All that said, the RXF38 doesn’t feel quite as stiff as the current single-crown belt holder, the RockShox ZEB. I’d put it a touch stiffer than the Fox 38, but really only by a hair — those two are very, very close. And of course, the bigger, burlier chassis comes with a bit of a weight penalty — right around 200 g, over the RXF36. That puts it very slightly heavier than the RockShox ZEB, and a little lighter than the Fox 38 — on the heavier side for an air-spring single crown, but by no means an outlier.
I also noted that the stock damper tune on the RXF36 felt quite notably firm in compression, and while that’s still true of the RXF38 to some extent, I did wind up running a bit more high-speed compression damping on that fork (in terms of the adjuster range) to produce similar results. It’s a bit tricky to tell if the damper tunes really are substantially different, or (as I suspect) the reduced flex and therefore reduced binding is actually letting me run more compression damping since the fork chassis isn’t introducing its own, of a sort.
Whatever the case, the RXF38 feels a bit more consistent than the RXF36, especially when it’s being pushed hard. And while the damper tune is still relatively firm (particularly compared to the notably lightly damped Fox 38), I think it’ll work for a whole lot of people. If you know you like very light compression damping, or are just a very light person, I might be a little warier, but for most people, the stock tune should be good.
As with the RXF36, the damper is excellent. It’s consistent, supportive, and very well controlled, and does an especially good job of allowing fairly firm compression settings without getting harsh or spiky. And while the stock compression tune is on the firm-ish side, especially in terms of high-speed damping, the adjustment range is broad, and the adjusters make nice, consistent changes from one click to the next.
As we’ve consistently found with forks that use a dual-positive air spring design (the Manitou Mezzer Pro and EXT Era, in addition to the Öhlins twins), midstroke support from the RXF38 is outstanding. In particular, it’s possible to dial in a very, very supportive setup without wildly compromising small-bump sensitivity or the ability to use close to full travel. The second air chamber does make setup slightly more complicated since there’s an extra air pressure setting to dial in, but Öhlins’ recommended pressures proved to be a decent baseline to start from.
The added complexity might be a turn off to certain riders who aren’t inclined to really take the time to dial in their suspension setup, or are averse to needing to keep track of two air pressure settings, but it absolutely makes a difference compared to more conventional spring designs when it comes to midstroke support, in particular. You can, of course, make any fork as supportive as you want by increasing the spring rate, but I’m really talking about what kind of midstroke support you can get without wildly compromising performance elsewhere, and the RXF38 is really excellent on that front.
The RXF38 is also easier to set up and somewhat less sensitive to small changes in air pressure than either the EXT Era or (especially) the Manitou Mezzer Pro. Both are excellent forks that can perform extremely well when dialed in, but do take a somewhat careful setup to maximize their potential. The RXF38 has a fairly broad tuning range from the air spring, but it takes more dramatic swings in pressure, especially in the ramp-up chamber, to make a massive change in its performance, which does help simplify setup and maintenance of correct air pressure to some extent.