The Age Old Debate of Rock Shox vs. Fox

Forums Mountain Bike Forum The Age Old Debate of Rock Shox vs. Fox


This topic contains 7 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  lhzawd 7 months, 2 weeks ago.

  • Author
  • #243001

    Speaking only on suspension (front and rear) what are everyone’s preferences/opinions on Rock Shox vs Fox suspension? Entirely subjective, not looking for right answers, just want to know what the community at large thinks. I’ve only ever ran Rock Shox but I’m debating possibly switching over. There seems to be an ebb and flow between the two where one side tops the other. When I started riding Fox was everywhere. For a while Rock Shox was everywhere and seemed to dominate the suspension market. Now it looks like Fox is staging a comeback on newer/future model bikes.

    So what does everyone think, what side is best in terms of ride quality, durability, serviceability, functionality, etc?

  • #243003

    I think the large majority of what riders have for shocks is whatever their bike came with when they purchased it.  And I think most will take their ride to an LBS for replacements, which probably turns out to be, again, whatever the bike came with in the first place.  Yeah, there are a lot of us that wrench our own bikes and make our own decisions on what to put on our bikes, but there are millions of riders that don’t.  Just my unsubstantiated opinion.

    As for me, I’ve been a RockShox fork guy, mainly because of familiarity with servicing and rebuilds, and price point.  For rear shocks, it’s been Fox, once again because that’s what the bikes came with, and replacements have been Fox mainly due to fit (eyelet distance, etc.), as well as familiarity.  Bike geometry is a little more sensitive when it comes to rear shock fit than it is for forks.  The exception to a Fox rear is my most recent bike, which came with a RockShox on it.  I was expecting to feel something different, but honestly, the bikes geometry is soo different, I truthfully could not say how much of the feel is due to the rear shock versus the bike itself.  Just not an apples to apples comparison.  Having said that, I’m happy with it.

    Personally, I think I’d be happy with whatever brand if it fits and has the features and performance spec I need and/or want… and it’s in my budget 🙂  But I would most likely stick with either RockShox or Fox (won’t mention the others).

  • #243004

    I prefer the feel of Fox forks, but both my bikes have Rockshox because they are close enough I didn’t let it stop me from buying the package that had all the other things I wanted. Shocks, I think the bike geometry is more important than Fox or Rockshox if you are using full air shock. From what I have read if you go top end coil shock there are better options, like Push  11/6 and a few others, but I have not tried them. I have a friend with an 11/6 but I have not tried it.

  • #243006

    First off I’ll admit, I’m just not a good enough rider to tell apart equivalent, properly set-up suspension components. That being said, I’m partial to RockShox mainly due to their support of DIY service. You can find rebuild kits and upgrade kits as well as downloadfull service directly through them instead of keeping things proprietary. I know there are workarounds online, but I just don’t agree with the “send it to us, you don’t know what you’re doing”  mentality.
    I realize I may be in a minority on this. I also take spec’d suspension brand into account when buying a bike.

  • #243048

    Both brands are great and I have (and do) own both. My preference is Fox, mainly because I’m an old motohead that remembers them as a kid in the 70s when they ruled the motocross world. I grew up wearing their riding gear before mountain bikes had ever been imagined. Those memories leave a lasting impression.

  • #243057

    I’ve ridden with both.  I had a bit more trouble with a Rock Shox Lyric.  The three Fox I have own have been great in turns of not giving me any trouble, but Fox had some trouble with front forks I believe around 2015.  Like anything else, I think you have to monitor the models carefully year to year and make sure there is not a bad year. In terms of performance they are both pretty awesome imo on the end products.

  • #243066

    I’ll toss my two cents in here regarding the suspension arms race. I have employed front suspension since 1994 and rear suspension since 1998. In 1997 I bought my first Marzocchi Bomber fork and rode those almost exclusively for the next ten years. They were so far ahead of the curve when it came to providing a durable suspension platform that actually worked it was ridiculous. Every other brand was a joke in comparison. Sadly, their QC went down the tubes when Tenneco bought them and their brand never recovered. Yeah, I know Fox owns them now, new Z1’s yada, yada, but still…it’s a rebadged Fox.

    So speaking of Fox, I’ve never ridden one I liked. Zero, zip, zilch. Yes, I’ve ridden many of them over the years with most recent gracing an Ibis Ripmo. The fact that it was a great bike despite the lousy feeling suspension said a lot. Fox’s damping adjustments have always felt like they did nothing. Their maintenance frequency was way too often for my tastes (everyone I know had them in for rebuilds multiple times in a year). Their complexity to performance ratio just never added up. Lots of adjustments that did little and took a engineering degree to figure out. Not to mention their high costs and poor durability (I personally blew up at least 5 rear Fox shocks and one fork, meh).

    Rock Shox represent a stark contrast to Fox. I began riding them again dipping my toe in their waters in ’06 with the first Pike. Rock Shox to be blunt despite their early innovations, flat out sucked in the early 00’s (The Duke? The Psylo? Yuck!). However, they got their shit together when SRAM  bought them. That early Pike was revelatory. The design was simple, user friendly to work on, had controls that actually you could feel a difference when you made changes and they were durable with better pricing. This remains true through today and I think modern Rock Shox forks are the best bang for your buck out there. Rear suspension is a trickier beast to manage and some of RS’s offerings have been underwhelming. However, the current batch of shocks now being spec’d (Deluxe/Super Deluxe) are really good. I have a Monarch Debonair on my bike which on it’s own is okay, but due to it’s simplicity is easy to modify (mine has the Avalanche SSD upgrade) and does not cost a fortune to do so.  So to make a long story short, Rock Shox gets my vote.

    Beyond the Rock Shox there are some really promising suspension manufacturers out there I would be remiss if I did not mention. The one I’ve had the most experience with is Cane Creek particularly with their Double Barrel shocks. Nothing came close to how well these worked when they showed up in ’06. They were/are complex, but they had the performance to back it up. Despite their Inline debacle, I still think they make great stuff, but I also know that their competitors have caught up. I ran DB’s on multiple bikes and many friends of mine still do. Furthermore, the Helm looks to be a fantastic fork and the short ride I took on one of the coil models was impressive. I have friends that rave about DVO and MRP suspension, but I haven’t personally ridden either yet, however I will soon as we’ll have an MRP fork on one of our demos shortly.


  • #243067

    I have a newly built bucksaw that came with a rear debonair Rock Shox . After getting stuck down the winter I bought a rear fox for it . I’ve been swapping back and forth between the 2 all summer . The debonair seemed smoother and less adjusting needed with its 30%sag and the fox seemed a little more harsh no matter what setting but today I dropped its sag from 22% to 30% and now its smooth also ,…., so who knows which is better – not me ….although I’ve always been a fox guy

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.