This Rockshox Pike RCT3 26″ fork goes to 11.
When you need a bike that excels at both and extreme ups and downs, you need a solid front end. What you won’t want is a boat anchor slowing you down, a challenge that the new Rockshox Pike fork has conquered.
You put more leverage and force on the fork when you increase the travel (and also the length).
Long travel forks with 32mm stanchions exhibit excessive flex and twist which can prevent your front wheel from tracking straight through rough terrain. The slacker head angles of modern trail/AM bikes exaggerate this effect.
Rockshox Pike Fork
These wispy forks also don’t give as much confidence when hitting larger drops and trail features. Previously, the aggressive or larger rider had to take a heavy Fox 36 or Lyrik fork and lower the travel to get a stiffer fork which could handle the way they wanted. This is no longer the case.
The original Pike was revered by many and was an amazing fork in its day, but it was replaced by the Revelation, which forced it out of the Rockshox line for awhile. For 2013, they’ve brought back the Pike.
However, the new Pike is its successor in name only. This is a completely new design for Rockshox. In a big departure from their previous Mission Control and Motion Control dampers, this fork uses a closed rubber bladder to separate oil and air similar to Fox’s FIT damper.
They use an extruded bladder instead of a molded one to eliminate seams, which should improve longterm durability. Rockshox is calling this their “charger” damper.
The Pike comes with burly 35mm stanchions and a 15mm thru-axle, yet Rockshox was able to shave weight where it counts. What this amounts to is a fork that is stiff in all the right places and in all the right ways, yet doesn’t add a significant weight penalty when upgrading from its lighter Revelation sibling.
In 26″ guise, the Pike Solo Air RCT3 is 1835 grams (4.05 lbs), while the Revelation is 1636 grams (3.6 lbs). That’s less than a half a pound weight difference for a huge increase in stiffness. The Pike comes in 26, 27.5, and 29-inch wheel versions in Solo Air and Dual Position Air travel adjust. My review is for the Solo Air RCT3 26″ with 150mm travel.
Rockshox Pike Performance
Now that we got all the technical stuff out of the way, let’s talk about how this fork performs, and wow does it perform. This fork has quickly become my favorite fork of all time.
I’ve ridden many forks that needed excessive compression damping to stop them from diving under braking, hard cornering, g-outs, or riding off stair-step type rocks.
This often led to a harsh feeling and lack of small bump compliance. Some forks were so bad I had to get them custom-tuned by aftermarket suspension tuners like PUSH in Loveland.
Those guys do amazing work, but an expensive fork shouldn’t need such tuning right out of the box to feel good. The Pike is race-ready right out of the box. Set your proper air pressure with the included shock pump, dial in your compression and rebound, then go ride and get ready to have a huge stupid grin on your face.
When I first put this fork on my Pivot Mach 5.7, what amazed me about the Pike is how smooth and supple this fork is, yet how high it stays in its travel. This fork tracks the ground so well, yet never dives hard when you don’t want it to. Mid-Stroke support is excellent.
You never feel like the fork just compresses underneath you and wants to send you over the bars. Despite that, it somehow still uses all its travel frequently without bottoming out. It returns quickly and rides high in its travel the majority of the time, so you always have all your travel-ready for the big hits.
Though it gives you the option of a full 12 clicks of compression damping, I’ve never felt the need for much despite being a larger rider. I’m currently running it with 2 clicks and could probably run it wide open if I wanted to. In fact, even climbing a steep fire road I didn’t switch to one of the lockouts or partial lockout modes.
It just didn’t bob enough for me to bother. The option is there if you are someone who stands and hammers up climbs. Stiffness wise, this makes my previous fork feel like a wet noodle.
I can throw my bike into corners and launch off obstacles without ever feeling my fork flex underneath me.
Note that Rockshox does include some plastic volume spacers to make the fork more progressive and provide more bottom-out resistance should you desire (they simply go underneath the air spring cap in one fork leg) but I haven’t felt the need to use them.
The new Pike is a fork that is super plush yet still firm where you need it to be. It’s stiffer than any trail fork I’ve ever used yet still very lightweight. On the trail, I can’t tell any difference in stiffness between it and heavier 180mm travel forks with 36mm stanchions.
Some may bemoan the use of a 15mm axle instead of a 20mm axle, but stiffness is more than a sum of its parts and this is one stiff fork. The Rockshox Pike 26″ Fork ($875) is a new model this year so longterm reliability can’t be commented on, but I’ve never had a problem with any of my previous Rockshox forks and SRAM is known for having solid warranty service. If you’re an enduro racer or just an aggressive rider with a slack, long-travel trail ripper, you owe it to yourself to pick up a Pike and take your bike to the next level.
This is a review of a fork I recently purchased for my Pivot Mach 5.7. I did not receive this as a review sample. It has been ridden on everything from buff singletrack to rocky tech all over the Front Range of Colorado. It was even thrashed around in the bike park for a day.