standard Fox 38 fork with that standard plush tune.
I assume the first fork has been tuned harder because the bike's inended use is downhill rather than Enduro??
Maybe, or maybe that’s all that they could get at the time for the Kellys 180mm from Fox?

The Nukeproof Megawatt (170mm) and Yeti (170mm) are pretty capable bikes too, but have the e-tuned damper as standard from the factory.

Either way, the e-tuned is much better than the standard tune, IMO.
 

Singletrackmind

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Maybe, or maybe that’s all that they could get at the time for the Kellys 180mm from Fox?

The Nukeproof Megawatt (170mm) and Yeti (170mm) are pretty capable bikes too, but have the e-tuned damper as standard from the factory.

Either way, the e-tuned is much better than the standard tune, IMO.
I concurr with @Rob Rides EMTB, e-tune performs much better then standard tune. Have a Yeti-160E and can definitely notice the difference vs my previous Levo.
 

Gyre

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
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Pasadena, CA
Is the "regular" vs "e-tuned" just a different number of shims in the damper? If so, it might be reasonable to DIY the tune.
 

Mikerb

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
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Is the "regular" vs "e-tuned" just a different number of shims in the damper? If so, it might be reasonable to DIY the tune.
I think it might involve porting as well since what Fox did to the E MTB version was to make the fork more progressive which they deemed to be more applicable given the different way in which an E MTB is ridden compared to an non EMTB.
I would guess you could get a standard 38 similar given you have access to HSC/LSC/HSR/LSR but the settings will be very different with both LSC and LSR set far more open and possibly HSC set higher.
 

j.e.

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Jun 29, 2020
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Does anyone ride with 20% sag on his 38? I've always set it to 30% because I need much more pressure than recommended by fox to get 20% and the fork then feels very stiff (with no spacer removed). I wonder if it is better to get sag dialed in correctly and remove some spacers to get a better performance?!
 

Singletrackmind

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Sep 17, 2020
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Does anyone ride with 20% sag on his 38? I've always set it to 30% because I need much more pressure than recommended by fox to get 20% and the fork then feels very stiff (with no spacer removed). I wonder if it is better to get sag dialed in correctly and remove some spacers to get a better performance?!
Here is an article that provides a general overview:

I have installed a DSD Runt on my YT Decoy and Yeti 160e use a 1.8 to 1 ratio.

 

Bones

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Does anyone ride with 20% sag on his 38? I've always set it to 30% because I need much more pressure than recommended by fox to get 20% and the fork then feels very stiff (with no spacer removed). I wonder if it is better to get sag dialed in correctly and remove some spacers to get a better performance?!
I run mine on around 20% with no spacers. I obviously don't ride hard enough because my 170s always seem to have about 25mm left and I think that's OK. Fork companies try their hardest to get more air space in the tube then we come along and run low pressure and fill the bloody tube up with plastic spacers. It's a compromise to the way you ride and just because the Internet says fit spacers doesn't mean your riding style needs them. It's over to the individual to play around and find what suits them 👍
 

medows

New Member
Mar 28, 2022
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swodem4503
My Kenovo SL came with a Fox 36 Rhythm. a week later I bought a Fox 38 Factory. It was Ok a first but after about 20min riding started getting harsh. And packed down on multi-bump drops. At first I just though I was getting tired, but I also noticed during the riding I'd come home with way less pressure than I started with
I too the air spacers out, and changed the shredder valve in case that was the source of the leak, seemed ok in a garage test overnight, but once back on the trail, same same.
I put the 36 back on and couldn't believe how much better it was
I sent the 38 back and Fox serviced it, I don't know exactly the issue but the response was something about 'chambers (not?) equalising'. Anyway I put it back on today and its night and day. Fantastic fork now. All of a sudden I have plush compliance and front wheel grip!!

Perhaps, my theory is some of these haven't been assembled properly. Perhaps, Fox should insist all get serviced and checked before being fitted to bikes and sold.
 

smokin joe's

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Jun 21, 2021
29
6
north yorks
Back in the 90's and early 2000's I used to mostly run Fox forks and didn't particularly care for Rockshox. One day I bought an all-singing all-dancing 120mm fork with Fox's best damper at the time and no matter what I tried, the ride was harsh and travel I was getting out of the fork was ridiculously poor. I switched to Rockshox after that and have run most of their line at some time or another (SID / Pike / Lyrik / Zeb). The most recent ones were a Lyrik with a DSD Runt and a Zeb with a Vorsprung Secus, both of which have been the plushest rides I've experienced so far.

