Review: RockShox Pike

Calling something a game-changer is most often just marketing talk, but when RockShox released the new Pike in 2013 it did just that - it changed the game. Along came a fork that seemingly offered it all at a time when Enduro racing was booming.

RockShox Pike 2.jpg
A tapered (1.125" to 1.5") head tube and 15 mm through axle are standard specifications, with RockShox's trade marked Power Bulge and 15mm Maxle Lite adding extra stiffness to combat flex in the lowers. The fork's chassis makes use of 35mm stanchions with a hard anodized black finish (this is different from the BlackBox-only DLC or limited BlackGold treatment), and sturdy looking lowers that feature more material on the disc side where the forces are higher.

 

The RCT3 damping allows the choice of three settings, adjustable with the flick of a switch. Open, Threshold (extra resistance in the beginning of the stroke but not locked out), and Lock-Out. The Lock-Out setting is not a complete locked out and only serves to firm things up. Low speed compression can be tuned with eleven clicks of the black dial on top of the blue Motion Control switch, while high speed is pre-set.

 

Rapid Recovery rebound damping, first introduced on the Monarch shock, helps increase the fork's ability to track the terrain by riding higher in it's travel. By speeding up the end of the rebound stroke, Rapid Recovery allows the fork to recover faster from bigger hits keeping the fork from packing up over continual bumps. A slower beginning rebound stroke keeps the fork from "bucking" as it returns to full extension. Incorporated in this is independent damping circuits, allowing separate rebound speeds for big hits and small ones. A user-adjustable, bottom-mounted red knob controls the beginning-stroke (small-hit) rebound, and a factory-set ending-stroke (big-hit)

 


RockShox Pike 6.jpg

RockShox Pike 3.jpg


With Rapid Recovery rebound damping comes the new Dig valve. Dig is short for digressive tuning, which means there are lower flow rates at lower speeds, with an increase in the rate as the speed rises. This offers a pedal friendly damping rate at lower speeds and smooth damping curve on bigger hits, which should greatly improve the damping out on the trails. Leaving no stone unturned, the Dig valve’s shaft is crafted from aluminium rather than the previous chrome steel saving 5g in the process.

 

RockShox Pike 7.jpg

 

Damping is taken care of by the new Charger cartridge, a fully sealed design that uses an extruded bladder to avoid air mixing with the oil, instead of the long standing Mission Control unit found in the BoXXer and previous generation Lyrik. The success of the Charger has seen it added to the new Lyrik and it has also been spotted in BlackBox-spec BoXXer forks at World Cup races, meaning we'll likely see it used soon across the board on RockShox's high-end products

 


On top of all that, RockShox include their Bottomless Tokens – plastic spacers that reduce the air volume to create a more progressive spring rate. Bottomless Tokens allow riders to easily custom tune their RockShox fork’s air-spring performance to best match their own riding style and preference. Adding the easy-to-install Bottomless Tokens changes the air-spring curve to resist bottom-out after a big hit, giving aggressive riders the power to attack the trail harder. Removing Bottomless Tokens makes the air-spring curve more linear, enhancing suspension feel for certain types of terrain or trail condition and ensuring riders who are less front-end aggressive benefit from 100 percent of their fork’s travel.

 

RockShox Pike 4.jpg

 

The updated Maxle Lite now features a thread-in and clamp design instead of the previous expansion dependent design. This makes it much easier to use and comes with an added level of assurance.

 

Specifications:

[spec_list][spec_list_row=Travel]150/160mm - 26", 130/140/150/160mm - 27.5", 120/130/140/150/160mm - 29"[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Wheels]26", 27.5", 29"[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Axle to crown"]542mm - 26"/160mm travel, 542mm - 27.5"/150mm travel, 551mm - 29"/140mm travel[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Weight]1835g - 26” , 1861g - 27.5” , 1876g - 29”[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Damping]Charger Damper (RCT3)[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Springs]Dual Position Air, Solo Air[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Adjustments]External rebound, low speed compression, 3-position compression (Open/Pedal/Lock)[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Steerer]Tapered aluminium[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Crown]Forged, hollow 7050 Aluminium[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Upper tubes"]35mm tapered wall aluminium, Fast Black[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row=Lowers]Magnesium, 15x100mm Maxle Ultimate, disc only[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Max rotor size"]200mm[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Colour options"]Black, Diffusion Black, White[/spec_list_row][spec_list_row="Suggested retail pricing"]R17,500 (depending on model)[/spec_list_row][/spec_list]

 

On the Trail


When I first rode a Pike, I was amazed at how good it felt straight out of the box. Even on the first ride there were zero signs of stiction and I managed full travel without knowing where or when it happened.

 

RockShox Pike 5.jpg

 

Hammer it through chattery, rough, rock riddled sections and you'll be surprised by just how much the Pike can deal with, and the amount of composure and support it does it with. Trails like these highlight just how smooth and supple the beginning stroke is.

