by Dave Anderson
January 3, 2014
Go-to trail fork of the year?
2013 saw the reintroduction, or rather the reinvention, of the RockShox Pike, a former favourite in the light, single crown, long travel, all mountain fork category. With the popularity of enduro racing and general focus on more technical riding, I guess it was bound to happen. Everyone wants to ride up and plummet down these days, so this is the terrain and focus that the Pike has been designed for. Enduro, trail, all mountain – whatever.
Sporting 35mm stanchions, in common with its burlier stablemates the Boxxer and Lyrik, the Pike proves to be suitably stiff, even reassuringly so and there isn’t a noticeable weight penalty for this benefit. The other great feature of the fork is ease of set up: straight out of the box it’s easy to tweak the air pressure to give a decent performance, albeit with quite linear travel, from the first couple of rides.
But the fork (and you) deserves more. RockShox supply two ‘Bottomless Tokens’: threaded volume spacers which fit under the air cap and allow fine-tuning and some spring curve adjustment. More spacers means a more progressive spring curve and increased bottom-out resistance. Combine this with the low speed compression damping adjustment and it’s possible to tweak the performance of the
fork to get it exactly how you want it.
The Pike is definitely a fork that is well suited to long descents and the punishment they’re going to want to try to dish out to you. Even on 2,000m-plus alpine descents the travel remains very consistent, thanks to the Charger damper system. This consists of an extruded rubber bladder which effectively seals the damping circuit, separating oil and air to avoid cavitation, and expands to accommodate the oil displaced throughout the stroke keeping everything consistent.
No matter how rough the trail, the fork takes you where you point it and provides a very predictable, precise and stable front end. But it’s not just big hits where the Pike shines, the Rapid Recovery damping keeps the fork in the higher and more supple part of its travel, which proves very capable at smoothing out trail buzz and small to medium-sized bumps. The result is a dependable and very capable trail fork that offers an easily tuned, confident suspension feel that’ll cope with just about anything you throw at it. No packing down, no noticeable flex, just supple, smooth, full travel when you need it and not before.
Overall: The Pike is my go-to trail fork of the year. It offers consistent performance in all conditions while combining stiffness and precision with an acceptably light weight. Don’t be afraid to spend time fine-tuning the ride to your needs, you won’t be disappointed.