When RockShox re-introduced the Pike in 2013, the Colorado Springs company probably couldn't have predicted how impactful a product it would become. Before the RockShox Pike, Fox was dominating the trail and all-mountain categories with its 34- and 36-series forks. Pike came in and was like, "Step aside, bros, me and my Charger damper will take it from here." 2014 became the year of "put a Pike on it." Go back through bike reviews from that year and sentences like this pop up: "The bike reached its full potential when we swapped the stock fork out for a Pike," and “Even at proper sag, the stock fork dove excessively under braking. This bike would do well with a …” You guessed it. A Pike.
So, pretty successful product. And it's still a great fork. But a lot has happened in the four years since Pike was re-released. In 2017, for instance, a ton of bike models increased in travel. The Specialized Enduro, Trek's Slash 29, Rocky Mountain's Slayer all have longer-travel forks now. In addition, the Enduro World Series is growing, and it's continuously asking more out of athletes and equipment. The Pike was starting to get a bit out of its league.
Which is why RockShox revived the Lyrik for 2016, with a similar look, the same Charger damper, but built with thicker, burlier chassis materials. Now that Lyrik has burly bikes' back, there was an opening for the 2018 RockShox Pike to be re-tooled specifically for trail use.
2018 RockShox Pike Chassis
The chassis went through a full re-jiggering to make it lighter and stiffer, and it'll only be produced with Boost spacing, offering tire clearances up to 2.8 inches. It's not massively different looking, but the arch has been refined, and weight has been taken out of the lowers via cutouts in the drops and the bottoms of the legs. Plus, the brake mounts have gone to a 180 millimeter minimum rotor size, because who runs a 160-mil front rotor anymore?
The cutouts in the bottom of the legs aren't just there for weight savings. They also make it easier to order the correct air spring when changing travels. Now, if you order a 140-millimeter air spring, your fork will have 140 millimeters of travel, no matter what wheel size fork you have. That was not always the case. Previously, one length air spring assembly would result in a different travel depending on if it went into a 27.5-inch chassis or a 29er.
The Charger 2 Damper
Another mechanic-friendly update is with the new Charger 2 damper, which has a bleed port for easier, more reliable servicing. It's something that skilled do-it-yourselfers could definitely take on-and they’ll also appreciate simpler full-damper rebuilds as well. And when you do need to tear into your Pike, you'll just need a cassette tool to remove the top caps. No more running to Sears for a giant socket, or worse, breaking out the adjustable wrench. Those are for BMX bikes.
On the performance front, the Charger 2 damper has been given more range of low-speed compression adjustment in the Open mode, and more refined damping in Pedal position, in hopes that people might actually start using it.
For Europeans, EWS racers, and fans of cluttered handlebars, there's also a remote option, compatible with RockShox's OneLoc remote, so you can make both shocks stop working with the twitch of a finger.
Check out our long-term SRAM Eagle test
Undoubtedly, the most noticeable change when you get the new 2018 Pike on the trail comes from the new DebonAir spring. DebonAir was first introduced on Monarch and Monarch Plus rear shocks, and it's basically the same principle when applied in the fork: Increasing the negative air volume improves small bump, off the top sensitivity without reducing mid-stroke support.
2018 RockShox Pike Setup & Ride Impressions
Setup is still easy. But since the new Pike basically comes out of the box feeling more like how it did after aggressive riders would add tokens, the air pressure chart printed to the back of the fork follows suit. It's been bumped up to provide a better starting point for more aggressive riding. The couple days I spent on the new Pike were cold, wet days in the Pacific Northwest. In these conditions, I'll typically drop fork and tire pressures. With the previous Pike in wet conditions, I'd reduce the pressure about to what was recommended on the chart. On the new Pike, I was roughly 10 psi lower than the chart, so stands to reason that in dry conditions I'd be hovering right around the new recommended numbers.
I hadn’t gone more than 500 feet down the first descent before feeling the refinements gained by the DebonAir spring and Charger 2 damper. If you're an aggressive rider and you’re used to running a few volume spacers, the DebonAir spring feels similar to that, but with better sensitivity off the top and more mid-stoke support--with no spacers installed. It's kind of like taking what made the Pike such a prolific fork, and turning up the volume on those attributes. It feels like a Pike with a little extra Pike thrown in.
Because the chassis, air spring, and damper have all been redesigned, RockShox can call this an “all-new” fork. And, technically it is. But, will it make the same splash as the 2013 release? Not likely, because this new 2018 version is simply the evolution of an already great fork. Oh, and if you already have a Pike, depending on the model year, you can upgrade to a Charger 2 damper and DebonAir spring, and you’ll have everything but the chassis weight savings and stiffness gain.
Want in-depth reporting on trail-access issues across the U.S.? Here’s our four-part series, Lines in the Dirt.
Pricing and Specs
Between the weight savings in the chassis and internals, the 2018 Pike is about 150 grams lighter than its predecessor, coming in at about 1840 grams for a 27.5-inch model.
Because RockShox has designed Lyrik for longer-travel bikes, The Pike’s travel offerings have been slimmed down, which has also helped to shave some weight.
The 27.5-inch chassis will be available from 120 to 160 millimeters of travel, while the 29er version will max out at 140 millimeters.
The highest-level Pike RTC3 and RTC Remote will be available in April for $875-1,000. The Pike RC will not be sold aftermarket, but it’s sure to be spec’d on plenty of bikes.
Other RockShox Fork Updates
RS-1, RockShox’s halo-level inverted XC fork, gets its own Charger 2 damper to offer riders more compression control, and will be available without a remote (Yay!). Previous versions were only spec’d with a remote lockout. The maximum travel on the 27.5-inch chassis also gets a bump from 120 millimeters to 130. $1,680-$1,750
Lyrik receives the Charger 2 damper and DebonAir spring as well. It will be offered in 27.5- and 29-inch Boost-only chassis from 150 to 180 millimeters of travel, for $1030 to $1180. Like the Pike, only the top-level RTC3 will be offered aftermarket.
Yari will also see the DebonAir spring upgrade, as well as an improved Motion Control IS damper. The new damper features Rapid Recovery rebound--which increases rebound speed at the beginning stroke to help the fork recover from large impacts--as well as a high-speed compression circuit that is said to feel more Charger-like--though we haven’t ridden it yet to confirm. Yaris will retail for $700-$780 and will be available in May with 100-180-millimeters of travel on both 27.5- and 29-inch Boost-only chassis.
Revelation beefs up from 32-millimeter stanchions to 35, and like the Yari, gets the Motion Control IS damper and DebonAir spring. It’ll be available in May for $650-$720, also in Boost spacing, with 120-160 millimeters of travel on the 27.5-inch chassis, and 120-140 millimeters on the 29er.
Bummed about all these forks only being available with Boost 15×110-millimeter spacing? Fear not. Boost offers better tire clearance and there are plenty of conversion kits available to convert your 100-mil hub to 110.