When I looked into the Orbea Wild and saw that it had a Fox 38, I thought that with all the good reviews maybe it's time to give Fox another chance so I didn't hesitate about it at all. After a couple months of ownership though, I have to say last night was kind of a "breaking point". I was descending maybe 3500' of singletrack with a mix of loose and embedded rocks, and the 38 was just beating up my hands something fierce.

I'm going to have to get very methodical about trying different combinations of settings/air pressure/tokens, and since rumor has it that Fox forks are shipping with grease filling up the negative air chamber, I'll have to investigate that. I have to say though, I've never had a Rockshox fork act this rough out of the box before.

For those of you having recent experience with both brands, do you experience anything similar to this? Is Fox perhaps just very sensitive to changes or have a narrower "sweet spot" compared to Rockshox?
I too have a fox 38 on my levo at first they were pretty good but over time they have become harsher of the top .so did some research and found someone on youtube who mentioned about too much grease in them so I spoke to the guys at bike scene a chap from there said give em a service which I did this week .that has helped I do run mine at a lower pressure than recommended for my weight also I saw someone release air from the 2 bleeders on legs whilst compressing forks that's something to do with moving air into the side negative. I will be trying them out today will update I don't mind twiddling with set up but I do agree they are quirky to set up, will update later.
 

j.e.

Active member
Jun 29, 2020
82
37
Germany
Does anyone ride with 20% sag on his 38? I've always set it to 30% because I need much more pressure than recommended by fox to get 20% and the fork then feels very stiff (with no spacer removed). I wonder if it is better to get sag dialed in correctly and remove some spacers to get a better performance?!

Hello guys, I can totally recommend to remove some spacers and add pressure to get around 20 % sag. The fork feels way softer on bigger roots etc, when using the mid range of travel. No bottom out on jumps and drops, just perfectly using the full travel now.
 

mike172

Member
May 12, 2021
145
85
Surrey
7 months with 3 sets of 38s now and:

Luftkappe makes all the difference in terms of small bump, with one fitted the forks sit there in their travel gliding over small chatter
Need to keep the seals lubed (I think WPL is shit and like treacle, but hyper wipe is excellent)
Need frequent lower oil changes in winter if riding in wet conditions, soon as water gets near the seals thats it.
Bushes in the lowers in all 3 sets were either too tight or too slack, this is probably the biggest issue with these.

Quite like them now I've got used to them but they are a pain in the ass.
 

j.e.

Active member
Jun 29, 2020
82
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Germany
Hello guys, I can totally recommend to remove some spacers and add pressure to get around 20 % sag. The fork feels way softer on bigger roots etc, when using the mid range of travel. No bottom out on jumps and drops, just perfectly using the full travel now.

After i was still not satisfied with the performance of my fork and a phone call with fox I finally found the solution for my fork's lack of sensitivity. the problem was definitely the rebound, which was too slow for the low air pressure (90 psi). After fully opening the low and high speed rebound, the fork immediately felt significantly better. Compression are both set to mid settings and I reinstalled the third spacer. With my next rides i try to figure out if it gets better with adjusting compression but for know I am surprisingly satisfied. I hope it helps anybody.

I asked fox about the e-tuned version,too, and whether it is possible to adjust the damper accordingly. I was then explained that the e-tuned version only has a "lighter" (faster?) rebound setting to compensate for the additional weight of e-bikes.
 

KnollyBro

E*POWAH Elite
Dec 3, 2020
896
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Vancouver
After i was still not satisfied with the performance of my fork and a phone call with fox I finally found the solution for my fork's lack of sensitivity. the problem was definitely the rebound, which was too slow for the low air pressure (90 psi). After fully opening the low and high speed rebound, the fork immediately felt significantly better. Compression are both set to mid settings and I reinstalled the third spacer. With my next rides i try to figure out if it gets better with adjusting compression but for know I am surprisingly satisfied. I hope it helps anybody.

