A little more than four years ago the launch of the RockShox PIKE marked a true quantum leap in fork performance. Since then, the PIKE is regarded as the benchmark against which all other models have to measure. Now RockShox presents its strongest rival: the new PIKE.
What RockShox gave the legendary PIKE is far more than just a little facelift. Not one single screw on the newer version is the same as on the previous one. The only similarity seems to be the classic RockShox-look. The new PIKE is supposed to be lighter, more responsive and even stronger than its predecessor. We took it to the varied and unpredictable trails of Latsch in South Tyrol, Italy, and tried it out for you in an exclusive first test.
What has changed in the new PIKE?
The answer is simple: pretty much everything! The lower leg casting, the Charger damper and the air-sleeve have been entirely remodelled. Only the aesthetics of the fork seem to have remained unchanged; at a first impact, not much has happened at all, apart from new decals. With its lighter weight, the new PIKE wants to differentiate itself from the Lyric more than ever, and RockShox recommends it mainly for the use on trail bikes.
Key data for the RockShox Pike at a glance
- Up to 160 mm travel in 27,5″ and 140 mm in 29″
- 150 g lighter than its predecessor (1.841 g in the 27,5″ version)
- New revised Charger 2 damper
- New DebonAir-air sleeve for smoother response and more support
- Tire clearance up to 2,8″ (the 29er-version can take tires up to 27,5″ x 3,0″)
- Takes 180 mm PM- brake callipers
- Compatible with Torque-Cap
- Still with 35-mm-stanchions
- RCT3 and RC-versions available (RC only for manufacturers)
- Price: € 970 – 1,100
The chassis on the new PIKE
This time RockShox didn’t try to stiffen up the chassis of the PIKE too much, and that’s a good thing. They nailed the sweet-spot between flex and direct handling in their last overhaul, therefore rigidity was increased only by a minimal amount this time around. But the Americans also managed to reduce the weight of the casting and to increase tire clearance. The new PIKE is available in 27,5″ and 29″ versions and both offer up to 2,8″ tire clearance. The 29” version can also take 3,0″ wide- 27,5″ rubber. All models come with an 110 x 15 mm quick release axle. Brake callipers for discs up to 180 mm can be housed directly on the post-mount without the need of extra spacers.
The DebonAir-air sleeve on the RockShox PIKE
When hearing “DebonAir”, most of us will immediately think of RockShox’s famous rear shocks. In reality, this is just an extended negative air chamber, which offers a more sensitive response and increased mid-stroke support. The same negative air chamber has already been used on the RockShox Lyrik. As in the previous model, the new Pike’s progressivity can be tuned with the addition of tokens. The installation of tokens only requires a cassette tool; this should avoid unnecessary scratching of the end cap, which is often the case when using a conventional 24-mm- spanner.
The overhauled Charger 2 damper inside the RockShox PIKE
The new RockShox Charger 2 unit hiding inside the new PIKE is again a sealed damper-cartridge, in which the excess oil gets pushed into a bladder when the fork is compressed. The new charger bladder of the PIKE is now cone-shaped and requiring, therefore, a smaller amount of oil. The main focus in the development of the new Charger 2 damper was an enhanced rebound damping adjustment range (specially for lighter riders) and a wider low-speed compression adjustment in the “open-mode” setting. Also, the new damper-unit is now compatible with the OneLoc-remote, which allows locking of the fork via a remote, directly from the handlebars. As its predecessor, the new PIKE is available in RC and RCT3 variations, whereby the first option can only be purchased by manufacturers.
How does the new RockShox PIKE perform on the trail?
Rocks, roots, braking bumps and berms – the trails in the sunny Vinschgau valley are incredibly diverse and offer the perfect scenario for a complete and gruelling fork test. We tested the PIKE DebonAir RCT3 with a 150 mm of travel on a COMMENCAL META AM, using a basic-setup to start with. We followed the printed pressure-chart to set up the fork – that’s what SRAM recommends anyway, in their opinion the SAG “is often not accurate enough”. We set off with two tokens in the air chamber, only a few clicks of low-speed compression (4) and a rather quick rebound setting. On the first climb we locked out the PIKE via its well-known adjustment, which as usual worked very well. Because of personal preferences we didn’t use this setting for the rest of the test.
Yet, the main focus was on downhill performance – and here too, the PIKE knows how to impress. The best word to describe its performance is “discreet”. And even by just sticking to our car park settings, it worked very well indeed. An extremely sensitive response. It stays high in the travel when braking, doesn’t dive and always just uses the right amount of travel required for each specific situation.
While descending we played around with the rebound settings, whereby a quicker rebound setting gave us the best traction. This was particularly noticeable in open turns, in which the wheel kept a good line. The steering is very direct, without feeling either too stiff or uncomfortable.
The new RockShox PIKE does it all better than its predecessor: it’s lighter, smoother, offers more traction and is more stable in the travel. Even in an increasingly harder fork market, the new PIKE has absolutely nothing to hide from the competition, fully convincing us with its straight-forward and intuitive setup.
For more information head to sram.com
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Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer