So, you’ve been mountain biking for a while. Long enough to realise that sure, you enjoy training, but nothing makes you smile more than hitting the trail as HARD as you can and squeezing every millimetre of travel out of your suspension. You prefer to focus more on the experience of pushing the limits of traction than pushing the limits of your VO2max. You sir/ma’am have officially become a trail rider/all-mountain rider/Enduro racer (if you ever go up against the clock) and RockShox have designed a fork for you.
The RockShox Pike represents the best that the SRAM-owned company could cram into a trail fork; a stiff, light chassis (1876g), featuring power-bulge lower legs with oversized bushings, oversized 35mm sanctions, tapered steerer tube into forged hollow crowns, 15mm thru axle and new maxle lite. It all combines to deliver exceptional stiffness in a 29er package. That has been combined with the proven Solo air air-spring (with rider adjustable volume spacers) and brand-new Charger damper, which features a Rapid Recovery rebound damping and three-position compression settings of Open, Pedal and Lock. That’s a lot of tech, but how did it feel out on the trail?
After setting the air pressure to the recommended 65psi, we set-off to our local trails. Immediately we noticed that the initial part of the fork’s travel was incredibly supple, ironing out trail chatter with ease. On the climbs the Pedal mode on the compression damper was perfect as it resisted slow speed movement (bob), yet was active over square-edge hits. On the descents, the stiffness enabled us to ride lines through off-camber roots and rocks that we would have struggled to hold on other forks. Damping was the best we have felt with the fork riding high in its travel giving consistent dynamic geometry and inspiring us to carry more and more speed into the roughest sections of trail.
We also recently tested the Pike 29 Dual Piston 120mm-150mm adjustable fork. It was fitted to the Ibis Ripley reviewed in this issue. We experienced the same premimium performance that we did with the 140mm travel model. The travel adjustability was instant and effortless and transformed the Ripley from a flippant trail blaster to a focussed marathoner – in a moment. That said, the Pike is first and foremost a rebelious trail-tamer. Notable on both was how smooth the action is. We felt no stiction at all and were impressed at the Pike’s ability to be big-hit ready when necessary and displaying finesse in between rough challenges.
The Pike is a game-changing addition to any longer (120mm plus) travel 29er. Game changer? This isn’t a game. It’s more like a deadly weapon – point, shoot, smile, reload…
The price tag may seem steep for some, but if you appreciate good fork suspension, you’ll find the money. One of our testers did…
PRICES: Rock Shox Pike 140mm Black Solo Air: R12500; Rock Shox Pike 120-150mm Dual Piston White: R13500
Also available: Pike 160mm Solo Air: R12500.
Why is stiffness important?
When a mountain bike tyre impacts a rock or an off-camber piece of trail, there is a sideways force on the tyre. That force is transferred through the tyre and into the wheel, through the wheel and into the fork, through the fork and into the frame. This force effectively twists the front of the bike, deflecting it off of its intended path. The rider that has chosen to ride a specific line will have to now compensate for the deflection by turning the handlebars to counteract the force. Once the tyre, wheel, fork and frame have reached the maximum “twist” or deflection they will spring back (because of the natural process of bending and then straightening like trees in the wind). When this spring back happens, the rider will again have to compensate by adjusting the handlebars. All of these micro adjustments detract from the process of “bombing the rock section” and leave the rider feeling that they cannot completely “trust” the bike as the front wheel is wondering all over the place. Simply put, a stiff front-end gives you more confidence, control and speed.
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*Originally published in TREAD Issue 28, 2014 – All rights reserved