 

Thanks to the Rapid Recovery rebound circuit, the Pike tracks well on hits on quick, successive hits, using only the necessary amount of travel and recovering well even after big, fast compressions. This makes rutted or loose rocky trails easy to navigate at full speed.

 

The Pike shows no sign of flex on full throttle or with a fist full of front brake, but I'm sure there are several riders out there who can push a 160mm bike hard enough to run the Pike into the red, but for those the new Lyrik should do the job.

 

The hard anodized black finish has proven itself to be as tough as nails and holds up very well to wear.

 

RockShox Pike 8.jpg

 

Verdict


Over the last 2 years we have ridden several different models in the Pike line-up, on several different bikes. Each and every time it was only a joy, whether on a 29" or 27.5" bike, anything from 130mm to 160mm, fixed or dual position.

 

Take some time play around with the settings and you will have a fork that will get you through and over any terrain. Its reputation as the go-to fork is well-deserved.

 

Pros

  • There isn't a bad model in the range, regardless of travel, settings and wheel size
  • The current benchmark
  • Changing settings to get it to your liking takes a couple of minutes
  • Service kit included in the box is a nice touch
  • Servicing is easy enough to tackle as a DIY
Cons
  • Needs some tweaking and playing around with tokens to get it to your liking
  • The stock progression will be too linear for most
  • The competition is snapping at its heels






47 Comments

Capricorn, Jul 29 2016 09:35

It's a brand new fork.

 

many new forks require services out of the box. strange but true.

 

If you are a heavier chap,then your air pressure could be pretty high as per sag setting recommendations (what is your sag setting btw?). The compression damping settings on the Pike (and other RS forks), relative to heavier riders, are too weak IMHO. Lower compression leaves the fork deeper in its travel just on rider mass alone.

The obvious compensation to mitigate this is more air pressure. This makes the ride very rough in general. If you run less sag, you need even more air pressure than suggested by SRAM for standard sag settings,and this compounds the harsh riding sensation.

 

Outside of a service, I'd recommend you drop air pressure slightly, or remove a token to make the first bit of travel a bit suppler (air ramps very quickly toward the end, so end stroke progression will still be present). Might mean a bit of a fork dive, but play around to find an agreeable compromise.

cadenceblur, Jul 29 2016 09:49

thanks guys - I weigh 95kg and I am running 30% sag - so pressure is quite low.

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jul 29 2016 09:51

thanks guys - I weigh 95kg and I am running 30% sag - so pressure is quite low.

In that case I'd definitely take it in to get serviced. Even though it's brand new, as Cap pointed out, it probably needs one.

 

If you're running 30% sag, it should be buttery smooth in the fast stuff. 

Capricorn, Jul 29 2016 10:20

Cadence: how much travel on that Pike?

 

also, what's your tyre pressure? Suspension starts where the rubber meets the road ;)

GrahamS2, Jul 29 2016 10:22

thanks guys - I weigh 95kg and I am running 30% sag - so pressure is quite low.

Are you bottoming it out on big hits?

cadenceblur, Jul 29 2016 10:23

Hi

 

It's a 140mm

 

 

Front - 1.5 bar

Rear - 1.9

cadenceblur, Jul 29 2016 10:23

Are you bottoming it out on big hits?

No I am not.

DubbelBuys, Jul 29 2016 10:24

hi

 

 I have a set up query -  I am finding my pike to be quite "harsh" at high speeds or on terrain that resembles "sink - plaat" (if that makes sense). 

Pressure is in line  in terms of sag etc. and I have no issues on medium to larger hits, rebound is currently in the middle - should I slow it down a bit? - I am on the heavier side.

Currently running two tokens as per factory.

Maybe it still needs a bit of time to break in?

 

Did you the tokens installed?

 

All the Pikes I've owned didn't have any in from the factory.

(then again it's longer travel 650B & didn't 'need to' have it installed)

MarcBurger, Jul 29 2016 10:28

Jumping on the bandwagon here. Who are the suspension wizards in JHB? Every time I have done my suspension it has had to be sent far and wide. 

My RS Revelation is in need of some TLC. 

cadenceblur, Jul 29 2016 10:31

Maybe it still needs a bit of time to break in?

 

Did you the tokens installed?

 

All the Pikes I've owned didn't have any in from the factory.

(then again it's longer travel 650B & didn't 'need to' have it installed)

I haven't added any more - the fork came with two extra

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jul 29 2016 10:32

I haven't added any more - the fork came with two extra

Then there shouldn't be any in the fork... 

cadenceblur, Jul 29 2016 10:35

Then there shouldn't be any in the fork... 