I asked fox about the e-tuned version,too, and whether it is possible to adjust the damper accordingly. I was then explained that the e-tuned version only has a "lighter" (faster?) rebound setting to compensate for the additional weight of e-bikes.
If understand you correctly, you have no HSR or LSR (dials turned fully counter clockwise) and you are running 90 PSI with 3 volume spacers? My settings:
Spring Rate: 92 PSI with 3 volume spacers
HSR:3
LSR:2
HSC:6
LSC:14
I weigh 88 Kg with my gear.
Did you add another volume spacer because you were bottoming out? What kind of trails do you ride and how much do you weigh?
 

j.e.

Active member
Jun 29, 2020
82
37
Germany
If understand you correctly, you have no HSR or LSR (dials turned fully counter clockwise) and you are running 90 PSI with 3 volume spacers? My settings:
Spring Rate: 92 PSI with 3 volume spacers
HSR:3
LSR:2
HSC:6
LSC:14
I weigh 88 Kg with my gear.
Did you add another volume spacer because you were bottoming out? What kind of trails do you ride and how much do you weigh?

Yes i turned them fully open, which means HSR 8, LSR 9.
3 Spacers are default in my fork, so i returned to the default setting after trying it with less spacers which results in bottoming out on big hits.
I weight 75 kg with gear and set sag to about 20% with 90 psi. I ride trails with moderate jumps, roots and small rocks and I think i am relatively fast…
 
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KnollyBro

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Dec 3, 2020
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Vancouver
Interesting! You must be fast as I am not understanding how you are not getting bucked off the bike with no rebound. Which bike are you on and shock are you using? Do you run the shock wide open as well? Do you have any video of you riding as I would be interested to see how the bike tracks at speed.
 

j.e.

Active member
Jun 29, 2020
82
37
Germany
Yes, its a bit strange. I read a review about my bike that mentioned that the fox 38 generelly has a strong rebound damping which could lead in partly too slow rebound when riding with low pressure (light rider), even with rebound fully open.
Open doesnt mean no rebound in this case. My front heel doesnt bounce or something, its dampened.
I ride a turbo levo expert size S4.

shock is an x2 but there is no problem. I set it to default setting and it works fine. I just had problems with the fork which felt really stiff.
 
Last edited:

Husky430

E*POWAH Elite
Jul 8, 2019
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Glasshouse Mts - Australia
Yeah, I may be incorrectly expecting Rockshox-like subtlety on the adjusters.

I think I'll need to treat yesterday's run as a good testing ground since it's quite long and start methodically trying different settings and logging them. Probably should open up the air spring and check that negative chamber since the effort will be for nothing if it's packed up in there.


For what it's worth, on my Ripmo's X2 I just used the "Traction Tune" settings recommended by Ibis and it's been a really good baseline so far. I may find the need to tweak it more when I start taking it to bike parks, but it was a super painless setup.
Do you know if there is any type of Youtube tutorial on pulling the forks (38's) apart to check the air chamber you guys are on about to see if my new forks are full of grease too. I'm reasonably mechanically minded and like to do most stuff my self, have most of the tools and don't mind buying the odd specialty tool if that's what's needed to make the job easier. It's just you have me thinking now...
 

smokin joe's

Member
Jun 21, 2021
29
6
north yorks
well here's what I did with mine I sold them I tried everything no tokens lots of pressure in the air chamber new fancy low friction seals 2 oil services don't expect to pay over £1100 for this hassle, would say a coil conversion would have solved it but that's £400 to do that . I bought some rock Shox yari's emtb specific much much better just not good enough fox,30 years riding and rode offroad enduro motorcycles in my younger days, goodbye fox!
 

Gyre

Well-known member
Jan 25, 2021
629
420
Pasadena, CA
Do you know if there is any type of Youtube tutorial on pulling the forks (38's) apart to check the air chamber you guys are on about to see if my new forks are full of grease too. I'm reasonably mechanically minded and like to do most stuff my self, have most of the tools and don't mind buying the odd specialty tool if that's what's needed to make the job easier. It's just you have me thinking now...
This video was useful How to change the travel on your fork (air shaft assembly swap) (technically for 36's, but I think a lot of it applies to the 38) but the Fox instructions on their website were generally good enough.
 

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