No, I believe they come with two or three already installed - i haven't opened it to check tbh, but read it somewhere - will have a look.

cadenceblur, Jul 29 2016 10:50

found it

 

https://sram-cdn-pul...ss_tokens_0.pdf

Capricorn, Jul 29 2016 10:57

Try removing a token. The ramp on 140mm travel is going to darn quick.

i have two tokens in each of my 150mm pike and 170mm lyrik. The feel of the two are vastly different, yet both have the same compression settings. Longer is always suppler, but that's because the initial portion of travel in the longer travel option operates in the low-ramp zone for the air spring. Air springs are not quite linear, so they ramp quicker.

 

With your lower travel fork, you will operate less in the slow ramp zone and more in the zone where the stiffness ramps quicker, hence the harsher feeling, assuming all else with the fork is in acceptable operating condition.

 

The following graphic demonstrates what i'm trying to explain:

 

s1600_Air_Spring_Curves.jpg

NicoBoshoff, Jul 29 2016 11:05

Same issue with my RCT3.  Installed an additional token to the stock one in there and eventually dropped pressures to about 20psi below what the fork sticker recommends.  Sag is at about 30% and it is starting to feel like I enjoy some small bump performance.  I still think I should rather remove the one token I put in and add a few psi.  I think I've made it too harsh.

Captain Fastbastard Mayhem, Jul 29 2016 11:07

Agreed with Cap here. 

Iwan Kemp, Jul 29 2016 11:10

Same issue with my RCT3.  Installed an additional token to the stock one in there and eventually dropped pressures to about 20psi below what the fork sticker recommends.  Sag is at about 30% and it is starting to feel like I enjoy some small bump performance.  I still think I should rather remove the one token I put in and add a few psi.  I think I've made it too harsh.

 

"made it too harsh"

 

Are you referring to the ramp up? Adding an extra token allows you to run less air.

- Less air will help with small bump / initial stroke

- Token will help with ramp up / bottom out

 

So it sound like you are on the right track. If it's feeling too harsh it could be compression? Unless of course you are refering to bottom out

 

Edit: Sticker is only a rough guide to get you going and most often it's too hard so don't worry too much about that. As a "one size fits all" guide it obviously does not take into account your riding style or terrain.

 

With a new fork I always recommend running extra sag to get it to loosen up and use full travel before resetting it again.

NicoBoshoff, Jul 29 2016 11:16

"made it too harsh"

 

Are you referring to the ramp up? Adding an extra token allows you to run less air.

- Less air will help with small bump / initial stroke

- Token will help with ramp up / bottom out

 

So it sound like you are on the right track. If it's feeling too harsh it could be compression? Unless of course you are refering to bottom out

 

Edit: Sticker is only a rough guide to get you going and most often it's too hard so don't worry too much about that. As a "one size fits all" guide it obviously does not take into account your riding style or terrain.

 

With a new fork I always recommend running extra sag to get it to loosen up and use full travel before resetting it again.

Ja I'm referring to compression feeling too high, but it is set rather soft.  I'm yet to bottom it out.  In fact I haven't gotten it past about 70% travel on the 160mm, despite hitting all the usual lines I ride.  Which is why I'm thinking there's too much ramp-up.

 

Will try running more sag to cycle through the travel better and then add some air back.  If that doesn't work for me I'm dropping a token.

Capricorn, Jul 29 2016 11:44

Tokens dont only affect end of stroke ramp, it moves the whole curve up and to the left, which equals not only faster end stroke ramp,but entry into the zone of quick ramp as well. That latter result will make the ride harsher on the whole.

So if you leave the token count as is, drop the air pressure and if you are still diving in corners which indicates poor mid-stroke support, then the compression damping is too light.

GrahamS2, Jul 29 2016 11:46

No I am not.

I'd drop the pressure in 5 psi increments until you start using the full travel. Add a touch of preload if it feels too squishy on small bumps.

Headshot, Jul 29 2016 11:56

I don't think it has anything to do with your sag or spring curve.

 

Try varying your rebound. If its too slow the fork does whats known as "packing up" ie rides lower in its travel after repeat hits ie fast smaller bump compliance at speed suffers. This would explain why you are finding the fork fine on medium to bigger hits. Generally you should run your  fork rebound faster than your rear shock.

 

Its also impossible for any fork to completely smooth out all hits, so perhaps you need to adjust your expectations too? :-) 

cadenceblur, Jul 29 2016 11:59

I don't think it has anything to do with your sag or spring curve.

 

Try varying your rebound. If its too slow the fork does whats known as "packing up" ie rides lower in its travel after repeat hits ie fast smaller bump compliance at speed suffers. This would explain why you are finding the fork fine on medium to bigger hits. Generally you should run your  fork rebound faster than your rear shock.

 

Its also impossible for any fork to completely smooth out all hits, so perhaps you need to adjust your expectations too? :-) 

lol - yes the expectations!!! but my sense is that I need to look at my rebound first, thanks for all the input guys.